Bollywood Whirls To Sufi Music

Lately, either Bollywood (India's equivalent of Hollywood) increasingly seems to be entranced by sufi music or I've been noticing it a lot more due my growing interest in the sufi music genre. When a friend recently asked me to come up with a list of sufi songs featured in Bollywood movies, I figured it was a perfect idea for a blog post. Of course, sufi music has been far too prevalent in Bollywood for me to attempt a comprehensive listing. What follows then is a representative list that also calls out some of my favorite songs, singers, and composers. But before we begin let's briefly describe what defines the sufi genre of music. Sufism is a mystical tradition within Islam wherein there is a heavy emphasis on having the practitioner sing and dance (whirl) with extreme soul and passion in order to express love for Allah or God. It is no wonder that sufi songs evoke such a positive response from the audience. Note that whereas the qawwali (group) form of sufi music has been present in Bollywood films since time immemorial, this blog post is in reference to the comparatively more recent influx of the solo strain of sufi performances. And, yes, Bollywood has indeed taken some artistic liberties with sufi music in that although the central facet -- insanely passionate love -- is present, it is often in the form of a traditional love song, i.e. directed not at Allah or God but at a human love interest. Here then is a roll call of what I might include on a box set meant to showcase the growth and present state of sufi music in Bollywood (complete with liner notes). Note that some of the songs listed below are non-sufi songs by sufi singers and vice-versa.


  1. Hi!

    Nice to read about the rise of sufi music in Bollywood, didn't know most of these songs, except for the ones by Rahat.

    BTW It reminded me of a NFAK interview I used to have on tape -

    Q: (something like -) Are there any Bollywood composers that have stolen your music?
    NFAK: (In a totally deadpan voice) Anu Malik

    It was priceless ;)

  2. Sonny, thanks for the feedback and for the Nusrat story about Anu Malik. :-)

  3. Great list Puneet. Contains some of my favorite songs. Ya Ali from Gangster is good and so is chaiya chaiya. I did not come to your blog to read this but looking for opening the link in a new window. Enjoyed reading this.


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