13 comments on “Even if You Aren’t a Sufi by Any Stretch, You Might Want to Dance Wildly to This

  1. Richard, sufi is not a religion on its own, rather a certain way of thinking within Islam. While they can be both Sunnis or Shias, they all tend to be followers of Ali, son-in-law and also cousin of Prophet Mohammad. You may also hear the evocation of Ali in the song you have posted.

    The language of the song is Sindhi, and I can follow it to some extent where it has commonalities with Punjabi, but parts of it are totally foreign.

    This song is very popular, and there are different versions of it with lyrics that differ, Noor Jehan’s is a benchmark performance of it!

    Runa Laila, when she was still a Pakistani national, sang it with great energy: pity her videos of when she was performing in PTV as a young woman are all lost: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIyrlTwEuYY

    Surinder Kaur, the grand dame of Punjabi folk, sometimes broke her own rule to sing only those songs that she had recorded/sung herself – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziU-9qHv9cg – to sing it sometimes on stage, have heard her personally live- amazing!

    My very favourite Reshman sang it very well, although this version is from when she was pretty unwell, far from her usual high tones: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssbCfzSDE_g

    To hear her in her full glory, you might try this one, which made her instantly famous: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYrw7nhkEJM

    Abida Parveen, sufi exponent par excellence, makes it her own: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WybU6wxScl8

    Bonus: There is a Sufi singing festival in Feb/March in Delhi, organised by Muzzafar Ali of Umrao Jaan film fame, called Jahan-e-khusrau.

    Zila Khan is someone I discovered through my sister, who never fails to assist, esp the day Abida performs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8eCLLf9ti0

  2. I forgot to add that one of the things I think is really great about Lollywood is how they incorporated every popular singer into their films. Singers would come up through the radio or PTV, and regardless of style, voice type, etc., if they were popular, they were playback singing, with none of the Bollywood hangups about whose voice was correct for a hero, heroine etc.
    Just search on youtube for the incredible variety of Pakistani singers who sang playback in films, besides Noor Jehan,
    soft ghazal singer Mehndi Hassan, high-pitched nasal tones of Nayyara Noor, the deep gypsy voice of Reshman, Nahid Akhtar and her totally natural singing, Iqbal Bano’s powerful ghazal voice, Tahira Syed’s husky and mellow tones, Shaukat Ali’s very Punjabi singing style, Farida Khanum,…and many many more.

    Mehndi Hassan’s Pyar Bhare Do Sharmile nain or Rafta rafta woh meri to be one of the most romantic songs in the continent, whereas you must really listen to Noor Jehan singing with the great classical singer Ustad Amanat Ali Khan.

  3. Bawa, thank you for all the comments and links – I knew you’d have more to say about this! :) Unfortunately, as you may have noticed, I was getting a strange glitch with your links; the program converted one to the actual YouTube clip and then left big blank spaces and chopped out text around the places where you had typed other links. In order to overcome the glitch, I added some punctuation, like colons or dashes; hope you don’t mind.

    By the way, I was aware that Sufism is a form of Islam and was being a bit informal with my term “the Sufi religion.” I knew the song was from Sindh, though I didn’t know it was in the separate Sindhi language. But the info I checked tells me that the movie that the song is part of is in Punjabi.

  4. :) we each have our own soft spots! But you do dig up gems and it brings up so many memories, and one thing leads to another..

    Yes, I saw the glitch, and didn’t know what to do about it, first time its happened, thanks for taking the trouble to iron them out (as opposed to deleting the whole post!) I do hope you get time to hear some of them or other songs, only Surinder Kaur is Indian among them.

    Yes, I have heard versions that are mostly in Sindhi and others that have been translated/recomposed to the wider market of Punjabi, which are the ones you hear most of the time. Other surrounding languages often get mixed, or have a Punjabi component are the songs in Dogri (Jammu & Kashmir, mostly Jammu area), and also Pahari songs from now Himachal Pardesh. Considering considerable tracts of these are the erstwhile Punjab, it is not surpising.

  5. Hii, BollywoodFan,

    Thanks for the link – that is good.

    Once I saw this harder-rocking sort of version, I remembered Fun-Da-Mental’s song “Ja Sha Taan,” which I first heard in about ’98 (the same year as the concert that this Junoon clip was taken from). I think it has some of this song in it , though it is a mix of things, I guess. It is also more electronic, and would be filed in a different category, but it also has those hard rock and fusion quaities…

    I’m not sure I like this video that was made to it, and I think this is a more of a techno-trance-leaning kind of remix (maybe the Transglobal Underground remix?), but it’s the most listenable recording of the song on YouTube:

    And then there’s this live clip…

  6. Bawa, I’ve been meanng to get back to you too. I still have to take a look at/listen to some of those clips, or look at them again.

