We get 30-35% funding from the Delhi Government and a similar amount from ICCR. But we fall short by 30-40% every year, says Ali. The festival will bring together Sufi musicians from India, Pakistan, Iran and Canada to revisit the music and poetry of the Sufi saint at the 14th century Arab Ki Sarai, adjacent to the Humayun tomb in Delhi. A blend of sufiana kalam that brings out the flavours of Basant and the festival of Holi along with Persian ghazals will aim to enthral music lovers.
The festival will host musicians Azalea Ray from Canada, Masood Habibi from Iran, Hans Raj Hans from Punjab, Malini Awasthi from Delhi, Saami Brothers, Wajahat Hussain Badayuni, Ustaad Shujaat Hussain Khan and Shafqat Ali Khan from Pakistan. The festival will be also travelling to London this year for the first time. Only Indian artistes will perform during the London festival and the event will also include two films directed by Muzaffar Ali, Umrao Jaan and Breathe Into Me.
In Delhi, the artistes will perform on the poetry and compositions chosen and composed by Ali who believes that Sufi poetry can only survive if the youth connect to it in India as has happened in the west.
It is happening big time in the west. In India, its still slow as Urdu as a language is not easy to understand. There is not enough translation work being done from Urdu to Hindi and English, as happened with Rumis work in the US, he says. What is required is more such festivals for the fervour to grow. We need to give poetry a modern design and feel. That buoyancy is missing, says Ali.
He feels that once that connect is made and Sufi music is able to find place in people's hearts, funding will cease to be an issue. But we need money to organise a good show to draw the audience now as well, he adds. The festival will be on from March 11-13.