KARACHI: Pakistani music fan and upcoming musician Bhaskar Kashyap – who has covered songs by Roxen at performances in college – talks to The Express Tribune about why Pakistani music is so popular across the border.
How were you introduced to Pakistani music? Have you ever seen a Pakistani band perform live in India?
Pakistani music featuring Ghulam Ali and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan has always been cherished in India and I got introduced to it in my childhood through my family and parents etc who still listen to it. However, the first contemporary Pakistani act that really inspired me was “Sayonee” by Junoon, thanks to music channels in India. Then came Strings with hits like “Anjaane”, “Mera Bichra Yaar” and “Sar Kiye Yeh Pahar” which are still very popular here. I’ve seen Strings perform at the South Asian Bands Festival 2009 and Jal at IIT Roorkee in 2009
Do you feel upcoming musicians in India are influenced by contemporary Pakistani musicians? If yes, what is it about them?
I can’t generalise it, but in our case it’s the feel of the song and its soul which one can easily relate to. What young upcoming musicians want in a song is that it should have a good melody, should be technically sound, containing the odd punch and kick, a good build-up, a language which they can communicate with the masses and most importantly the feel of the song … all these factors count a lot and are inherent in Pakistani bands.
What is your opinion of the pop and rock scene in India? Why have pop and rock bands not been as popular in India as Pakistani musicians have?
The rock scene is present in north-eastern India, hill stations, Darjeeling and metropolitan cities. People from these regions have been listening to and playing western classic rock, metal etc for very long time. But the band culture on the national scale started only in the 1990s when technically sound bands like Indus Creed, Pentagram and Parikrama came up with original songs which were only well-received by fewer people it was a completely new genre and the songs were not in Hindi.
Then came Euphoria, a Hindi rock-pop band that became very popular with catchy songs like “Dhoom”. However, during the same time a notable number of good Indian bands came up but never got exposure or marketing because their songs were in English. And TV channels and radio stations never played these because they were happy with their ratings and didn’t want to experiment much.
But now it’s the new breed of musicians – bands like The Raghu Dixit Project, Avial, Skinny Alley, Sha’ir n Func – that have been given proper exposure in cultural festivals in the country and there are magazines such as Rolling Stone which have a growing fan base.
What’s your opinion of Coke Studio? Any favourites?
The whole concept of Coke Studio is just brilliant. I wrote on Facebook that ‘if India boasts about Taj Mahal, Pakistan should boast about Coke Studio’. It’s like a dream come true for musician. A stage where skilled musicians from different music styles and backgrounds come together and jam with each other is just a treat to listen to. My personal favourites include “Kuch Ajab Khel” by Shafqat Amanat Ali, “Garaj Baras” by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Ali Azmat and Josh and Shafqat Amanat Ali’s “Mahi Ve”.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2010.
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