Pakistan’s ace singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan lit the stage on fire on Wednesday, July 27, with his charity show for the Garage School, Karachi, held at Pearl Continental Hotel in Lahore. The event, organised by J and S and sponsored by the US consulate, featured the debut of Khan’s son as a live performer, bringing back memories of the singer himself performing with the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
With the singer’s ability to hit unique notes, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s music brings the amalgamation of classic and modern song. His voice has left a global impression and his fame across the border has made him a Bollywood icon, leaving many in awe.
“Now, no album in India is complete without Rahat Fateh Ali Khan,” said model and actor Natasha Hussain, who was the host of the show. “His performances can make Iman Ali cry and others laugh. There is something that touches everyone.”
Surrounding the singer was a crowd including the governor of Punjab Sardar Latif Khosa, who along with his entourage made an emphatic entrance at the show.
Khan entered to a standing ovation, with an instrumental introduction by his band on a Bollywood song “Tu Na Jaane Aas Paas Hai Khuda”. Despite the sound limitations of the hall, the setup was decent, letting the audiences enjoy a mix of loud and classical music.
The singer started off with “Tumhe Dillagi Bhool Jaani Paray Gi”. Performed with Nusrat qawwal, the performance was a combination of jazz and qawwali. This was followed by several major numbers such as “O Re Piya”, but the show reached its peak when Khan’s son joined him on the stage to sing “Tere Mast Mast Do Nain” from the Indian film Dabangg. As the young singer eased into the song, one could tell that his voice held promise.
The father-son duet came with “Yeh Jo Halka Halka Suroor” and “Allah Hoo”, causing listeners stand on their chairs to get a better view. Overall, the rock concert-styled intensity of the show struck the right chord with the audiences.
US Consul General Lahore Carmela Conroy, who was one of the organisers of the event, explained that the musical show for charity had been planned when the last floods hit the country. The decision was made after several private companies had donated money for the fundraiser, which faced delays due to the security threats in Pakistan.
“The value of culture cannot be underestimated,” said Conroy. “On a global level, it can help create a bridge, but locally this music provides a bridge between the youth of Pakistan and the region’s heritage which dates back millennia.”
The Garage School which provides schooling to 400 underprivileged women in Karachi was started by Shabina Mustafa. The institute was established as part of her late husband’s vision to help the underprivileged. It was after her housemaid’s daughter was refused admission that she finally kick-started the project.
Khan’s concert had all the reasons to ensure the maximum possible audience. With a fusion of Khan’s musical ensemble and a house band, his performance reflected a transformation of the artist from a shy teenager singing with his uncle Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to a proud father supporting his son singing live in front of a massive crowd.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2011.