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                                               By Huma Yus

                                                                              The Herald Annual, January 2005
                                               few years ago, a young

              yle-savvy and
                                               businessman met former

                                               Awaz vocalist Haroon at a

                                               party. “So, what do you do?”

                   , cool and
                                   he asked the singer. “I’m a rock star,”
                                   replied the humble Haroon. “Oh,                         
                                   okay. And I’m an astronaut.

                                    But jokes aside, what do you do
                                    for a living?”

                                       Although Pakistani pop stars
                                     have managed to blow off our

                                     socks since they splashed onto the
                                     scene in the late 1970s, few have

                                     thought of them as superstars: fussy

                                      celebrities with the same clout and
                                      charisma as our cricketers and

               that image
                                       high-profile terrorists. Despite the

                                       soft drink commercials and local
                                       channel charts, our music makers

                  not talent,
                                        have hovered in the shadows of
                                        celebrity, treading the fine line
                                        between icons and just knowns.
                                         But no more. Pakistani pop

                makes icons
                                         stars are the über-celebrities of
                                         this millennium, easily bigger
                                          than the best cricketers. They
                                          stare down at us from snappy
                                           billboards across the cities and
                                           pop on to our cable TV channels,
                                           plugging people, places, Pepsi
                                            and, once in a while, even pop.
                                            Hailed as cultural ambassadors,
                                            they travel to India and add a
                                             disco drive to diplomacy. And
                                  to keep things interesting, they have more makeovers
                                  than Madonna. Gossip about their sex lives, spats
                                  and substance abuse makes the rounds at parties and
                                  internet chat sites. And while they haven’t bashed              Sparring
                                  up hotel rooms or gone into rehab as yet, the way our
                                  bands bicker and break up would put the Beatles to
                                  shame. And, damn, don’t they look good?
                                     “Packaging is everything,” declares style guru
                                          Tariq Amin. “And musicians are more daring
                                             than local models. They know that they
                                              have to put out a marketable image. Our                    What is a pop industry without its soap opera
                                              pop stars want to dance well, look good, be                element? What is a rock star without his fragile
                                               well-groomed and speak better English.”                   ego? Since the sex lives and slip-ups, drug
                                                Distributor Khalid Sadaf puts it a little more           habits and defaults of Pakistan’s music icons
                                                bluntly: “To make it big, our pop stars now              are off limits, fans go crazy gossiping about the
                                                have to make the switch from paindoo to                  spats and spars of singers instead. Here, the
                                                burger.” And it doesn’t take a stylist to tell us
                                                that ‘purani jeans’ will no longer cut it in this        Herald remembers some famous frays.
                                                business. Music videos have made us watch
                                                stars like never before: turn on the telly and
                                               suddenly you’re up close and personal with the
                                  pop idol of the day.
                                     No wonder then that Fuzon donned tuxes for “Khamaaj”
                                  while Rahim Shah sported leather for “Ishq”. Hadiqa has
The Herald Annual, January 2005

