Harbingers of Peace

Amrita Prasad
Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Ahead of their performance at the Osho Monsoon Festival of Music & Meditation on Friday, in Pune, guitarist and banjo player Deepak Castelino of the sufi group Chaar Yaar, explains their music influences

When asked what makes sufi music tick even in the 21st century, Deepak Castelino of the Chaar Yaar band, replies, “One of the biggest message of sufism is peace and brotherhood which draws people towards it.”

The sufi band comprising four musicians — composer, vocalist and poet Madan Gopal Singh; guitarist and banjo player Castelino; sarod player Pritam Ghosal and multiple percussionist Gurmeet Singh —will be playing at the Osho Monsoon Festival of Music & Meditation on August 11.

Talking about their music, the guitarist says, “Our music is quite pure and authentic. It’s different from what is played in Bollywood.” When the band was formed in 2004, Chaar Yaar traversed the path of sufi texts dating back to the 12-13th century, beginning with Baba Farid and Rumi and ending with Khwaja Ghulam Farid of the late 19th century. Later the group started looking at building cultural bridges across continents. This led to the incorporation of music and poetry as diverse as that of Brecht, Lorca, Tagore, Puran Singh, Hikmet, Hamzatov, Faiz and Nagarjun. For example, verses of Rumi, John Lennon, Kabir and Bulle Shah feature in the same song.

This also saw the group following Madan Gopal Singh’s original translations. For example, an indigenous Baarmah in Punjabi could now be sung with Simon and Garfunkel’s Scarborough Fair; John Lennon’s Imagine as Socho Zara; or Beatles Because with Iqbal’s Ye Gumbad-e-Minai. The project has since continued to grow and the group has travelled all over the world many times, performing with many internationally celebrated groups such as All Star Bang on a Can of New York; the neo-Jazz vocalist Theo Bleckmann; David Hykes’ Harmonic Choir etc.

Explaining the driving force behind their music, Castelino says, “In Chaar Yaar, we follow different faiths — Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian.

Hence, we want to give the message of peace and togetherness through music. Music promotes universal bonding; it makes you introspect and think.”

The group uses instruments like  sarod, guitar, banjo, harmonium, and tabla which is a unique blend of East and West. In fact Castelino feels that their different religious and cultural backgrounds — Konkan, Delhi, Bengal, Amritsar — contributes to the uniqueness of their music. “We bring along our own influences. We fall into this pot of music and prepare this wonderful musical Khichdi!” he chuckles.

Today technology has infiltrated into art. How does that affect sufi as a genre and music in general? Castelino says, “There is nothing wrong with technology. But when it starts ruling our thinking, then we lose the essence of music. The idea is to create something original, something that comes from within like a voice. Our effort is to keep music as soulful and original as possible.”

The musician also says that we should have more festivals, performances and concerts to make sufi music more accessible and affordable to the larger audience.

ST Reader Service
You can catch up with Chaar Yaar on August 11; be a part of DJ Monsoon Dance on August 12; participate in Celebrating Sannyas on August 13; enjoy with Runa Sivamani and Neha Rizvi on August 14 and attend Meditator’s Got Talent on August 15 at Osho Auditorium, Osho International Meditation Resort, Koregaon Park. The events will start from 9.30 pm onwards

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