Pakistani singer set for four-city India tour

The lead singer of popular band Fuzon, Ali will be performing in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore. The vocalist, who shot to the limelight in India with "Mitwa" in "Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna", will perform here Aug 26.

The concert will be presented by NGO Routes 2 Roots and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) as a cultural exchange initiative between India and Pakistan. The musician is known for signature tracks like "Aakhon ke Sagar", "Tere Bina" and "Khamaaj" ('Mora Saiyan'), from the album "Sagaar" by Fuzon.

Filmmaker Nagesh Kuknoor had used "Mora Saiyan" and "Tere Bina" from the album in his movie "Hyderabad Blues". Ali also sung for Shah Rukh in "My Name is Khan".

"In India I will sing all my songs - the ones I playbacked for Bollywood movies, tracks from Fuzon's album and folk songs. It will depend on what people want," Ali told IANS over telephone.

The singer, who belongs to the Patiala gharana, prefers to fuse Western with Eastern melodies.

"Though I was trained in classical music by my grandfather, grandmother, father, uncle and aunts, but the Western music I heard in my youth influenced my compositions," Ali said.

Hailing from Lahore, Ali's family is rooted in music.

"My father belonged to the Patiala gharana; all my uncles and aunts were classical musicians. My grandfather initiated me into classical music. We adopted the 'khayal gayaki' and my aunts taught me the 'bandish'. I learnt 'dhrupad' music too. Our family loved to experiment with music and we were branded non-classical musicians because of our 'khayal-gayaki'," Shafqat Ali said.

An offshoot of Delhi gharana, Patiala gharana is one of the most eminent schools of classical vocal music. The school was established by the duo Alliya-Phattu.

Ali says "his taalim (training) was conventional".

"In the formative years, we were not allowed to sing ghazal and had to adhere to pure classical music," he said.

The rules bent much later in the 1980s when Ali was exposed to "popular pop and rock music in college".

"I listened to bands like U2 and soloists like George Michael and Lionel Ritchie. I was influenced by the British reggae band UB40 and a few Pink Floyd numbers - all of which crept into my music," he said.

"Saagar", Fuzon's debut album that climbed the charts in India and Pakistan, draws substantially from vintage rock, reggae and pop music.

Ali has recently lent his voice to songs in movies like "I Hate Luv Stories", Nagesh Kukunur's forthcoming film "Aashayein", "Patiala House", "Mumbai Cutting" and "Bangkok Nights".

"I have completed recording for 'Patiala House' and have a few more playback assignments pending in Bollywood. Mumbai happened by chance. After listening to our album "Saagar", Kuknoor telephoned us in Pakistan and said he wanted to use two of our tracks. A spate of offers ensued," Ali said.

His solo album "Tabeer" was released earlier this year.

The musician says he will return to India later in the year to shoot "music videos". "Only then, I will start working on a new album with my band," Ali said.

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