                                  gone from goody-two-shoes to goth faster than you can wince
                                  at the thought of her in a malmal dupatta. And Ali Zafar, the
                                  impresario of image-savvy swingers, has taken the leap and
                                  strutted his stuff in a white suit à la Travolta. Meanwhile, Ali
                                  Azmat has hit the ramp to model Deepak originals not once but
                                  twice. When rock stars become fashionistas, who’s to say that
                                  image hasn’t become all important.
                                     That’s not to say that pretty pop stars are a new phenomenon.
                                  In the late 1970s, disco shoes had many Paki toes tapping. Ahmed
                                  Rushdi’s corset-fit shirts, Runa Laila’s bell bottoms, Alamgir’s
                                 jeans, Junoon’s sufi style, Fakhr-e-Alam’s bandana and Hadiqa’s
                                  Deepak Perwani sherwanis-for-stylish-singers look have all
                                  wowed audiences through pop history. And let’s not forget Nazia
                                  Hassan, pop’s most stylish icon.
                                     But now more than ever, image making rather than music
                                  making is the focus of the pop industry. Consider only the hoopla
                                  surrounding celebrity hair and you’ll get the point: Ali Azmat made
                                  the style statement of the century when he shaved off his bouncy
                                  locks while Hadiqa turned to Nabila for highlights. Bilal Maqsood
                                  of Strings cut and spiked his hair while Gumby of Noori grew his
                                  out. Rahim Shah went blonde while Fuzon’s Immu went white.
                                  And in case you were wondering why no recent pictures of Noori
                                  have been included in this issue, here’s the reason: they’re going
                                  through an image change for which they’re growing their hair out. No
                                  photography allowed until they’re picture perfect, thank you.
                                     And there’s no debate about the fact that these attempts to ‘create’
                                  celebrity have been successful. For one thing, check out the spoofs that
                                  this industry has spawned. “Parodies are great. If they click, that’s a
                                  sign that something has arrived, that something’s here to stay,” says
                                  director Saqib Malik. So true. For in 1995, Dr Aur Billa’s crazy-cool
                                  anti-video for the song “No love” made a dig at all things popish and
                                  everyone got the joke. More recently, Rubberband unleashed themselves
                                  on the air waves to the delight of pop fans suffering Dr Aur Billa
                                  withdrawal symptoms. “We thought it had been too long since a comedy
                                  video hit the scene,” says director Ahmed Ali Butt. While mocking
                                  everyone from Ali Zafar to Noori and even Kanoon – that’s Junoon, get it?
                                  – the crazy kooks have reminded us that we know and love our pop stars
                                  well enough to pick up on parodies of them. n
  Atif Aslam
  vs Goher Mumtaz
 Finally, something in our pop industry is of an
 international standard. Deception, theft, accusations,
 cliques and even a lingering court case: the falling out
 between Atif Aslam and Goher Mumtaz has been replete
 with the drama that we usually associate with the divas
 and doyens of western celebrity. Currently, the Lahore
 High Court is deciding whether Atif or Goher along with
 Farhan Saeed Butt and Amir Shazi are entitled to use the
 band name Jal. And while two super-similar CDs – Goher
 et al’s Aadat and Atif’s Jalpari – vie for dominance in
 the market, the former college pals tussle over song
 ownership rights. So grab a ringside seat as the two stars

 Goher: “Atif rushed out and             venue. On stage, Atif told our
 recorded an album and released it       fans that i was in Karachi and
 quickly to make it seem as if all the   later complained that i didn’t have
 songs were his.”                        enough band loyalty to arrive on
                                         time for shows. i also discovered
 Atif: “He was about to copy even        that Atif charged 50,000 rupees for
 more of my songs. i couldn’t risk       that concert when he had told me
 losing another song so i recorded       that we were being paid only 20,000
 everything in just four days.”          rupees.”

Goher: “Atif is lying when he says the music is his.”
Atif: “i have all the copyrights as well as the band registration.”                story is posted there.”

 Goher: “Atif’s brother was wrongly                                                Atif: “The only thing that they have
 kept as manager. We lost many
                                         Atif: “On the day of The Nation           going for them is the website which
                                         concert, Goher went to Karachi for        Goher registered in his name when
 major concerts because he kept          a television gig. There, he lied to the
 overcharging and asking for 80,000                                                we were just starting out together.”
                                         organisers and told them that there
 rupees per concert before we even       had been a death in my family and
 had our video out.”                     that i couldn’t come. His plan was to     Goher: “Any where else in the
                                         perform alone. When the organiser         world, the other party could not
 Atif: “Goher said we needed a           found out what Goher was doing, he
 manager and asked if my brother                                                   have gotten away with releasing
                                         sent him back to lahore. By then,         a stolen album. But our copyright
 Shahbaz could help out. We got          i felt i had no reason to play with
 lots of concerts and good gigs                                                    laws are weak and civil court
                                         Goher. We had a good concert with         proceedings too slow.”
 and then Goher complained               a session player on guitar instead.”
 that Shahbaz wasn’t managing
 us well. Finally, Goher admitted                                                  Atif:
 that he feared that with Shahbaz                                                  “if i want Goher not to sing, i can
 as manager, 60 per cent of the          Goher: “When we split up, our             have him put behind bars. But i
 earnings would end up in my             web designer stayed loyal to me           don’t want to do that.”
 house while only 40 per cent would      and shut down the website. Now,
 go to him.”                             the website is mine and the real

