KARACHI: Tehzeeb Foundation, a Karachi-based arts and culture preservation society, held the seventh annual Tehzeeb Festival and Awards on Sunday. The event – which lasted through the day – included an art exhibition, live readings, musical performances and a certificate distribution ceremony.
One of the main segments of the evening was the launch of a music video entitled Story of Gulsher, which revolves around two brothers, Gulsher and Shamsher. The 13-year-old Gulsher lost his life in the Army Public School attack on December 16, 2014, while the younger Shamsher survived and eventually resumed his schooling with renewed energy and spirit.
The song, which is part of the Action Moves People United album, has been produced by Sharif Awan, general secretary of Tehzeeb Foundation and producer of Indus Raag. It features music by Arshad Mehmud, narration by Zia Mohyeddin, lyrics by Harris Khalique, vocals by Zoe Viccaji and backing vocals/sitar by Nafees Ahmed Khan.
Addressing the audience, Awan said, “December 16 has always been painful for us because of the East and West Pakistan split; the APS incident added to that. Pakistani artists, film-makers and singers have kept the incident alive in our memories.”
Echoing his sentiment, Viccaji spoke about the need to remember such events and not let them fade away. “News comes and goes all the time and most of it is forgotten. Projects like this keep such incidents in our memory and I’m so proud to be a part of it,” she stated.
The video presents Gulsher not just as another victim but a symbol for sacrifice, love, peace and Pakistan’s desire for education. In a distressing yet truthful tone, Khalique said, “I hope I don’t have to write such a poem again. I like to write about romance, love and lovers and I hope another occasion doesn’t arise when I have to write a poem such as this again.”
The festival also included a solo exhibition by Ali Abbas — one of the most celebrated fine artists of Pakistan. Another segment included visual presentation by Anwar Maqsood and Raza Ali Abidi.
In the awards ceremony, certificates were distributed to Indus Raag Project, which recently scored nominations at the Global Music Awards (USA) and Independent Music Awards (USA). The contributors included Ustad Rais Khan, Ustad Fateh Ali Khan, Ustad Naseeruddin Sami, Ustad Nafees Khan, Ustad Bashir Khan, Ustad Shahid Hamid, Ustad Salamat Hussain, Ustad Sajid Hussain, music group Fuzon, Asif Sinan and others.
Speaking with The Express Tribune, Awan explained the story of Indus Raag. “When people talk about classical music, they call it Indian classical music but it all goes back to the River Indus. So, we are trying to promote Indus Raag,” he said.
The group’s first album Indus Raag: Music beyond Borders had the honour of being Pakistan’s first indigenous entry to be shortlisted for the 57th Grammy Awards. Awan and his team followed it up with a sequel Indus Raag 2 – Karachi Concerts, which was released earlier this year.
The live music sessions at the festival featured young artists such as Shai Kazi, Kashif Zafar, Turab Ali and Shehroz Hussain, amongst others. It also included a jugalbandi session by Mumtaz Ali Sabzal on the banjo, Abdullah Khan playing the shehnai and Ustad Bashir Khan on the tabla.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2016.