Media Responses

Kabir at the Bengal...
The Telegraph, Calcutta
21 May 2015
Journeying with...
Tabla! Magazine, Singapore
1 May 2015
Kabir's Verses...
27 Apr 2015
Kabir in Lahore
The International News, Pakistan
1 Oct 2014
In the World of...
The New Indian Express, Chennai
28 Jan 2014
Song and Silence
The Hindu, Bengaluru
28 Dec 2012
Kaif Kabiri
Lokmat Samachar
6 Dec 2012
An Offering
First City
1 Sep 2012
Travels Through Song
Open Magazine
24 Mar 2012
Saat Din Kabir Ke...
30 Sep 2011
Kabhi-Kabhar by...
28 Aug 2011
Inner Journey- The...
Issue- Auroville Magazine
1 Aug 2011
Walking with Kabir
Time Out Magazine
13 Jun 2011
"Margins are...
The Hindu
9 Jun 2011
On watching Had-...
1 Jun 2011
Nirguni Bhajano ki...
Naiduniya, Madhya Pradesh
24 Apr 2011
The Hindu
13 Jan 2011
Love in Dissonance
The Hindu
3 Dec 2010
Love and Longing in...
Bangalore Mirror
21 Nov 2010
Kahat Kabir
Bangalore Times
20 Nov 2010
In the Name of Love
The Hindu
19 Nov 2010
Sufi Verses Bridge...
Deccan Chronicle
18 Nov 2010
Mystic Movement
Open Magazine
24 Jul 2010
Jhonka Pavan Ka Lag...
Indore City
10 Mar 2010
Songs of a Shared...
Agenda Magazine
5 Oct 2009
Anand Patwardhan on...
23 May 2009
In Search of Kabir
Frontline Magazine
27 Mar 2009
In search of love
The Hindu
27 Mar 2009
Kahe Kabir '...
Rajasthan Patrika
15 Mar 2009
To just be
The Hindu
9 Mar 2009
Kabir the great
The Week
8 Mar 2009
In life and love
The Hindu
6 Mar 2009
Anuthe utsav mein...
Dakshin Bharat Bangalore
4 Mar 2009
On word and note
The Hindu
4 Mar 2009
The mystic poet and...
The New Indian Express
3 Mar 2009
Journeys with Kabir
Deccan Herald
1 Mar 2009
Kabir festival...
28 Feb 2009
Koi Sunta Hai
Uday Vani
24 Feb 2009
'Koi Sunta Hai...
Rajasthan Patrika
23 Feb 2009
Doha Talks
Time Out Bengaluru
20 Feb 2009
A spiritual odyssey
The Hindu
9 Jan 2009
A festival of Kabir
Auroville Today
1 Sep 2008

Individual Responses

The way you have understood your art as a gift I find very moving. It is also a real value that they are not pretentious, and there is a profound humility in what you have done. But I do think that being clever is not what the spirit of Kabir is about—after all, as someone remarked in “Koi Sunta Hai”, these songs were being sung by beggars, and it was precisely the fact that they did reach out to the illiterate, and so-called simple villager, that they crossed the boundary of the intellectual as opposed to the unlearned. It has opened a world which I knew was there, but felt alienated from after all the events of 1992, and the rise of a kind of fundamentalism. I wish that I had your roots in the languages of India, which is not just a superficial knowledge that helps one to get by, but a deeper spiritual rooting in the metaphors and symbols from which the poetic spirit sings. I have spent my life trying to find a bridge between my Hindu side, and the Christian side which my Mother gave to me. What happened in 1992, when I was in Benares, working on designs for the Cathedral there, was a shock. It seemed as though all that I had hoped for in the way of bringing together the Hindu, Buddhist tradition and the Judeo-Christian, Muslim tradition, seemed to be in ruins. Your films opened up a new possibility for a deeper dialogue.

– Jyoti writing to the filmmaker

The other day I bought Koi Sunta Hai and In Every Body Kabir. Of course I am buying the other three films as well.

I cannot help but marvel at your effort. Thank you for bringing this to all to us. Making us cry in joy! Each time I listen to the music, when I see the films. I will do my best to spread the message about this project to as many people as I can.

