Dhruv Sangari

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Artiste Dhruv Sangari (Bilal Chishty)

Dhruv Sangari also known as Bilal Chishty Sangari بلال ڇݜتى سنگارى is a Sufi and Classical Indian vocalist, composer, lyricist, savant and teacher. He is the son of well known scholar and author Kumkum Sangari and noted painter Mahendra 'Manu' Sangari.

Early Life and training[edit]

Born in 1981, Dhruv began training in Hindustani classical music at the age of seven under Shahana Bannerjee and briefly with Ustad Iqbal Ahmad Khan, he also trained in the tabla from Pandit B.S. Ramanna. Later, he developed an interest in Sufism and Sufi music and began learning qawwali from Ustad Meraj Ahmed Nizami of the Qawwal-Bachhe Gharana at the dargah of the Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi. [1]

His journey as a musician led him to discover the genius of Pakistani Qawwali maestro Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, whom he eventually met and learnt from in the mid 1990s.[2]

Having completed his studies in Hindustani classical music from the University of Delhi under such musical stalwarts as Dr. Krishna Bisht, Dr. Najma Parveen Ahmad and Ustad Ghulam Sadiq Khan, Dhruv went on to become a full time concert and recording artiste and has been performing with various bands since 2000. During this period he also anchored a 25 episode series based on Indian classical Ragas 'Tarang ki Mehfil' broadcast on ETV Urdu.[3]

A decade ago a chance meeting with Syed Salman Chishty and Syed Dr. Peer Najmul Hassan Chishty led him down a spiritual path and he took hand with the latter in the city of Ajmer, thus being formally inducted into the Chishti Sufi Order. He also became a close follower of Sheikh Ibrahim Farajaje and Sheikh Muhammad bin Yahya al-Ninowy. A follower of Sufi Islam, Dhruv remains an active voice on issues of Sufism and Sufi Culture and regularly performs offerings at various Sufi shrines across the Indian Subcontinent.

Singer Dhruv Sangari (Bilal Chishty)

Biography, career profile and discography[edit]

Popularly known as 'Prince of Qawwali' Dhruv has sung and composed the mystic verses of poets and saints such as Baba Farid, Amir Khusrau, Mirabai, Rumi, Jami, Bulleh Shah, Kabir, Saim Chishty, Allama Iqbal, Bedil and Shah Niyaz among others. His early experimental works were with Swiss electronic musicians Lionel Dentan and David Scruffari with the band Da-Saz. Their debut album 'Jet-Lag was released by Phat-Phish Records in 2008. [4]

In 2008 Dhruv scripted and anchored for another series based on Indian Classical Music titled 'Raagon ki Haseen Duniya' that aired on DD Urdu. In 2011 he went on to collaborate on the album 'Hope' with artists Timothy Hill and Eric Thomas for the Nasreen & Alam Sher Foundation, US. In 2012 he sang Saim Chishty's famous poem 'Haq Ali Maula'(originally sung by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) with his band Humble mystic for [Coke Studio MTV at Reliance Studios, Mumbai.

Apart from singing the 2013 chartbuster 'Lutt Jawaan' for Music Director Mannan Shah in the movie Commando: A One Man Army starring Vidyut Jamwal, and the hit Coke Studio (India) MTV track 'Kyun Na' with composer Amit Trivedi; Dhruv penned the lyrics for song 'Abr e Karam' sung by Shilpa Rao for the movie Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain released in 2014 starring Martin Sheen, Mischa Barton and Kal Penn. Dhruv was also featured in Fox Life’s series Sound Trek (season 2) in the episode 'Dumdam Must Qalandar' in 2014. Recently he gave voice for the score of Andy Serkis's upcoming film Jungle Book with London based composer Nitin Sawhney. Currently Dhruv is working on a series of single tracks and on reviving old and less heard South Asian Sufi melodies.[5][6][7][8]

Primarily influenced by Sufi and classical maestros including Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parveen, Sabri Brothers, Ustad Rashid Khan, Madan Gopal Singh and Shubha Mudgal; Dhruv-Bilal, apart from his music, has also collaborated, taught, performed and presented papers at conferences with several artistes, scholars, international institutions and universities. He worked with Theater directer Habib Tanvir on the proscenium Hypatia , with Joachim Schloemer's PVC Tanz at Auroville, India, Stadttheater and House of World Cultures, Germany for the critically acclaimed play The Abduction of Sita, based on artist Nina Paley's 'Sita sings the Blues ; at the Smithsonian Institution, DC; as Artist in Residence at Colby College, Maine; and in various events at Johns Hopkins, SAIS, DC; Berkeley, SFO; New York University, NY, US Library of Congress and the University of Virginia, US, National College of Art, Lahore and the National Center for Performing Arts, Mumbai.[9][10][11][12]

