How Kashmiri youth is bringing Rabab music back to the valley

With support from Kashmir Tourism board, youngsters are bringing Kashmiri music and talent to the fore. If the success of the recent videos from the region is any indication, the talent will only grow.

Kashmir: After dedicating Kashmiri music to a Game Of Thrones (GoT) TV Series tribute, he became the talk of the town when he uploaded a short 45-second video with Jammu and Kashmir’s snowfall as a backdrop. 19-year-old Sufiyan Malik brought the local folk music instrument called Rabab back into the spotlight.
GoT is a popular TV series across the world with mythical and fantastical elements. With most of its themes relying on winter, Gulmarg’s picturesque landscape came in handy when Kashmiri youth wanted to pay a tribute to the series as well as generate goodwill for the region. The result was a video titled ‘The Cure: A Kashmiri Instrumental Tribute to Game of Thrones,’ created by Master Visuals Studio.

What generated the most curiosity was the rendition of the theme on the Rabab by Malik.
“Seen in many variants across central Asia, the rabab arrived in Kashmir from Afghanistan many centuries ago. “Compared to the seven strings of the Afghan rabab, the Kashmiri version has 22 strings, with two strings crafted out of goat gut through an elaborate process. It’s these two strings that create its mesmerising echo,” Malik said in an interview to The Hindu.
“The tourism board reportedly sponsored the project in a bid to boost visitor numbers and showcase the talents of young locals, alongside the potential for filming in the region. Serving as an origin story of sorts, the video focuses on what we assume is supposed to be Jon Snow on another perilous mission. Heading to a place called Stark’s Waterfall, he must find a cure for a dying woman before it is too late. There is even a portly Kashmiri version of Samwell Tarly to accompany him on his journey and an uncanny Peter Dinklage lookalike to play Tyrion Lannister. Directed by Ruman Hamdani, the project took three months to film with pretty basic production equipment,” wrote Tom Chapman for Screen Rant.


“This shows how talented the youngsters in Jammu and Kashmir are. We wanted to send across the message that the Valley is beautiful and such shoots are possible here,” said Director Tourism Kashmir, Mehmood Ahmed Shah in a report.
The video was not the only thing that viral. Shortly after, Malik released a 45 second video playing the instrument with snowfall as his backdrop. It has received more than four lakh views ever since it was uploaded on popular social media sites on Nov 3 and 4.

“I came for a short vacation to Kashmir. As my parents left home in the morning, my friend and I decided to shoot the video with snowfall as the backdrop. Initially, I played it for my friends in Pune, to show them snow. To my surprise, the tune of a local song, ‘Janaat-e-Kashmir’, on the rabab, became an instant rage on Internet,” Malik, a student of engineering at Pune’s MIT College, told The Hindu.
He had to shoot the video 18 times as his fingers and hands would freeze because of the cold weather.
“The makers and listeners of the rabab are both fast dwindling in Kashmir. In north Kashmir, only two families continue with the trade of crafting the rabab, from the dozens of just a few decades ago. On June 28 2018, Mr. Malik played the rabab at The Hilton hotel in Los Angeles. “Many Kashmiri-origin people in the audience wanted to have a workshop for their kids after the show. After the hits we produced in 2017, at least 50 students registered to learn to play the rabab at the Delhi Public School (DPS) in Srinagar,” said Malik in the report.




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