 Goher: “When i arrived from             Goher: “Atif started saying that if you want to play guitar for me, go talk to
 Karachi for The Nation concert,         my manager.”
 Shahbaz wouldn’t let me into the
                                         Atif: “Goher started saying that ‘i have kicked Atif out of my band’.”
                                                                                              Sohail Javed
Brian O’ Connell
vs Junoon                                                                                     vs the

   f anything could be more

   tumultuous than Brian and                                                                                hile his detractors
   Ayeshah Alam’s split-up, it had to                                                                       insist that the
be the bassist’s exit from Junoon.                                                                          battle exists only
First we heard it was on-again,                                                                   in his head, video director
then we heard it was off-again.                                                                    Sohail Javed feels that
At a press conference, Ali and                                                                     he’s waging a no-holds-
Salman avoided all mention of                                                                      barred war against all the
their beleaguered band mate. But                                                                   directors in the commercial
there was Brian, representing                                                                      and music video business.
Junoon on a talk show with                                                                         “competition in this
city FM 89. Suddenly, Brian                                                                        business is becoming
declared that he had been “fired”           destructive to a point where one of us could kill someone,” he says. And
from the band, subverting the              one can only hope that he speaks metaphorically. “Some directors are going
sanctity of the sufic trinity. But         out of their way to damage others. They block resources such as cameras
Brian soon amended his earlier             and studio space and are even willing to pay cancellation charges on rental
statement, declaring that he              equipment to ensure that my work is delayed.”
was “temporarily non-existent”               But his biggest complaint is yet to come: “Directors are unfairly putting their
in the band. Amidst rumours               own money into music videos. it’s skewing the industry. But i will not put my
that Brian was on vacation               money into a project. i’m already giving my time and creativity, how much more
following a car accident that            can i give?” Of course, those that Sohail is taking a stab at beg to differ. For his
left his guitar-playing hand             part, Jami says that “someone complaining about me spending my own money
partly paralysed, there came            on my own projects makes no sense. Next, they’ll complain that i work too hard or
an announcement that Mekaal             that i put in extra time. let’s just say it’s my way of putting back into the industry.”

                                    Haroon                          Babar Shaikh
                                    vs Faakhir
                                       vs Asad
                                                                    vs Noori
                                                                            h, if only we’d start adhering
                                                                            to copyright laws, tussles such

                                           retty boys can
                                           have petty                       as this one would be history.
                                           squabbles too.           The release of the Babar Shaikh-
                                     After delivering a slew        directed video for Noori’s “Gana No.
                                     of bubble gum pop              1” led, quite literally, to a boxing match
                                     hits as well as the            between the band and director. Babar
                                     slick hit “Mr Fraudiay”,       had conceptualised a video involving
                                    the Awaz trio began
                                                                    four split-screens, each featuring
                                  to disintegrate. In 996,
Hasan would be jamming            while recording their             band members jumping around and doing their thing.
with Junoon as a ‘special        fourth album, the boys             For some reason, Babar handed over raw footage to
guest’.                          bickered endlessly. A year         Ali Noor during post-production. Noor then went on to
   Finally, the matter was
                                 later, Asad Ahmed left the         re-edit the video his own way and unleashed “Gana
                                 band. And while vocalist           No. 1”, the ‘single dabba version’, on the air waves. All
resolved with a post            Haroon and synth player             well and good, except for the fact that Noori left Babar
by Salman Ahmed on              Faakhir tried to go at it
                                                                    Shaikh’s name among the credits.
Junoon’s online forums         alone, the duo disbanded
                                                                        “There was a big difference in production quality after
in which he stated             in 998. Truth be told, big
                                                                    Noor re-edited the video,” insists Babar. “Ultimately,
that Brian hadn’t been         egos do somewhat – but
                               only somewhat – better               i think the group just lacked the confidence to go
contributing enough to         with solo careers.                   ahead with a drastically different video. And that’s their
the band to keep up                                                 problem. But they shouldn’t have used my name on
the relationship. For his                                           it.” On the flip side, Noori’s rebuttal states the exact
part, Brian admitted                                                opposite. “Well, there were several issues with Babar.
that between his                                                    We felt that he overcharged us for the video. But more
divorce, daughters and                                              than that, we felt that his “Gana No. 1” concept was too
depression, he didn’t                                               similar to our “Tum hans diyay” video,” explains Noori’s
really have the time or                                             drummer Gumby.
energy to be a rocker.
Alas, three really is a
Rohail Hayat
vs every                                    “After the split-up,
Vital Signs guitarist                       I feel energetic”
ever                                                                   — Atif Aslam

