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."