HIP finds out why music is embedded in Independence Day celebrations
Music emanates from the very core of Pakistan. It resonates with every citizen of the nation and includes diverse elements from various parts of Asia, whilst modern-day pop derives Western-influence home with a distinctive fusion that more often than not, emerges as a sound to remember. Celebratory in its own right, Independence Day without loud music to play on one’s cars’ stereo is truly like a clock without hands. Staying true to its essence, HIP caught a hold of gifted musicians, Asim Azhar, Sara and Shuja Haider discussing why music is embedded in Independence Day festivities.
The prodigy singer, Asim Azhar, is perhaps the only musician who’s released an original this season. His persistence on introducing contemporary rhythm and blues with elements of funk and electronic dance music has been commendable and his track Sabz Safaid Rang released by ‘Cornetto Pop Rock’ is a departure from the patriotic melodies we’ve heard and loved all these years.
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“It's been a long time since we've had an original like Dil Dil Pakistan or Jeevay Jeevay, or even musicians like Junoon or Vital Signs that would actually release something new in accordance to the occasion,” Azhar said of the once-raging, deceased trend, speaking to HIP on reviving it this year. “They're iconic tunes by pioneers that I've grown up on, I just hope Sabz Safaid Rang becomes one of them as well.”
What catches the eye is a lot more than what is heard, Sabz Safaid Rang is nostalgia at its best. It’s a throwback (if we may say so) to the good old’ days of children sneaking out, cycling their way to merriment; it’s an ode to what freedom and independence in Pakistan looked like. It’s aspiring and a fresh take on nationalism, and to an extent, autarky.
“When I found out Adnan (Malik) was directing the video of the song, I knew I had to do it. I've been a fan of his work and I absolutely loved his take on independence,” Asim maintained of the exuberant visuals. “I think Independence Day songs need to be more than just flags or forced patriotism; we wanted a very honest depiction of freedom through this very song and went along with a very real narrative.”
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The fresh-faced, Sara Haider impressed with her vocal prowess at the Coke Studio platform and takes it a notch further by featuring in a-cappella version of Alamgir and the Benjamin Sisters’ Khayaal Rakhna alongside Ali Noor, the Viccaji sisters and Ahsan Mehdi. ‘HIP’ as the rendition may be referred to, not only sees the musicians experimenting with its rather simple, yet radiant presentation, but the sound too, is unconventional and proves to be a rendering worthwhile.
“I think Independence Day is an opportunity for musicians to claim an identity. It's a celebration you see, even on Eid or during Ramadan, people like to show their skill and love,” Sara observed. “I think the reason why music has this unifying power is because of its amazing force of positivity like no other. It's a way to give love out to a lot of people and your country. Also I feel there's a certain sentiment to something that's sung than spoken.”
To her, music is the purest form of communication and regardless of our hostile notion; hits speak volumes of our global appeal. “There's all sorts of controversy about Pakistan's public image, but our music is internationally known and loved, Qawalis specifically come from Pakistan,” Haider shares with pride. “It's actually funny to see how despite the prejudices and racist views, your aesthetic value will betray you and you start moving along to a song that's groovy and fun.”
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Last but certainly not the least, acclaimed vocalist and returning as one of the music composers at this year’s Coke Studio, Shuja Haider happens to be the brain behind Meesha Shafi’s astounding cover of Muhammad Ali Sheki’s Main Bhi Pakistan Hoon for Khaadi. “Music, I think has always played a major role, from Qoumi Taranay to Sufi melodies, it all represents Pakistan in the truest of sense, it's in our soil,” Shuja said of loyalist jingles.
While the arrangement, Haider’s heartfelt composition and of course, Shafi’s vocal aptitude remains unparalleled, what one enjoys the most about the track is its ornamentation that commemorates different ethnicities of Pakistan and celebrates cultural diversity to the fullest. It encourages equality and is also technically sound, capturing the raw essence of both, the green and the white in our flag.
“The concept by Yawar was very inspiring indeed,” Shuja began of the remake. “The tune originally was very fast-paced and peppy, I asked Meesha to sing it more like a ghazal, and so we created the new version, which she was very happy with. The groove and beat was mellowed down, it had a much sober touch, and even though I wasn't in town when it was recorded, we were literally done in a day.”
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