Amir Khusrau’s poem ‘Zehaal-E-Miskeen’ gets a modern twist

New Delhi, July 22 (IANSlife) Burudu, an Indian electronica duo, has given the famous Sufi poet Amir Khusrao’s ghazal a 21st century makeover in their latest release, ‘Zehaal-E-Miskeen.’ The track, which was released today as a modern day qawwali, preserves the timelessness of the ghazal, which has been popularised by qawwalising for centuries.

‘Zehaal-E-Miskeen’s diverse sonic textures create a world that is romantic and mystic, foreign and familiar, raw and refined – and brought to life by the striking voice of Sukanya Chattopadhyay, a frequent collaborator of the duo.

One of the most beautiful aspects of the original work is the weaving together of two drastically different verbal traditions: court Persian, which Khusrau used to compose formal verse, and Brij Bhasha, which Khusrau used for songs about seasons and festivals.

“We were initially drawn in because of the coming together of the two languages in the poem,” explain Burudu of their decision to focus on ‘Zehaal’. “We didn’t understand half the words but it was phonetically beautiful and assertive, and oncewe understood its true meaning, to us it became even more powerful,” they add.

‘Zehaal-E-Miskeen,’ sung by legendary ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali among many others, is a ghazal that people all over South Asia and the diaspora know by heart. That fact didn’t escape Nakul Sharma and Sahil Bhatia, and it also prompted them to take their time getting to a sound they liked.

“We wanted to make sure we did justice to the words and their meaning, while nestling themin a sound we believe in, so the challenge was the timeless and epic poem itself,” they say, before adding, “The initial idea leaned heavily on electronic instruments and as we built vocalmelodies, we were able to hear the possibility of the more traditional instrumentation of a qawwali finding its place in the song. We recorded the instruments that we felt were needed,like the tabla, sarangi, oud and cumbus to name a few. And finally, we were conscious of not trying to force the two worlds, for which a key factor was that we took our time with this song.”

The song was also used as the soundtrack for Beyond the Light, a recent fashion film by Mumbai-based designers Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla. Beyond the Light is produced by Abu-production Sandeep’s company La Filmi Compania and directed by wedding filmmakers House on the Clouds. It stars Shantanu Maheshwari, who was recently seen with Alia Bhatt in ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’.

(IANSlife can be contacted at ianslife@ians.in)

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