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May 23, 2015

The city’s vast reservoir of musical talent


May 23, 2015

Even though the expansive hall of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) was more than half-empty, that would have been absolutely no bar to gauge the vast sea of musical talent our otherwise-violence-riddled city Karachi harbours.
Unfortunately, what usually makes the news are the gory killings and the “high profile” crimes taking place with frightening frequency while the positive aspects just sink into oblivion. Irrefutable evidence of this came at the musical show held jointly by the I Am Karachi Consortium and the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) on Thursday evening.
The first programme of the three-day festival, it was supposed to be devoted exclusively to folk music but then it was interspersed with pops and Ghazals and turned out to be a happy augury since it more than acquainted the audience with the city’s store of musical talent.
Whatever the genre of music, it was just spellbinding. But more than spellbinding, it was so reassuring to see the profusion of musical talent our youngsters are endowed with. It was an enlivening potpourri of music embracing all genres.
The performance began with a banjo solo by Talib Hussain rendering a Sindhi folk tune, the title of which when translated into Urdu would mean, “Hare Neem Ke Neeche”.
It was a lively rendition. Talib was most dexterously supported by the accompanying musicians, almost all of them Napa graduates.
Next was an item far removed from the folk song in nature. It was a Ghazal by Canada-based Salahuddin, titled, “Tark-e-Ulfat”. Though an amateur, his highly trained and mellifluous voice made him sound like a real professional.
Apart from his masterly rendition, the performance also brought home another truth, namely, that no matter how far away from one’s origins one may be, one could never severe his moorings. Even though residing amid a totally different milieu, Salahuddin still belongs here and this connection compelled him

to present the genre of music that he could call his own. The evening also carried overtones of nostalgia when the glamorous Dr Zara rendered a film song dating to the 1950s, “Gari Ko Chalana Baboo”. Originally rendered by the late Zubeida Khanum and picturised on actress Sheila Ramani, it was this hit that brought Zubeida to the fore in the vocal music world of Pakistan.
Zara’s rendition was absolutely accurate and no less masterly than Zubeida’s. It must have been a nostalgic trip back into time for those among the audience who were teenagers or young people in the 50s.
It was a joy to see that Lyari, which unfortunately figures in the most violent of news and considered synonymous with crime, was so well represented with the teenagers from the area giving such an adroit and astute performances, debunking the violent image of the area and asserting the assurance that if properly guided and channelled, the youth of the area with their enormous talent can be very productive.
This was amply borne out by “Laila o Laila”, a Balochi folk tune most exuberantly rendered by Khalil. Although Balochi in content, Khalil had most innovatively given it a Western touch to appeal to the city’s cosmopolitan fans, with a guitar accompaniment.
Not to miss mention would be the Simon Brothers with Haroon at the violin and Michael at the Tablas. They presented a classical tune “Teen Taal”. Haroon’s melancholy, lilting but melodious violin rendition was highly laudable.
These were just some of the pieces presented but they spoke volumes for the talented crop of youngsters we have in town.
Shaista Qazi hosted the function in the most astute and enlivening of manner with her chaste Urdu and her really graceful, poised bearing.

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