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Qaidi Band inspired by Tihar jail’s inhouse band Flying Souls, says director Habib Faisal

The director, who researched for more than a year, is mesmerised by the jail's band and aghast by the number of undertrials languishing in Indian jails.

Mayur Lookhar

Flying Souls, a real band formed in Tihar Jail, inspired director Habib Faisal to make Qaidi Band. He started his research on the band after he saw them on the news. The research, however, openend up tangents that required to be researched too. 

“I read a news story about a band in Tihar jail called Flying Souls. I was quite amazed. When I researched on them I found a Nigerian guy in the band, he plays the percussion,” said Faisal who’s film also has Chinese and Russian inmates as part of the band.  

More than the band, though, the director was left stunned with the number of undertrials languishing in jails all over India.

Qaidi Band, Lucknow Central have one thing in common — a band of prisoners

“I have been researching this for over one-and-a-half years. You will find whole lot of characters and stories in a jail.  A jail is like a microcosm of any society. Literally, whatever happens in the free worlds is happening within those walls, except that these don’t have freedom. My first trigger was how is the band, but through research I got to know the whole undertrial issue. What the Indian judicial system is like, the shortfalls in the huge population that we have, the shortage of courts and judges we have. We are still following a criminal act which was constituted in 1850 or something. The dates keep coming for the undertrials but nothing changes for them," bemoaned Faisal.

In 2012, not just local media, but international media too took notice of the lyrical happenings in Delhi’s Tihar Jail’s jail #3 that housed the music band Flying Souls. They were a bunch of undertrials save for one gentleman, Sandeep Sharma, who is serving a life term for kidnapping, extortion and abduction. Sharma doesn’t play any musical instrument, but writes the poetry. Apart from the Nigerian member, the band includes Bhagirath Khadiya, 31, (drummer), Sunny Malik, a 29-year-old man charged with peddling narcotics. A short documentary on Flying Souls revealed the presence of a Sikh and African man too.

Former director general of Tihar Kiran Bedi was instrumental in introducing music therapy in Tihar jail. Delhi-based rock band Menhwhopause had done a charity concert in the jail in 2001, thereafter, they conducted workshops for the inmates. Flying Souls came into prominence after an inhouse jail contest, Tihar Idol, was held in 2012.  

Yash Raj Films unveiled the trailer of Qaidi Band on Tuesday (18 July). The film introduces new talents — Aadar Jain and Anya Singh. However, more than the fresh cast, it is the refreshing story that caught the attention of viewers. Qaidi Band tells the tale of seven undertrials selected to form a band and perform at the upcoming Independence Day celebrations, they soon believe their performances and good conduct will ensure their path to freedom from the Central jail.

Qaidi Band is set to be released on 25 August.