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Travelling Routes to Discover Roots: int’l documentary on Sufi singer Sanam Marvi


By Zulfiqar Kunbhar

KARACHI: “I am very happy and excited that for the first time, a documentary will be made about my life, career, and family,” Pakistan’s leading folk and Sufi singer Sanam Marvi said.

This documentary, indeed the first-ever international documentary on Sanam Marvi, who is among the finest performers in Sufi songs, ghazal and folk genres, is being produced by Tanya, an American who is currently residing in Canada. She pursued research in media in London, England, and worked as a journalist for Al Jazeera English in the US.

Sanam Marvi sings in Punjabi, Urdu, Sindhi and Siraiki languages. Born in Hyderabad, Sanam sings compositions of Sufi mystics such as Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Sachal Sarmast, Baba Bulleh Shah, Baba Sheikh Farid and Allama Iqbal.

“I am very excited as this is the first-ever documentary being made out of my family of musicians. I think this will not just be for my recognition, but also for all of Sindh and Pakistan,” she declared while talking to Daily Times.

The Coke Studio performer has also been showcased in performances around the world. She appeared in a solo performance in 2010’s Jahan-e-Khusrau, Sufi music festival in India. In February 2011, she performed with Indian playback singer Rekha Bhardwaj in Hyderabad, India.

Marvi made her Bollywood singing debut in ‘London, Paris, New York’, singing along with Hadiqa Kiyani and Ali Zafar.

“I am shooting this documentary to pursue my dream of raising awareness about Sufi music and poetry,” said Tanya talking to Daily Times via phone from Toronto, Canada.

Tanya, the director and editor of the documentary, said that she first heard the voice of Sanam Marvi on Virsa Heritage and Coke Studio Pakistan. “Many of her performances were in Sindhi and Siraiki, and thus at first I did not understand the words she was singing. But I was blown away with the power and intensity of her voice, and that is what struck me about her.”

Tanya said she was intrigued and wanted to discover the meaning behind Marvi’s songs. When Tanya deciphered the words she discovered that these were not merely lyrics, but actually the poetry of the Sufi saints from Pakistan.

Tanya will be travelling to Pakistan to begin production with Marvi in mid-February. The filming is scheduled in locations including Karachi, Multan, Hyderabad, Lahore and Islamabad, as well as outside Pakistan in Doha, Qatar.

“My interest was really at its peak more recently when Sanam visited Toronto several weeks ago for her performances at the Aga Khan Museum,” stated Tanya. “I was amazed she was in fact better live than in person, and that spellbound experience inspired me to contact her directly and to propose an idea for a documentary on her life, faith and vision as a Sufi singer from Sindh. She has expressed her enthusiasm and commitment towards this project.”

“My passion is Sufi music, and Sanam Marvi has inspired me to learn about the Sufi poetry of Pakistan through her more contemporary performances on Coke Studio. I am thrilled to share her fascinating story as a female Sufi singer, with Sindh, Pakistan and the entire world,” affirmed Tanya.

Daily Times 

  • January 31, 2015

About Zulfiqar

Journalist. Staff Reporter at Daily Times, Karachi. Bylines appeared at Dawn, Third Pole,,, The Friday Times (TFT), Pique Magazine. Former News Producer.


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