Today is Pakistan's independence day. Figured it would be a good time to mention my favorite artists from the country. But first, some personal notes. I frequented Pakistan as a child, and spent most of my teenage years living there. It was a true learning experience, providing innumerable and valuable lessons in diplomacy. Besides, there was a certain unparalleled pride and joy in sporting a Sachin Tendulkar jersey in Karachi...I wouldn't recommend anyone try it (or a Pakistan jersey in India) outside of a controlled environment, e.g. after hours at school. Wait, those could get out of hand too. How else would I explain not going to school for a week after this? ;) That might have had as much to do with a trip to Calcutta (for the semi-final) than anything else, but you get the point.
My experience living in both countries for a combined 16 years, 10 of which I remember very, very clearly at 26, leads me to believe that the people of the two countries share much more in common than most will ever admit. The geo-political struggles in the region are beyond the scope of this blog (in my other life, I have been invited to deliver classroom lectures on the subject, and have gladly done so). Commonalities are to be celebrated and differences to be appreciated. In this spirit of hope for unity, here is a prayer for continued friendship, trust, and respect between the two communities. A note of thanks to the forces we do not have the capacity to understand, that guide this. Things are a lot, lot better today than they were in the relatively recent past, and one can only hope for that to continue.
To my two favorite Pakistani artists (both vocalists) of all time:
1. Nazia Hassan: The beautiful Nazia apa (apa is a term used of respect to an older sister -- that's who she was to kids who grew up admiring her) was very Bollywood-friendly from the outset. Through the 1980s and mid-1990s, Nazia (and to some extent, her brother Zoheb) ruled South Asian pop. And you probably know her already, given she won a Filmfare for singing this song in the film Qurbani (1980). Sadly, I attended a rather subdued Junaid Jamshed (see below) concert in 2001 in honor of Nazia, who passed in 2000. She was 35. More at the Nazia Hassan Foundation.
2. Junaid Jamshed: The lead vocalist for what was one of South Asia's first popular music groups -- the Vital Signs. Having met Junaid a few times, I can tell you his personality commands respect. He understands the youth of the country, and for over a decade, delivered quality music (some of which made its way to Bollywood). His understanding of the youth and identification of a void prompted him to give up his career in showbiz, and take up a daunting challenge.
Today, he is an outstanding ambassador of moderate Islam, and his lectures (many carried by the BBC in England) warn of the evils of extremist ideologies, regardless of religion. Based on the lectures I have listened to, he talks of one message we could all use reminders of: We all speak the same language (no, not the MTV slogan). Here is my favorite Junaid Jamshed song (he's behind the microphone) -- couldn't find a version with translation:
And here is its 'inspired' counterpart from across the border (it's a great song, but much like everything else in this category, we tend to like more the first one we listened to). The singer is Jojo, and the actor none other than our very own Jimmy Shergill. This was immensely popular back home in India, and if any of you really liked it, I can relate to you, thanks to Pritam Chakrobarty. :(
It (the 15th) is tomorrow! Yay!!!