Nizami Bandhu, a renowned Qawwali group with a 700- year-old rich legacy, is headed by Chand Nizami and accompanied by his two nephews, Shadab Faridi Nizami and Sohrab Faridi Nizami, who are also fondly called as Nizami Brothers.
They hail from the legendary Sikandra Gharana. In an e-mail interaction with Nivedita R, the Nizami Brothers get talking about Sufism, quality of music in Bollywood, and their journey so far. Excerpts:
Tell us about Sufism. What makes it so appealing and stand out from other music genres?
Chand Nizami: Sufism has a long history.This form of art was started with an intent to spread the message of peace, love and humanity. All I can say is that we sing from the heart and it reaches the heart of the listener.
Since this is one of the purest and soulful forms of music, it appeals to not only us as a singer but also to the people. This is the reason I find it different from other forms of music. I would also like to state that Sufi music propagates the idea of being a good human, it helps you to connect with the Almighty.
How did your film career start?
Shadab Faridi and Sohrab Faridi: It’s a known fact that we have been performing since ages. The chapter of getting into Bollywood started when A R Rahman heard our father, late Ustad Ghulam Farid Nizami, singing Sufi kalams and was overwhelmed hearing him.
He (Rahman) wanted him to give his voice to a film, but unfortunately, the circumstances didn’t make things happen. However, A R Rahman kept his promise and made us part of the very famous song, “Kun Faya Kun”, in Rockstar.
He also wanted us to sing “Haji Ali” in Jodha Akbar, but at that very time, we were on a tour to the US and thus, could not be part of that film. Later, it was Kabir Khan who also wanted us to give our voice to “Aaj Rang Hai”, which was written by poet Amir Khusro in Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
The objective behind this song was to unite the people of both India and Pakistan in the string of music. Thus, we performed the same kalam, which is sung in Pakistan as well as India.
Why do you think Sufi music is popular in Bollywood?
Sohrab: Well, we would like to mention here that Sufi music is well-accepted and embraced by people across the globe and when it comes to Bollywood we have seen an overwhelming response from the industry.
They have incorporated Sufi music as a part of the mainstream music industry and you can now find more and more films depicting this art. The reason behind this is that Sufism helps you to connect with your soul and almighty.
It refurbishes the idea of peace and tranquility, which makes this music so popular. It’s not about Bollywood industry; in generic life people live this music. Sufism works as a stress reliever and it takes you to a new life. Many scientists have even shown that such forms of music relieve stress.
Tell us about your experience of performing at Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah. Canwefindyou there every Thursday?
Chand Nizami: Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah is our roots. Our inspiration to sing, perform and bring forth the best of Sufism comes from this place. It’s not only about our popularity, but we also have an emotional connection with this place.
This is the place where our father and forefathers used to perform, and we are continuing this legacy. Insha Allah, we wish to continue doing the same in the times to come.
An old verse strikes our mind when we speak about performing at Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, “Jab tak bika na tha koi poochta na tha; tumne kahreed kar muje anmol kar diya.
(Till we were sold, no one knew us; you bought us and made us priceless.)” Whenever we are in Delhi we come to the Dargah and sing. However, when we are not here, someone from the family is always here.
As a band, what keeps you persistently motivated? Shadab:
It’s not about us, it’s about all the singers, the love of our people and appreciation of our art keeps us highly motivated. It is this reason that despite our tiredness, our zeal to sing and perform for the music lovers brings us back on stage day after day to perform with the same enthusiasm.
Apart from this, the kalamof Sufiism is itself so motivating and inspiring that it pumps us up to perform and bring forth the best of Sufism.
Do you think, over the years, the quality of music in movies has deteriorated with more focus on commercialization?
Chand Nizami: It is an unfortunate reality of the music industry. Music has now become like fast food, you can enjoy it once, and it doesn’t suit the palate every time. Like you cannot eat a burger every day. Similarly, music today has become shortlived.
A track becomes a hit, but then people tend to forget it. It’s all about commercialisation and making instant money. Another sad truth is that most of the songs have lyrics, which either objectify women or portray a wrong image of society.
Provocative lyrics sometimes misguide our youth. The work of music, whether it is Sufi, instrumental or any other form, is to motivate people, spread the message of love, peace and harmony. Unfortunately, this is now being overshadowed by money seekers.
Where do you see yourself now from where you started?Has the journey been smooth?
Shorab Faridi: Well, our journey has been good so far. I won’t claim that we didn’t have to struggle because life is never the same for everyone. I think our persistent effort to keep ourselves rooted and sticking to the originality of Sufism has made our musical journey smooth and overwhelming.
Even if there were days when we were not in high spirits, the love from the audience helped us to recollect all our emotions, put them in words and perform in front of people.
Can you share your experience of performing outside India?How much do they relate to this genre?
All three: We have till now performed in 25 different nations and have met people speaking different dialects, but music has no language or religion, it is sung from the heart and reaches the heart. This is what we have felt till now. People appreciate the art and essence of Sufism, and that’s what matters.