People often say military rule will straighten everything out. And us liberals always of course fight with them - as we should.
But sometimes I feel like imposing military rule only on the entertainment business - because look what it did for Pakistan, man!
Thanks to a friend I've been watching a show called Coke Studio - which is a sort of Unplugged or Studio Sessions type show with Pakistani bands/musicians. Some of the stuff is super fabulous and I felt frustrated again that in a country the size of India we rarely have - or come across - anything particularly exciting in the world of pop music.
The normal response to that is that film music is our popular music. But I don't know - over time it has, like so much else, become so homegenised that although we hear a few good songs, they are all so similiar. Of course there are exceptions but just look - it's a country of over a billion people and so many languages and seemingly so little. A lot of singers in the film industries are really skilled singers - but with the exception of Oye Lucky Lucky Oye and to a lesser (much lesser actually) extent Dev D - haven't heard stuff that feels individual. There must be artists around the country but they don't seem to come to widespread attention.
I HAVE been listening to a lot of older Punjabi pop music lately and I think there's much more life and excitement and observational detail there, irreverence also - but Punjabi pop too has become so numbingly same now, you can get up and dance, but you're unlikely to really listen to much of the stuff (although again, many singers are very skilled).
There are so many singing contests on TV - but nothing that encourages originality of music and even HIGH individuality of performance. The need to stay in a dunlop-y comfort zone seems so strong. The obedience of it all!
It's a familiar grouse of course - that alternative culture, or commitedly independent world, doesn't seem to gain much traction in India. Everything gets sucked up into Bollywood in the end. But people need to think! What'll they do when Gulzar dies?!
I tried to watch some episodes of Launch Pad but I can't say it did a lot for me. The winners, Fardikot, can be listened to here
For me, it's a bit ho-hum - I'm hoping they can parlay their talents into something more unique or at least ringing with truth.
I know there's a few good bands like Soulmate for instance. I still am interested in whatever Rabbi does next - I've liked both his albums.
Perhaps I need to look harder - so if you know ways to correct me and inform me, please please do.
Meanwhile three tracks I really liked on the Season 2 of Coke Studio
This is supposed to be Pakistan's first girl band - two Pathan girls from a services background (oh that military motif) although they studied in the US. The song is in Dari and Pashto apparently and means - Bring me the glass that I may lose myself/I am in love with the intoxication of my beloved's eyes.
This collaboration also worked for me
I loved it when they guy from Noori sings Jo na jaane Haq ki Taaqat/Rab na deve usko Himmat/ Hum mun ki dariya mein doobe/Kaisi naiya, kya manjhdaar?
I'm trying to think of an Indian pop song recently that even casually has a thought like that in it - the declaration that everything is not cleverness and carefulness.
And this song many in India know - since Fuzon's album was very successful here and the Kagaz ke Phool type music video featuring Mr. Hotness, Shan played a fair bit on the music channels. But this version is lovely...
Of course there are those who'll say I am just blinded by the beauty of these boys. Who am I to contradict you?
On and by the way, for the sincere who happen to read this - I don't believe in military rule. It's an expostulation, not a recommendation.