The musician’s violin is broken, and will likely stay that way. He lives in Lahore, once the cultural center of Pakistan, and decades ago was a vibrant place where a classical musician could make a living performing concerts and recording movie soundtracks.
But when fundamentalist Muslims swept into power in a coup and installed Shariah law, music was considered to be a sin. Musicians were harassed, concerts were banned, instruments were smashed. While life is better now in Pakistan, the generational link was smashed, and those old musicians have trouble getting audiences or younger musicians interested in their traditional classical sounds. They can’t even get those old instruments repaired.
“Song of Lahore” is a documentary that meanders around for a little while and then will suddenly connect with a powerful moment, musical or emotional. Then it frustratingly wanders off point again. Maybe there wasn’t quite enough here for a feature-length documentary, but sprinkled in here and there are some memorable moments of tragedy and triumph, and the music is terrific.