Rahat episode hasn't stopped Pak singers eyeing Bollywood

Sam Sattar, a 20-something singer-actor-model, hopes to strike a good deal in Bollywood. Doing live gigs in her hometown of Karachi, Sattar has her eyes set on India because "it has a bigger and wider international music and entertainment market".

Positive, a band by twin brothers Nazr and Yousuf based at Jamshoro in southern Sindh, also dreams of an India launch. "Would love to go to Bollywood but haven't made any plans yet. India has great respect for art... I'll go to honour it," Nazr told PTI.

Base Rock Cafe, the country's biggest music and karaoke venue, has become a grooming ground of sorts for upcoming groups who sing covers of musical greats from Pink Floyd and Guns 'n' Roses to Kishore Kumar. Both Sattar and Positive have showcased their talent there.

Just like 30-year-old Nazr and his twin, most performers have had no formal training in music but they seem at ease with both eastern and western covers and dream of striking it big in India with their own albums.

"There are conspiracy theories about Rahat Fateh Ali Khan being cornered in India because of professional jealousy, but I do believe that what he did was wrong. Rahat himself apologized to his Indian fans," said an aspiring singer who did not wish to be named.

Rahat and his manager were detained by DRI sleuths detained in New Delhi recently with allegedly undeclared amount of USD 1.24 lakh (nearly Rs 60 lakh) in foreign currency. He has had to pay a fine of Rs 15 lakhs.

Interestingly, most youngsters are singing to break the many myths about Pakistan or to speak out against terrorism. Zebunisa Bangash and Haniya Aslam, two cousins who are a sensation in Pakistan, are trying to change the negative image of Pashtuns perpetuated by media stereotypes through their songs.

"The way global politics have panned out, we feel that the perception of Pashtun characteristics have become one-dimensional, reductionist and negative," Haniya told PTI.
"All we're trying to do is uphold tradition in our own way," said Haniya, who has added zing to Pashtu music.

That the lyrics have evolved is evident from their single 'Mainen Rona Chod Diya', a favourite with the girls. The lyrics are no longer "patriarchal" as a Pakistani blogger pointed out recently.

Cheapmunks, a two-member girl band touted as the next big thing after Zeb and Haniya, was a sellout at Base Rock Cafe, just as was Schaz Khan, another upcoming singer.

There's also Shahvar Ali Khan quietly waiting in the wings with his 'No Saazish, No Jung'. Khan performed his single to a cheering crowd in Lahore at the Faiz Ahmed Faiz centennial last week.

There's a lot happening musically with Pakistan seeing its first-ever flash mob dance for a cause. The flash mob showcased its slick moves choreographed to 'The Time Of My Life' by Black Eyed Peas in Karachi. The mob danced to raise awareness for the children affected by last year's devastating floods.

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