Jodhpur, Oct 22: They may be tagged as qawwalis, a popular form of Sufi devotional music, in Hindi films but Pakistani singers Rizwan and Muazzam, nephews of legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, say the filmi qawwalis lose their soul and essence when composed as a Bollywood number.
The duo is no stranger to Hindi movies as it contributed to Bollywood song "Dil mera muft ka".
"Qawwalis are associated with soul and once you compose them in Bollywood, the composition takes away its essence and meaning. It will be wrong to call it a qawwali. It qualifies as a song," Rizwan of Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali Group told IANS in an interview.
The brothers performed at the ongoing Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF), and belted out some popular numbers of their late uncle, trying to recreate the same magic with "Yeh jo halka halka suroor hai", "Maula Ali" and "Allah ho", but coudn't match his calibre.
The duo admit that "it is extremely difficult to find anyone like our uncle (Nusrat)".
"It is a difficult challenge for us, and at times we feel burdened by it as well. But this also motivates us to outdo our previous performances and develop our own style," said Muazzam.
The duo is based in Faisalabad, the second largest city in Pakistan's Punjab province. The legacy of their family tradition goes back to 600 years and the craft has been passed on from generations to generations.
In earlier days, qawwalis were sung at Sufi shrines and Rizwan says the form is limited to men only.
"Women don't perform qawwalis. They are not allowed to. It is a rule followed everywhere," he said.
The duo sings in Hindi, Urdu, Persian and Sanskrit.
"When we perform in these languages, we ensure that we know the meaning of lyrics. It is important because you are communicating with Allah, and you should know what you are singing," he added.
The duo participated in Coke Studio Pakistan Season 3, and will be seen in its sixth season too. They feel such platforms are the best way to reach out to younger audience who are not fond of traditional qawwalis.
"Such platforms allow us to be innovative in our techniques without losing basics of qawwali," said Rizwan.
With the kind of variation and range their voice requires for their act, the two practise eight hours a day and stay away from cold thinks to avoid sore throat.
Surprisingly, ghee (butter) is the secret ingredient for their soulful voice.
"We don't have oil at all. We eat food cooked in ghee," said Muazzam.
"Can't you make that out from our health," he chuckled.
(Shilpa can be contacted at Shilpa.Shally@gmail.com)