08 Jun, 2019

The youngest child of legendary Sufi singer Abida Parveen and renowned Radio Pakistan producer Ghulam Hussain Sheikh, Sarang Latif was born into a family with deep ties to the musical realm.

It was inevitable then that he’d be drawn into the world of music as well, a journey he started in 2013 as a producer. He has since worked with various artists and multinational companies. Now he is pouring his passion for the craft into a new project, Bazm e Rang, which premiered this Eid.

Conceived, directed and produced by Sarang himself, the venture takes the shape of a series of songs that feature his mother as the main artist. The set will find Abida Parveen performing her tracks both as a solo artist and in collaboration with other renowned singers.

The idea for the project was born out of admiration for Abida Parveen’s music.

“Ammi has done more than 138 albums, MashaAllah,” Sarang gushes, “and I had always wanted to experiment with her music. I had been planning Bazm e Rang for the last five to six years but just couldn’t put together all the pieces of the puzzle until now. I guess there’s a time for everything!”

The first chapter of Bazm e Rang comprises 10 songs, starting with the track ‘Parda Dari’ featuring Atif Aslam (above). Other names that will lend their vocals to upcoming releases include Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Waqar Ehsan, Jabir Abbas, Khurram Waqar, Qasim Azhar, and the band Khamaaj.

"Ammi was always strict and really busy, but it was always inspiring to see her work so hard,” says Sarang as he recalls his childhood. “Her dedication towards her work had a positive impact on me and I've long dreamt of working with passion like hers.”

“I wanted different renowned music artists to collaborate with Ammi, singing her very own compositions,” says Sarang. “Unfortunately, what most people still don’t know is that 99% of the kalaams that my mother has sung in her entire life were composed by her, and she has set a world record for having composed hundreds of kalaams.”

A quest to revisit those kalams and see them in a new light as well as the chance to create new songs led to the production of the web series. The words of celebrated ancient poets and Sufis will form the basis of the songs.

“Ammi has selected poetry by the likes of Hazrat Bedam Shah Warsi r.a, Hazrat Shah Niaz Barelvi r.a, Hazrat Baba Bulleh Shah r.a, Hazrat Baba Zaheen Shah Taji r.a, Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai r.a, Hazrat Amir Khusro r.a, Hazrat Maulana Rumi r.a, Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti r.a, Faiz Ahmad Faiz sahab, Gulzar sahab, Hazrat Ghalib, and Sabir Zafar sahab. Amanat Ali and myself have arranged the music for the whole project.”

Sarang Latif with his legendary mother Abida Parveen
Sarang Latif with his legendary mother Abida Parveen

The series really was a labour of love for the producer who says he took the initiative all on his own, and executed the whole project without any sponsors whatsoever. Unable to find the appropriate venue for filming the performances, Sarang, along with his wife Shireen Benazir Bijarani, came up with the idea of building the set at his own studio hall. The production was handled by his friends at Placid Films, who “understood the concept really well and worked extremely hard at odd times” to make the series happen.

The songs are being released online not just because of the high expenses that would have been required to release the set on television, but because the producer feels that “people are more into YouTubing and Facebooking rather than watching TV, so it felt more appropriate to release it online so that people can watch it whenever they want.”

Sarang says that working on the project was a remarkable experience, not just for himself but clearly for everyone else who was part of the team as well. “There are many memorable incidents that happened during the project, but the one that touched my heart the most was during a shoot, when Ammi was singing. One of the cameramen, Tayyab, left his camera unintentionally and started listening to her, forgetting his job totally and then all of a sudden everybody noticed him sitting down without his camera, lost in Ammi’s soulful voice.”

"Most people still don’t know is that 99% of kalaams sung by my mother were also composed by her and she has set a world record for having composed hundreds of kalaams.” — Sarang Latif

The impact of Abida Parveen’s voice is something Sarang has been experiencing firsthand since he was a child.

“When she used to do rehearsals at home, Ammi’s voice used to give me goosebumps. I always tried to sit beside her to watch her rehearse, as that would give me some sort of satisfaction that can’t be expressed in words.”

And what was it like growing up with the legendary singer as his mother?

“Ammi was always strict and really busy, but it was always inspiring to see her work so hard,” he recalls. “Her passion and dedication towards her work along with my father used to have a great positive impact on me and I would always think that one day I would also be working like her with passion.”

As the first set of songs awaits its release, Sarang has already started working on the second chapter of Bazm e Rang. He wants the project to “cater to people of all ages – teenagers, middle-aged, and even old people” and “act as therapy for the mind, body, and soul”.

And he hopes that the project will help him honour his mother. “With this platform, I would like to express my gratitude to my mother and say to her that I am truly proud of her. She is my source of inspiration, she is the only reason behind Bazm e Rang. I thank Allah for blessing me with such an amazing mother.”