Pakistan

Song of Lahore Review LIFF 2016

Before we even start talking about Song of Lahore, do yourself a favour. Go and watch the following video.

This was the video that started it all. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Andy Schocken’s Song of Lahore is a documentary that chronicles the surprising journey of an ensemble of classically trained Pakistani musicians – from the troubled streets of Lahore, to the their moving performance at Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York. It is moving, touching, and even educational as we the audience join the musicians of Sachal Studios as they embark on their quest for excellence.

For the first 20 odd minutes, I admittedly found myself struggling to find a focus in the material. Too many individuals were introduced into the narrative, without any context to explain to me why I should care about them. But before I could even begin to prematurely dismiss any story, I was hooked in by the sincerity in their music. It is by means of these different individual tales coming together cohesively in a flourishing moving music piece that the “Song of Lahore” blossoms into its own melody. Like the jazz music the documentary is centered on, Song of Lahore is about the unwavering spirit of these Lahore musicians coming together against all odds of oppression, religious fascism, and even tyranny that almost killed their existence.

Lahore has been one of the cultural landmarks of Pakistan, housing great musicians, artists, writers, poets and painters for thousands of years, until the late 70’s when Pakistan’s political atmosphere drastically shifted to become one of an Islamic republic. Since then, most art, particularly music, has been considered sinful. As a result, Pakistan’s once rich culture of art has diminished, as artists struggle to even make ends meet, and have resorted to doing other jobs. And yet, as Song of Lahore reminds us, the art hasn’t completely died – it has simply changed from being people’s careers to becoming a passionate hobby among those who are still trying hard to pass on their knowledge to the new generation, and even attracting new audiences by fusing traditional sounds with modern ones. Sachal Studios decides to drum up attention by posting a Youtube video playing Dave Brubeck’s Take Five with Pakistani instrumentation. The clip goes viral, and gives them the chance to perform in New York alongside Wynton Marsalis. Thus, the Sachal Jazz Ensemble is born.

Originally content to remain obscure bearers of the Pakistani musical heritage, this opportunity brings the Sachal Jazz Ensemble to gain worldwide attention and truly hit its stride. It is Sachal’s chance to finally find the recognition they’ve missed out on, and also shows how a love of music transcends any barrier. It is heart-warming to see these men who are clearly past their prime, with their withered faces and grey hair, and still smiling wide with a passion so infectiously inspiring. And at the same time it is heartbreaking to think of how they have been deprived of what could have been. Born into a family of musical geniuses, and in a broken nation that looks down upon art, it has not just deprived these musicians from their future; it has deprived their nation of endless possibilities and the world of music greats. As neighbouring India almost takes cultural freedom for granted and takes pride in its geniuses – be it Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pt. Ravi Shankar, Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma, or even A.R. Rahman, Pakistan has only lost this opportunity to nurture its talented sons and daughters. As the Sachal gang walk down Times Square and enjoys street performers, one of them comments – “They are poor musicians, just like us”. It hit me hard.

And then we see them singing “Country Roads, Take Me Home” with New York’s infamous Naked Cowboy. And it instantly brought a smile on my face, and surprised me how musical unity can come through in the most unpredictable of places.

The final performance at the Lincoln Center acts as the culmination of all their struggles and their pure and unadulterated love for music. Even with all the tension of rehearsals and adapting a new genre of music, the performance is sensationally tremendous, impactful, and echoes with applause. But I found it a little too short, as I was left wanting for more (I was quite relieved to find out that some of the performances are available online on Youtube). The performance provokes tears of both pride and relief. I was left dazzled by these courageous seniors, and the melody stuck in my head. I felt spiritually refreshed and joyous, and with eyes full of tears. The optimism is consistent in Song of Lahore‘s overall tone and interest in perseverance. I cannot recommend this enough.

Song of Lahore will stir you to the core.

A Song of Lahore is part a double bill by South Asia’s only double Oscar winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. Based in Karachi, her documentaries capture key social issues and great moments of contemporary Pakistani culture.