      ubble gum pop comes
      easily to boy bands: they’re
                                               With controversies often
      beautiful, bouncy and always
good buddies. No wonder then                   come celebrity status
that no one predicted the drama                and cult followings. And
ahead when rohail Hayat, Shazad               no one knows that better
Hassan, Junaid Jamshed and
Nusrat Ahmed formed Vital Signs
                                              than Atif Aslam, former Jal
in 1986.                                     vocalist and 2004’s answer
                                             to Ali Zafar. Here, the latest
                                            lothario from Lahore chats
                                            about the ups and downs
                                            of overnight fame.
                                                    Q. Are you glad that you left
                                                   A. After the split-up, I feel
                                                energetic. There are no regrets.
                                                Being on my own has forced
                                               me to do something new. Also,
                                               it’s true that negative publicity
Within three years, rohail scared             is also publicity. The fight has
off Nusrat and brought in Salman              really attracted attention. I feel
Ahmed. But boys will be boys and             like I’m the luckiest person on
in 1991, Salman was ousted by                this earth because everything is
an insecure rohail who worried              going so well.
that his kingdom was threatened                 Q. What are the high points of a
by the guitarist’s wizardry. enter,         solo career?
islamabad-based guitarist                      A. Well, there are the female
rizwanul Haq. And that too, just           fans. But more than that, I’m doing
in time to record VS:2.                    concerts and composing new stuff and
   Still, fame and fortune can            getting a good response.
only cause more fights. in                   Q. Any hopes of a corporate
1994, rizwan hit the three-year           sponsorship?
expiry date and was fired by                A. While the support would be nice, I’m
rohail and replaced by guitar            not really looking for a sponsorship because
virtuoso Aamir Zaki. Just to             you can’t do anything else if you’re under
keep things interesting, though,         contract with someone. You get bound for a
rohail changed tactics and               whole year.
quit the band the same year.               Q. Have you faced any difficulties in
Somehow, Vital Signs toured             dealing with the music industry?
the US without rohail but he              A. I’m not finding the right directors for my
was eventually persuaded to             videos. There’s a formula in place now: the
stick with the Signs by Junaid.        more abstract the video, the bigger the hit. But
But no one expects stars               that’s not my style. I don’t want to work with
to settle for a status quo.           someone who’s doing it for the commercialism,
While recording the Signs’s           I want someone who’s looking for the art, for the
fourth album, rohail and             meaning of the song.
Aamir’s heady egos clashed              Q. Is there a negative aspect to overnight fame?
over “musical differences”.             A. The rumours. The rumours are always there.
Suddenly, there was                  About the fight, about the fact that the songs on
nothing ‘vital’ about Zak           Jalpari are actually Goher’s. But there are also rumours
anymore. With this track            that I have blood cancer and that I’m engaged to be
record, rohail should have          married. None of it is true, of course. n
been a politician not a pop
                                         ntil recently, Strings’s undisputed
                                         claim to fame was their sensational
                                         single from 1992 “Sar kiye yeh
                                  pahar”, which went on to become the
                                  first Pakistani music video to air on MTV.
                                  Subtle and sensuous, the song was
                                  unlike any other pop ditty in the circuit.
                                  In 2000, the album Duur resurrected
                                  the band after a long hiatus. But it was
                                  2003’s Dhaani that catapulted Strings
                                  into the realm of legend. Not only did
                                  they win an ardent fan following across
                                  the border but they also made it to the
                                  official soundtrack of Columbia
                                  blockbuster Spiderman
                                  2 with “Na jaane kyun”.
                                  Indeed, no other band can
                                  boast the consistency and staying
                                  power that Strings has demonstrated.          “If anything will make us
                                  Here, Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia
                                  discuss the changing nature of the music      legends, our music will”
                                    Q. What impact have music                         — Strings
                                  videos had on the industry?
                                    Bilal: Unfortunately, the video      Pakistani musicians are            with the way we are and the
The Herald Annual, January 2005

