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Bharat Nivas

The Pavilion of India




Koi Sunta Hai!
A travelling festival of Kabir

AUGUST 15 – 17, 2008.


“Someone is listening! A guru, a wise one!” sang Kabir, 600 years ago.
Since then countless people have been listening to this 15th century mystic poet’s
words and sharing them with others.
And yet, do we really listen?
Do we make the connect between Kabir’s words and our lives,
our day-to-day acts, the social, spiritual and political choices
in which we’re all enmeshed?
This festival is an opportunity, possibly,
for immersion, provocation,
reflection, revelation.
An opportunity to meet some of the finest
folk-classical-sufi voices of Kabir,
listen to them sing,
chat and interact with them.
An opportunity to journey through
4 documentary films
into spaces touched by Kabir’s poetry.
meeting a diverse array of people,
an urban folklorist, a street fruit seller, a social activist,
a Dalit folk singer, a Zen Buddhist scholar,
a neo-fascist mahant, a Muslim qawwal,
each encounter offering a moment of surprising insight
into the poetry and its contemporary meanings.
An opportunity to glimpse not one but many Kabirs!
Kabir – who beckons, who baffles,
who pushes us to self-interrogate,
to question the boundaries of our identity,
nation, caste, religion,
making these filmic journeys unrelentingly inward
even as they venture outward.



* The 4 documentary films have been directed by Shabnam Virmani, as part of a
wider 5-year project on Kabir, which has produced these 4 films, 2 folk music
videos, 10 audio CDs of artists singing Kabir along with books of the poetry in
translation, all of which will be available for dissemination during the festival.
She will be available for discussions after each screening.
Note 1: Repeat screenings and concerts by some artists can be organized in
smaller venues to smaller audience communities in the available time between
these days, since the filmmaker and some of the singers will be available during
the period of 3 days.
Note 2: Depending on the interest of audience communities, specific discussion
panels can also be organized with invited scholars/poets/folklorists/activists,
some of whom feature in the films, on a range of contemporary concerns and
themes such as sectarian and racial strife, caste, religion and structure, poetics of
Kabir, the social and spiritual in Kabir.

Prahlad Tipanya is one of the most compelling folk voices of Kabir in India
today. A village school teacher by profession, Prahlad Tipanya lives in
Lunyakhedi village in Ujjain district, Madhya Pradesh, and has grown into the
most popular singer of Kabir in the Malwi folk tradition, and has toured India,
UK and USA.

Mukhtiar Ali was born into a Mirasi family whose traditional occupation is
singing. He lives in Pugal village in Bikaner district of Rajasthan, and blends a
Rajasthani folk idiom with refined classicism, and sings the poetry of Kabir, Mira
along with other Sufi poets like Bulleh Shah. Through his collaboration with the
Kabir project, Mukhtiar was spotted as an artist of international calibre, and
made his Europe debut in July 2007 at two world music festivals in Belgium and

Shabnam Virmani is a documentary filmmaker and community media
person, who’s directed several award-winning documentaries in close
partnership with grassroot women’s groups in the country. She co-directed an
award-winning community radio program with a rural women’s group in Kutch,
Gujarat, in 2002.

The Kabir Film Series:

Hadh-Anhadh: Journeys with Ram and Kabir
This film is an attempt to understand Kabir's Ram, through encounters in India and
Pakistan. It delves into the heart of divisive Hindu-Muslim politics of religion and
nationalism in contemporary society, probing the forces of history that have created
disputatiously diverse Rams, while also spawning many Kabirs. (Duration: 102min)

Chalo Hamara Des: Journeys with Kabir and Friends
This film is a journey in search of Kabir's “des” or country and unfolds through the
interwoven narratives of two people from two very different countries – Dalit folk
singer Prahlad Tipaniya and North American scholar Linda Hess. We enter the world of
Kabir, through the personal and public lives of these two individuals, brought together
in an unlikely friendship by the amazing universality and cross-cultural resonance of
Kabir. (Duration: 98 min)

Koi Sunta Hai: Journeys with Kumar and Kabir
This film interweaves the oral folk traditions of Kabir in central India with the intensely
personal narrative of the late classical singer Kumar Gandharva. Journeying between
folk and classical, between rural and urban expressions of Kabir, the film finds moments
of both continuity and rupture between these disparate worlds. (Duration: 102 min)

Kabira Khada Bazar Mein: Journeys with Sacred and Secular Kabir
This film investigates the ironies and tensions between secular and sacred Kabir,
interweaving the sacralization of Kabir by the Kabir Panth with the secular
appropriation of the same poet by the activist group Eklavya. The story unfolds through
the life of Prahlad Tipaniya, a Dalit singer whose participation in the Panth and Eklavya
begins to raise difficult questions for him about ritual and organized religion.
(Duration: 93 min)



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