August was a rather slow month for musicians all over Pakistan due to Ramazan, with barely any activity in terms of concerts and gigs. Pakistani pop band Strings, who are usually locked up in their studios during this month, came out of their den and decided to do something different and take a spur-of-the-moment trip to India. “It was a spontaneous plan,” lead guitarist Bilal Maqsood told The Express Tribune. “Since we had our visas in hand, we just planned a trip to India and the place we had in mind was Mumbai.”
Strings, comprising of duo Faisal Kapadia and Maqsood, toured Mumbai from August 22 to 29. However, true to their faith, the duo made it a point to fast in India as well. “Wherever we went, people had to prepare iftari for us,” Maqsood recalls.
The band’s eight-day trip paid off as Bollywood writer-director Sanjay Gupta offered them songs for his upcoming film Shootout at Wadala, a sequel of Shootout at Lokhandwala. “We’re providing four to five songs for the film,” confirmed Maqsood. He added that the songs are not finalised as yet and the band would know more in December. However, Maqsood stressed that all the songs will be new. The film, scheduled to be released in the third quarter of next year, has a cast that includes Anil Kapoor, Vidya Balan, Naseeruddin Shah, Manoj Bajpai, Nana Patekar and John Abraham.
“We’re doing songs for a Bollywood film after three-and-a-half years,” said vocalist Faisal Kapadia. “The last time we did music for Bollywood was in 2007 for Shootout at Lokhandwala when we did the song ‘Aakhri Alvida’. This was after the film Zinda in 2005, for which we performed the song ‘Zinda Hoon’. We really felt like a family! So this was a reunion.” Kapadia also praised Gupta for his talent and passion for film-making, “Gupta is a brilliant film-maker and it is exciting to see that he is so passionate about this upcoming film.”
The delights of their trip did not stop there. Apart from the striking deal with Gupta, Strings also attended a bash thrown by the director-producer team of Shootout at Wadala — Gupta and Ekta Kapoor. The party was at Kapoor’s residence where Bollywood actor John Abraham, Ronit Roy, Rohit Roy, Shibani Kashyap along with other Indian celebrities were also present.
Following that, the band also got a chance to meet actor Imran Khan and his wife Avantika once again, after having met the couple earlier this year in Thailand. Khan, upon finding out that the singing duo did not get a chance to watch Delhi Belly since the film was banned in cinemas all over Pakistan, arranged a private screening for Kapadia and Maqsood.
Their trip concluded with Indian musical trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s 15th anniversary as a band, which they celebrated with a concert that Strings also attended, along with renowned lyricist Javed Akhtar and his wife Shabana Azmi. All in all, the unplanned trip, which Kapadia, recalls as “thrilling and entertaining”, turned out to be fun-packed and lucrative for the band.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2011.