The king of Pakistani pop music, who changed the dynamics of music in Pakistan with his album Babia 93, made quite a comeback with “Coke Studio 4”. His foot-tapping “Kir Kir” and the freshly-baked “Rung Laga” were definitely a welcome change for his fans. However, the singer himself is not willing to release more music.
“So far I have received a great response to my ‘Coke Studio’ songs. One more song is yet to come in the final episode but I will not release any further music until the craze of these songs ends,” Ali told The Express Tribune.
Despite the overwhelming response, the singer is not optimistic about the pop music scene in Pakistan. He is sceptical about releasing new songs and music videos.
“What pop music are you talking about? I only know of one song presently representing our pop music scene and that is ‘Bum Phata’ and its singer Ali Azmat is not from the new age of musicians,” says Ali.
Concerned about the decline of arts and entertainment in the country, Ali has held back many tracks.
“You are asking about an album, I have 70 songs ready to be released in the market and this is the number that I can recall right now. In fact, there are more than that. Why would I release these songs when there are no concerts happening? It’s pointless to invest in something which has no return and above all, no respect,” revealed the singer.
Reflecting on the same issues, Ali added: “It’s not because I’m sitting in Dubai that I have faded away from the music scene, go and talk to Fariha Pervez, Faakhir, Haroon, Jawad Ahmed and any other artists and tell me how busy have they been in the present pop music industry.”
Ali believes that the artists will move to other countries if the Pakistani music scene fails to get better. “We are artists and the whole world, and not just India, is open for a versatile musician. It’s all about making the right choices and choosing the best industry for your kind of music,” says Ali.
Addressing the notion of people going to Bollywood, Ali smiled and answered: “The artist is going there for his personal good. He is not to be blamed, but the listener who calls that artist a sell-out is the one who needs to change his perspective.”
To hear such disenchanted words from one of the pioneers of pop music in Pakistan is more than just thought-provoking for an upcoming musician, and one wonders if there is a roadmap that newcomers should follow?
“Not really. In this time of technological advancement, there is not straight formula for success. You can only gauge the result of your effort by actually putting in some and waiting for the people to respond,” says Ali.
When asked to clarify the rumours about singing “Bolo Bolo” in the next episode of “Coke Studio”, he replied: “It is not ‘Bolo Bolo’ and I can’t disclose anything else because I have a gentleman’s agreement with Coke. However, it will be something fresh and catchy.”
The Pakistani music industry is undoubtedly in a bad shape but the fans of Sajjad Ali are anxiously waiting for his new songs. However, given the current state of music industry, what’s the future of his 70 tracks? “People will not get to hear them,” says Ali.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2011.