Filmmaker Muzzaffar Ali on why he refrained from inviting Pak artists to World Sufi Music Festival he curates

MAMOSA Report — The popular World Sufi Music Festival Jahan-e-Khusrau is taking place in Delhi next week — after two years, but this year’s edition won’t feature any sufi singer from Pakistan.

In an interview with Hindustan Times, filmmaker Muzzaffar Ali, who showed his directorial prowess with the iconic Rekha-starrer film Umrao Jaan (1981). and is curating the 13th edition of 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.”

Ali said he he didn’t invite Pakistani artists as he feared backlash.

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.

According to Ali who wears many hats: he’s a poet, artist, fashion designer, music lover, said that the seed of this festival was sown when he 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….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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