If you are into Indie music then you must have heard “Hukus Bukus”, a song which even featured in the popular OTT show The Family Man. The singer behind the song, Aabha Hanjura is an eclectic, folk, pop, sing-a-song writer and light performer and frontends a band named Sufistication.
Hanjura believes that folk music should not be bound by one way of listening to it. Folk as a genre of music is open to interpretations and that’s what has kept it alive. In her work with Kashmiri folk music, she has introduced different sounds.
The Kashmiri singer was a finalist in Indian Idol Season 2. She has recently come out with an EP (extended play- a musical performance shorter than an album) called Sufistication Folk Sessions. Her EP is acoustic and unplugged.
Talking about her latest release she shares that it features a prayer song called “Sahibo” (meaning almighty) which is written by poet Mehjoor. It helps in self-realisation as any prayer should.
Music has been a part of Hanjura’s life since childhood as her mother introduced her to music after figuring out her talent. Her mother could not pursue music because of various reasons including the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in the early 1990s.
It was her brother who pushed her to apply for the Indian Idol and she ended up being a finalist. She looks at that experience as a validation of her talent.
When she began her journey, Hunjura didn’t feel that the music industry was a safe space for women. Becoming a finalist in a music reality show as a 17-year-old was all too much for her to assimilate. She says it was a shock that “I would be made to feel vulnerable because of my art. I always wanted to feel empowered because of my art.” Hanjura then went on to have a corporate career, only to give it up later, to pursue music full time.
The calling to come back to the music, she says, came during a trip back to Kashmir. Sound of Kashmir, her album happened there. She agrees that now there is a lot of awareness and people are certainly talking about creating safer spaces for women in the industry.
Hanjura is proud of her Kashmiri roots even though they had to leave everything behind during the exodus. She says, “When the roots under you are cut very brutally you try very hard to hold on to it.” Even though they had to leave their home in Kashmir the loss only became apparent to her once she grew up.
The singer shares that it is a great time now to be in the music industry as a woman. She feels women are the originators of folk music as it is passed on in the oral tradition. She chooses to do Kashmiri Folk fusion because it was very underrepresented.
The singer, who is also a mother, often talks about motherhood on social media. She acknowledges how early motherhood is extremely challenging and isolating and we do not talk about it enough. “Your body and your mind are thrown into chaos and these are very legitimate feelings which we as a society are still not talking about,” she says.
She believes it is very important for women to show up for other women and sisterhood is the way forward.