Man mast hua phir Kya Bole? Except to quote 16th century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho - “Life is a journey and journey itself home” - Seems like you are home!

– Mahesh Bhatt
Nov 2008

Jadoo hai nasha hai….that is how one has been feeling….
Thank you for giving us so much joy this weekend. It was so lovely to see how (seemingly) effortlessly everything came together..of course one realizes that there has been a lot of hard work behind it all. And of course your own love and joy is so palpable. I can think of that line,something like “If you do what only you can do, then you will find the Way and the Way will follow you”

…..And so may the way always follow you as you continue on your wonderful journey and documenting it for generations to come…

dher sara pyaar

– Lekha Bhagat writing to the filmmaker

Am writing this mail after a Sunday morning viewing of ‘Chalo Hamara Des’. All I can say is that I was deeply moved by it. I saw fragments of the other episodes on television, and somehow, commercial breaks do serve to break the nice ‘nothingness’ that one gets into. I am a devotee of Maharshi Ramana, but that does not stop me from looking for whatever wisdom I can find to elevate me from my present state of idiocy.

– Nandu Narasimhan

Dear Shabnam…

You wondered what people living in France would make out of the film and if they would see the subject matter as being local…
Those who could understand the fast paced translation were deeply moved by a message that shot straight through their hearts. This film is about what it is to be human. We have also a long tradition of inquiry in Europe about the form and form-less nature of the divine. Living [in] the body as a source of wisdom is a very current emerging awareness that holds the possibility of having a huge impact.

There was wonderful exchange on the sense of freedom and the feeling of being imprisoned, the role of institution, the age old war between those who seek the power and protection of hierarchy and those who would break from it, the question of our soul in day to day life, the need for courage to live up to what we believe deep inside…layered behind the local representation your movie has a universal message . That is why it was so important for me that it be not only shown but also become a base for personal and collective inquiry.

A funny thing happened at a table of four. There was a woman talking at how pretentious the Pakistani singer seemed to be when he greeted his Indian guests. The man opposite her started to argue that on the contrary he had a great sense of humor. Soon after, they started arguing vehemently with each other. Then a third friend pointedly woke them up by saying “Look at yourselves! Don’t you realize that what is happening here is exactly the subject of the film…?”

– Pierre Goirand, on a salon screening of Had Anhad in Paris
Mar 2011

I was fortunate to be able to attend the concert by Mukhtiyar Ali and pick up some of the CDs which were on sale at the venue. That night, the words and the fervour of the songs haunted me. Next morning, I played the CDs and it’s as you have written—-Kabir enters your blood like a virus and you can feel the entire body responding to it.. I am so glad that you have taken on this project and brought Kabir into the lives of so many people who were lost in their daily mad, mindless grind..

– Dr. Mala writing to the filmmaker

I was just introduced to 'Had-Anhad' by a close friend. I just floated with it like a dry leaf on the current…I am wordless. My humble pranaams to the minds behind it.

Believe me, I sat through the whole thing until past midnight…and I told you the truth in my mail about how it was and how I felt. On many occasions while travelling I was struck by the deep understanding of the so-called quasi-educated country folk and their simple eloquence with which they made issues crystal clear. Virtually the same sort of impact came through as I watched the film. I felt so ‘half-baked’ before the native wisdom of these simple, great people; the world surely is richer for them, I believe. And people like you who, either by Providential ‘accident’ or by design, or an enviable combination of both, set out to preserve these cultural riches for the rest of us ‘material beings’ do deserve our pranaams.

For a just-retired college teacher who has been dreaming of spending his leisure re/reading (mostly Maugham!) and listening to good music and what not, the introduction to Kabir (to me not more real than a vague remembrance of his ‘dohe’ from my early school classes—”…maali seenche sau ghata, ritu aaye phal hoy..” etc. Or is that Thulasi, I wonder??) has been a Godsend. It has, to put it mildly, redefined many things in my life. Thank you, my dear—you have done bigger things than you originally set out to do!