                                  has become important. Now we           increasingly looking towards       way we look. And fans love
                                  feel the pressure to make a ‘hit’      foreign markets for fame and       what we do.
                                  number and so have to invest           fortune. Are you planning to         Faisal: We’re not pressurised
                                  money in videos to ensure that         tour extensively or collaborate    and don’t see the need for a
                                  they jump out of the clutter. But      with foreign artists?              makeover.
                                  while videos get the highest air          Faisal: Well, we got an           Q. Who are the next big acts
                                  time in the first 10 days, they        excellent response while touring   in this industry?
                                  vanish off the channels within a       and recording in India so we do      Bilal: Ali Zafar is already big
                                  month. And while videos get a          plan to continue our frequent      and I think Atif Aslam will do
                                  good response, people don’t buy        trips across the border. As for    very well too. I’ve got his CD
       6                          albums anymore. It’s really not        the rest of the world, the main    playing in my car right now.
                                  worth it in some ways.                 markets are in the US, UK and        Faisal: I think upcoming band
                                    Q. How has corporate                 UAE — wherever there are           Call has a great vocalist. They
                                  sponsorship affected the               populations of Pakistanis and      should do well too.
                                  industry?                              Indians.                             Q. Do you think you’ll be
                                    Bilal: Sponsors can encourage           Bilal: Other than performing    pop legends 10 years from
                                  music because they keep taking         for these communities, all other   now?
                                  new bands on board. But they           collaborations would be on too       Bilal: Well, if anything will
                                  don’t really have a responsibility     small a scale, in a bar or club.   make us legends, our music
                                  to the music industry. They’re            Q. Do you think your            will. But the pop
                                  only looking for marketing             profession brings with it a        music market is so
                                  potential.                             certain responsibility as role     small that perhaps
                                    Q. How has your relationship         models?                                            — H Y.
                                  with your sponsors panned                 Faisal: Pakistani youth are
                                  out?                                   the mainstay of our industry.
                                    Bilal: Inputs from sponsors          So we have to be responsible
                                  for whom you’re recording              about the image we convey.
                                  a song are very annoying as            It’s even in our contracts not
                                  they keep rejecting a song and         to smoke or drink or whatever.
                                  making us redo it according to         And when we’re in India, we
                                  their demands. But marketing           see ourselves as both musicians
                                  kings such as Khalid Alvi and          and Pakistanis so we’re always
                                  Taher Khan do know something.          on our best behaviour.
                                  They know what audiences                  Q. Do you feel the pressure
                                  want and it’s good to keep your        to update your image in this
                                  mind open, take their advice           evolving industry?
                                  and put their demands into a              Bilal: No. We’re comfortable
                                  musical language.
Up In
                                                       The history of pop music is studded with
                                                       controversies that have sent tremors countrywide,
                                                       sparking discourse on culture and identity. Who

                                                       thought a little music could rock the national boat?
                                                       Here are some of the serious and silliest shake-ups.

