KARACHI: Curtains have been drawn on the show’s eighth season as the final episode was unveiled this weekend. Stringing together a farewell set list might have been a nervous job for the producers who used the currency of nostalgia to full use, week in week out.
Bilal and Faisal have managed to emerge from the other end of the tunnel unscathed for the second year in a row, and while the negatives are always on our lips, the positives were indeed very promising.
It wouldn’t be entirely wrong to say that Malang Party saved the season from drowning into bland monotony. Hands down, Dil Jalay hits home. The track leaves the more passionate fans of Pakistani music teary-eyed since mainstream bands have shunned rock and roll for good and Malang Party just brought the dead horse back to life. Pakistan’s answer to Indian Ocean played exactly the sort of music that ventures like Coke Studio have strangulated and minnows like Nescafe Basement have picked up on. Taking nothing away from the entire line-up, the original still makes more sense largely because multiple guitars call for a more rigorous arrangement that helps the listener dissect every instrument individually. Yet the song will continue to blare from car stereos and the neighbour’s windows for a while.
Ajj Din Vehre Vich
Despite coming out as a very different artist this season, Ali Zafar did perhaps overplay the experimentation with Ajj Din Vehre Vich. The song falls considerably short in terms of vocals and points towards the territory our rockstar should refrain from entering. Although the Shahnawaz Zaidi lyrics made absolute sense, the forceful inclusion of Ghalib neared a disaster. The melodramatic reading, which one can barely make out thanks to the DJ Buttesque loudness of the music, reminded us of Tehreek-e-Niswan’s art of butchering literary classics.
An entire generation has grown up humming along Armaan on the back benches, in the cafeterias, at Eid Milan parties and during bunking sessions. The Siege classic is given a Caribbean treatment which is convincing in its own right. At a very early age, Alycia Dias has established a fan base of her own, riding on the wave of Pakistani TV serials. With her exceptional tone and telling presence, she makes the best of what is thrown at her and withstands the ‘siege’ of Junaid and Ahsan with finesse. Only if it isn’t too much to ask for, a grunge treatment for Armaan would have added to the indulgence of those who will relive fond memories hearing the song once again.
Aaj Jane Ki Zid Na Karo
The Fayyaz Hashmi ghazal is perhaps the most popular lyrical piece of the recent past which was further accentuated by the signature Sohail Rana ministrations. The old kingdom is no more and Farida Khanum is one of the few of its viziers, in Hali’s words — Yadgar-e-bazm-e-Dilli aik Hali reh gaya [only Hali remains from the milieu of Delhi], who are still breathing. She leaves us in awe of her powerful presence and sets the bar of ageing goals way too high. While she is rightfully immune to scrutiny and her inclusion was necessary to the extent that the new generation of listeners should know where our music is coming from, there was little done on part of the producers to bring the arrangement at par with Farida’s singing. Her struggle with breathing and clearing her throat saddens us as much as Rana’s absence from Pakistan does.
Verdict: The episode skirts the season’s dominant myopia and stylises its exit with high entertainment value.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2015.