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Friday, December 6, 2013

10 years on: An ‘Aadat’ that changed the course of pop music in Pakistan

KARACHI: 
Has it really been 10 years since Aadat was released? This is the general reaction of the generation that was growing up during the Indus Music (IM) era of Pakistani music. It really is surprising, because apart from being a defining moment in the history of Pakistani pop music, Aadat is still relevant, which is shocking, given that a decade has passed since it first hit the airwaves.
It was December 2003 when two novice musicians named Atif Aslam and Goher Mumtaz released Aadat as the duo Jal, a track which not only became the biggest hit of the decade but also gave us the biggest controversy of modern day Pakistani music.
The Express Tribune spoke to established Pakistani musicians and Atif Aslam himself regarding why this song became such a sensation and about the impact it left on our music industry. Goher Mumtaz, who is now the font man of Jal, refused to give a comment, despite repeated attempts to contact him.
Asad Ahmed, one of the leading guitar players in Pakistan, was perhaps one of the very few people who listened to Aadat before its official release. “I remember Atif and Goher had come to get my feedback on the song through a common acquaintance and they were clueless about music in general and what they had created,” recalls Ahmed.
“We still make fun of our first meeting whenever we interact,” he chuckles, “To be frank, I thought Atif’s voice was great and the song was simple yet catchy, but never knew that it would become such a huge hit. But then, all the game changers of Pakistani pop music have been very simple [compositions]  — be it Dil Dil PakistanDekha Na tha by Alamgir orAadat for that matter”
The sheer scale of Aadat’s success was unfathomable, even for Atif Aslam. He had realized that the song was gaining popularity after it first aired, but it did not sink in fully until a friend called him from Karachi to tell an interesting story.
“I was still aloof about what had just started” recalls Atif. “ Then, one evening , a few months after  the release, I got a call from a friend in Karachi  who excitedly told me that he’d gone shopping at a mall where he saw some college kids sitting outside playing a guitar and singing. When he got closer, he realized they were singing Aadat. That was the first time I realized that this song was going to be something very special for the Pakistani youth.”
Faisal Rafi, a music producer who has worked with acts such as Strings, Karavan and Kaavish to name a few, believes that while Aadat didn’t necessarily offer something new, it did open many other doors for Pakistani musicians.
“I think the most important contribution of Aadat to the local music scene was the fact that it was the first Pop/Rock song to go to go to Bollywood, and opened avenues for every other band/artist [across the border]. We already had the likes of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan going there, but not a young Pop act per say,” says Rafi.
Aslam thoroughly agrees with Rafi’s point regarding Aadat and states that it was a song from where it all began, for him.
Aadat was where it began for me. It changed my life, its success strengthened my faith and lead me to record my first album, which in turn resulted in my going to India to pursue a career in playback; none of which would have been possible without Aadat,” says Aslam.
For guitar virtuoso Faraz Anwar, it was the very simple chord progression, one minor chord and two major chords, that he feels not only made people listen to the song but also pick up a guitar to play it, which he believes was the real reason for its popularity.
“It certainly didn’t offer anything new. The chord progression was generic, and Atif’s style of singing was very much inspired by Ali Azmat. It was this combination that really worked for the audience,” says Anwar.
However, what irks Anwar about the Aadat phenomenon is the fact that the song gave the music industry a formula to follow, and musically Jal wasn’t necessarily a very great example.
“Bands like Jal, who come into the mainstream after a few months of jamming, have always existed. It’s their short-cut to success that gives them so many followers. But at the end of the day there is a fine line between artists and entertainers, and it’s not one that everyone can tread.”
Faizan-ul-haque, former VJ on Indus Music [IM] has an interesting take on Aadat.
“Critically speaking, Aadat was not the best song of its time, but it is one that the young public connected with the most,” says Haque.
“It turned Atif, who was hardly a Shafqat on melodies or an Ali Noor or Ali Azmat in terms of image, into an icon. Today, he is the most hardworking of all Pakistani pop singers and looking back now, Aadat seems to be nothing short of genesis.”
Aslam, on the other hand, realizes his naivety during his Aadat days and considers the experience one that made him more humble about his music.
“We thought we knew everything, but we were wrong. Such is the joy of teenage hubris. I’ve grown up since then, Aadat and Jal were over a decade ago,” Aslam concludes.
While Aslam may have moved on, it is undeniable that Aadat had a long reaching effect, one that is still making waves in the industry today.

Pakistan Film Magazine: Inside the largest online database of Pakistani films


Mahzar Iqbal is not one to talk about himself, but his personal endeavour has turned into the most thorough archive of Pakistan’s cinematic history. Iqbal’s website, the Pakistan Film Magazine, is the largest online database for Pakistani films to date.

“When I began to surf the internet in the late 90s, my searches on Pakistani movies, actors and music failed to provide any results. Even searching for Heer Ranja gave results of Indians movies only,” says Iqbal, who has lived in Denmark for most of his life.
“I’ve seen movies from around the globe. No doubt they are both technically advanced and professionally made, but our movies are the best entertainment for any average Pakistani like myself.”

