The band bursts out laughing during their interview with Madeeha Syed - Photo by Fayyaz Ahmed

ALI AZMAT/musician – “An Ali-en concept” (December 9, 2007)
Excerpt:  One of the first things you will notice about Ali Azmat is that not only is he a wonderful entertainer, he is a very gracious host and makes sure everyone around him is fully tended to. The second thing you’ll notice is that despite the entertaining he does off-stage, cracking jokes and striking up conversations with those in his presence, he is always watching and observing everyone and everything around him. You can run, you can hide, but his quietly inquisitive eyes will find you wherever you are.

AHMED JEHANZEB/musician – “Soul Survivor” (July 16, 2007)
Excerpt: Jehanzeb has had one thing dominate his life throughout and it’s the only thing he’s known in its entirety — to sing. In an age when most children learn the subtleties involved in communicating with others, Jehanzeb hosted his own concert and pulled it off well.

ALI HAIDER/musician – “Second time lucky?” (June 25, 2006)
Excerpt: With a career spanning over 17 years, Ali Haider has seen it all. Both his personal and professional lives have followed a similar pattern: he arrived with a bang in the early 1990s, stole people’s hearts with his shy smile and pop-tunes and he continued to do so until late in the decade.

ALI ZAFAR /musician – “Ali on the edge” (November 19, 2006)
Excerpt: Ali Zafar is not just a pretty face. Behind the dreamy, often dazed eyes and dimpled smile that has adorned many billboards (with many more to come) is a person who knows what he wants — and is willing to do just about everything to get things the way he likes them.

/actor – “Ali Zafar: Almost Famous” (March 7, 2010)
Excerpt: “I’m going to work in Bollywood some day… act in a lead role,” said Ali Zafar to a friend who was accompanying him on a trip to Mumbai some six-odd years ago. “That’s never going to happen,” shot back the friend. “Bollywood has never cast a Pakistani in a lead role before. It simply hasn’t happened yet.” “Yes, but there’s always a possibility,” retorted Ali.

AMEAN J. /photographer – “The Rainmaker” (July 15, 2007)
Excerpt: “If I have done anything good in photography, it’s because I have really learned it. I didn’t feel like I was a born Picasso and that all I had to do was pick up a camera and I was good to go. I worked my backside in trying to learn and I made sure that I was getting enough exposure to see what was happening around the world”

DEEPAK PERWANI/designer – “I’m not Deepak Perwani” (February 17, 2008)
Excerpt: “I see myself as a non-conformist to Pakistani fashion because I’ve always believed that I’m designing — call it arrogance or my own satisfaction to my own creativity — what I’ve liked to design. Whether you understand it or not, or like it or not, that’s your problem. As far as I’m concerned, the global village or the global world understands me very well.”

DAWUD WHARNSBY /English nausheed – “Musings of a nomad artiste” (August 23, 2009)
Excerpt: ‘I was never doubtful about music being a powerful method for expression or it having a powerful effect on people. I was never doubtful of it as a medium. The only thing I was doubtful of was the environment; where was I going to begin to share my music?’

EUPHORIA/musicians – “Unending Euphoria” (June 29, 2008)
Excerpt: Perhaps one of the rare pop outfits to break forth from the Indian entertainment industry, Euphoria, from the time they came out on mainstream television in 1998 — most Pakistanis were exposed to them via the wonders of satellite television — with their first single Dhoom (which is also incorporated into the title of three of their albums), garnered as much of a fan base in Pakistan as they had in India. Subsequent hits such as Kaise Bhoolay Gi Mera Naam and the all-time classic, Mayeri, has reinstated their status as Pakistan’s much-loved pop act import.

FAISAL RAFI /music producer – “Introducing Faisal Rafi” (August 10, 2008)
Excerpt: Darth Vader,” is the initial response I get when I ask Faisal Rafi to introduce his voice into my recorder, before he breaks into (another) laugh. Faisal Rafi is a name one has heard numerous times, but never really saw as such at any industry-related event. Not surprisingly so, since he considers himself somewhat of an introvert when it comes to making social appearances.

GUMBY /musician – “Gumby to reckon with” (August 24, 2008)
Excerpt: He’s a drummer whose celebrity is as strong and enduring as any other vocalist or front man. He’s played with some of the biggest acts in the country. Although he’s been actively working in the industry for a little over two decades, Louis John Pinto (Gumby as he is popularly known) maintains a very low social profile. But that doesn’t stop him from being one of the most published musicians in the country. Gumby has an unassuming presence in person, but the truth is he’s anything but that.

H-DHAMI/musician – “We’re trying to bring something new that we can add to our Punjabi music and culture” (August 9, 2009)
Excerpt: Compared to the likes of Jay Sean and Juggy-D, his contemporaries in the bhangra pop industry in the UK, H-Dhami is very young. But what he brings with him is a passion for dance and exposure — his father Palbinder Dhami is the lead singer of a band (Heera) that pioneered this genre of music (the song Mar Charapa) 30 years ago — that ingrained in him a love for bhangra.
– written under Hira Syed

HADIQA KIYANI/musician – “Carving the Rough Cut” (June 10, 2007)
Excerpt: Growing up in the nineties, there were very few role models in the Pakistani media that one being a female one could look up to. More so, there were even fewer that one could relate to. But Hadiqa Kiyani changed all of that…

HAROON RASHID /musician – “Addicted to love” (March 25, 2007)
Excerpt: lf there is any person who signifies pop when it comes to musicians in the entertainment industry, it’s Haroon Rashid. He was previously one-half of the now defunct band Awaz, one of the most successful musical acts in the country and perhaps Pakistan’s original boy band.

