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Museum Of Fine Arts Presents Indian Films And Festival Of Sufi Music Directed By Muzaffar Ali


Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Indian Films and Festival of Sufi Music Directed by Muzaffar Ali

October 27 – October 29, 2007

Remis Auditorium

The MFA Film Program is proud to present a weekend celebrating Indian director Muzaffar Ali, October 27-29.  This weekend includes screenings of 2 of [Muzaffar] Ali’s feature films: Anjuman on Friday, October 27 at 7:15 pm and Umrao Jaan on Sunday, October 29 at 3 pm.  Also included in the weekend are Jahan-e-Khusrau, a concert of traditional Sufi music on Sat, October 28 at 7 pm, and a screening of his film on the Sufi poet Rumi, Breathe Into Me, Sun, Oct 29 at 6 pm.  Muzaffar Ali will be present for all four events.  Presented in conjunction with the exhibition “Domains of Wonder: Masterworks of Indian Painting”, on view in the Torf Gallery from September 20 through November 26. 

Film tickets are $8 for MFA members, seniors, and students; $9 for general admission. 
Concert tickets: Tickets: $20 MFA members, students, and seniors. $25 general admission.
Please call the Box Office at 617 369 3306 for ticket orders.


Fri, Oct 27, 7:15 pm

Anjuman by Muzaffar Ali (1986, 140 min.). Shabana Azmi—a feminist icon and activist who has starred in hundreds of films both for Bollywood and India’s independent “parallel cinema”—stars in the title role about a woman in the proud but impoverished city of Lucknow who rallies to organize her fellow embroidery workers. Their craft is renowned through the world, but takes a toll on the womens’ eyesight and barely brings in enough money to support a family—still, Lucknow remains a picturesque city of colorful traditions. Based on the real life struggles of embroidery workers, Anjuman helped galvanize the workers’ struggle and transform the region. Also starring Farooq Sheikh. A blossoming romance and lyrical musical numbers are staples of Indian cinema. Many of the songs use lyrics by revolutionary Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz.  In Urdu with English subtitles.

Jahan-e-Khusrau – A Festival of Sufi Music conceived and directed by Muzaffar Ali Saturday, October 28 at 7:30 pm

Based on the extremely successful Jahan-e-Khusrau Festival organized every spring in Delhi by Muzaffar Ali, this is the first time the festival is being organized outside of India.   It will feature performances by leading Indian and Turkish musicians, including Niyazi Sayin [I corrected the spelling], Turkey’s leading ney player (end blown flute) for the past 50 years, singer Zila Khan, daughter of the late revered Indian sitar player Vilayet Kahn, as well as choral and instrumental music by the Cambridge Musiki Cemiyeti under the direction of Feridun Ozgoren, and dance by Wendy Jehlen inspired by the poetry of the Sufi mystic Rumi.

Umrao Jaan

Sun, Oct 29, 3 pm

Umrao Jaan by Muzaffar Ali (1981, 145 min.). A gorgeous 19th-century period drama [based on a classic novel by Mirza Ruswa] Muzaffar Ali’s Umrao Jaan is a the story of a young girl (portrayed by Indian actress Rekha) kidnapped from her home and sold to a woman in Lucknow to be trained as a tawayaf, a courtesan or “public woman.” Allowed an education in literature, music, and dance that would have been denied to her at home, she becomes a highly sought-after entertainer as well as the object of affection of a local princeling. Thwarted romances and a desire for freedom eventually lead her back to her home village, but will Umrao be able to return to her rural village after so many years in a scandalous profession? In many ways a feminist tragedy, the melodrama is tempered with stirring performances of ghazals, poem sung in Urdu, and a sumptuous attention to detail in settings and costume. In Urdu with English subtitles.

Breathe Into Me

Sun, Oct 29, 3 pm

Breathe Into Me by Muzaffar Ali (2006, 35 min.). Veteran Indian director Muzaffar Ali shares a preview of his epic biographical film about the 13th-century Sufi poet Rumi, Breathe Into Me. The first installment of Muzaffar Ali’s extensive film project on the life and works of the Sufi poet Rumi.  Join us for a sneak preview of this “spiritual thriller,” more than five years in the making, and a discussion with the director about his inspiration and ambitions for the film.

This programming has been sponsored by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, the Turkish Cultural Foundation, as well as by a generous donation by John and Carol Rutherfurd.

The media sponsor is The Boston Phoenix.       

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