On the World Music Day, online content portal 101India released a music video titled “Like A Sufi”, a collaboration between Pune-based Sufi rock band Alif, that performs in Urdu & Kashmiri and Kashmiri rapper Roushan Illahi aka MC Kash.
The video is part of a new, ongoing project, 101 Sufi, which traces modern Sufi musicians and enables collaborations between them.
Except for MC Kash’s verses, which are in English, the soul-stirring piece is mainly sung in Kashmiri, which the band says is “an attempt to save this dying language”.
Alif started their musical journey as Highway 61 in 2008. Two years later, Highway 61 was voted among the top five bands in the Indian edition of the Hard Rock Calling competition. They went on to perform on platforms like Coke Studio and Kappa TV before signing a record deal and changing their name to Alif.
Vocalist Mohammad Muneem, an engineering graduate and MBA, worked in the corporate world for six months before packing it in to try his hand at music.
The group was already in touch with MC Kash, who rose to popularity in 2010 with “I Protest”, inspired by the unrest and human rights abuses.
“101 called us and broached the idea of a collaboration,” Muneem told The Hindu newspaper. “It felt right, so we did it.” The actual song is very personal to the band. “With MC Kash, we’re talking about our truths,” he said.
“Different people will absorb it in different ways. Some would interpret it as the guilt of not expressing love to someone when they’re around and then realising it’s too late. These are stories we have felt and we wanted to write about that feeling.”
The video for ‘Like A Sufi’ was shot in Kashmir, which is a challenge in itself.
“In today’s world, to find someone who will patiently listen to you and understand what you want to do is fantastic,” Muneem said. “101India really understood the vision of the song, why we wanted to shoot it in Kashmir, and they made it happen. It was great.”