JOSH /musicians – “Keeping it real with Josh” (December 3, 2006)
Excerpt:Contrary to belief, the Josh lads turned out to be rather nice. They were in Karachi recently for the launch of their third album, Mausam, and despite a hectic schedule during their three-day stay, they agreed to a last minute interview.

JUGGY D. /musician – “I think I’m one of the more fortunate Punjabi artistes as my first album came out in 2004, and I’m still being booked for it” (August 16, 2009)
Excerpt: Juggy-D is just the way he appears in his videos: laidback, outgoing and someone who likes to have a good time and entertain everyone around him. Here we set out to discover his journey into music and how he ended up breaking into and becoming big in the Bollywood music industry.
– Written under Hira Syed

KAMIAR ROKNI /designer – “Kamiar Rokni in Paris” (February 21, 2010)
Excerpt: “We’ve been working terribly hard on the collection. We’ve really pushed ourselves,” said Kamiar. “Every time we show, we want it to be a step above what we’ve done before so it’s quite a neurotic process because we’ve been second-guessing ourselves quite a bit.”

KOLACHI QUARTET /musicians – “The Kolachi Quartet’s jazz thing” (January 27, 2008)
Excerpt: Emu (Imran Momina/keyboards), Khalid Khan (bass guitar), Abbas Premjee (classical guitar) and Gumby (Luis J. Pinto/drums) – have just gotten new, hip, rock ‘n’ roll-oriented dos from the Queen of Style herself, Nabila. Standing nearby is the designer known for dressing up most of the musicians in the industry: Munib Nawaz. He is responsible for the carefully-tailored, stylish suits the boys are wearing. The occasion? The aforementioned musicians have come together and formed a band, predominantly jazz and improvisation-oriented, with a distinct ethnic flavour to their music. And together, they call themselves The Kolachi Quartet.

MEERA JEE /actor – “I am a s-a-x symbol” (January 26, 2010)
Excerpt: “Hell-o,” a deep sultry voice responds on the other end of the line when I call. I mentally prepare myself to speak to one of the most controversial, love-to-hate figures in the entertainment industry, Meera. My task: to organise the interview and accompanying photo shoot that was just published in Dawn’s Images on Sunday.

MEHREEN JABBAR /filmmaker – “Minority report: Ramchand Pakistani” (November 25, 2007)
Excerpt: Mehreen Jabbar, not an unknown figure in the Pakistani entertainment industry, is a storyteller at heart. Her work is often recognised as being based on the lives and dilemmas of the ordinary Pakistani woman, and she is often quoted as having a fresh, original style of film-making. With all of that safely tucked under her belt, it made sense that this bundle of talent would eventually release her own full-length feature film — or at least attempt to.

MEKAAL HASAN /musician – “Give into your dark side” (September 27, 2009)
Excerpt: Chall Bulleya, Mekaal Hasan Band’s latest video, introduces Saligia, otherwise known as the seven deadly sins: superbia, avaritia, luxuria, invidia, gula, ira, acedia…

MUNIB NAWAZ /designer – “Music sounds better with you; looks better with me” (March 9, 2008)
Excerpt: He is the designer who could be a model and his reputation as the musicians’ designer makes one wonder whether he secretly aspires to be a musician himself. The story of Munib Nawaz’s journey into fashion design is a simple one, how he chose to establish his label is a road-less-travelled by most designers in the local industry: by dressing all of the musicians. With ‘wardrobe by Munib Nawaz’ gracing the credits for every other music video, people were bound to take note.

OMAR RAHIM /choreographer – “Taking the lead” (October 21, 2007)
Excerpt: There are different kinds of storytellers — some prefer to express themselves vocally, by song while others prefer to communicate via the written word. Omar Rahim, on the other hand, chooses to express himself via a medium that isn’t literal in its context and known for the sheer amount of discipline and hard work needed to master it: dance.

ROHAIL HYATT /musician – “The life and times of Rohail Hyatt” (July 27, 2009)
Excerpt: “I can’t, even for a split second, deny the fact that when fame first hit us (the Vital Signs) at a level that we couldn’t possibly imagine, it felt good,” said Rohail Hyatt. “But I think I soon realised that it’s not my cup of tea. And you know there is no undo button in something like that.”

/musicians – “The inner self interpreted” (August 20, 2006)
Excerpt: They made a quiet appearance sometime several years ago and slipped out of the limelight without much fuss either. Those who were aware of their presence labelled their work as a product of genius and could not understand why it failed to create a bang back then.

