KARACHI: Salman Ahmad is a happy man today for various reasons. His 'ain’t true love' is the head of the government and the Junoon reunion is finally happening. Till last year, every time Ahmad tweeted or spoke publicly about a Junoon reunion, Ali Azmat denied it openly and aggressively. It almost felt as if Ahmad was chasing a prom date when everyone else in the class was taken.
But it has finally happened and the band is all set to perform live after 13 years on December 25. The reunion however, didn’t take place as easily as it seems. The efforts to reunite the biggest band of South Asia were being made for the past couple of years and it is interesting to see how many attempts failed before this one became a success.
The first major player to bring the two together was Coca Cola. In season 10, the producers and the brand and marketing team at Coca Cola had managed to convince both Ali Azmat and Salman Ahmad to feature in the anniversary episode. This was meant to commemorate 10 years of Coke Studio and reunite Junoon but apparently it didn’t happen due to creative difference between Azmat and Ahmad.
Rumour has it that Ali didn’t want Salman to sing and walked away… yes it does sound like a crazy fan theory but multiple industry insiders have confirmed the ‘creative difference’ bit.
The other theory for the reunion that failed to happen revolves around budget issues, which doesn’t really make sense given that the brand had ‘convinced’ them to reunite.
The second brand that went after Junoon was Pepsi. Yes it is true, as earlier reported by The Express Tribune that everything was more or less finalised for a Junoon reunion at Pepsi Battle of the Bands season 2. The band was onboard and even their shooting slots were close to being finalised when it was revealed that Ali Azmat is already participating in Coke Studio 11.
Since the unspoken rule of the Pakistani music industry entails you can’t have two fizzy drinks at the same time, Junoon had to opt out of this opportunity as well. Apparently Ahmed had already received the payment for the Pepsi reunion when it got called off.
Finally we saw Peak Freans take the cake and reunite Junoon for an August 14 video of Khudi. The video received severe criticism for a very basic video and an audio which wasn’t even re-recorded for the reunion. But it was just a teaser for the series of live concerts that were to happen during the end of the year.
The first Junoon concert will take place on December 25 at the Arabian Sea Country club. The tickets are priced between Rs 3000 and 7000 and will go on sale soon. As a buildup to the Junoon reunion concert, 200 different musicians of Pakistan are coming together to sing a rendition of Jazba Junoon, which is being produced by the Islamabad-based Sarmad Ghafoor.
Junoon’s live act will remain more or less the same with Ahmad on lead guitars, Azmat on vocals, Brian O’ Connel on bass guitars and Ustad Ashiq Ali Mir on Eastern percussions. The drummer however remains a mystery. A senior member of the music fraternity told The Express Tribune that Jay Dittamo, the American drummer who accompanied the band on most of their foreign tours will be coming to Pakistan for the concert.
Sources also suggest that Junoon is considering Ahad Nayani of Coke Studio fame as one of the choices for the drummer’s slot.
The second concert is supposed to take place in Dubai in January and after that the band might consider performing more shows with a number of organisers already showing interest in a reunion tour.
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