As lead vocalist for a number of bands like Da-Saz, Rooh Sufi Ensemble, Humble Mystic etc, Dhruv has performed at prestigious Indian and international festivals such as Bhakti Utsav, Gurgaon Utsav, ICCR International Sufi Festival, International Sufi Festival of Kolkata, Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad Jayanti, Hriday Drishyam, Samagam, Prem Rawat, Sahaj Yoga, Navras, Siddhartha Festival, The Sufi Route, Gaana BMP, Krishnakriti, Parramasala Festival, Parramatta (with David Hykes), Serpentine Gallery, London, Chhandayan, NYC and Sufism at the Smithsonian, Washington DC.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20]

Empaneled with the Festivals of India Abroad, Ministry of Culture (India), Dhruv (along with filmmaker Yousuf Saeed) is a founding member of UNESCO cited organization Ektara India which has worked towards archiving and disseminating materials on Sufi-Bhakti culture based themes. The organization has also regularly conducted workshops and heritage trails highlighting the contribution of the Sufi saints. Dhruv has conducted and co-facilitated spiritual immersions across India, Pakistan, Turkey and the USA and has actively contributed to the efforts of NGO's such as Act Now for Harmony & Democracy (ANHAD), Indian Muslim Relief and Charities (IMRC) and Standing Together to Enable Peace (STEP).[21][22][23][24]


  1. ^ "'Sufism isn't confined to religion, it is the path to peace'". 17 May 2016.
  2. ^ Kusnur, Narendra (26 June 2016). "Learning from legends" – via www.thehindu.com.
  3. ^ पत्रकार, प्रीति मान फ़ोटो; लिए, बीबीसी हिंदी डॉटकॉम के. "सूफ़ी संगीत का है रूहानी रिश्ता". BBC News हिंदी.
  4. ^ "Rock on, in Malayalam... - Livemint". www.livemint.com.
  5. ^ "India's 'Coke Studio' raises the bar with new season - The Express Tribune". 20 July 2012.
  6. ^ "Music review: Commando - NDTV Movies". 10 April 2013.
  7. ^ "Fox Life is back with Soundtrek 2nd season". www.bestmediaifo.com.
  8. ^ "Abr E Karam listen online - All songs from Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain (2014)". Cinestaan.
  9. ^ "Colby Magazine vol. 98, no. 1".
  10. ^ "Freer-Sackler". www.freersackler.si.edu.
  11. ^ "Auliya Council in New York holds conference to celebrate Urs of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti - Daily Times". 30 May 2018.
  12. ^ "Schedule: Piety, Poetry, and Politics: Sufi Muslims in South Asia - Events - Freer and Sackler Galleries". archive.asia.si.edu.
  13. ^ "Sufi concert to open Sayajirao's 150th birth anniversary celebrations - Times of India".
  14. ^ "Parramasala offers an international cultural feast of outstanding arts ·ETB Travel News Australia". Australia.etbtravelnews.global. 2011-08-31. Retrieved 2018-10-14.
  15. ^ "Capital gets ready for Bhakti Sangeet Festival - Times of India".
  16. ^ "AR Rahman led The Sufi Route concert to be held in Delhi; Nooran sisters to perform amongst others".
  17. ^ "Seventh edition of Gurgaon Utsav to start Friday". 9 April 2018.
  18. ^ "BMP reaffirms popularity of Bollywood music second time around in Delhi".
  19. ^ "Sufi Music from India: The Chishty Sufi Sama Ensemble – Freer-Sackler". www.freersackler.si.edu.
  20. ^ Nadadhur, Srivathsan (11 January 2016). "Dhruv Sangari lives by the Sufi way" – via www.thehindu.com.
  21. ^ "Civil society report" (PDF). decade-culture-of-peace.org. 2010.
  22. ^ "World Music Day: Transcending Borders Through Qawwali & Sufism".
  23. ^ "IMRC Qawwali Concert with Dhruv Sangari".
  24. ^ "Panel of artists" (PDF). indiaculture.nic.in. 2018.

External links[edit]