Rahman wanted to know what our father fed us: Nooran sisters

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By Manju Mittal

Joyti and Sultana, popularly known as ‘Nooran sisters’, they are most popular sufi singers of India and now known all over the world.  Their grandmother Bibi Nooran was a musician of repute as music formed an integral part of their childhood with Nooran sisters following in her footsteps.  Gulshan Mir, their father, guru and mentor to his talented daughters also composes songs for the them and accompanies them on their travels abroad. They follow the Sham Chaurasi Gharana and ‘Marasi’ traditions of music.

The Nooran sisters are from Jalandhar district, their singing is signified by the very essence of folk music – uninhibited, rustic and is strongly evocative of the Sufi traditions of Punjab. Sufism is principally a mystical form of Islam, but it has always attracted people from different faiths. It incorporates compositions of poets such as Bulleh Shah, Baba Farid, Waris Shah, Shah Hussain have been a significant part of the state’s musical ethos since Sufi music originated in Punjab area.

The journey of Nooran sisters from absolute obscurity to national attention has been an incredible one. On CokeStudio@MTV they take over the stage with their strong, impactful voice and charismatic personalities as they perform the traditional Sufi songs, ‘Allah Hu’, ‘Jugni’ and ‘Tung tung’.  The talent of girls was spotted early and gained recognition with the TV show, ‘Nikki Awaaz Punjab di’. Nooran sisters are known for singing the popular ‘Pataka guddi’ song from the movie ‘Highway’, they have lent their voice to the title track of TV show ‘Warris’ and also the title song ‘Mirzya’ involved them. Over the years they have won many awards.

Sydney witnessed live Nooran sisters along with their father Gulshan Mir as audience sat completely mesmerised on Saturday November 19, 2016 at Liverpool Whitlam Centre. It was a truly euphoric evening of intoxicating music that some of us were fortunate enough to not only listen, witness and take it home, but also a memory that will stay with us forever.

The sisters met Sydneysiders in a Meet & Greet that was held at the grand Maharaja Haveli Restaurant Quakers Hills on Friday November 18, 2016, ahead of their concert. Here is what Nooran sisters shared with TIDU on their Sufi musical journey in Bollywood:

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First of all, welcome to Aussie land.  Is this your first trip to Australia and how does it feel to perform in Sydney?

We are enjoying the experience of our first live performance in Australia. We have done many shows all over the world and yes this is our first trip to Australia and we are very excited and pleased with the very warm response from the people in Australia and looking forward to perform in Sydney tomorrow.

Tell us about your journey. At what age you both started singing and your inspiration?

Our father discovered our talent when I was five and Sultana was seven years old, we were playing, and in jest, singing a Bulleh Shah kalam that we had heard from our naani. He asked us to sit with him and sing it with the harmonium and the tabla, and we didn’t miss a beat. Our greatest influence has been our grandmother and father. They both inspire us.

How was your experience working with AR Rahman?

We had a great time recording the song ‘Pataka guddi’ with AR Rahman.  We can’t get over the experience of working with Rahman. Describing ‘Patakha Guddi’ as something we associate with full of masti ( fun ), we remember the six- hour recording session in Mumbai with a lot of fondness. After the recording, Rahman told my father, he wanted to know what he had been feeding us says Sultana.

Successful in a male- dominated world, what were the challenges singing Sufi music?

The journey has been difficult and it was a huge learning experience. Initially, we weren’t sure if Sufi music we are training in held the promise of a bright career.

“Sufi music needs understanding of the lyrics, and more such nuances. So, we never knew that our kind of music would ever get so much attention from people”, says Sultana.

“This is our ibaadat ( devotion ), and we want people to listen with the same sincerity with which we sing, our bodies, when we sing, don’t feel like they are ours anymore. It is like surrendering to Allah”, adds Joyti.

You both have achieved a lot in a short period of time, how does it feel?

(Both smile): No we don’t feel we have achieved much at all. There is so much to learn and explore.

As we wrapped up the interview Joyti and Sultana posed graciously for a picture. Both are already world wise performers with an amazing passion. We sincerely wish them the best for their future.

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NS 3Vvikas Paul of Friends India Entertainment brought Nooran sisters and gave Sydney a fantastic Sufi concert.  It was an exclusive and a unique experience for all who came something they will cherish for years to come.

(Photos courtesy: Jindeep Photography)

Short URL: https://indiandownunder.com.au/?p=7953

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