18 JULY | 18:30 | PICTUREHOUSE CENTRAL

Check out more of Sujoy‘s work at OneKnighStand and Bollypop!

For more about the London Indian Film Festival head over to their website or twitter feed!

Let us know what you thought of the review in the comment section below and do continue to check out Upodcast for more coverage of the LIFF!

Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan – The Greatest Hits Live at the O2

We’ve been having quite a few amazing acts lately at the O2 AR Rahman, Atif Aslam but we got very excited to hear that Pakistan’s most famous Qawwali singer Ustad Rahat Fateh Khan, the nephew of the late, world-renowned singer Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, will perform his greatest hits live for the first time at The O2 on Sunday 14 August 2016.

Tickets go on sale at 9am on Friday 22 April and are available at AXS.com or by calling 0844 856 0202 or from www.theo2.co.uk.www.theo2.co.uk.

The performance will coincide with Pakistan and India’s independence weekend celebrations and will be Ustad Rahat Fateh Khan’s only London show this year. Discussing his forthcoming show Ustad Rahat Fateh Khan said; ”I’m very excited to be performing at The O2, London, for the second time, following my sold out tour in 2013.

“Coming to the UK is always a thrill for me and my performance is timed to fit the Independence Day celebrations for both Pakistan and India. I have a fantastic team of musicians joining me and will be performing my greatest film hits and new material, as well as my esteemed Uncle, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s popular Qawwali numbers, to rock the arena.”

Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan was chosen at birth by his uncle Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan for tutoring in the traditions of qawwali music, a form of Sufi devotional popular in South Asia. Six weeks after his uncle’s death in 1997, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan took his position as leader of the group and has since become one of the most talked about Pakistani artists in the world.

Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan has performed on a variety of recordings, and his songs and vocals have featured in numerous hit Hollywood and Bollywood films including Bodyguard, My Name is Khan, Dabangg, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Drishyam, the Hollywood film Apocalypto and many more.

The maestro has released over 50 albums with over 100 hits in Bollywood and has been presented with numerous awards including Star Screen Awards for Best Male Playback 2010 and the IIFA award for best male vocalist 2011. He has also been a judge on top TV shows in India such a Chhote Ustad and Junoon, Kuch Kar Dikhaane Ka. He was the headline performer at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in 2014 and recently performed at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in March 2016.

In 2014, Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan released his latest album ‘Back 2 Love’ which sold millions of copies worldwide.

The ticket will also include access to a variety of free live events and activities including Bollywood dance workshops, DJs, specially selected street food stalls and more.

Win Jaanisaar’s soundtrack on CD!

People have been raving about the music of Muzaffar Ali’s Jaanisaar for a while now and here is your chance to win 1 of 3 CD’s of the soundtrack with Upodcast.

 

To win a copy:

1. Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter:

2. Send us an email on upodcasting@gmail.com with the answer to the following (dead easy!) question:

Which 1981 Bollywood film did the ‘Jaanisar’ director Muzaffar Ali direct?

A. Muqaddar Ka Sikandar

B. Umrao Jaan

C. Silsila

(Winners will be announced Tuesday 12/8)

(Only UK entries apply -but if you’re nice and I like you, I might make an exception!)

Jaanisar stars Pakistani actor Imran Abbas and one of India’s leading style icons and fashion entrepreneurs Pernia Qureshi.

Playback singers for the soundtrack of the film have some of the most celebrated singers of the music industry like Abida Parveen, Shreya Ghoshal and Sukhwinder Singh. Music is by Muzaffar Ali as well as Ustad Shafqat Ali Khan. It truly has some great music.

It’s pretty much the type of music you should be listening to instead of whatever guitly pleasure is looping on your playlist now!

Jaanisaar is in theaters this Friday!