/musician – “Saba Shabbir’s solo album” (April 4, 2010)
Excerpt: Saba Shabbir is part of a growing list of female musicians/artistes in Pakistan. She has the potential to develop powerhouse vocals. “When I meet someone who has a lot of talent,” adds Gumby, “I believe in helping that person out. Saba’s a great person and has a great voice.”

/author – “His pastor’s voice” (February 21, 2010)
Excerpt: The founder, lead guitarist, (now) solo vocalist and front man for one of the biggest rock outfits to come out of Pakistan’s music industry, Salman Ahmed has come a long way in the 25 years since the band first came into existence. And he’s documented all of it in his biography. ‘It took me four long and lonely years to finish (writing) this book,’ he said, adding that, ‘Through (out) my life people have wondered why I chose passion over profession, music over medicine and led an unconventional lifestyle. I felt that Rock ‘n’ Roll Jihad would set the record straight… at least for now.’

/musicians – “Instant Karma” (March 4, 2007)
Excerpt: Ten years from now, they will still be known as the musicians from Peshawar who sang in English: an identity they will find very hard to shrug off. When Sajid and Zeeshan first came onto the Pakistani music scene, the idea of desi musicians singing in a foreign language was relatively unheard of.

SAQIB MALIK /director – “Genius in waiting?” (November 10, 2007)
Excerpt: It’s going to happen; it’s going to take its own sweet time. I’m going to do what Shoaib Mansoor did: I’m going to quietly start and make it and when it’s ready for the world I will come and talk about it. Before, I blabbed way too much and I’ve had to answer for that,” replied Saqib when confronted with whether or not his debut film, ‘Ajnabi Shehr Mein’, will ever make it to production.

/director – “Aitebaar: Signed, sealed and delivered” (June 1, 2008)
Excerpt: Six months ago, in a previous interview (Genius in waiting?; November 10, 2007) Saqib Malik had said: “I am in the thought-process of a video right now for Zeb and Haniya. I love their music. I think it’s going to be different than my other videos because I want it to be something straight up and simple. It’s not going to be an elaborate setup.” He has delivered on his promise. Saqib is back in the circuit after having completed the music video for Zeb and Haniya’s Aitebaar.

STRINGS /musicians – “No strings attached” (May 19, 2008)
Excerpt: Other than Vital Signs and Junoon from the pre-media boom era, Strings is the only other band from Pakistan that has managed to create a prominent mark in the global music industry. In fact, you could even say that the boom in both conventional and new media worldwide has given it an added advantage: The band has made it even bigger than their contemporaries.

SHAFQAT AMANAT ALI KHAN /musician – “Shafqat Amanat Ali: Creating his own legacy?” (October 12, 2008)
Excerpt: “We had to pull out a few songs and tracks from the album which were very dark and very sufiana. We thought we shouldn’t do it because that’s not sellable in India,” he said, talking in terms of commercial viability. Later on during the interview, Shafqat went on to say, “I don’t really think about the reaction I would get from people or my fans when composing music as what others think is not important to me. What is important is that I create music the way I want to.” Both these statements come across as a bit of a contradiction.

SHARMEEN OBAID CHINOY /documentary filmmaker – “Living in reel time” (September 23, 2007)
Excerpt: A Pakistani documentary-maker based in Karachi, Paris, New York and Canada, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy has won accolades from all over the world — the most notable being the Livingston Award for journalism and being the only non-American so far to have received it. Sharmeen isn’t one to sit back when there is a story at hand or to get intimidated by the material she uncovers.

VERONICA UK /musician – “Wherever I go, if people don’t know me and if I just sing Hum Tum, that’s it” (August 9, 2009)
Excerpt: ‘I would go to shows and if it was my uncle taking me, they’d look at him and say “what’s a woman doing here?” and we were like “she’s here to perform.” You get used to facing these kinds of barriers and you just ignore them as you’ve got to get on with it.’
– written under Hira Syed

/designer – “(Why)YBQ?” (March 23, 2008)
Excerpt: As a person, Yousuf Bashir Qureshi is hard to ignore: with sharp, intelligent eyes that visibly twinkle over a large fashionable moustache, seemingly unkempt hair and always dressed in a dhoti, he is quite the character, and not just visually. Three years ago, after having lived in the States for a little more than a decade, he came back to Pakistan.

ZEB & HANIYA /musicians – “Sugar ‘n’ Spice” (August 26, 2008)
Excerpt:They’re not your regular run-of-the-mill, girls’ next door although they may certainly look it. These ladies have a secret: they can sing! Not only that, but they can do it pretty darn well. To anyone who has an avid interest in the Pakistani music industry, Zeb and Haniya are no strangers: they’re the voices behind the radio and Internet hit, Chup.

ZOE VICCAJI /musician – “Introducing Zoe Viccaji” (June 7, 2009)
Excerpt: Conventional wisdom dictates that you should not make any major prediction before it’s time, but I’m going to make one right now: when she does come out, Zoe Viccaji is going to be known as the Dido of Pakistan. I first heard of this bundle of talent, when her producer, Shahzad ‘Shahi’ Hasan invited me to his studio to listen to some of the music he had been working on.


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