|Rating||out of 5|
|Language||English, Urdu, Punjabi|
Fundamentalist terrorism is affecting everywhere these days, but what is often forgotten is how the Islamic world suffers, too. The documentary “Song of Lahore” takes us to Pakistan’s cultural hub, a home to the arts since the Mughal empire, yet a city where musicians now live in fear of Taliban violence. (Their intolerant interpretation of the Quran forbids music, and they have assassinated many musicians.)
Filmmakers Andy Schocken and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy focus on the Sachal music studio in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, where a small band of classical musicians — who perform on sitar, tabla, bansuri flute, violin and harmonium — hold on to their tradition in the face of dwindling audiences and intimidation. Izzat Majeed, Sachal’s founder, comes up with the bright idea of recording a few jazz classics (including “Take Five”) done in their own style; one viral video later, they’re invited to New York to perform with Wynton Marsalis at the Lincoln Center.
It all follows the “Buena Vista Social Club” pattern a bit too closely, but you have to admire the musicians’ tenacity and chops. The filmmakers are so focused on the triumphant ending though, they fail to note the obvious: The cultural communication here is strictly one way, as Marsalis drills the Pakistanis to get their jazz right, but the Americans make no stab at attempting a raga. One misses the humility of John Coltrane, who sought to learn from the East.
“Song of Lahore” opens at Eurospace on Aug. 13. and at selected cinemas from Aug. 27.
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