    I looked at the Abida Parveen clip right away because that’s a familiar name to me. I had a CD of hers some years back, well predating my Bollywood/Kollywood/Lollywood preoccupation. I enjoyed it, but I’d appreciate it more now. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I’ll find it. (Might have gotten scratched up and thrown out during one of my several moves over the past few years.) But yes, this clip was pleasure to watch. And the show looks quite spectacular overall.

  7. Richard,
    Abida Parveen sort of burst on the Pakistani music scene spectacularly, by winning the best rendering of a song on PTV. I was quite cheesed off at first (this must be 1980 or so) as my favourite Tahirra Syed was among the other 2 nominees, but had to admit that her Mahi Yaar Di Ghadoli Bhardi was out of this world

    I love her ghazals and sindhi songs too


    For some strange reason, I have a soft spot for her
    Jab se tu ne mujhe diwana bana rakha hai (on youtube everywhere)
    and her Punjabi Lagi walian nu need nahi, only one clip, audio, in youtube


    It is based on the folk love epic of Sassi Punnu, where Punnu leaves her sleeping on her wedding night, and the writer questions Sassi on how come she slept, when people in love are not able to sleep.

    Meanwhile, I have enjoyed your May Day numbers very much, esp the Kollywood clip.

  8. Bawa, thanks for sending more Abida Parveen. “Mahi Yaar Di Ghadoli Bhardi” is very good, and I look forward to all the audo (especially the songs you pointed out)…

    By the way WordPress admin people have assured me that “blank videos” were just the result of a glitch and all links will be converted properly to videos in the comments. That’s not exactly what I wanted because I post so many videos already, it just slows things down. Though on the other hand, someone might say, why should I be the only one posting YouTube links as videos? (Because it’s my blog, that’s why!! :) Anyway, if you don’t mind the link appearing as a video clip, I guess we should just let it go through that way next time around. (There are lots of past posts where it’s doing that now, and I don’t intend to spend the time turning them all back into links – at least not right now…)

    I do know of a few ways now to prevent the link from appearing as a clip… One is for me to go into the comments editor, highlight it and hit the “code” button . The link gets a little smaller, but at least it stays a link. Someone at WordPress also said that if you put the link in without the “www,” it won’t convert. I haven’t tried that yet, but it’s worth a try.

    As you may have noticed, I put the paragraphs in your post in the right order (I think) and deleted your next comment, where you mentioned that they’d gotten out of order.

    I hope that you are not discouraged at this point from sending links in the future!

    By the way, thank you re. the Mayday post. I thought that was pretty far from the typical Bollywood film list, so it’s nice to see that somebody – you – liked it. (Here in the U.S., especially, you might stick out like the proverbial sore thumb when you talk about Mayday as the workers’ [communist or socialist] holiday.) And I’m glad you liked the Malayalam clip most – I like it a lot too.

    Of course, I’m assuming you meant the Malayalam clip when you said “Kollywood”… I tend to call Malayalam clips “Mollywood.” Is that getting a little too precise (and silly)? I think of “Kollywood” as applying only to films from Tamil Nadu.

  9. Thanks for putting them in order, I really don’t know how that happened!
    I will try out that www tip next time I have a link to post.
    Seeing your interest in the sub-continent, you might find these video of a”live concerts” curious. These are in rural fairs, and you may get an idea of what it means to be a popular singer in N. India and in the second clip, what you may expect from the public:))

    Yes, it is money they are throwing…and gathering

  10. Thanks for the latest clips, Bawa. This time I added “http” but left outt the “www” and it seems to work fine – that is, it links but it doesn’t automatically convert to the clip. So, I guess that is the way to do it.

    I knew about the throwing-and-gathering money routine, though I kind of thought money was thrown more after the performance, not during.

    Whenever I think of what it’s like performing out in the open somewhere in India (street or fair, etc.), I think of this scene with Nimmi in Bhai-Bhai:

    You have people throwing money and the gathering of money afterwards… There has to be at least one guy acting disrespectful if it’s a woman… And there’s always someone like the Kishore Kumar character, going around picking people’s pockets. :)

  11. I enjoyed that Nimmi clip. I sent you the other one because it is fascinating the way Bindrakhia keeps on singing all squashed up on the small stage a while somebody actually gets on stage and sprinkles money on him…

    What is embarrassing is when well-known classical or other singers/dancers come to perform in smaller cities, and well-educated people try to act the same way. I think it was Parveen Sultana who actually threatened to walk-out in my home city a year or so ago, because people in a theatre were trying to do the same for an event where you have tickets.
    My father says in his childhood days (30s-40s) people in cinemas would throw money at the screen if there was dance that they liked!!

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