     it seems almost quaint now. When a one-
      off show called “Music ‘89” was aired on
                                                              Karachi was a sensation, his music videos on PTV
                                                              were incredibly popular and his music for “Sargam” (in
      staid PTV way back when democracy was                   which he also starred) was a hit. Better still, he got the
  novel and freedom new, mass hysteria ensued.                pretty girl to woo and wed. But then things got messy:
   everyone over 35 shook their heads at the antics           Zeba Bakhtiar and Khan split in a dirty divorce and
   of the young. Produced and directed by Shoaib              became entangled in a protracted child custody battle.
    Mansoor, “Music ‘89” was simply a tame concert            The multi-talented singer-composer disappeared,
    featuring Nazia and Zoheb Hasan as Mcs                    only to resurface a few years later in india — bigger
     and performers together with a slew of fresh             and better than ever before. To everyone’s shock and
      talent such as Vital Signs and the Ali Azmat-           horror, news trickled back that he had become an
       fronted Jupiters. Girls and boys swayed to the         indian national. Khan claims that his links to Pakistan
        sounds of a new generation while the “Disco           are tenuous at best. But with indian actresses, actors
         deewane” siblings held hands. Shocking? A            and film directors at his beck and call, why would the
         comment on the programme from the April                  Triple-chinned One want to come back?

                                                                                                                           The Herald Annual, January 2005
          1989 issue of the Herald reads: “… puritans
          have found the programme not only obscene          5
                                                             5    How quickly we forget. Going by Main Hoon Na
           and vulgar but also a threat to Pakistani              and Fuzon’s “Deewaney” song, it seems as if five
           morality and nationalism.” Wonder why the          decades of a bitter-as-bile enmity between Pakistan
           moral brigade is quiet on the Tulsi videos         and india never happened. But back in 1999, things
               now?                                           were just a little different. As Junoon was touring

              it was time for the government to stomp
                                                              india to promote Azaadi and beating the Pakistan-
                                                              india dosti drum, Pakistani troops crept into Kargil.
               on pop music. And prime minister               Serendipity? You bet. Junoon was caught in the
           Nawaz Sharif got to don the boot. in a             crosshairs of controversy as accusations of being
          shocking statement in November 1997, the            india-loving turncoats were hurled at them                                7
         former PM condemned the “jeans, jacket               from everyone back home. clearly, they
        and pop culture” and went on a tirade against             were a little ahead of their time.
       the Vital Signs. “looking at those singing “Dil
      dil Pakistan”, i feel like calling in a barber and     6
                                                             6     Abarul Haq is a lucky man. From
     having their long hair shaved off.” immediately,              a dorky Pakistan Studies teacher,
    programmes such as “VJ” were pulled off the air,          he has become the Maula Jakshin
   turning back the clock on all things pop. With the         of the hinterland. And it was all
     Bald One in exile, long hair is definitely in again.     because of some dame called Billo.

3    Ah, Junaid Jamshed. Despite average looks and
                                                              When “Billo day ghar” hit the air
                                                              waves in 1995, though, the mullahs
     a very limited voice, he enjoyed a front-place star      and Urdu press were up in arms.
on Pakistanti pop’s walk of fame. And things seemed           “Billo is a prostitute”, they thundered,
to be going well for him, even after the Vital Signs split    beards all aquiver. “How can such
up. But then he suddenly caught the raiwind bug in            a song be played on national TV?”
October 1995 and now sports a mile-long beard and             But the song became the anthem
holds forth on TV in a curious Arabic-tinged accent. in       of chichoras everywhere, even as
between, he has wavered between his faith and his             debates raged in newspapers and
fans, issuing one contradictory statement after another.      drawing rooms about the exact
Whatever goes on in Junaid’s pretty little head, we’ll        interpretation of the song’s lyrics.
     never know. But one thing’s for sure: cat Stevens        Meanwhile, Abrar remains the best-

4    he’s not.

                                                                       selling pop star to date.

     rewind to the days                                              Appalling as a music video and atrocious as
when Adnan Sami Khan was                                             an ad, what were Fuzon and Jami thinking?
that roly-poly kid whose talent                                  With “Ankhon kay sagar”, Shafqat, Shallum and
was as large as his gut. His                                     immu had won both critical and commercial
concert with Zakir Hussain in                                    acclaim. And then they did the unthinkable. in a
2003 videomercial for Mayfair candy, the three musicians       Who said anything about the land of the pure.
cavorted with kids amid flying candy from space.               Paki popsters are as prone to scandalous
Popwallahs couldn’t tell whether they ought to laugh or be
outraged at such a quick-as-lightening sell-out. Meanwhile,
                                                               behaviour as celebs the world over.
ad and video director Jami, famed for his anti-MNc rants,
refused to associate with the travesty. His comment in a
2004 interview with Diva magazine: “Itni gaaliyan khaieen
[i got so much abuse] for the Fuzon Mayfair candy ads ...       Scandal
      i think fame has gone to their heads.” So there.

