"The love you bring won't mean a thing unless you sing." These words by Francis Healy ring true when one thinks of Pakistan Idol, the show that will bring music talent of Pakistan from the far flung villages, cities, towns and pit them against each other in the biggest music fest to ever hit Pakistan. What Music '89 and Battle of the Bands began in Pakistan is about to be amplified to the max!
The 'Idol' format most of us know of because of American and Indian Idol is now all set to unravel in Pakistan in the coming months. Geo TV (in association with Fremantle Media), have bought the rights to the format and are bringing it to Pakistan! We're set to create history in this land of the pure where music has been the most consistent form of entertainment for Pakistanis for almost two decades now.
To mark the inauguration of this event, a concert was held on Saturday night at the PAF Museum, which featured some of Pakistan's well-known as well as new music artistes. It is a different story that the entire concert was on DAT (Digital Audio Tape) and this is exactly why Pakistan Idol is very welcome. It will promote live music in an enormous way, the most important aspect of music.
Coming back to the event - which was essentially a rehearsal show for Pakistan Idol event that will follow in the coming weeks and was being recorded for Eid - and one can't help but thing how much Karachiites love music. In spite of Ramadan, they came in throngs. From the "biker boys" to children to families and youngsters, they were all there. The families chose to sit and the kids as well as the teeny boppers were dashing off behind backstage getting their pictures taken with Shehzad Roy, Mustafa "Musti" Zahid of Roxen, screaming for Annie and Atif, and dancing to the bhangra king Jawad Ahmad.
Behind the backstage, a lounge was set up of Pakistan Idol, where artistes like Sajjad Ali, Alamgir, Faakhir and all others were sipping on drinks and giving sound bytes to anchors. Media booths were set up and the colour that grabbed one was blue, in the tradition of Idol shows that take place in over 30 countries. Alamgir was shaking hands with Mustafa Zahid, Sajjad Ali was chatting away with Ahmed Jahazneb, some artistes were just chilling, waiting to go on and others were speaking with the media and giving their take on Pakistan Idol.
As far as the concert goes, the artistes list was massive. Jal, Fariha Parvez, Yasir Jawed, Khawar Jawad, Ahmad Jahanzeb, Adeel, Rabi Peerzada, Roxen, Raeth, Shehzad Roy, Jawad Ahmad, Fariha Parvez, Huma Khwaja and Nauman Khalid all came to lip-sync to a song or two.
And the two hosts, Faisal Shah and Mahira Khan did a fabulous job of keeping the crowd excited. Between the two of them, Mahira was the crowd pleaser. On whichever side of the stage she would go, the crowd would roar for her. Faisal Shah was also quite decent. Together the two kept on coming stage in between performances and cracked jokes and yet maintained a level of decency that was such a delight to see.
Jal came out of their self-imposed exile and mouthed out new singles off their album. Amidst their singing, the sound went out and a huge "booo" and "wooohhh" resonated from the otherwise calmly seated audience and the gang of boys who stood in all corners. On an instinct they screamed for Atif and Farhan said, "Mera mike ki battery khatam ho gayi hai". The crowd wasn't fooled. Karachiites make for the toughest audience and it couldn't have been truer that night. But the silver lining for most performers was this: families. Families like to sit and clap rather than dance, shout and roar, and they find DAT shows quite acceptable.
The clear winners of the night were: Khawar Jawad, the 'Bandeya' guy, who made a mark on the music world after singing on the Khuda Kay Liye soundtrack. He took on the mike and for some 30 seconds, he sang a capella, without any music. As he walked onto the stage singing, Karachi welcomed him with open hearts. Soon his vocal magic was replaced by tape. Khawar Jawad is easily one of the most promising singers on the block and with an album in the making, it seems Khawar is set to conquer.
Similar was the response to Ahmad Jahanzeb, who is responsible for singing a major chunk off the KKL soundtrack. He came and Karachi roared for him. But he was like all others lip-synching. Another crowd pleaser was veteran Jawad Ahmad. Who doesn't know the beats of 'Jind Jan Sohniye'? As that song was played, people enjoyed themselves thoroughly.
In other performances, Rabi Peerzada and Huma Khwaja were the entertaining highpoints. And more than their music, it was them with a few dancers onstage, confident and grooving women that really caught attention. But even as they received cheers, it was Annie who Karachiites, especially "the boys" wanted to see. Annie is a star even though Rabi is a far better singer. Such is the world of pop. And it was the clique of boys who remains Annie's devoted followers. After almost every performance, they shouted out Annie's naming, hoping she might come on. She never did.
Roxen and Shehzad Roy also received warm welcomes. When Shehzad came for 'Sali', Karachi boys and girls grooved with him and sang to Roxen's 'Tera Mera Rishta' that has become one of the annoyingly addictive ditties around these days.
The other singing diva, all set to experiment with her next album, Fariha Parvez held her own with her hew funky track, 'Tu Aa Meray Pas'. Had she been live, it would've added more charm and energy to this performance.
The lack of live music made the night somewhat disappointing. Most musicians would've loved to go live but when a show is recorded for television, they end up lip-syncing to avoid sound glitches. With Pakistan Idol, this will change. Live singing is a staple of the Idol format.
Pakistan Idol will bring forward raw talent that Pakistan has in abundance. Idol has not just created musical icons, it has created success stories. Indian Idol has struggled because there is Voice of India and Sa Re Ga Ma Pa airing on other channels and the audience is divided. One is confident that Pakistan Idol will be different. We have no counter shows as massive as Idol yet.