Karachi rocked with Sushmita Sen, Saif Ali Khan and Malaika Arora who flew in exclusively to perform here.
With the latest wave of cultural exchange between India and Pakistan a number of Indian actors have flown in to Karachi and Lahore, either to perform or to promote their films, and of course the message of peace.
Sushmita, Saif and Malaika were least expected because unlike Akshay Kumar, Urmila and Pooja Bhatt, they hadn't been expressing their desire to come to this side of the divide. So when they got here, they were as overwhelmed with people's response to them as people were to see them in flesh and blood. Despite tickets costing around 50,000 to 250,000 a table (for 10) and security which could be described 'airtight', people still made a beeline to the Country Club, which is far off from the main city. The event was organised by Fakhr-e-Alam's IndusTree along with BR&W.
After a perk up act by the Indian dance troupe, Malaika Arora made an entry to perform some of her numbers. She was all set to start with Mahi Vey her famous pole-dancing number from the film Kaante (poles were replaced with chairs, as props here). However Malaika couldn't go any further than this because the sound system went haywire three times, making way for the famous MTV VJ's exit.
Once the sound system was put in order it was Saif's turn to perform. Though Saif has been in the industry for more than a decade his success is rather recent, a fact that has turned out to be his biggest advantage. His recent numbers from Kal Ho Na Ho and Dil Chahta Hai have made him the current favourite onscreen as well as onstage. Here too he performed numbers from these two films and was a hit with the spirited crowd.
Saif didn't stay on the stage for long. Ali Haider came in next to a very un-welcoming response. Giving such a response to an artist simply because he was Pakistani was most definitely un-called for, since the crowd earlier seemed to be eating out of the palms of the Indian actors. Ali and comedian Faisal Qazi (who did a few skits in between) were the only two performers from Pakistani side.
Organiser Fakhr-e-Alam anchored the show and made it a point to wittily remind the audience that there were a lot of freebies in the crowd.
While Ali Haider was still performing the famous Noor Jehan remixed number Mahi Ni Mahi; Sushmita Sen sprang in right from the middle of the crowd. She walked up to the stage amid tight security to perform her two most famous numbers Dilbar and Mehboob Mere. Though these were the only two songs she performed, she certainly seemed to know how to get hold of the audience by their pulses.
On her next outing onstage she sat on the steps of the stage, along with Fakhr and chatted with the audience. For the starry eyed audience this interaction was better than any performance that she could have done during this while. The actress' generously doled out praise on karachiites and Pakistan.
The awe-struck crowd just sat quietly and listened to all the good things that Sushmita had to say about their country, including "I will come here again for vacations next time. You people will have to show me around and take me for shopping..." Though Malaika's first entry onstage did go awry because of sound system fiasco, she came back to perform her famous song Chaiyan Chaiyan and few of her other numbers.
More than performances, the crowd wanted interaction with the stars and Malaika did strike a conversation with the crowd. She even invited someone from the audiance to come and dance with her onstage. This proved to be a trouble-inviting stunt as many turned up the stage to oblige.
The finale of the show was left on the heartthrob-of-the-moment Saif Ali Khan. Though it was again some more of his Dil chahta Hai and Kal Ho Na Ho tracks, the out-of-breath star did utter a few words regarding how good he feels to be amongst his Pakistani fans. Though Saif may not be as eloquent a speaker as Sushmita, he is a good performer and knows how to engage the crowd.
The jacket and scarf that he threw to the audience only fuelled the excitement that his performance on stage had created. Sushmita and Malaika too joined Saif in the end making this finale the highpoint of the show.
Since Bollywood stars regularly perform at shows both in India and abroad, their ease and comfort with the live audience is natural. In this show too, everything from the choreography, to props to crisis management on stage was well coordinated. That is why despite some sound system glitches the show not only went on but went well too.