Qawwali is like food for the soul and oxygen to the body,” says Nazeer Ahmed Khan Warsi about the musical tradition which his family has been carrying on for generations. “It helps the soul connect with the divine,” the 51-year-old adds.
The singer’s devotional approach towards Qawwali might appear to some as surprising. But for Hyderabad-based Nazeer, who along with his brother Naseer (46) has staunchly resisted the trivialisation of the age-old musical form with his soulful Sufiana Qawwali renditions, it’s just a way of life.
The brothers — recipients of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award — are grandsons of world-famous Qawwal and Padma Shri winner, Aziz Ahmed Khan. The Warsis trace their roots to the Qawwal Bachchey of the Delhi Gharana and are descendents of the disciple of poet Hazrat Amir Khusro (1253-1325), who founded Sufiana Qawwali.
It’s been over 800 years since the seeds of Qawwali music were first sown in India, yet the classical music form continues to retain Khusro’s soul, insists Nazeer.
“These songs were meant to praise God. The words were so deep that when sufi musicians gave music to it, the person listening to it would go into a trance. Even today, Qawwali, in its purest form, can have the same impact,” the singer says. While popular culture has reduced the art form to a ‘happy song-and-dance session,’ Nazeer hopes that their music will recreate the true spirit of Qawwali.
Where: blueFrog, Mathuradas Mill Compound, Lower Parel
When: May 22, 9 PM – 1 AM
Entry: Rs 300; Rs 1,000 (full cover)