The Mekaal Hasan Band, Overload, Coven and Caramel come together with Lahore’s glitterati to fundraise for the millions of internally displaced people in Swat.
Hani Taha Salim
With the ongoing battle in Swat has come the humanitarian crisis of the millions of people who have been displaced from their homes as a result of the fighting. The concerns of Talibanization in Lahore and the need to aid the growing crisis has seen the formation of a group of concerned citizens – Pakistan Rising – that has risen to the occasion, with celebrities in tow to create a huge impact. While weekdays in Lahore have seen volunteers get down to collecting funds and resources for IDPs, last weekend saw them combine the spirit of generosity with the spirit of fun. Carpe diem charitably, politically and creatively!
And so one of Lahore’s poshest venues hosted a concert with the city’s most popular musicians joining in to lend a helping hand. On the bill were the Mekaal Hasan Band, Coven, Caramel and Overload promising a melodious night. Cheering them on were their fashionable friends HSY, Munib Nawaz, Amna Kardar, Maram and Aabroo, Kamiar Rokni and Maleeha Naipaul, Ahmed Ali Butt and an entourage of socialites in a small chic and rather intimate affair that seemed more like a private party than a concert. Surprising since the organisers seemed to have advertised quite heavily for it albeit through a select friends network via Facebook.
Oddly missing from the performers were the Lahori super stars, Atif Aslam and Ali Zafar. Rumour has it that a certain ‘catty’ lady from Karachi had ‘forbidden’ them from performing in Lahore since she, the ‘queen of all social events’, was planning on a similar concert in the city of lights.
Charity aside, celebrities seem to always keep their social ties and loyalties in place – come what may. Nonetheless many banded with their friend Adnan Sarwar, of Racing Pakistan fame, that night to play music for a cause.
The night began with a two-minute silence to honour musician and friend, Jamal Mustafa aka Jamie from Mizraab, who tragically passed away recently. It was a warm and thoughtful gesture, particularly since the audience that night was an intimate gathering of the who’s who in Lahore who were either friends, relatives or acquaintances of Jamie. Yet oddly and shamefully enough, when his brother came onto the stage later in the night to speak a few words on him, the crowd was too busy chatting away in their own little circles to even acknowledge let alone respect him.
Sombre moments aside, the night was pure musical indulgence and fun. With a lukewarm start with the Mekaal Hasan Band, and a few light heads banging in unison and deep appraisals of Hamza from Coven, the night belonged to Caramel and Misha Shafi, the recent and much welcome addition to Overload. Caramel’s covers of ‘Superstar’ and ‘Walking on Sunshine’ electrified the audience who kept swaying, bubbling with energy and dancing, lost in the music. HSY and Kamiar appeared clearly lost in the rhythm of the night, standing right in front of the stage, soaking in all the music and excitement, their bodies never still. Caramel’s vocals may not have been the best compared to the other performers, but Kiran Arshad can clearly stir any audience into action by recreating a much needed frivolous and innocuous bar culture where one can just stand up and dance and simply lose oneself in a song. Her dedication to Jamie, ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’ was poignant and apt, and one could not help but think this is how he would want to be remembered: in song, music, and dance – a celebration of life.
Carrying forth from Caramel’s super fun performance, while the crowd kept begging for more, came in Overload in their classical powerful musical feat. It was so sweet to observe that Mahmood’s wife, the striking model Misha Shafi, stand by the side of the stage smiling at him and quietly cheering him on. Truly an endearing Kodak moment! Overload opened their act with the passionate Farhad Humayun on the drums, beating the instrument with a ferocity that captivated audiences, but when Misha came onto the stage as the lead vocalist for the night, Overload’s usually magnificent performances transcended into ethereal. Clearly Misha has been in the wrong profession all these years! She’s a great model no doubt, but that night she was in league of her own- commanding, arresting and captivating audiences with her rich vocals, her wide range and perfectly climaxed pitches. We had to catch up and complain where she’d been hiding all this while, and she said amusingly “I joined Overload two years ago but I’ve been singing all my life at our college (NCA) music nights with Farhad and Mahmood and tonight was just an effort on our part to help the IDPs. This is probably the most we can do.”
Needless to mention, the night belonged to her and she was the most valuable find of the night.
With efforts such as this concert, it may be a sign that celebrities are finally shedding the stereotype of living in a bubble, and are putting Pakistan first. As HSY put it, “It’s a grand initiative that we’re all making and important that we do so. I may be the biggest international designer in the country, but without my country, I’m nothing.” The night also saw Kamiar Rokni and Maleeha Naipual along with Daku, put up stalls selling t-shirts fuelling patriotism and action: with one’s slogan pronouncing ‘you can kill the revolutionary but you can’t kill the revolution’. From the looks of it, celebrities are becoming politically vociferous and active and firmly taking on to cultivate sensitivity and change in the country. Kiran Arshad from Caramel, alone bought fifty percent of the invites that night and was enthusiastic that “people want to come out and help. Everyone’s been fantastic”.
But not quite – since none of them while talking to Instep declared their intention to actually venture up north and physically experience the reality and gravity of the situation. Some in fact dodged the question entirely! Making one wonder that are they really in this for the cause or has political and social awareness (catching on the trend from Hollywood stars like Angelina Jolie) finally become fashionable in this part of the world as well?
Event organized by J&S