After some very promising acts like Yasir & Jawad and Natasha Ejaz, and some not very convincing ones, Uth records returns with a bang if not with a blast. In the fifth episode of the first edition of Uth records, we see the comeback of Athar Sani to the mainstream talent hunt. Athar Sani is a Karachi based vocalist and musician who has previously won “Pakistan Sangeet Icon 2” and this time the boy from Malir has brought with him an original track — “Janay Kyuon”.
The track has a local and commercial feel to it and sounds like a mature version of an Indian song. Although “Reidi Gul” by Yasir & Jawad also had the local folk feel, this song however, is more of an amalgamation of eastern classical and pop music. Sadly though what works against Sani in this song is his vocal similarity to Sonu Nigam which makes his nicely composed, fantastically sung track sound like just another Indian song.
Sani, popular for singing Nigam’s song, was criticised for his vocal monotony in “Sangeet Icon” when he sang Niigam’s songs. Despite his vocal resemblance, “Janey Kyuon” has an identity of its own which is largely because of the arrangement and the lyrical content of the song.
Kudos to Omran Shafique and Gumby for utilising Sani’s potential to the fullest — and ensuring no resemblance with Bollywood numbers. The song has a very dark and mellow feel to it. The idea of bringing in Mannu on the bass guitar turned the song 360 degrees and gave it a unique, mature progressive feel.
Heavy influences of eastern classical and contemporary instrumentation make the song sound like one from Ahmed Jehanzaib. The approach to music is the same, the use of backing vocals and raags is the same but because it was produced by a experienced rock musicians, it isn’t cheesy.
The lyrical content of the song is the most honest part of it. One can see in the BTS (Behind the Scenes) how concerned Sani is about the prevailing conditions and that is what he aims to channelise through his music.
Some interesting lyrics from the song:
“Saath reh ker bhi faaslay hum mae kyun
Dooriyan dil mae hain, nafratain itni kyun
Woh aasman or yeh zameen
Kyun hain juda, gham hai yahi”
To give credit where its due, Sani has come a long way. Starting off as a backing vocalist on Coke Studio in the first season, he went on to winning a nationwide talent hunt.
Athar Sani has been in the mainstream for quite some time but never like this. The kind of exposure Uth records has given to him will definitely help him mature as a musician. “Janay Kyuon” may not be as addictive as “Reidi Gul” or as interesting as “Right way to fall”, but it definitely represents a certain kind of classical pop music which is produced in large numbers in Pakistan and has a lot of listeners.
Overall, Athar Sani is a unique discovery, who has immense potential. His song may sound monotonous to some, but he definitely has the potential of creating commercial music worth listening to and becoming the next Ahmed Jehanzaib .
Published in The Express Tribune, April 02nd, 2011.