The two neighbouring nations are equally passionate about music. India and Pakistan, having shared a common history, have both grown to evolve their own musical styles and have also taken to the nuances of the other country’s music forms and singers. The most popular form of music that connects music lovers across the two countries is the qawwali. In a traditional qawwali, one may sing songs in praise of Allah or the enlightened teachers of Sufi, or may even dive into intoxication and use the language of romance in the form of a ghazal to express one’s love and longing for the divine. Kafi is another genre of Sufi music that leans more towards the meditative form of singing, using the words of kafi poets such as Bulleh Shah and Shah Hussain.
One of the most popular exponents of kafi is Pakistani singer Abida Parveen, known for her deep, soulful voice, which really seems to be speaking to the Almighty. Thousands of miles away, born on the same land but separated by a border, Kavita Seth belts out a melodious voice that, similar to Parveen, has become synonymous with Sufi music. What is interesting is that both women have been applauded and welcomed all over the world for their powerful renditions of Sufi music.
With changing times, Sufi music, however, has evolved dramatically. Pakistani Sufi rock band, Junoon, formed in the 1990s, brought a modernised Sufi music form to reel in a new younger generation. Achieving widespread popularity, both in Pakistan as well as in India, the music remains the same—filled with soul and aimed at divinity. So what is it about Sufi music that bridges the perceived gap between two nations, which have almost always been at loggerheads? The answer is simple—seeking the truth, destroying the ego and embracing humility and peace has long been the goal of every rational human being. At the heart of it all, music interprets emotions, and as we know, these are universally alike. Even beyond Sufi, both countries have a passion for soulful music.
What makes the shows of Zindagi channel more appealing is that they have original soundtracks sung by renowned artistes like Abida Parveen, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Shafqat Amanat Ali and Ali Zafar. In times where TV producers acquire rights to popular Bollywood music, it will be refreshing to hear original compositions on TV. We find this ground-breaking in more ways than one.