– Prof Unnikrishnan Panickar K writing to the filmmaker

Dear Shabnam, I watched your films.. they are beyond praising. You have tried to touch something sublime… You talked only about what was necessary, your precision is amazing. We can see and feel that you are actually a seeker- beyond the filming- that’s where it becomes our film and our journey… Somewhere the ego is dropped, and there is a true unity of everything. Very very inspiring.

– Parvathy Baul on watching the films
Apr 2011

Decades ago I had the chance of travelling in First class with an elderly Gentleman -From Chennai to Mumbai. I decided to break ice and started to speak and he abruptly stopped me. “Dont introduce yourself with your name,” he urged. “Chances are that we will decide which Caste or Faith we belong to and that may color our relationship, even though just for a day. Let us see if we can get along without that baggage.”

Needless to say, the next 24 hours were delightful - full of conversations about Indian music, teligion, its people, its strength in diversity. He was a Retired GM - Signals in the Railways and when we took leave of each other he introduced himself as Mr Thameezuddin - a man of good manners, he called himself. That was one of the great moments I have encountered in my life - Viewing your movie brought back some of that magic back to me. A magic which is within reach of most of us Indians but sadly unnoticed. Your movie Had Anhad did raise some questions that are unpleasant but you were very mature in leaving the viewer to decide for himself.

– SM Kulkarni writing to the filmmaker

The enduring “looking down” on any kind of hand/dirty work is disturbing. The whole deep hierarchy manifested in caste, which no outside religion or inside reform has really managed to touch. People like Kabir, Namdev(the patron saint of the Chippas we work with), Raidas and many others were responsible for a tectonic shift towards people who perform physical production in a society to let them claimed their rightful dignity.

I feel somewhat a little disturbed that the Kabir project by deifying the spirit and poet part of Kabir is following the classical tradition of raising him to a level an avatar, just as the elite earlier took over Buddha. I feel that by not highlighting Kabir the Julaha, how the most radical critique is of giving dignity to labour, of giving creative labour its space,beauty and meaning is lost.

Sorry but this is because one has directly experienced the kind of derision upper castes to this day. For me Nirgun of Kabir is incomplete in the hands of academics and performers. If Kabir wanted he could have been a zen master/guru in the old sense but he chose to carry on weaving.

– Sunny

After a long time I found myself in raptures listening to music …. I am specifically mentioning the second half of the concert -that was a direct flight for me, from the soul cages, at least, till the music session lasted.
Well Shabnam..I have no words to thank you for this wonderful evening , more so when I badly needed this break. It did wonders for me . I love that rawness and soulfulness. And the visuals with the translation in the background added more to the whole experience.
Well, I am concerned about this….based on what i could understand from Abdulla Bhai’s talk these 2 singers are the only ones remaining practicing that specific style of singing. That is shocking….this tradition must not die off ….it must be preserved and nurtured at any cost. From first- hand experience this evening I can vouch that this music has incredible healing/ psycho therapeutic potential. This style of singing resonates with the inner noises and voices, touches aright, asoft, and strums too on the inner chords that lets out a sigh..a melody… this kind of music must live on. I really feel that everything must be done to preserve this tradition of music.
Tolle’s new earth is very much in the making,and singing/ singers like this will set the triggering pulse. As for myself i am taking it up…. there is something incredibly healing about this music. If it could console and still a restless guy like me, then there is no limit to what this kind of music can do…I repeat again, this music can save quite a mass of people from the gravitating pull of delirium.

– Ajai Narendran on "Seeking the Beloved" Festival
Nov 2010

As part of the Women’s Festival in Chennai, I had planned to see a Spanish film called “Flowers from another world” but life rarely respects my plans! Flowers were replaced with Shabnam Virmani’s Kabira Khada Bazar Mein. I had never heard of the director and Kabir was vaguely familiar as a poet from India’s long and winding past. In the span of the next 94 minutes things changed. Without realising, I was skillfully and deftly drawn into the film and once there I sat in silence as Shabnam with scalpel precision peeled away the layers surrounding the lives of the men and women grappling with Kabir. By the time the film was over, I knew I had to find more about Kabir.

– Abraham Chacko, Chennai

Just finished watching the Had-Anhad DVD. Realized that KABIR SAHEB is not referring to “Dasrath Putra RAM” in his poems for the first time.

– Deven Chheda