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In focus: A spirited reawakening

January 06, 2013

Komal Rizvi on Sufi music, Indian projects and much, much more

Q: What’s the concept behind your recently released Jhoolay Laal video?

KR: It’s a simple video done by the very talented Umer Adil. I  chose to style myself traditionally and the dance choreography was a bit like Sufi trance. This is because the song is a fusion of jazz, qawwali and rock. The lyrics go something like this: “I’ve come to your doorstep now, O’ Shahbaz Qalandar, after much pain and transgressions, I’ve come to you, you who are much more divine than I, and I won’t leave until you send my message across to Lord Almighty.

I believe a complicated or westernised video would not have supported the message that I’m trying to send across.

Q: Why Sufism?

KR: I am very spiritual. As I get older and experience all that life throws my way, I’m gradually realising that I have always been this way. My connection with God is very special to me. This doesn’t mean all my work will be Sufi from now on. I connect with this genre on a pure level, and fans will probably be hearing more and more such stuff from me.

Q: What about commercial success?

KR: After my Coke Studio success, it’s very natural for people to think I’m revisiting a tried and tested formula. I love what Pakistani music critics condescendingly refer to as “commercial music.” I did not stray from commercial music and divulge into Sufi because of what people think or want from me. I genuinely believe that folk and Sufi suit my nature and my voice.

Audiences are very smart now. They can make out when emotions in a song are original or not.

Q: What’s your basic music genre?

KR: I have none. But people in India have started calling me “the next generation of Sufi.” I think it’s because it comes to me very easily. Personally, I would like to be known as a versatile vocal artist who can do justice to various genres.

Q: How do you see the present situation for music?

KR: The system is pretty disorganised at the moment. But I think it can be fixed. We in Pakistan have so much musical talent that as long as the print and digital media support us, we will find a way to make this a more defined and systematic industry.

Q: How well is your music being received in India? What’s the basic difference in music of both countries?

KR: Indians relate to Bollywood music more whereas in Pakistan people are more into Sufi, rock and bhangra.

Although both countries are big on music, I believe the innate and inherent “respect” factor for artists is much higher even for minor artists there, which makes the environment very positive and conducive.

Q: Future plans?

KR: I have some playback Bollywood songs in the pipeline and a tour of Rajasthan (India) towards the end of January.