Using Sufi music to heal

Updated: Feb 17, 2020, 07:48 IST | Sonia Lulla | Mumbai

Set to perform at an upcoming concert, AR Rahman on how defining the genre has been in his life

AR Rahman
AR Rahman

When Fiza (2000) director Khalid Mohamed approached AR Rahman for a "Muqabla-type" of song for the film, Rahman was in search of something different. Nudging him to reveal details of the other tracks in the Hrithik Roshan starrer, Rahman remembers Mohamed saying, "I have a qawwali, but I'm giving that to Khayyam." "I said, no, I want that. I grabbed that opportunity," laughs Rahman, recalling one among his early Sufi tracks in Bollywood, Piya Haji Ali, which subsequently led to songs like Khwaja mere khwaja and Maula.

The upcoming Ekam Satt — Unity Concert: The 50th Symphony, will have Rahman employ Sufi music to enable viewers to "experience what we [musicians] feel". He says, "Our team wants to do things beyond music; when words stop communicating, [Sufi] music takes the experience further. My interpretation of this concert is to take everyone to a celestial level, where oneness [can be achieved]. We create visuals and patterns [to do so] and aim to [have] walls broken down. Some of those who will sing with me belong to [my institute] KM Music Conservatory."

Ameya Dabli

Despite the limited exposure the genre has received in Bollywood, Sufi tracks have been whole-heartedly accepted by music listeners, yet, Rahman doesn't see the genre as one that is mainstream, "because few understand it."

Co-performer Ameya Dabli will team up with Rahman for a special performance, apart from enthralling listeners to his folk set. Dabli says, "[This edition is] a tribute to the forces that protect our borders. In the wake of the uncertainty of life today, considering the [diseases affecting us], and our mundane [life] which can be stressful, we feel music can be a healer."


Music milestones


1997: Reh dil deewana, featuring Shah Rukh Khan, marked the arrival of a new singing superstar, Sonu Nigam. Nigam went on to render many tracks for the badshah, thereafter

On top of my playlist


Sahiba, Phillauri: This track from Anushka Sharma and Diljit Dosanjh's film seems to narrate an entire story by itself.

Memories, Maroon 5: The American band's number has a great melody. I also love the song's simplicity.

Highway to hell, AC/DC: This song is so energetic that I am always inspired while working out to it.

Enna sona, OK Jaanu: The track has great song-writing by AR Rahman, coupled with great singing by Arijit Singh

My heart, my life, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: Apart from being on my playlist all the time, it is among my eternal favourites

Catch up on all the latest entertainment news and gossip here. Also download the new mid-day Android and iOS apps to get latest updates

Sign up for all the latest news, top galleries and trending videos from

This website uses cookie or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalised recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. OK