Lahore-based music group, Call made their debut in 2005 with the record Jilawatan and followed it up with a second album, Dhoom, five years later. After splitting in 2012, the band, featuring Zulfiqar Jabbar Khan aka Xulfi, M. Sultan Raja and Junaid Khan, finally reunited forces almost four years ago and was seen delivering a solid performance on Pepsi Battle of the Bands last year.
Quite recently, the band created an anthem ‘Hum Zalmi’ for the Pakistan Super League (PSL) team, Peshawar Zalmi, which is the first video after their reunion.
Now the rock band is back, along with 40 of the most talented drummers and percussionists from across Pakistan, to re-create the magic of the ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ chant. The drummers include some big names such as Allan Smith, Arsalan, Bilawal, Daud Ramay, Fahad Khan, Faizan, Fifu, Gumby, Kashif, Kenny, Mansoor, Mishal, Omair, Salman Albert, Samad, Shahzeb, Sharoon, Usman Sheikh, Waleed, Yousuf Ramay, Zaigham, Zeeshan and Zubair, among others. All of the musicians have come together under one banner ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ for the first time in Pakistan’s history. The music video will be released today in relation to Pakistan Day, which is observed every year on March 23.
In an exclusive interview with Instep Xulfi, who has produced the music of the video, talks about Call (the band) collaborating with 40 drummers, what that experience was like and what the music video is all about. Here are excerpts from our conversation.
Instep: Tell us about the music video that is coming out today?
Xulfi: I feel it isn’t just a video that is coming out. In fact it is a reminder and a statement. A reminder to what a beautiful prayer ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ is; and a statement that tells the world what Pakistan really is – a progressive nation. From a six-year-old girl to a nine- year old blind child to young drummers to the more known ones, the music video features everyone who is a proponent of the drums. This is also Pakistan. And this is the Pakistan that the world needs to see; i.e. our unity, our spirit and our music. The day we shot and recorded this will remain the most memorable moment of our lives and to express all of it in words wouldn’t do justice.
Instep: The music video is about the ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ chant; what’s the thought behind it?
Xulfi: When was the last time we heard the chant ‘Pakistan Zindabad’? The truth is that we don’t really hear it as often as we used to, except for instances when Pakistan played a cricket match. But even that doesn’t happen too often. What we hear now are political slogans in rallies and franchise slogans in sports, but the most powerful slogan that’s also the most beautiful chant ‘Pakistan Zindabad’, i.e. long live Pakistan, has somewhat taken a back seat. This song and collaboration is a reminder of this prayer and a celebration of our identity and a symbol of our unity. Nowadays, there are very few occasions where we have the opportunity to come together and chant for the well-being of our beloved country. What is even more compelling is that all the musicians taking part in this movement, have done it for the love of their country and have not charged anything. Additionally, any proceeds that we might earn from any online monetization shall go towards supporting the drummers’ fraternity by donating as many drum-kits to music academies across the country.
Instep: How’s the experience of working with 40 drummers that include big names like Gumby, Fahad Khan, Salman Albert, Daud Ramay, Bilawal Lahooti?
Xulfi: It felt like magic. Standing there, listening to these guys play together was a sight to behold! But more importantly it was the bond that was formed that day. Even though, most of the drummers had never met the others, I believe music bridges it all and it certainly did. When we all played the drums at the set, we could feel the harmony and the resonance moving everyone. We had goose bumps and tears. And the best thing was that every drummer, young or seasoned, put all their energies into it. With seniors helping out the juniors, it was like fast track learning for so many of the young drummers out there. You had to be there to understand what a moment it was. After witnessing this, I have decided that this has to continue. These honest and pure collaborations amongst musicians should become a norm. That’s an important way forward for our music industry.
Instep: What motivated and inspired you to make a patriotic song?
Xulfi: One day, I was sitting with my mother and enjoying the rain. I don’t know why but I picked up my guitar and started playing what became the chorus of ‘Pakistan Zindabad’. I shared with my mom that I want to make a song in which everyone screams their hearts out and say ‘Pakistan Zindabad’. She loved the idea and it evolved from that point. The band jammed and it eventually became the drum anthem. In fact, it became a chance for so many musicians to come together for this. It did require a whole lot of planning and time, but every bit of effort was worth it. I’m also blessed with a team that’s brilliant, progressive and wants to set a benchmark in all that they do. I honestly believe nothing is impossible and once the mind and passion is set to impact a change, then as Paulo Coelho says, “the universe conspires in your favour”.
Instep: Call the band performed at Pepsi Battle of the Bands last year; any plans of coming back for the second season?
Xulfi: Why not! Performing live is what a musician lives for. We would love to perform on that stage again and will make sure that this one is even more memorable and impactful. #AsliWalaLive for the win! Pakistan Zindabad!