Music connects

Reality show

Music connects

The gunshots, the blasts, the deaths, the mourning, the fire — can anyone forget the mayhem terrorists created in Mumbai two years back? Can the wounds heal easily? Can we get back to normalcy without remembering those moments? the 26/11 attacks may have caused problems between India and Pakistan but that is not stopping cultural icons from both these countries in making an effort to try and spread the message of peace. They want to, once again, use the power of music to overcome the differences that terrorism has created. Will they succeed? Only time can tell.

Post 26/11, a lot of things changed in Mumbai. A significant one being the attitude of the Hindi film and television industry towards their Pakistani counterparts. In what was a partly emotional and partly justified move, the Indian film and television industry had banned Pakistani artistes from performing in all Indian productions.

In fact, so severe was the reaction that artistes who were shooting for different reality shows had to stop shooting and take the first flight out of India. But times have changed since then; at least on the cultural front. The Indian television industry has again opened its doors for artistes from Pakistan and will be hosting a reality show Chhote Ustaad — Do Deshon Ki Ek Awaaz, which will see children from India and Pakistan sing in the same team.

Like any other musical talent hunt show, Chhote Ustaad too will see kids perform in front of judges Sonu Nigam and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. The format only allows kids between eight and 13 years to participate. The judges have already hand-picked 20 participants from their respective nations and brought them to Mumbai for the show.

Warns Sonu Nigam, “Before you make any conclusions, let me tell you that this is not an Indo-Pak fight. There will be multiple teams and each team will have an equal number of participants from India and Pakistan.” To make the show even more interesting, the makers have zeroed in on Omi Vaidya (better known as Chatur Ramalingam from 3 Idiots) as the anchor.

But will this show help in strengthening Indo-Pak relations? Ask Rahat Fateh Ali Khan — the famous singer from Pakistan — and he says, “In Pakistan, all we listen to is Hindi songs! Our film industry is not as big as it is in India. Also, when I perform in Pakistan, the maximum number of requests I get are to sing Hindi songs, particularly the ones which I have sang for Hindi films. I strongly believe that musicians have full rights to perform anywhere in the world and that culture should be unaffected by political tension.”

He even goes on to mention an incident when Sonu was performing in Karachi and there was a bomb blast at the venue. “So many people still ask me about Sonu and whether he will perform in Pakistan again.”

Sonu Nigam, who returns to television after quite some time adds, “India is richer when it comes to our films and music. So it’s our responsibility to help and nurture the talent in Pakistan. Through such an initiative, to an extent, we will also try to mend issues between the two countries.”

The eccentric singer who has changed his hairstyle and is sporting a new look adds that kids are the best people to solve such problems. “It is very difficult to change adults and the way they think. But that does not apply to kids. Unlike adults, they are not judgmental; do not hold any grudges. With the help of kids, we can create an ambience, a platform so that the next generation understands the meaning of peace.”

So what will be different in this show? “For one, this show will not have any fights and walkouts for sure! Today reality shows are being associated with too many fights and walk out scenes which I can't handle. This was one of the main reasons why viewers did not see me on television for the last few years. I waited and am happy that I got this opportunity to judge Chhote Ustaad. At least you won’t see Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and me fighting!”

While all these confidence building measures do make a difference, it does not stop one from sympathising with the family members who lost their lives during 26/11. Will they also be able to wholeheartedly participate in such initiatives? Will they be able to get over the trauma and start trusting the nation that has time and again betrayed us? Chances are slim.

However, at the same time, that does not mean we should stop trying. Who knows, since music knows no barriers, it may be able to cross this one as well. Let us hope for the best.

‘Chhote Ustaad’ will be aired on Star Plus from July 24 at 9 pm.

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