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First qawwal since Nusrat to compose film music

KARACHI: Qawwals have been significant contributors to our music legacy but only Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali could claim that he has served as the music director for a film. Almost 20 years after his death, Hamza Akram of Qawwal Bachon Ka Gharana is aiming to do the same.

Akram serves as the music director for upcoming Pakistani film Rangreza, a love story starring Bilal Ashraf and Goher Rasheed.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Akram said, “This is a huge opportunity for me. As easy it is to say that I am following up Nusrat sahab, it is an even bigger responsibility. I hope I am able to do justice to it.”

As the film, which is directed by Amir Mohiuddin, revolves around the fusion of qawali and modern pop music, Akram is handling the qawwali part of it. “I have composed qawwali and Sufi music for Rangreza. There is also one fusion of rock and qawwali that I have composed.”

When asked what he thought about deviating from Qawwali as film music requires a different stylistic treatment, he said, “A qawwal has to learn a lot of different styles of music because qawwali itself has variety of nuances in it. I am even trained in western classical music, so there is a lot of knowledge and variety involved in becoming a qawwal. When we sing, we talk about how a lover’s eyes intoxicate you, and many different aspects of love, so we have to learn the adaigi of everything as well. So, essentially qawwali encapsulates everything.”

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He added that he has featured in multiple cross-border collaborations including the ‘Borderless Skies’ project launched by Mahesh Bhatt, as well as a trance track in collaboration with DJ Damian Lazarus.

Akram belongs to the 26th generation of Qawwals from his family which traces its lineage to Sufi poet and musician Amir Khusro. Akram is proud that this genre is finally coming to the fore. “Nowadays qawwali has become the latest trend in music. So, I am happy that this kind of music reaching a larger audience. In fact, I am happy when I’m told that more people have started listening to it because of me and my family.”

With the resurgence in popularity of qawwali, different schools of thoughts or gharanas have been getting opportunities to get their music out there for the masses. Asked how he feels about qawwali crossing over into mainstream and film music, Akram said, “It’s important and I am glad it’s happening. So far, we have received positive response from the audience.”

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Qawwali may have become the talk of the town but the number of musicians keen on pursuing it as a serious profession has decreased over time. If upcoming qawwals find a short cut to fame with film music then it might damage whatever is being done to sustain the ages-old craft. “I think upcoming qawwals should definitely foray into different kinds of music and experiment with what they have learnt.”

Earlier this year, Akram released his debut album Sada-e-Sufi in India. The singer, who tours with his group ‘Hamza Akram Taimoor Akram Qawwal & Bros’, was also previously in the news for his collaboration with media personality Arjumand Azhar. The duo had been working on a naat album featuring religious hymns penned by non-Muslims.

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“Nowadays qawwali has become the latest trend in music. So, I am happy that this kind of music reaching a larger audience. In fact, I am happy when I’m told that more people have started listening to it because of me and my family.

courtesy : Express Tribune

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