LFF 2012 The Summit Review

In August 2008, 22 climbers from various international expeditions reached the High Camp of K2, the final pit-stop before the peak of the mountain, on an expedition renowned among adventurers as extremely dangerous to attempt – far worse than Everest, with a 1 in 4 chance of dying. Only 11 would make it down from there. The Summit is an attempt to understand what happened on a day that became known as the most tragic in modern mountaineering history. Through recreations, archive and home movie footage, and interviews with survivors and families of the people who died on the outing, Nick Ryan’s documentary presents a thorough, investigative and vivid version of events, showing the heartbreaking moral choices the climbers faced in attempting to survive.

As someone who has an interest in outdoor sports and various silly pursuits (nothing anywhere near as extreme as this) The Summit was something I wanted to catch.  Those who’ve watched and “enjoyed” Touching the Void will no doubt be aware of the unwritten code of the mountain (if someone falls or wanders off, then leave them) and this is brutally revealed in a brilliant documentary.  At the heart of the documentary, but not dominating the story, is an Irish climber, Ger McDonnell.  He was seemingly faced with a horrible choice when he discovered 3 battered, bruised, bloodied and dying climbers: follow the code or help them.  As The Summit unfolded, it was obvious I was in for an emotional 90 or so minutes and the archive footage, interviews and recreations are exceptionally well wielded.  Having a cousin who has climbed the highest peaks in Europe and South America and who has rescued fellow climbers certainly gave an added edge to this.

The main body of the documentary doesn’t necessarily seek out the truth (not that it tries to).  It simply builds a picture of the tragic events before presenting as much as real information as is known.  That Ger’s parents even needed to travel to Pakistan to try and understand what had happened to their son, is telling.  As we do get closer to the truth (as much as is possible) however, the horrors of those expeditions are shown and as hard as it to swallow, the reality is that a combination of factors got the better of most of the climbers: there is no one single cause.

I’m not always one for using recreations in documentaries – it can lead to things being a bit twee and childlike – but in this instance, I was stunned by how vivid and realistic they were, lending a genuinely convincing air to the film.  It was as if they had scaled K2 again with a film crew; truly remarkable.  This is a truly engaging documentary, whether you know a lot or little to nothing about mountaineering and if I’m honest, I’d have been crying if hadn’t watched this on a midweek morning with a roomful of journos; I was that affected.

No-one will ever really know exactly what happened in those few long days and no-one will ever really know what makes mankind want to push itself to such limits, where every second you spend in the death zone (8000m & higher) your body is dying.   The Summit at least shines a small light on human nature and the fragile relationship man has with the planet.

@martincawley

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VEENA MALIK RELEASES HER FIRST LOOK FOR HER SINGLE DRAMA QUEEN

The US has Honey Boo Boo and before that Jersey Shore, India has Rakhi Sawant and Pakistan has Veena Malik. Some enjoy her antics ironically, but we can’t disregard the fact that she must have some genuine fans out there? Right?…

In any case, not content with everything else she is doing. Veena is now launching her music career too.

Here is an excerpt from the Press Release and teaser from her forthcoming video.

 

Here is the press release:

Known for her controversies, bold personality and daring stunts Bollywood actress Veena Malik is all set to launch her singing career with her debut single ‘Drama Queen’. As fitting as the title may seem this is just the beginning of her string of hits before she releases her album beginning of 2013. The album will host different producers from across the world giving each song a different vibe, including a collaboration with British Asian music producer Bups Saggu. The album is an exciting new venture for Veena aside from her film and TV career ” I’m so excited to release Drama Queen to the world, everyone is always tagging me like this so I thought why not let’s make a song on it, the song is fun and cheeky at the same time I hope everyone love’s all the work we’ve put in to it”  Said Veena Malik

Her music career will be launching in India and she will then head to the UK and USA for shows and appearances at the end of the year. Veena Malik is getting geared up to show the whole world the ‘Drama Queen’ experience . Nisha Sahdev from Sahdev Media, Veena Malik’s International Manager is looking forward to the launch  ” Drama Queen is a very catchy song, it’s surely going to be loved across the spectrum, the whole project is bold, fun and stylish which reflect Veena’s personality. We are putting together an album which will range different music composers to give a global feel and appeal to all her fans. Post the album we will be taking Veena on tour across UK, USA, UAE and Canada on the Drama Queen tour which will be announced January 2013″

Drama Queen as the title prompts is a fun, catchy song produced by ShreeD and Canadian producer IshQ. Written by Siddharth Bannerjree the song brings in all the perspectives of Veena Malik in one song.