     They could do nothing right. Junoon hit the
     headlines again in 1997 with their adulteration of           Caught in action: Remember the
Allama iqbal’s poem “Khudi”. The brouhaha wasn’t                  fuss about Ali Haider, Neha Malik
merely that the rockers had dared to put the words of             and Nomi Ansari? Even if you do,
our national poet to guitar but that they had dared to           here is that sordid scandal again.
tamper with the actual words. Said Salman Ahmed                  Neha was seen entering Nomi’s
in a Herald 1997 interview: “Our generation’s kids               apartment at an unspecified location
                                   – since they don’t           in Defence and was soon followed
                                   know the lines to            by Ali. Apparently, the three ‘friends’
                                    begin with – love the      had planned to spend this particular
                                    song … But the few         evening rollicking. Unfortunately, the
                                    who know iqbal’s          neighbours decided to play peek-a-boo. But to
                                    poetry are cut up         their horror, they saw no rollicking and lots of
                                    over it, that how        romping instead. And so they promptly called the
                                     dare a pop band         police who, of course, entered the wrong place
                                     sing this poetry?       at the right time. Staying tight-lipped, the cops
                                     it’s like iqbal’s      deprived eager gossip-mongers of salacious details
                                     been defiled!”         about the threesome. Needless to add, the protectors
                                     Unrepentant, the       of society took a stand and ‘almost’ pressed charges
                                     band has also         for illegal alcohol consumption.
                                  shaken up purists
with their electric guitar rendition of the national       Family matters: Of course, the bootleg found its
anthem and subsequently been prohibited from              way to the internet. When Ali Hamzah of Noori sang
playing it. Those were the days when Junoon               his famously bawdy “BC” at a Lahore University of
     was just a teensy bit dangerous.                     Management Sciences concert – in front of the student

9     How did it slip by the men upstairs? When
                                                      body, faculty and all – raucous laughter followed.
                                                    Word spread and those in the know believed that they
      alternative band rushk handed their first     had to share this little gem with the rest of the world.
song “Behti naar” to ad director Saqib             Apart from the title, the song itself is pretty tame: about
Malik, they knew they were in good hands.          love and heartbreak expressed in one very, very bad
And boy did Malik deliver, producing what is       cuss word. After “BC” became a cult hit, Ali Hamzah
arguably the boldest video seen on Pakistani      promptly came up with “MC” and also released it on the
television to date. For eight months,             net. Isn’t the worldwide web simply wonderful?
people could see sado-masochism and
homosexuality – among other taboo subjects       Dirty minds, gutter press: The scandal here is
– play on music channels. One fine day,          not about the subjects – in this case Nazia and Zoheb
though, a call came from the powers that        Hasan – but the people who perpetuate it. In 1983, the
be and the song was promptly pulled off the     government banned the sibling act, complaining that there
air waves. What ought to be                                           was something ‘inappropriate’ about
officially declared a classic                                           the duo. Even after the two were
         has never been seen                                            allowed to relaunch themselves,

        on air again. Tragic.                                          they were given strict instructions
                                                                        not to hold hands. Later, when Nazia
         This time Abrarul Haq                                          married, becoming her husband’s
miffed the Punjabis. When                                               third wife and subsequently third
his “Nach Punjaban” was                                                 ex-wife, other unnecessary details
released in 2002, provincial                                            about her personal life kept being
honour was suddenly in                                                  flung around in the press. Even after
jeopardy. Billo’s man was                                               her tragic death, sick stories made
taken to court and and                                                  the rounds, this time claiming that
conceded gracefully, changing                                           she had been poisoned to death.
the lyrics to “Nach majajan”.                                            Please, let her rest in peace. n
remind us, what was the                                                                         — Sabina Qazi
problem again? n

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