Friday, Mar 23, 2018 | Last Update : 06:48 AM IST

With Shubha Mudgal & Kailash Kher, Jahan-e-khusrau a hit

Published : Mar 13, 2018, 3:49 am IST
Updated : Mar 13, 2018, 3:50 am IST

A structured ballet on the theme based on a story of River Yamuna was staged for the first time, clarified Ali.

Kailash Kher
 Kailash Kher

When poet-filmmaker-designer-composer Muzaffar Ali decided to start a festival at Chaunsath Khamba in Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti on the lawns of the Humayun's Tomb — incidentally, the same place where Khusrau started the qawwali music tradition in the 13th century AD — he probably had one motive: to organise a live three-day concert where music reverberated during the five-hour long performances that were carefully designed so that the brief lingering of sound in the venue embellished the orchestra's sound, and the listeners went into a frenzy. Delhiites sat up and took note of such a grand show in 2001. The show  featured Pakistan's Abida Parveen every year as the main attraction and held the rasikas in thrall from day one. These music-lovers then made a beeline for the free passes from the following year; the then Delhi government and Ali’s Rumi Foundation collaborated to give a real feast for the well-heeled men and women, as also some students, perennially on the lookout for freebies. 

Has it also been an occasion for listeners to get up and do an impromptu jig? It definitely has been!

Shubha MudgalShubha Mudgal

This year, the three-day Jahan-e-Khusrau was back in the capital, and, one of India's most sought-after and versatile singer Shubha Mudgal, who is foremost a khayaliya and sings Hindustani classical, was a good enough reason for Delhiites to throng the venue. Other performers like folk, thumri and kajri singer Malini Awasthi, pop-rock and Bollywood singer Kailash Kher and Punjabi folk and Sufi singer Hans Raj Hans gave what everyone in the audience loved to do: an occasion to sway to their beats.

For Ali, it has been a long-drawn battle. Over the years, successive governments first dillydallied, and then, finally agreed to give their nod for the festival that according to Ali, “can only be organised at the Humayun’s Tomb,” which being a heritage property, is rarely used for public functions.

From being the most anticipated event to becoming an out-of-range event, the fate of Jahan-e-Khusrau hung in suspense for a few years, forcing Rumi Foundation to stop being magnanimous and putting a ticketed show that clearly catered to the loaded leisure class only. Therefore, this year, too, it was only for anybody who is somebody!

The real music-lovers may not have been able to afford it but there were those who clearly loved flaunting their rare entry pass. But, with so much energy, money and hard work being expended during the three days that serve close to 5,000 aficionados of Sufi music, it was surprising to notice that the audience didn’t quite comprehend the complexities of the beautifully choreographed two part ballet — Yamuna Darya Prem Ka — presented by Archana Shah, Astha Dixit and group and Sanjukta Sinha and group. “This year, we focussed on River Yamuna,” explains Ali. “There was extremely talented Barnali Chattopadhyay’s vocals and the theme was dedicated to sensitising the world about the ecological damage to water resources through the moving story of River Yamuna, which is the lifeline of northern India, and connects aastha (faith) with delicate ecology. It was to draw the attention of people to the environmental concerns. 

A structured ballet on the theme based on a story of River Yamuna was staged for the first time, clarified Ali. 

As expected, the venue Arab Ki Sarai at the Humayun's Tomb turned into a fortress as bouncers and police personnel guarded the place and warded off unwanted people looking for free entry. Any reason for the festival to be a star-studded performance but still not something meant for the masses this year? “This was only for the members and for a large group of people who follow us on our website. It’s also for the sponsors,” he confirms. “Later, it will travel to Lucknow”

The organisers, both Ali and his wife, Meera, seem happy with the way the festival shaped up this year despite no buzz that usually such high profile events cerate in the capital. After all, with close to 80 to 90 lakh being spent on as many as 200 singers from all over the country, it wasn’t easy. “We managed everything — from to and fro passage of the performers to hospitality to looking after them and of course, their fee,” explains Ali. 

Established in 2001, under the aegis of Rumi Foundation, Jahan e Khusrau, designed and directed by Muzaffar Ali, has been the pioneer in presenting Sufi music. 

The three mystical nights brought together musicians from different parts of India, the subcontinent and the world to perform in a seamless cinematic fashion. 

Participating countries included the US, Canada, Germany, Italy, Morocco, Sudan, Egypt, Tunisia, Iran, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. 

Tags: muzaffar ali, delhiites, qawwali, astha dixit