KARACHI: In a country like ours, ingenuity bejewelled with spectacle is necessary for attention. Popular Pakistani music has been walking the tightrope for years. Frenzied moths encircled the bright light for one sole reason; bands were revered because the music was built around vocals that have borne the flag of our scene’s spectacular tapestry.
Peshawar-based quartet Khumariyaan has been repeatedly attempting to break out of this publicly sanctioned formula. In times when even giants of the industry lick their wounds and shy away from releasing music, why would these new boys on the block take the leap of rolling out a track that is neither a cover nor a tribute, lacking corporate muscle and even vocals? The song title explains a great deal.
It hasn’t been long since the mighty rubab reappeared on the scene, this time clasped by long-haired, jeans-clad youth whose urban sensibilities helped rebrand the traditional instrument for the newer audience. Khumariyaan is perhaps the only band in Pakistan that has dedicated itself to representing traditional music in a way that keeps the wellspring’s soul intact.
Puttering upstream humming Hafiz’s declaration of sanat mi kunam [how crafty I am], the band’s approach is quite audacious. Their recently-released single Tamasha provides adequate evidence for the aforementioned phenomenon. The video opens to an introduction of the lineup underscored by a build-up to the Sarmad Ghafoor-produced song that hints at a grunge feel before launching into the arrangement that is dominated by the rubab and percussions.
Punctuated by both stills and clips from the band’s overseas escapades, the video shows crude playing of a composition that is as ornamented as the trucks in whose shadow the band mates sway. Sparlay Rawail’s many avatars on lead; Aamer Shafiq’s rhythm guitars are reciprocated by Farhan Bogra and Shiraz Khan’s earthy playing.
Glimpses of a recovering Peshawar also frequent the screen as the song progresses. The portraiture of a never-seen-before side of the city’s Pink Floyd-inspired youth that knows its aviators as well as its attan dance is reasonably refreshing. Executive director Taseeq Haider and director Aftab Abbasi have come up with the right mix of different visual elements that befit the cultural thrust that gave birth to Khumariyaan’s philosophy.
The video closes with the band mates walking out of a jharoka-styled doorway after having done what most of today’s musicians are struggling with — rekindling hope.
About the band
Now in their fifth year, Khumariyaan is a four-member band that stands strong with Sparlay Rawail on lead guitars, Aamer Shafiq on rhythm guitars, Farhan Bogra on rubab, and Shiraz Khan on percussions.
Despite their busy schedules, the band has become a popular name in the Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar circuits because of their experimental approach towards music.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2015.