[by Ken Hunt, London] The Sufi path is a path of mystic revelation within Islam that refracts its light through a prism of Islam, enabling it to be viewed, by those who are so-minded, as counter-Islamic or as casting a benign light into belief systems as varied as Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, Islam and the syncretic faith of the Bauls of Bengal. Capturing that diversity that that conjures in one film is impossible and, wisely, Sufi Soul – The Mystic Music of Islam goes for the heart rather than worrying (about) the extremities. I first saw this documentary at the MOFFOM film festival in Prague in 2005, which its director – and Songlines editor – Simon Broughton also attended for a post-screening director-audience discussion.
No doubt some will cavil and quibble about its content – in the foolish notion that it should replicate the musical scope of, say, Echos du Paradis – Sufi Soul (Network 26.982), the remarkable double-CD voyage into Sufi waters. The film’s success has to be measured in terms of its editorial balance – and what it includes and excludes. Now with half-an-hour-plus of DVD extras, such as unseen footage of Kudsi Erguner, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Sain Zahoor and others, the film presents a cornucopia of insights into Sufi music and its ability to survive and flourish. Furthermore, it includes commentary from, in my opinion, one of the most informed analysers and open-minded opinion-shapers of the East-West divide, William Dalrymple.
Sufi Soul – The Mystic Music of Islam Riverboat Records/World Music Network TUGDVD001