Look out for the video to hit the screens near you! For now.. check out the Video Teaser.

Drama Queen out October 1st 2012.

@asimburney

 

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Atif Aslam and Sonu Niigaam in concert in London’s O2

Two of the most amazing singers in South East Asia are coming to London in concert. I think both of them don’t really need any introduction so I’ll leave you guys with the most pertinent info from the following press release.

 

Dhamaka 2012 – Sonu Niigaam, Atif Aslam & Bolly Flex – Live at The O2!

Flex FX proudly brings you the aptly named show, Dhamaka 2012 at the world’s most popular venue ‘The O2’ on Sunday 22nd April 2012. Dhamaka means “explosion” and the show promises to be just that.

Creating musical history, are 2 of the world’s most sought after Asian voices – India’s soul, Sonu Nigam and Pakistan’s icon, Atif Aslam, together for the first time in history.

The venue is the world famous O2 arena, in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, which is part of London’s Olympics in 2012, and is known as the centre of the earth. No better a place to celebrate the unity that music can bring.

Both international singing sensations will be performing live with their own full bands for 90 minutes. Each with perform all their Bollywood blockbusters, latest chart toppers, and their everlasting renowned hits. Also on the cards, is special tribute from both acts!

The spectacular dance group Bolly Flex, who UK viewers cheered on in the popular SKY TV show, ‘Got to dance’ in 2011, will perform a grand opening to both halves of the show and introduce the star celebrities in a dynamic and artistic fashion. Guaranteed, are breathtaking, colourful and high energy performances.

Young East London born and raised producer and artistic director Naz Choudhury shares: “Dhamaka has always played a major role to my journey and the Flex FX legacy, over the past few years. I can proudly say I have my dream line-up in Sonu and Atif. After my appearance on the BBC show, Dragons’ Den, I nationally declared that I will do it and though the dragons didn’t come on board, I had investors who immediately took the opportunity, and have waited for this big event to come together.”

He adds: “Dhamaka doesn’t represent race, faith or culture, it’s about the passion for music, dance and unity. I’m proud to say it’s about time a show of this calibre has come to my home town, the East End of London, and only for one night. Tickets are already selling like hot cakes, so I buying early will mean no disappointments.”

Flex FX was founded in 2003 by Naz Choudhury as a dance group, and their first performance and launch was in the Millennium Dome, at the Festival of Asia in 2004. In 2007 Flex FX was commissioned by the European Union and produced Dhamaka 2007 with Atif Aslam and Jay Sean, alongside a UK cast of dancers and sold out the 5000 capacity Royal Albert Hall. Flex FX became a force to be reckoned with.

2012 sees Flex FX return to the Dome, which is now the world famous O2, a full circle back to where the journey began, in the 15,000 capacity O2 Arena. They proudly bring you the biggest Bollywood event of 2012.

Dhamaka makes history not just because of the line-up, but also the multicultural unity and power of bringing nations together in celebration, embracing London’s Olympic year in world class fashion. It’s back… It’s Dhamaka – an explosion to your senses!

Tickets start at just £25! Book your tickets now visit www.theO2.co.uk. For more information about the show visit www.dhamaka.co.uk

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Latest Trailers from Bollywood

It’s time for a run-down of some of the hottest trailers coming from the outsourcing capital of the world! We all need a bit of spice in our lives (unless you suffer from IBS then you should clearly avoid anything relating to Bollywood or Mexican). And I look forward to the new batch of emotional overdoses coming our way.

Keep reading for some of the most exciting Bollywood trailers and our thoughts on them! Read More