Documentary on Sanam Marvi to premiere at film festival in Toronto

Tanya Panjwani’s documentary on Sanam Marvi to premiere at film festival in Toronto

Rahul Aijaz August 26, 2016
The documentary uses Marvi’s journey to explore the world of Sufi music. PHOTOS COURTESY: ALMAS BAIG

KARACHI: Ever since she came to the fore with Coke Studio, singer Sanam Marvi has hardly looked back. As she gears up for the release of her performance for the show’s ongoing season, a documentary on her journey will premiere at the Global Community Film Festival in Toronto, Canada in October.

Film-maker Tanya Panjwani’s hour-long production uses Marvi’s journey to explore the world of Sufi music. “It traces Marvi’s musical journey from her childhood to present day,” Panjwani told The Express Tribune.

Panjwani – who will be making her directorial debut with the project – said the idea came about when she saw Marvi on Coke Studio. “I was a Masters student in London at that time and there was all this hype around Coke Studio. I watched Marvi on the show and was completely captivated by her performance,” shared Panjwani.

Following Marvi around for six weeks in 2015, Panjwani documents the singer’s visits to the shrines of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Sachal Sarmast, Baba Bulleh Shah and Bibi Pak Daman and to her concerts and meetings.

“What really fascinated me were the stories she told us. When she was a child, she told her father that she wants to be like Abida Parveen. That itself is a huge thing to say,” added Panjwani. “I spoke to the authorities on the raag at Bhitai’s shrine and they told me Marvi is a quick learner. She is always asking questions and learning everything there is to know.”

Panjwani said the singer’s father Faqeer Ghulam Rasool has been the biggest influence for her. Rasool supported Marvi right from the get-go, and it is with his help that, today, she stands as one of Pakistan’s top musical acts.

As her journey progressed, many big names including Parveen and Ustad Fateh Ali Khan (of Gwalior gharana), mentored her to be where she is now.

Marvi, too, seemed happy to be a part of the documentary. “I feel lucky to have been part of this. I thank everyone who knows about my life and career and hope more people will get to be a part of it now. She [Panjwani] has worked really hard on this and I hope more and more people will watch it,” stated Marvi.

Meanwhile, Panjwani seems determined to spread the message and soul of traditional music through her upcoming documentary. “What I admire is the message Marvi conveys through her music. It’s about the unity of all religions. I think music has that potential to convey such an important message.”

While she has plans of showing the documentary in Pakistan as well, Panjwani aims to highlight the stories of more artists in the future. “Down the line, my goal is to put out the journeys of many artists from all walks of life, cultures and religions to highlight their influences, struggles and aspirations.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th, 2016.

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