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News |  31 May 2018 18:14 |  By RnMTeam

Words like Maula, Peer, and Allah don't make a song Sufi: Roohani Sisters

MUMBAI: You can’t escape the soulful vibe of Sufi music. We have many legendary Sufi singers at the moment and Bollywood too is taking notice of it. However, not all that is presented to you as Sufi music is that. “Words like Maula, Peer, and Allah don’t make a song Sufi. The audience needs to be aware of that. I think right education about the topic is essential,” says Jagriti of the Roohani Sisters.

Roohani Sisters, literal meaning Soul sisters, are actually that and not blood-related. Jagriti Luthra Prassana and Neeta Pandey Negi connected with each other during their college days and bonded big time over their common love and passion of Sufi music.

“We met at the Faculty of Art & Culture in Delhi University. Thereon, we discovered our common love Sufi. Both of us took training in Classical music and made our base strong. We also learnt all the languages that Sufi is performed in, including Urdu and Persian,” Jagriti continues.

They also learnt nuances of Ghazal gayaki under Ustad Iqbal Hussain Khan. On their chemistry, Neeta shares, "We have been together for 10 years now and we have been through many ups and downs in our lives together. From the very first day itself, our sole motive was to do something different in Sufi music. The jugalbandi idea started with a group of five girls, which we named as Sajda after a trial show of Sajda, all five of us understood that this idea of promoting Sufi music cannot prosper until we go through rigorous training together, which was not possible for the rest of the girls of Sajda due to their family responsibilities and other priorities. Only Jagriti di and I made a commitment and started working on it seriously. We did hours of practice together which helped us in building up trust and responsibility for each other which exists till date and will continue forever. This chemistry of ours sometimes astounds us as well when unknowingly we sing certain things together. Our thoughts, idea and execution sync perfectly.” 

There is chemistry, but also arguments, “Yes, we often end up in arguments as well regarding music only, which always results in something good. But on the personal front, we completely understand each other's situations and circumstances.”

Both of them idolize the same legend too, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, in fact, Jagriti has completed her thesis on him.

While there are many solo Sufi presenters, Roohani Sisters are the only women duo apart from Nooran Sisters who perform duets or jugalbandis for Sufi. “Our styles are very different. They are brilliant at what they do. We are however more classical based and have focused on bol taans and sargams while we sing,” Jagriti shares.

“We are constantly trying to evolve and bring something new. Currently, we are working on our new album called BedardaBedarda is a Punjabi word. We are working on video and giving a Coke Studio feel, so it is relatable to the young generation too,” says Jagriti.

Both of them would love to work for Bollywood but on conditions. “Sometimes the meaning of the song gets distorted in the process of making it fit in Bollywood song. That shouldn’t happen.  Otherwise, we are open for Hindi movies. We perform everywhere in India and abroad. At festivals, private concerts and corporate shows," shares Jagriti.

With different genres of music taking over, there is a concern if the Sufi music is still growing on people. Clearing the air Neeta says, "Sufi Music has that kind of charm which appeals to one and all. According to us, it is the presentation that matters. Sufi music has many singing forms, like Qawwali, Qafi, Ghazals etc, whichever form we choose for whichever kind of audience, the essence remains the same, i.e. love for the Divine, the Supreme Power. When you take a look at old videos of Nusrat Saahab, where he is performing traditional Qawwalis in front of huge audience, there you’ll also see a child coming up on stage and dancing, a man bestowing his money on the Qawwali party, and also an old man showering blessings on Nusrat Sahab and his party. So, this magical music has always been mass friendly that is why it has become so popular over the few decades. When we perform, we also sing traditional compositions along with popular Qawwalis so that there is something for everyone. Whenever we sing some Persian or Urdu composition, we try to explain the meaning of that song so that even a child can understand its meaning."

The soul sisters have given their sonorous voice to the Qalams of Baba Bulleshah, Sultan Bahu, Baba Fareed, Hazrat Ameer Khusro R.A., Hazrat Rumi, Hazrat Rabia and many such great Sufi poets, poetesses and saints. They also write and compose their own songs. Their performances include a variety of Sufi compositions like Hamd, Naat, Qual, Manqabat, Qawwali, Kaafi, Savele, Ghazal etc. to keep up with the pace of changing trends in music and spread their idea of Sufism amongst the youth they also perform Bollywood Sufi songs in their own style.

Being women themselves, the Roohani Sisters’ excellence in Sufi music and their idea of propagating this music as not just a male dominant league, but a gender unbiased pure rooh (soul), has made them earn lauds. These mystical Sufi singers have brought many laurels to India thus representing the nation worldwide.