'Sound of Kashmir' singer-songwriter Aabha Hanjura (centre) with accompanying musicians
'Sound of Kashmir' singer-songwriter Aabha Hanjura (centre) with accompanying musicians

Sound of Kashmir: Sufi sounds from the valley

Drawing inspiration from the folklores of Kashmir, is a single that comes as the fifth in singer-songwriter Aabha Hanjura’s upcoming album, Sound of Kashmir

The songstress of rustic Sufi folk music from Kashmir, Aabha Hanjura amalgamates the Valley’s past and present in singular fusion. ‘Nundbane’, drawing inspiration from the folklores of the state, is a single that comes as the fifth in her upcoming six-track album, Sound of Kashmir.

It is a synthesis of opposite sensibilities—traditional and contemporary—that translates the spirit of modern Kashmir into a melody. ‘Nundbane’ means the apple of my eye, or my beautiful one in Kashmiri. Written by acclaimed Kashmiri poet Mahmud Gami, it speaks of the purity of love. Hanjura’s version comes laden with memories, the most poignant one being the time when her family had to flee from Kashmir during the exodus in 1990.

It’s also a song she’s been singing since she was a child and that’s why she’s deeply attached to it. “This song pays an ode to love and when you think Kashmir, a similar feeling arises. A lot of the folklore in the valley revolves around love and out of the long list of works by poets, ‘Nundbane’ has been a favourite. While the melodic content speaks to me, the visual metaphors drawn by Gami are beautiful and I wanted to add my touch to it,” says Hanjura.

While his words have been retained, she’s introduced a dense instrumental arrangement to make it different from the earlier version and also add a flavour of her own. The rabab, tumbaknaer and santoor, along with the guitar and drum parts put a new fresh perspective on a classic. “Kashmir and everything to do with it is an important part of my music-making.

Even when I write in Hindi, my Kashmiri roots find a way of seeping into the music I create. I am very inspired by the history, culture, musical richness, all of which I have tried to showcase in the upcoming album,” says Hanjura.

The pandemic may have slowed things down at her end but the singer-songwriter hopes to set the challenges aside and release the complete album shortly. “While this album has been in the pipeline for a while now, there is more material which I had recorded before the lockdown which will drop very
soon. I am looking forward to that,” she says with a smile.

Although it’s been a while since she performed live, an aspect she enjoys thoroughly about being a musician, she doesn’t let it pull her spirit down. Rather, she treats it as a tiny halt before bigger things come her way. And that’s why, she creates music every single day.

“Kashmir and everything to do with it is an important part of my music-making. Even when I write in Hindi, my Kashmiri roots emerge.”

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