Hailing from Kashmir and presently based in Bangalore, Aabha Hanjura is the voice of ‘Sufistication’, a project that merges traditional Sufi music with modern genres of music.
A passionate musician whose career started with ‘Indian Idol 2’, she is trying to reinvent the sound of Kashmir.
While Aabha had been toying with the concept of ‘Sufistication’ for a long time, it finally took off only two years ago. “Sufi folk music as a space in India can take off if it’s reinvented because it’s the music of the people. It’s something that I closely identify with as I’ve grown up on it. I’m personally trying to establish the sound of Kashmir because the music has stayed in the Valley and not gone out because of the circumstances. But there’s more to Kashmir than tourism and terrorism,” she tells Metrolife after her performance at Storm Festival.
“The music scene back home is limited to the traditional music and restricted to All India Radio artistes and ‘A’ grade artistes, ‘B’ grade artists. It’s a bit of a sensitive space but I’m sure we’ll get there. Performing there extensively is on the cards after completing my album ‘Aabha Hanjura: Sounds of Kashmir’,” adds Aabha.
Talking about the various elements at play in her songs, she says, “I write some of my own poetry or add Hindi or English lyrics to bring out the meaning of the songs. The idea is to somehow get the essence registered in the minds of younger people because this is poetry that will last. For instance, Bulleh Shah’s poetry has really stayed on because it’s relevant. And that’s the thing about Sufi music — the lyrics are the hero of the entire genre. It’s popular because of what people sing, not how they sing it. It might sound jarring to some as it isn’t classical. But people who understand it will identify with it.”
She points out that the realm of Sufi music offers a lot of scope to women. “There are a lot of women singers in Pakistan. But in India, I don’t know why women don’t want to do this. The thing that works for Pakistani music is that they stay close to their roots and don’t try to do something that they can’t do. I admire their work and really want to work there,” shares Aabha, who adores the work of late Pakistani folk singer Reshma.
Beyond her spiritual and musical inclination, does she have time for anything else? She replies, “The music takes all the time I have but I really like to dance. I do dance while performing but I control myself because I want my performance to remain about the music.”
Having moved to Bangalore eight years ago, she finds the City extremely conducive to her music.
“The City has really accepted me. Right after I left Kashmir was when I really took off and even ‘Indian Idol’ happened here. The people have been amazing and I’m grateful and feel blessed to be here,” she wraps up.