Shahbaz Qalandar

‘Shahbaz Qalandar’ has the privilege to be the first project to properly document Sehwan’s religious landscape. The film focuses on the ritual piety of the Qalandariyya Sufi Order, the beliefs of which are in their entirety built around the tragedy of Kerbala, in their cycle of festive celebration (344 days of the Islamic lunar calendar), and mourning (the first ten days of Muharram). The large scale celebration of the rituals of the Qalandariyya, previously a trans-Middle Eastern and South Asian phenomenon, exist solely in Sehwan today.

  • Shabbir Siraj / Hasan Ali Khan
  • Hasan Ali Khan / Shabbir Siraj / Nofil Naqvi
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Ethnographic, Culture, Diversity, Religion
  • Runtime:
    36 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    December 8, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    5,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    English, Urdu
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital (DSLR)
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Shabbir Siraj / Hasan Ali Khan

Hasan Ali Khan is Assistant Professor in the School of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Habib University, Karachi. His doctorate from SOAS, University of London. His main academic interest lies in research in the areas of his expertise. To this end, he has completed an independent research project on the religious beliefs of the Hindu community of Tharparker in southern Pakistan, which are unique. In addition, he has worked with the French Interdisciplinary Mission and Centre for South Asian Studies (CNRS-EHESS), on a research project on the history and culture of the city of Sehwan Sharif. His current research interest is in the Alevi community of Turkey and the Ahl-I Haqq of Iran, in terms of the structural similarities that they share with the Qalandariyya Sufi Order based in Sehwan. He has also worked on the Rifa’i Sufi Order that is prevalent amongst the coastal Baluch living in Pakistan.


Shabbir Siraj is an independent filmmaker and photojournalist. He obtained a diploma in Film & TV Direction from Digital Film Academy in Mumbai, India. Having started his career in the media industry as an editor, Shabbir worked on several short documentaries by other visionaries before delving into documentary filmmaking himself. The first of these documentaries is 'Shahbaz Qalandar', a medium-length film on the rituals and traditions of the Qalandariyya Sufi Order of Sehwan Sharif in the culturally rich province of Sindh, Pakistan.

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Director Statement

As the various disciplines of the Humanities developed and expand with the use of new technology, the medium of film plays an increasingly important role in ethnography - wherein this was previously the realm of hard publication.

In light of this, the documentary project ‘Shahbaz Qalandar’ tries to demystify Sehwan’s religious landscape for what it really is - to either a scholarly audience or a popular one. To date, only two professionally made documentaries have been completed on Sehwan, but from the lens of popular culture/Sufism, which is hardly the context the city’s reality thrives upon.

The documentary delves into the ritual piety of Qalandariyya Sufi Order and the centrality of the Qalandariyya to Sehwan’s spiritual life, of which it is the last remaining bastion in this world.