PAAP: The Pakistan Connection

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Canada, Canada article 4 ya'll. long, yes. but definately interesting, and worth reading, cause in my opinion, its the start of a trend....(i've edited as much as i could. the entire article can be read @ ge=paap.con )

It has finally happened. There has been so much talk of Pakistan-India collaboration, but it has pretty much remained that. Just talk. Finally something has happened. First Ali Azmat went to India, gave the song 'Garaj Baras' to Pooja Bhatt for her directorial venture Paap. He came back with the brilliantly directed music video for the song that is being shown on Pakistani channels as his solo song and on Indian channels with clips of Paap running through it. It is interesting to note that when India and Pakistan collaborated, the result was Ali Azmat and John Abraham dressed like Buddhist monks. No Hindu, no Musalman, no India, no Pakistan, just good old Tibet - perfectly neutral territory.

Now, Shehzad 'Shahi' Hasan and Faisal Rafi have returned after working on the background score for, Pooja Bhatt's Paap . They have also produced two Rahat Fateh Ali Khan songs that are used in Pooja's film.

But the biggest achievement to my mind is the collaboration on the background score.

The culture of background music is still a clichÈ in Bollywood. So much emphasis is paid to the film songs that the background score is left to chance and often consists of sound clips from the songs themselves. Now, when Bollywood has decided to experiment and off beat films have become something of a norm, filmmakers are looking at audio as an intrinsic part of filmmaking. Pooja Bhatt heard the songs and really liked them. So much so that she asked Shahi, Faisal, Rahat and Faiz Ali Naqvi (aka Faizi, a Pakistani keyboard player) to India where she was editing her film. So for the first time, Pakistanis came up with the entire background score of an Indian film.

Shehzad Hasan, is the ex-bass player of the Vital Signs and now, is known for the post production of audio. Most pop artistes take their albums to him for the final touches that polish up the album before it hits the market. Faisal Rafi is an ad director who has worked for as the Director of Photography. Ali Azmat is also a part of the music circuit. And as luck would have it, Munish Makhija (aka Munna) Pooja Bhatt's husband had met Faisal while he was working for Channel V as VJ Uddam Singh and befriended Ali Azmat during Junoon's days of glory in India. Earlier this year Munna met and married Pooja Bhatt while she was working on Paap, and so she met the rest of them. So many coincidences and collisions of fate later, this collaboration finally became reality.

Media is a network that keeps on growing. And films and music are such collaborative mediums that one has to have the right synergy with the right people. It is best to work with people you know, rather than people you don't.

On a larger scale, media is about industry's collaborating. Like Ketan Mehta's The Rising being shot in two languages under the aegis of major Hollywood players. However, Pakistan and India have a long way to go before that can take place. Indeed, their industry is so vast that if it starts to step in, it will take over. All signs point to this. Star Plus remains the most watched channel in Pakistan (whenever it is allowed to be on air) and I bet Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham earned more for the video shop owners of Pakistan than Yeh Dil Aap Ka Hua did for Javed Sheikh. With the advent of TV channels, the culture of Pakistan is being redefined anew. It is already so strongly Indian influenced, but our pop music industry is the real diamond in the dust. With this collaboration too, Pakistani music was the main ingredient.

Pooja Bhatt was looking for a sound as far away from Indian cinema as possible and she couldn't find it in India. Pakistani music remains truly original. Because of the consistent downslide of our commercial cinema, Pakistani pop has a freshness to it that is lacking in Indian pop that is destined to play second fiddle to Bollywood music even as it struggles to cater to it.

What Pakistan needs to export culturally is it's unique selling point. Catering to the commercial needs of Bollywood will lead to a talent drain, Adnan Sami Khan being a case in point. Pakistan should concentrate on giving India what they don't have. The primary difference being that the Indian mainstream is bound by formula. Here, there is no formal commercial structure as such therefore there are no formulas. What we perceive to be our greatest disadvantage is, in a way, our greatest advantage.

The background score sounds very different for anything done in Pakistan and is also a cut apart from the average Bollywood film score. It is reminiscent of those Tibetan chant meditation CDs available in the market, with some alaap thrown in for added effect. It is very different, but then again, Pooja Bhatt's is no ordinary film. She is trying to do something different. It remains to be seen how different it will turn out to be given the constraints of Bollywood, but at least she is trying. And Ali Azmat, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan Shehzad Hasan, Faisal Rafi and Faiz Naqvi have given it a shot with her.

The result can be checked out at the Karafilm Festival where Paap will premiere this month.
Posted 17 Dec 2003

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