~Kabir-related films, books, links~ (
info from Linda Hess)
*Indicates film or book featuring Prahlad Singh Tipanya, renowned Kabir singer from the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh. Born in the small village of Lunyakhedi, with no musical background in his family, Prahlad-ji joined the local tradition of singing Kabir bhajans in the melodious and vigorous folk style of Malwa. He gradually became one of the most magnetic and highly sought-after folk artists in North India, singing with passion and commenting with deep insight and with humor on the meaning of the songs. He has performed in countless places from small Indian villages to prominent venues in India’s great cities and international stages in the US, Canada, and UK. He has received many honors, including the prestigious Padma Shri award in 2011.
The Kabir Project, based in Bangalore ( http://kabirproject.org/ ), headed by Shabnam Virmani, is located in the Srishti College of Art, Design, and Technology, where Shabnam is artist in residence. She and her team have produced an amazing (ajab!) web archive, recently launched after many years of work: www.ajabshahar.org It has a great wealth of songs, texts, discussions, etc. You will find a lot of Kabir, but also songs of other related traditions and poets, such as Baul songs, Sufi songs, qawwaali.
The Kabir Project produced four wonderful feature-length documentary films, directed by Shabnam. Each has its own stories and main questions. She and I started our projects separately but became friends and did a lot together from 2003 to 2015, and continuing. You will find three of these films on the ajabshahar website, “Films” tab, as well as on youtube, and the fourth on a different site. Here are the youtube links:
*** * Chalo Hamara Des/**Come to My Country: Journeys with Kabir and Friends(Dur: 98 min), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waOosA3Rf1g features famous Kabir folksinger Prahlad
Singh Tipanya and a lot of wonderful music. Also has me in it, as it explores Kabir’s cross-cultural voice.
*** Had-Anhad/ Bounded-Boundless:**Journeys with Ram and Kabir(Dur: 103 min), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dr83axn1IbM the most widely viewed of the four, with enthralling music, fascinating Sufi singers in Rajasthan and Pakistan, and some political implications.
*** * Kabira Khada Bazar Mein/**In the Market Stands Kabir: Journeys with Sacred and Secular Kabir (Dur: 94 min), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9hMVeTaUw8 great for the study of religion, history of religion, and social/political questions. How do we understand the development of a Kabir religion with hierarchy, rules and rituals, when his teaching so thoroughly criticized sectarianism, boundaries, and reliance on external forms? A story dramatized in the lives of people in the film, with plenty of music. I told this story with a different set of discussions in chapter 6 of my book Bodies of Song.
The fourth documentary film is not on the same website but can be found here:
**Koi Sunta Hai/**Someone is Listening: Journeys with Kumar and Kabir. (dur. 96 min) http://www.cultureunplugged.com/play/2833 focus on classical singer Kumar Gandharva’s life & renderings of nirgun bhajans (poem-songs focused on a formless ultimate reality, most but not all attributed to Kabir), connections between folk & classical, beautiful music.### * See also on the “Films” page,
Kabir in America
, part 1 and part 2, which presents full bhajans and delightful glimpses of Tipanya-ji and his team on their first international tour in 2003.
- For fun, here’s a clip of Prahlad Tipanya and team introduced by one of the High Gods of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan. Ta-da!
### ~Books by Linda Hess:~
** Bodies of Song: Kabir Oral Traditions and Performative Worlds in North India*. 2015. Oxford University Press, New York, and Permanent Black in India, dist. in India by Orient Blackswan, New Delhi.
- Singing Emptiness: Kumar Gandharva Performs the Poetry of Kabir. 2009. Calcutta; Seagull Books (dist in US by U of Chicago Press).
The Bijak of Kabir.
Translations by Linda Hess & Shukdev Singh, Essays & Notes by Linda Hess. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002 (orig. published in 1983).
~Also interesting for people beginning this exploration :~
Section on Kabir in J.S. Hawley,
Three Bhakti Voices: Mirabai, Surdas and Kabir in Their Time and Ours
. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.
A lively translation in a very contemporary style by an Indian poet
Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, translator.
Songs of Kabir
. New York Review Books Classics, 2011.
One Hundred Poems of Kabīr
translated by Rabindranath Tagore, published in 1914 by the India Society in London, in 1915 by Macmillan and Company, and subsequently in many editions. Tagore was a great Bengali writer, artist, and composer, the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. His versions give a view of a kind of style, insight, and perspective prevalent in the Indian/British nexus of high culture in the early 20
th### century. In the 1970s the American poet Robert Bly published new versions of nearly half of Tagore’ 100 poems. He saw grerat beauty and power in Kabir and in Tagore’s renderings but felt the translations needed to be transformed for a contemporary audience. Bly’s Kabir became very popular and influential.