Be it the golden period of Pakistani cinema in the 60s and 70s or the progressive fashion scene in 2011, music has always been the primary form of entertainment in Pakistan. The reason for this dependence on music is the fact that Pakistan’s music history is brimming with some timeless musicians who gave the industry enough strength to thrive, even in the absence of a stable film industry.
This year, four major contributors of music, Mohammad Ali Shyhaki, Alamgir, Bunny and Hassan Jahangir, have made a comeback. The real question, however, is which of them can actually cope with the fast-changing musical trends and impress a younger, more demanding audience.
There’s something about Alamgir
Alamgir’s revamped version of “Keh Dena”, which actually is a tribute to the legend himself, says a lot about his own versatility. His popularity was proven by the 260,000 hits the official channel of his video on YouTube received in a month’s time. People may say that it is the thrill of watching Alamgir sing a duet with an Asian-Canadian girl sing in Urdu. However, that doesn’t change the fact that Alamgir worked hard on his vocals as well as the overall structure of “Keh Dena” so much, so that people who have not even heard the original, loved the remix. Alamgir’s voice is still unique and despite his ailing health he managed to shoot a music video. If all goes smoothly and if things work in his favour, then prepare yourself for some inspiring music from the ‘Elvis of the East’.
Bunny’s magic prevails
People may say that the credit for his comeback goes to Roxen for revamping the timeless classic “Dil Main Tum” into a rock song, but many would accept that it was Bunny’s magic which made this new rendition sell like hot cakes. The iconic singer recently sang “Dil Main Tum” on a morning show while strumming his guitar and proved that his voice is as husky and brilliant as it was back in the 90s. If only he had continued making music, Bunny would be the ‘King of Pop’ today. The trend of cross cultural exchange (Pakistani singers going to Bollywood) and fusion (“Coke Studio” sessions), is the perfect opportunity for Bunny to relaunch his career.
Shyhaki’s so-so song
Mohammed Ali Shyhaki’s comeback was a very half-hearted attempt of one of the most significant tracks in Pakistan’s music history. The singer released “Teray Ishq Mae” but in two month’s time, the song’s official channel managed to get only 5,000 hits — a number which we consider too little for a song that changed the face of Pakistan’s pop industry back in the 90s. Shyhaki looks good but his vocals seem more appropriate for playback voice singing than mainstream music ventures. He needs another Sohail Rana to help him compete in this age, when music traditions may be too modern for a ‘filmy’ voice like Shyhaki’s.
Hassan Jahangir’s balancing act
The “Hawa Hawa” sensation was a trendsetter in Pakistan as he introduced the idea of electrifying performances during the somber days of PTV. The fact that Jahangir reinvented his own style of music with modern techniques and experimented with ethnic pop and Bollywood music in his new Bengali rendition of “Dol Dol” is a commendable effort. The middle-aged singer still manages to give audiences a catchy tune to hum and an entertaining performance to watch. Jahangir could continue singing and who knows, he might just be lucky enough to get a ticket to Bollywood. However, the masses and the music industry have matured over the years and Jahangir’s music has a 50-50 chance of impressing the listeners. If he fails to give another “Hawa Hawa”, than the singer may have to try his luck with shaadi songs.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2011.