Salman Ahmad collaborates with Peter Gabriel for HBO film Open Your Eyes

The musician is also set to make acting debut in Bollywood soon

Saadia Qamar September 18, 2015
The musician is also set to make acting debut in Bollywood soon. PHOTO: BBC

KARACHI: Junoon member Salman Ahmad is soaring high; from his acting debut in Bollywood to his collaboration for an upcoming HBO film, this talented musician is fast gaining traction internationally.

The musician speaks exclusively to The Express Tribune about his collaboration with Peter Gabriel for song Munn Kunto Maula in HBO film Open Your Eyes and how the opportunity came knocking at his door.

“I'm honored to have been asked by Oscar-nominated director Irene Taylor Brodsky and Oscar-nominated producer Dr Larry Brilliant to compose the musical score for the filmBoth of them are fans of Sufi music and have been frequent guests at my concerts in the US," Salman said.

Read: Vital Signs, Junoon team up for new national chant 'Chaand Sitaara'

He was introduced to English musician Peter years earlier and they haven't lost touch since. “I met Peter Gabriel in 2007, when I was performing in Oxford at the Skoll Forum hosted by participant films chairman Jeff Skoll. He introduced me to Peter and we've been in touch ever since,” he added.

Munn Kunto Maula isn't the only song from Open Your Eyes the two collaborated on, the duo also worked together on the theme song of the film. “In addition to the musical score, Peter Gabriel and I collaborated on the theme song Open your Eyes which is bilingual -- in English and Urdu. Peter is also a huge qawwali buff and responsible for bringing Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to Hollywood for his Grammy-winning Passion soundtrack for Martin Scorsese's film Last Temptation of Christ."


He shares the thrilling experience of recording Ameer Khusro’s famous qawwali Munn Kunto Maula thousands of miles away from Peter. "I recorded the film soundtrack in NY at John Alec's studios while Peter's vocals were recorded in the UK at his Real World studios. It was an exhilarating process to record a fusion track inspired by the father of qawwali music, Hazrat Ameer Khusro and his ethereal Munn Kunto Maula,” Salman gushed.

The musician is hopeful about the film winning an Oscar and cannot thank the director and producer enough for the opportunity they gave him. "Open your eyes is a brilliant, beautifully shot film about giving sight to the sightless and voice to the voiceless. I'm indebted to Irene and Dr Larry for giving me the opportunity to score the film. I hope it wins big at the Oscars next year,” he added.

Read: How Junoon took Parvaaz

Future plans thus far include his debut Bollywood film Rhythm, which is in the pipelines along with numerous film offers in the future, claims the musician. Next year will mark Junoon's 25th anniversary and the musician hopes to celebrate the festive occasion by eradicating polio from Pakistan.

His Bollywood film, which has been in the works for more than two years, is a musical love story. Salman will portray himself -- a sufi-rocker -- who serves as a symbolic angel to the female lead in the film.

The movie is about an Indian college band that goes to Poland and how a girl in the movie is a Junoon fan, “That is where I come in; I play myself in the film and serve as a sufi-rocker guide to the girl,” said Ahmed. It is a love story shot in Krakow, Poland. It has musical-global village meets coming-of-age film flavor to it," he explained.

He has contributed two songs to the film. One of them features the vocal talents of Sunidhi Chauhan titled, Yaaro and will also feature in Junoon’s 25th anniversary album, slated to release next year.

Read: Junooni gets into the ‘rhythm’

He views this cross-border exchange of talent as a positive influence on India and Pakistan. "I think it is really good. If you see both countries from the prism of films and music, then there's nothing wrong.

"We are divided by politics. And when there's a cricket match between the two countries, we suddenly forget the love we have for each other," he added.


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