Muzaffar Ali: Sufism has power to lead us towards a global family where traditions and religions blend in love
Renowned artist, filmmaker, fashion designer and poet Muzaffar Ali keeps his prying eyes for newness in every shadow he comes across and shapes it well according to his aesthetic tastes
A renowned artist, a filmmaker, fashion designer, poet and music connoisseur, the multifaceted and multitasking man known for his wide repertoire of creativity and an acute sense of art and culture speaks about the numerous aspects of how the event, Jahan-e-Khusrau is going to unfurl this year. Raja Syed Muzaffar Ali of Kotwara, Lucknow keeps his prying eyes for newness in every shadow he comes across and goes way beyond to explore and shape it well according to his aesthetic tastes and delights.
He pens poetry in Persian, Urdu, Awadhi and English striking a subtle balance among all without prejudice; he dabs the myriads hues painting all flights of his love and imagination on the canvas at leisure. In a tete-a-tete, the producer-director elaborates on various dimensions of art and culture.
Delhi has lately witnessed the raging flames of two communities clashing with each other, what message do you convey through music?
Sufism has the power and beauty to lead us towards a global family where traditions and religions blend in love. ‘Jahan-e-Khusrau’ is an attempt to integrate all voices in a collective prayer for peace and sacred oneness.
What makes the fifteenth edition of Jahan-e-Khusrau so special?
The festival has evolved over the years. It presents new poetry, new compositions, new voices and performers. It is the essence of the festival; the power of the lyrics and the soulful music that distinguish the event. However, the spotlight will stay focused on rising young talents this year. Manjari Chaturvedi, a kathak exponent will raise the curtain with a divine display of her magnificent art.
Have you been thinking of taking the fest overseas as well?
Yeah, we very often have been holding events on various subjects that bring in and unite many countries and nations.
Jahan-e-Khusrau is a platform offered to many budding talents; what all does it comprise this year?
True, we have an ode to Rumi by Manjari and my son Murad to open the festival with Smita Bellur. Besides, the event would have Nooran Sisters, Saqinama by Khusrauvana Group, Dr Mamta Joshi, Kanwar Grewal performing on the second day. The final day shall witness an ode to Khusrau by Prakriti Prashant, a disciple of Kaushalya Reddy choreographed by Raja and Radha Reddy. Gurdas Maan will enchant the audience with his stellar rendition.
Romanticism and Poetry have been the essence of Muzaffar Ali, how do you employ the poetic nuances with such a musical Nirvana where you have the compositions from mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, Amir Khusrau, Baba Farid, Niyaz be Niyaz and Baba Bulleh Shah?
I have always been a poetry driven person and my films too have been on either poets or poetry. Today, I feel both the urge and relevance to celebrate the poetry of Sufi mysticism, which have held the subcontinent with love and compassion. They have forged a cultural syncretism, which has given India its pride of place philosophically in the world as one of the largest secular democracies in the world. Sufi music is a way of cleansing and purification. The youth must take it as an inner journey and not as an outer body shaking trip. The ecstasy is that of the soul, and love is beyond the sensual and physical. I know the youth is capable of this experience. This is where the future of peace, pluralism and harmony lies.
All these literary legends in their poetry talk about love and romance for their Master. I do the same blending love with poetry.
You have time and again incorporated artists of typical khayal and thumri gayaki, don’t you find the coordination to synchronize with sufi alaap and swirl a bit off balance at times?
I usually don’t find it cumbersome to connect with éclat the two artistic traits. My camera pans across to capture the best of what I look for in a performer.
Sufi music is a rage more importantly amongst youth, and you too played a vital role in promoting it, what is Sufi music in your words?
Sufism is a divine feel that connects you to the supreme power, which cannot be seen but felt with an aura too mystique. It is a holy association of peeri- fakiri and peer-murshid; the master and the disciple. It is no way connected to a religion in particular. But the qawwali recitation is absolutely different, it is for your God whom you love, through this medium you relate your soul to Him. The spiritual flight of sufi music takes you into a trance that dwarfs a religion. It’s niyat (intention) and bhakti (devotion).
Gar Jamaal-e-yaar nabaud baa khayalash hum khusham, khana-e-darvesh ra sham’ee ba az mehtaab neest.
People do like the parallel cinema and artistic flicks like Umrao Jaan, a magnum opus and Gaman, Awadh, Anjuman etcetera, have you given up filmmaking now?
Of course, not; I have quite a number of films in the pipeline : Noorjahan and Zooni. The latter is underway; it was shot a bit in the Kashmir valley. It will soon see the light of day.
What do you have in the offing in days to come?
We have many plays on numerous subjects scheduled in times to come. We, Rumi Foundation, have done Nawaab Wajid Ali Shah festival in Lucknow lately.
What keeps you occupied?
I am passionately in love with painting which really keeps me engaged . Besides, I have painting exhibitions going on across the country and abroad. I have been into working and designing zardozi, kamdani, tukdi, appliqué work. I strongly believe in the flow of time and do not keep myself limited to just the conventional styles of art.