Khurram Iqbal left judges mesmerised with his remarkable vocals after his stint in Indian reality show “Saregamapa Singing Superstar” in 2010. While Punjabi legend Daler Mehndi said he found God in his voice, music composer Ismail Darbar told him “the sky is the limit” for the young singer. On the show, Oscar-winning singer-songwriter AR Rahman performed a duet on one of his own compositions with the 22-year-old and Bollywood actor Salman Khan revered him for the honesty embedded in his voice and embraced him. Such is the spell that this young performer cast on his Indian fans.
Iqbal was just beginning to absorb all the stardom, when Fuzon contacted him to grace the band with his vocals. High on ambition and low on experience, Iqbal agreed to lend his voice as the band’s lead singer. “I couldn’t believe it – singing for Fuzon is huge,” says Iqbal. “Senior musicians like Shallum Xavier and Immu have trusted me with this, so it’s my duty to give my best and contribute to the band as positively as I can.”
From being a contender in an Indian talent show to filling the shoes of a lead singer of one of Pakistan’s leading pop bands, Iqbal has experienced an ideal journey so far. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Fuzon, as member after member seems to leave the band as time goes by. “It would be wrong to call ours a turbulent journey (anymore, at least),” said guitarist Shallum, seeming concerned. He defended the band, saying that things had been smooth recently and all is “set in the right direction” for their new album.
Over the course of 11 years, the band successfully released two albums with classical singer Shafqat Amanat Ali as lead singer in the first and Rameez Mukhtar in the second. Mukhtar’s exit may come as a huge surprise to fans but the two founding members Shallum and Immu said they knew it was coming. “Frankly speaking, Rameez was unable to catch up with the band,” Immu said regretfully. He added that he believes that a band needs to be “well-synchronised, which certainly wasn’t the case with Rameez Mukhtar.” Mukhtar was too engrossed in his marketing career and more importantly, the band was looking for a new sound – a new vocalist for the band.
Fortunately, Mukhtar’s departure was on a good note— unlike Shafqat’s, when the band lost an integral member for the first time. “We have had a ball with Rameez,” said Shallum. “We have performed some of the most unforgettable shows together and share memories that will be cherished forever.”
For the legends
The third album titled “Tribute Album”, is in honour of classical singers such as Mehdi Hassan, Noor Jehan and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan along with legendary artists such as Kishore Kumar and Mohammad Rafi. Comprising of eight memorable classics, the album is expected to be released after Eid, along with a music video. Currently, the band is busy re-recording all the tracks with Iqbal which were initially sung by Mukhtar. “People should just wait for a ‘fuzonique’ take on these classics,” said Immu, excited about the band’s creations.
The band may be at the receiving end of criticism for taking a shortcut with their third album, but there could be something worse – the possibility of unhappy, enraged fans – if they fail to do justice to the classics. Shallum tells The Express Tribune that he is aware that comparisons will be made, but also feels that they have “matured as musicians” and that the tribute album will be a clear display of what they have learnt through tours across the world and exposure to different genres.
Once again, Fuzon has embarked upon a new journey with a fresh lead vocalist. But only time will tell if the band will be able to balance the same aura with the sophistication that it has maintained for years.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2012.