Pakistani Showbiz

Lost tales of Pakistan’s 10 game-changing songs

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Let’s dial back a bit, and pick up where we left of from in the second part of this series. The beginning of the 90s saw the music industry move out of the MCC (Music Channel Charts) days and shows like Top of the Pops and Video Junction (hosted by Faisal Qureshi and Ahsan Ibrahim) became a one-stop-shop for the latest on Pakistani music.

Junoon had started to shape up as the sensation it came to be and Vital Signs was carrying on their journey with beautiful melodies such Tumhara or mera naam. Meanwhile, bands like Fringe Benefits and solo acts such as Aamir Saleem, Aamir Zaki and Shehzad Mughal began creating an alternate market for themselves, with Yasir Akhter producing most of their videos.

Towards the end of the 90s, Awaz had become an unfathomable force in Pakistani music, while the likes of Abrarul Haq and Shehzad Roy began getting ready for their debut. As much as Billo was a social phenomenon and Rahim Shah’s Ghum became a staple song in public buses during the STN days, the songs’ impact was more massive that the music itself.

Pakistan was bracing itself for a major change: the influx of the private media and Indus Music came like a river in flood. Under the auspices of Ghazanfar Ali, Indus Music (later converted to MTV Pakistan) became the ashram for the entire music industry. This is where multi-talented people such as Faizan Haque, Dino Ali and Mahira Khan launched their careers. The channel also served as Atif Aslam’s living space in Karachi during his post-Jal crises.

The decade of 1995 and 2005, however, also witnessed the saddest moments of Pakistan’s music industry: the breakup of Vital Signs, Junoon and of course Jal. But among so many stars were a handful of suns.

Bands that manage to release various styles of memorable songs in a short period of time will always be in a different league. Awaz was just that.  Comprising of Haroon, Faakhir and Asad Ahmed, the band ruled the music industry in the mid to late 90s with classics such as Mai na manoon haar, Diya jalta raha, Mr. Fraudiye and many more.  However, Jadoo Ka Charagh was a class apart from everything else being made at the time. The band successfully merged rap and rock music in the song, while giving it a traditional touch by overlaying the flute.

“It was a long time ago but I think the song actually happened in Haroon’s living room. Haroon started humming the lines ‘Tu mere liye Jadoo Ka Charagh hai’. It was the first song all three of us co-wrote together,” recalls Ahmed.

The song didn’t really influence Asad’s personal style of music but he believes it was sort of a precursor to the music that was to emerge from the Pakistani music industry. “The song happened before Sufi (rock) Junoon emerged and other rock groups had started performing in Pakistan,” says Ahmed.

Asad remembers pushing for the inclusion of guitar-solos in Jadoo Ka Charagh. “After the song released, I met quite a few people who said they loved the guitar solo on the track. If you listen to it (the guitar solo), it’s quite Shredder-like” said Asad.

Frontman Haroon recalls they were looking for ‘big words’ and that is how they came up with the phrase ‘Jadoo ka Chiraagh’.

“What we were basically looking for and wanted in the song was an adventure and ‘travelling the seven seas’ type of a concept,” he shares. Romantic undertones were added to the song later on by lyricist Adeem Hashmi. “We were very fortunate to have worked with Adeem Hashmi. He was one of the best lyricists of that time; he had penned the lyrics to famous songs like Dekha Na Tha and we had also worked with him on the song Watan Kahani,” Haroon recalls.

Faakhir believes Jadoo ka Charagh was essentially an extension of the Watan Khani formula

“With Watan Kahani, we came up on this successful formula that the melody will be a chorus, the verses of the song will mostly be rap whereas the hook to it would be a desi flute,” recalls Faakhir.

Back then, music trends didn’t change as quickly so we applied the same formula to Jadoo Ka Charagh as well. Faakhir, however, believes Main Na Manoon Haar was a bigger hit than Jadoo ka Charagh. But the song helped Awaz develop a particular ‘niche’. “In those days, the only musicians doing rap in Pakistan included us and Fakhre-Alam. So, these songs helped us connect to a ‘Yuppie’ audience who would listen to international rap musicians but now also enjoyed listening to local rap musicians”.

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