The Pakistan Film Magazine is part of Mazhar.dk, which Iqbal launched in 1999 as a hobby to document Pakistan’s history and culture. His own interest in cinema has been inherent since he was a child. The website, which has been functioning for over a decade, has information on more than 4,000 movies, 4,500 artistes and 6,500 songs, with complete movies for online viewing as well.

“I still remember many songs from Radio Pakistan Lahore’s very popular programme Aap Ki Farmaish, with additional information such as film, singers, poets and music director’s names. I also remember many movies, trailers and songs on black & white TV. I will never forget my first cinema experience at the age of just seven, in 1969,” says Iqbal.

A young film enthusiast, his grandfather would give him pocket money to buy film editions of Jang, Mashriq, Imrooz, Musawwat and collect weekly film magazines such as Musawar, Tasawur, Tasvir, Mumtaz, Screen Light and later, Nigar. By the time he migrated to Denmark in the 1980s, he had a vast collection of Pakistani films and had collected a large amount of information on local cinema.

His passion for cinema inspired a larger endeavour; to make a publicly accessible online archive for Pakistani film. After the relative success of his news-portal Mahzar.dk, he made a separate website for Pakistan Film Magazine in May 2000. The first content was a review of iconic Punjabi film Heer Ranja, with complete film details such as cast credit, music information and unique images from the film which he took from his digital camera.

“I have a very strong point-of-view on movie making in Pakistan. I believe that we should make more local movies with small budgets; it will increase the interest in local cinema. We should also change the main theme of our movies, since the most popular subject is our social and cultural problems,” says Iqbal.

“Personally, I hate actions movies, but I know that these movies are more appealing to the public. Female cinema-goers prefer romantic and musical movies, and the golden era of the 1950s-70s, consisted widely of these types of movies.”

After taking initial steps to increase on his website, Iqbal published a complete chronicle of film history dating back to 1948. His source of information was the Urdu film directories, compiled by renowned film journalist Yasin Gojra. Famous journalist and writer Aqeel Abbas Jafri helped him make corrections of dates related to artistes and films.

As the site expanded, Iqbal was faced with an issue of technical expertise, in which he had to publish information page by page, making it necessary to develop web design skills. He had heard about online database technology and soon enrolled at Copenhagen University in 2011, where he obtained degrees in both web development and design.

He used this newfound expertise to develop a complete database which streamlined his archiving process. This year, the reworked website was completed and uploaded a database of 3000 films from the pre-partition era, marking the celebration of 100 years of cinema.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ali Zafar’s Item Song In Tere Bin Laden 2


Almost a month earlier, we reported that Manish Paul will be playing the lead in Tere Bin Laden 2 and now Ali Zafar, who debuted in the prequel, plans to be an integral part of this upcoming installment too.
The actor who shares an emotional attachment with this movie will be composing and singing an item number for the film. However, the details of his song are being kept under wraps as Ali claimed that even if the title of the song is revealed, it will give away the plot of the film. But the actor is sure that this fully entertaining item number will win over hearts of many.

“The System” vouches to create a lasting impact

With the overwhelming success of “Main hoon Shahid Afridi” and “Waar”, Pakistani film makers are keen to invest heavy amount of money in film making. “The System” is an example of their attempts to revive Pakistani cinema.
The system is a combined venture of LEOS Productions, green Chilli Entertainment & Prime Films. It is an action drama film starring Shehraz, Nadeem Baig, Kashaf Ali, Irfan Kosart, Saima Saleem, Nayyar Ejaz, Saira, Shafqat Cheema, Saleem Shah, Rabia Tabassum and Mariyam Ali Hussain in lead roles.
It is directed by a Norway based director, Shahzad Ghufoor. The lyrics are penned by Bollywood lyricist, Irfan Siddiqui and music is composed by Indian music director, Shailesh Suwarna. The songs are sung by famous singers including Javed A who’s known for chart buster songs like “Guzarish” and “Tu hi haqeeqat”.
“Our country’s film industry was on its way down. Last year when I visited, I came across a script which I liked and I thought why wait until times improve. We should start now”, said Shahzad in a statement. Previously, Bol and Khuda kay liye highlighted religious orthodoxy. “The System” is based on injustice and corruption which has become a part of our country’s system. Shafqat Cheema, describing his character said “I am playing the role of a Station House Officer [SHO] who has a strong hold on the whole system. And through this control, he changes the system.”
It is shot both in Norway and Pakistan. “The system” team released a poster online which received a positive response from fans. Through the poster, a clear social message is highlighted, “I can not follow the system this system has to follow me”. The first look teaser is expected to be released at the end of this week and the theatrical trailer to follow. Movie is slated to be released in the spring of 2014.
Pakistani cinema is going global with movies like The system and Waar (Which will be released in UAE and UK soon). With such movies, Pakistani movie fans are optimistic that Pakistani cinema will start to flourish once again

Monday, December 2, 2013

WAAR on December 12th! in UAE

The Wait is Over WAAR is going to release 
on December 12th! in UAE (Grand Cinemas)