Published Mar 17, 2017 03:23pm

We can't embarrass Pakistani artists, says filmmaker Muzaffar Ali

The popular World Sufi Music Fesitival Jahan-e-Khusrau is taking place in Delhi next week, but this year's edition won't feature any representation from Pakistan.

In an interview with Hindustan Times, filmmaker Muzzaffar Ali, who curates the festival, said, "I wanted to invite artists from across the border but I thought I may not be able to… If somebody embarrasses them then it’s not nice. I don’t have any opinions on that [ban of Pakistani artists in India] but certainly we can’t embarrass those people."

The Umrao Jaan director feels Sufism is a common thread between India and Pakistan. The festival has previously hosted many Pakistani artists, including Abida Parveen and Shafqat Amanat Ali. But for now, Mazaffar Ali has artists from India on board, which include Daler Mehndi and Sukhwinder Singh.

"It’s nice to have people from across the sub-continent — that’s the message of oneness that should go — but under the present circumstances, this is the best," says Ali.

The filmmaker has had a film stuck in production for a while - a biopic titled Zooni on 16th century poet Habba Khatoon. He reveals it was amidst planning that film that an idea for this festival came to him.

"The seed of this festival was sown when I was in Kashmir and saw the turmoil and poetry of the mystics. I was making my film Zooni and could see a change take place between a very absorbent, gentle atmosphere to a very harsh reality of intolerance. That’s when I thought a festival like this should take place in India…. I’m very keen to revive my film but It can only be done if people want it. But there’s a lot of money involved. And the whole Bollywood trap is very confusing. We would need big stars and distortion of history to make it commercial. You cannot distort history! I can’t afford to play around with the Kashmiri sentiment for this film."

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Comments (24) Closed



Harmony-1© Mar 17, 2017 03:33pm

Quite right. The situation is becoming silly!

Sarai alamgir Mar 17, 2017 03:39pm

Having a conference on Sufism with Pakistan is like having a football WC without Brazil.

Thoroughthinker Mar 17, 2017 03:45pm

Habba Khatoon of 16th century must be a very popular figure of Kashmir of her time to be still alive in her poetry and songs. There is need for thorough reasearch on the subject, to unearth the true story and its authentic filmization.

asif Mar 17, 2017 03:54pm

Sufism, without Pakistan and Pakistani artists? Kidding me?

Sameer Mar 17, 2017 04:08pm

Sufism roots in Sindh.

olive Mar 17, 2017 04:40pm

why should pakistani artists feel embarrassed? it was their governments decision to ban them, should they not feel embarrassed?

aimi Mar 17, 2017 04:46pm

Haaa.... and what kind of Sufism is that A show? Something cosmetic only? Formality ? Event? Business? where is the spirit of it if you cannot raise voice for injustice , oppression , intolerance? where is the spirit of it when you cannot assert in the face of adversity ? Sad

cocomo Mar 17, 2017 04:55pm

Pakistan should start annual Sufi festival in Pakistan (in Lahore), spirit of Sufism its music and art is still a living reality in Pakistan. It will also help as currently Pakistan is trying to portray itself as a safe space for people of different religions. We should take lessons from Sufi festival in Fes Morocco.

Thoroughthinker Mar 17, 2017 05:06pm

@Sarai alamgir: Sufism without Pakistan you mean?

Raja Farhat Abbas Mar 17, 2017 06:06pm

@Sameer ...There are much more Sufi shrines in Punjab and lots of Sufi Kalams were written in Punjab ie Mian Mohammand Bakhs ,Buley Shah,Waris Shah,and Ba Ba Ghulam Farid to name just a few.

shahid Mar 17, 2017 06:37pm

very giant country with very small hearts

MARIA Mar 17, 2017 08:08pm

So subtle but yet so clear and strong in his message. That is the way only a person belonging to the Urdu Adab would deal with the growing fascism in his country. Feel sorry for the artists and minorities there.

AG Mar 17, 2017 10:14pm

So nice of you, you did the right thing. Thanks!

worthless wealth Mar 17, 2017 10:31pm

Though an artist can well understand Politicians and their politics of the time, yet a Politician cannot understand Arts, Artist and Artistic Language, simply because it is a culture and heritage; something of our belongings to or our ancestry,

Places with names like India or Pakistan is just a stretch of Land Mass, neither Hindu nor Muslim. It is thus all about people, who have been playing their due role in carrying over cultural heritage from generation to generation. The cultural heritage for both is quite common in many respect.

KP Mar 18, 2017 02:08am

@olive A minor correction, there is, or was, no ban by the Government. The decision to restrict the Pakistani artists from the Bollywood films was taken by the Bollywood film producers guild. There is no legal backing to it. For the records.

OSCAR PINTO Mar 18, 2017 03:47am

Good decision Mr. Ali . Keep them away , reason valid or invalid .

Sufi Mar 18, 2017 04:20am

Sufi festival without Pakistani sufi lore - a joke!

fact Mar 18, 2017 06:26am

Self-centered, business point only

nadeem ansari Mar 18, 2017 07:45am

Why feel bad about this ? Why do not you conduct a festival in Pakistan instead ? We love to come .

AXH Mar 18, 2017 07:48am

How can you even host an international event on Sufism without participation from Pakistan?

Samir,India Mar 18, 2017 08:53am

Wait for a while. The ban on Pakistani artist in not forever as both complement each other.

rajesh Mar 18, 2017 09:29am

why not

Blue Knight Mar 18, 2017 10:13am

You are mistaken Mr. Ali .. you carry on your film project of Zooni based on Sufi Mystic of Kashmir, without any distortion of facts or history, if you can arrange for the resources, required for the execution of the same. I am sure Indians will love it, if you make it well, like Umrao Jaan .. Please don 't belittle your countrymen by thinking like that.. Thank you for Umrao Jaan..

muhammad ali Mar 18, 2017 11:33am

but still you can had artists from Bangladesh and Iran as well....