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Friday, July 27, 2012

Dr Aur Billa makes a comeback

Lahore-based band Dr Aur Billa is known for introducing elements of wit and hilarity to Pakistani music with the primary objective of making music fun. With the release of their first album in the ‘90s, almost a decade later, the famous duo has decided to make a smashing comeback with the release of their latest track “Ab Kya Karun”, where director Jawad Bashir has encapsulated the role of “Dr” and Aiyaz Kidwai of “Billa”.
Bashir strongly feels that solid, agenda-free entertainment is the need of the hour, and not the politically-loaded viral videos that are popular today. “There are many people making social and political issues humorous and the concept has become very popular,” he tells The Express Tribune. “But I strongly feel that it depresses people and doesn’t give them any hope. One thing which remains missing is good family entertainment.”
“When we started out, we were the pioneers,” Bashir adds. “There was a need for a bold step to incorporate satire in music. After a while, we saw that the industry had progressed and there were a lot of new bands so as a result, we thought there was no need for Dr Aur Billa.” He explains that they started off when there were very few bands and channels and it was difficult to make it on TV. But now with numerous channels, the check on quality and content has laxed, making it easier for new bands.
“If you look at the channels in the past, they were not conservative but there was still a sense of modesty,” he says. “We want to give good entertainment that caters to all classes, so our goal is good entertainment with responsibility,” he adds, suggesting that they want to maintain the level of modesty that once existed.
The comeback
The humourous track “Ab Kya Karun” marked Dr Aur Billa’s much awaited comeback. Bashir, who wrote the song, explains that the thought of returning to the music scene occurred to him when his wife was dropping their daughter off to school. The song, which is about the after-effects of marriage, has a pleasant melody along with simple lyrics which is actually the unique selling point of the band. “It’s about a man who isn’t in love at first and asks ‘what should I do?’. Then, when he falls madly in love, the feelings are different. My goal was to target how that man feels now,” Bashir explains the lyrics of the song humourously. “I thought it’s necessary to give a married man’s perspective as well — how he feels when his pockets are empty (when his wife uses up all his money).”
Bashir says that the band doesn’t intend on releasing an album yet, but does have plans of releasing a few tracks on the internet. Currently, the band has two singles in the pipeline. Both are upbeat alternative rock tracks that have catchy tunes; “Kahani Purani” explains how love at the end of the day is the same old story and “Bay Kadri” talks about how no one should fall in love with an ungrateful person. “We thought that some things would change with age, but when we got together it was the same old Dr Aur Billa,” says Bashir. “Both tracks are going to be very upbeat and energetic.”
When asked how Ali Gul Pir of Waderai Ka Beta and other such comedy acts fit into the whole Dr Aur Billa tradition, Bashir humbly responds that they had quit over a decade ago and clearly this style of music has been self-sustaining (with the presence of numerous channels). He adds, “I really appreciate it when I see young musicians continuing the tradition of putting comedy into lyrics. But at the same time, our fans kept asking us to come back despite all the newcomers. They love us and want us back — so why shouldn’t we, for the sake of our fans?”

Will Kaptaan make it?

If a film-maker takes on a subject like the popular Imran Khan for a project, he should anticipate that expectations and public interest will be high. Films like Waar and Seedlings have raised the bar for film-makers in Pakistan, but projects likeKaptaan (which revolves around Imran Khan and Jemima Goldsmith) and Kolachi remain a cause of concern.
While Kolachi did not move beyond delivering a trailer, Kaptaan has now been under production for two years, raising questions about poor planning and execution. According to a source affiliated with the production unit, despite being shot and re-shot a few times, the release of the film cannot be expected in the near future. Director Faisal Aman Khan should have known better.
In early 2011, the crew had completed the shooting and released the trailer as public interest mounted. “People were abusing the Kaptaan crew on Facebook for not delivering on time,” the source told The Express Tribune, requesting anonymity. “That is when they decided to upload the trailer of the film to YouTube, to calm the fans down.”
But as the initial filming done by Lahore-based cinematographer Tariq Pitafi concluded and the footage was previewed by the crew, technical glitches surfaced and the plan to move to the post-production phase was halted.
“After consultation with the key members of the crew, the director decided to reshoot the whole film,” the source revealed. “The film crew was so desperate (for an alternative cinematographer) that the task of filming was given to the editor,” he concluded, adding that others were reluctant to take on this project as its prospects seemed murky.
The team embarked on a journey to shoot Kaptaan once again, but the quality of the new footage was so poor, that the crew decided to shoot the entire film in black and white.
“This was an easy way out since the look gets classy and most of errors are hidden,” said the source. “But frankly, the film wasn’t going anywhere.”
The most recent development is that Kaptaan has entered the shooting process for a third time now, with Pitafi once again as the director of photography (DP), who will shoot the remainding portion of the film in black and white.
Are we going to see a black and white film after a trailer in colour? If that is indeed the case, then the more serious question that will be raised is, will the project be completed?
PTI says no
While the director and film crew have spoken of their meeting with Imran Khan and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) “continuous support” to the film, PTI tells The Express Tribune that it has no clue.
When asked if the party was in any way endorsing the film, PTI’s secretary of information Shafqat Mehmood said that there has been no collaboration or funds extended to the film-makers. “I can totally deny this,” Mehmood said, adding that this “never happened”.
While the Kolachi team re-gained credibility with Seedlings – which may win an award at the New York Film Festival – the Kaptaan project seems to run high on ambition and low on pragmatism.