& occasionally about other things, too...

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Sufi Poets Series - III: American Sufi

Sheniz announcing the launch of Sufi Poets Series III
Anand Mahadevan’s American Sufi is a story of a family based in Pakistan one of whose member has turned into an Islamic fundamentalist, is jailed in an Indian prison, and released in exchange of hostages taken in an airplane hijack.

The fundamentalist’s cousin goes to the United States for education, and returns to Pakistan with friends (including a white woman friend) for a brief sojourn.
But in the post 9/11 investigations, is apprehended by the FBI and deported to Pakistan.
Anand Mahadevan,
reading from his forthcoming novel
American Sufi
Anand’s reading from his soon-to-be-published novel was the mainstay of the third episode of the Sufi Poets Series organized by Sheniz Janmohamed’s Ignite Poets.

The blurb of the novel posted on the event’s online poster describes the novel thus: “The novel weaves in elements of Sufi storytelling, sub-continental history, and Urdu poetry to reveal the tragedy of a land and its people rent between their devotion to the pacifist strain of Sufi Islam and the growing clout of Saudi-funded militancy.”

Anand has a sonorous cadence to his reading. It became intricately enmeshed with the muted ambience at Beit Zatoon, Toronto’s favourite arts and culture venue that has unmistakable political underpinnings, in an evening of music, poetry and prose.

Jawaid Danish, theatre veteran and filmmaker, whose film Bada Shayar Chota Aadmi was released to wide acclaim in 2013, read Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s Urdu poems.

Tariq Hameed, on his harmonium, sang devotional and romantic Sufi songs and qawwalis. The pièce de résistance was Lal Meri Pat “Oh red robed” (Amir Khusro, Bulleh Shah), which led to the audience demanding an encore.


Anand Mahadevan, Sameer Shahid Khan,
Tariq Hameed & Ravi Naimpally
Sameer Shahid Khan, strumming his guitar, and interpreting Bulleh Shah’s classic Bulla Ki Janna “Who Knows Who I AM” was soulful, original and adventurous, even.

The dexterous Ravi Naimpally was on the tabla.

Among the other Sufi compositions performed that evening included Maula Naam (Shahbaz Qamar Fareedi), Saeen (Junoon), Allah Hu, Aukhe Painde (Bulleh Shah).

Sheniz Janmohamed
Sheniz has become a master at organizing such culture-rich events, and that cold December evening, she had once again woven her deft magic to bring to life an evening that had everyone enthralled and asking for more. 

Photos by Ashutosh and Shivankur Sharma

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