With Kashmir as the backdrop and Sufism as its soul, it’s not easy to ignore the pain and melancholia that surrounds the music of Alif, a local Urdu band with roots in Pune, Mumbai and the valley of Kashmir. To that add the angst that’s typical of Rap, and you get a potent mix of lyrical, thoughtful and contemporary sounds.
A still from the video, Like A Sufi
All set to release a new video and track, Like A Sufi, on World Music Day that falls today, Alif is here to bring Kashmir to the forefront (minus the violence that has become synonymous with the valley). The video is part of a series of collaborations that the band will be launching with artistes from across Indian and genres, as part of Sufi 101 launched by the online content platform, 101India.com.
“There’s so much more to the valley of Kashmir than the negative publicity that makes news. Through these videos we want to show the world, the beauty of it,” shares Mohammad Muneem Nazir, the band’s lead vocalist and also the writer of the song. The other band members include Alex Coutinho (drums), Hardik Vaghela (keyboard), Savio Sebastian (lead guitar) and Amit Gadgil (bass).
The singer informs that the song’s title, Like A Sufi, encompasses the soul of the song as the band members and Hip-hop artiste MC Kash, travel through the valley capturing its beauty both in words and in visuals. “Sufi means being lost in finding the truth. And that’s what the song does; it builds a personal connection to anyone listening to it.”
Sung in Kashmiri or Kosur language spoken primarily in the valley of Kashmir and Chenab regions of Jammu and Kashmir, Nazir informs that the song is also an attempt towards saving this dying language. But doesn’t that become a problem in communicating with a pan-Indian audience? Nazir replies: “No one in my band is familiar with Kashmiri, but they all connect with it, because they understand the expression.”
The band will be releasing a second video next week, titled Jhelamas, a Rock ballad of sort, which has also been shot in Kashmir, says Cyrus Oshidar, MD and Chief Creative Officer, 101India.com — a two-year-old start-up comprising mostly of ex-MTV staff. “The idea is to connect India with stories. And we are working with Alif to tell stories of Sufism from Kashmir, in a
contemporary form,” he adds.
Nazir, says that he wrote the Jhelumas in 15 minutes, and it’s a very special song to him. “It’s an ode to Kashmiri women with the river Jhelum as a witness to their resilience and never-give-up attitude, and the history of Kashmir,” says the 32-year-old singer.
So, what’s next after this? “We are exploring options for more collaborations like this, with artistes from other genres. We are also working on our self-titled album which is expected to release in a month’s time,” signs-off Nazir.
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