Sunday, December 12, 2010

NFP Steps Up to Granta and the Atlantic Monthly

NFP has been set off by some new changes in the music scene. Good to see the man return to the field he helped contribute most to, and the time he knows best of, i.e, the eighties. It's obvious that the apparent changes that NFP is responding to is the rise of Coke Studio, the rise of religious extremism, the responses or non-reponses by various Pakistanis and the international attention showered on Pakistan's cultural scene by the Afghan conflict spilling into our territory.

This particular article was possibly set off by a lazy Atlantic Monthly web piece that equated Coke Studio with fighting the Taliban, when the Pakistani blogosphere and its interviewed members unequivocally told the Atlantic Monthly author, that Coke Studio had NOTHING to do with fighting terrorism, and EVERYTHING to do with good music. Why this Riddi Shah decided to ignore what Ahsan at Five Rupees told her in his interview, and published a squarely Orientalist piece is between her, her editor and their shrink. But it was good to see Ahsan take it down. That same Atlantic Monthly piece made the grievous error of saying that the Zia regime had banned ALL music. NFP led with debunking that misconception, and mentions the perennial love Pakistanis have for their music. I think its a bit unfair to paint countries of the greater Middle East as not loving their music. I'm sure they do, but our musicians keep singing and playing despite poverty.

I liked this part:

Throughout Zia’s regime, folk and national songs (created with the help of modern instruments) appeared frequently on state TV and radio but this time, it was heavily punctuated with conservative subject matter and imagery such as loud demonstrations of faith, family values, the glory of the armed forces, etc.

General Zia Approves !
Illustration by Eefa Khalid/

And thanks for linking to the video of Har Garhi Tyar Kamran Hai Hum! I love that song!

*Side Note: Notice How this Army Propaganda Song has Dam Mast Qalandar Ali Ali in it! Nice!

NFP rehashed the old established idea of Zia institutionalising hypocrisy in Pakistan. However, he adds a fresh approach by calling the Zia regime contradictory. I think now he's adding this new perspective in light of Granta's piece by Kamila Shamsie, who is only barely younger than NFP, but chronicled her adolescent interactions with music in the later periods of Zia's rule. It brings a smile to ones face imagining the grinning dictator giving a lecture on patriotism to Nazia and Zoheb.

NFP also enters Kamila Shamsie's territory with his full throttled defense and illumination on Salman Ahmed and Sufi Rock and fusion music in general. I personally wondered what NFP thought about the concept of Sufi Rock. I thought he might sneer at it. Imagine my surprise when I see him praise it back into the Zia era, and forward to Coke Studio. That's also nice; to see Coke Studio get its due from the man who helped shape Junoon and to an extent, Vital Signs.

I was glad to see my instinct from the nineties acknowledged, that "pop on TV and radio hit a peak during the second Benazir government (1993-96)". Also the idea of the Nawaz Sharif of today, banning a song that "incites people to rebel against authority" makes one laugh out loud.

And ending the piece on the current threat of religious pressure groups and violent extremists is one that points at those musicians who recognise the new paradigms, and will adapt and innovate to give us better music for the future. Rohail Hyat, with Coke Studio, is just the most high profile of these praiseworthy auteurs. An excellent and fresh take on the modern pop scene by NFP.

1 comment:

Ursilla said...

is there anything NFP does not stand up against? :)

I love the guy.