Skip to main content

Pepsi Unplugged - EID Edition



Thanks to Hasan Rizvi for the Invite.
Images Provided by BodyBeat.




Karachiwalas recently dusted off their record collection and prepared to board the Pepsi Unplugged edition that would take them on a journey through time. They headed out for an evening with Ali Azmat – (singer / songwriter extraordinaire, formerly of Junoon – the Rock sensation from the 90’s), undeterred by the storm forecasts, rain or the lowering sky. Here they could relive the musical heydays of yore, and meet the legendary performers who rang in the new age of Sufi rock. The moment that marked the silver jubilee of the artist was hosted by Hasan Rizvi (CEO - BodyBeat) who is also the brainchild behind the venture.

Pepsi Unplugged is a relative newcomer to the scene, and its mission to revitalize the parched landscape and bring back live music has won them many admirers. Designers, socialites, media tycoons and artists dazzled at the red carpet extravaganza hosted by Anoushay – few had stuck to the color scheme however maybe because a purple/yellow combo is not that easy to pull off. The invitation only affair also featured giveaways (Diamond rings and tickets to Paris), surprises (cast of ‘Karachi Se Lahore’ along with a sneak peak at the footage) and a dress-code (purple & yellow). The celebrity catwalk included Maheen Khan, Rubya Chaudhry, Deepak Perwani, Wajahat Rauf, Shahzad Shiekh, Tabassum Mughal, Nadya Mistry, Naeem Haq etc.


Because of the confined space and informal setup, the powerhouse performance felt like a joyous studio practice run. Though the venue had been switched from small cafes to spacious hotels, the large ballroom was filled to capacity. Tantalizing dessert platters and appetizers were on hand next to a seemingly endless supply of Pepsi to distract fans as they waited impatiently for the arrival of the man of the hour.



Ali, accompanied by his merry men (Omraan Shafeeq, Gumby) performed a sample of Junoon’s hit numbers including ‘Molla’, ‘Sayonee’, ‘Na Re Na’, ‘Jazba Junoon’ and threw in an odd experimental rendition to the mix. The selection represented the best of Pakistani music establishing the timeless appeal of the classics and the presence of an appreciative audience starved for local fare. If half the guests were found glued to their phones or engaged in taking flawless selfies, it was because of the sponsors who promised shiny trinkets to the most dazzling smiles in the house.

Social media had been harnessed to create a buzz and fans were directed to use twitter #hashtags to promote the slew of patrons, upload pictures, and win a few gems in the process. The highly sought after Paris trip was awarded to the couple in yellow & blue since the best dressed category was somehow amended to anyone wearing Lipton colors, leading to raised eyebrows and dissatisfied grunts. Celebs who mistook smoking hot for smoking like a chimney in close quarters were another reason for their discomfort. The next invite should add the no-smoking clause to the list of ‘no-nos’ and perhaps throw in a punctuality reminder and set a new trend.

But the prospect of winning glamorous prizes or losing the Parisian trip of a lifetime, iffy security situation, needless delays or involuntary smoke inhalation took a backseat to the platform that breathed new life into a genre in constant danger of being stifled by extremist voices. That day was a celebration and a pledge – to keep the musical caravan on track and the nation’s rich musical legacy in view.

The haze of insecurity and shrinking space for artists makes such gatherings crucial for the survival of the arts. With the Pakistani cinema in revival mode - the music industry needs to regain its footing. And forums that can unleash the surge of creativity must be supported to fill the void in our cultural narrative and ensure that its unique voice gets heard. Ironically, this is how many of the successful stars got their start – performing in small venues to a handful of swooning teens before fame came a knockin’. As established stars with record deals and loyal fan clubs - these sessions are milestones and give local musicians a reason to cheer. They also reset the bar for the stars waiting in the wings and show them what greatness is supposed to look like.

This was the 5th event of its kind; the first few showcased Noori, Jal, Komal Rizvi, Fuzon, Zoe Viccaji and Club Carmel. The next one has set its sights on Lahore. ‘Pepsi Unplugged’ plans to extend its reach to Dubai in the coming years taking our musical heritage to the next level. Bringing international musicians to Pakistan is reportedly on the cards and while the idea seems ludicrous in the present backdrop but recent successes like Nida Butt’s 2 day music festival - ‘I Am Karachi’ that featured dialogues and live performances by 60+ artists offers a ray of hope.

PR: BB Events & PR

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Op-Ed: MQM in Hot Soup

First Published in Economic Affairs - Islamabad based Magazine (Pakistan) / Aug 2013
BY Afrah Jamal


‘What was it for
?' The BBC Two anchor asks Farooq Sattar (MQM’s Deputy Convener and Parliamentary leader) with an impassive face, referring to the stash of pounds found after a raid on Altaf Hussain’s London pad.

‘Whatever it was for’, he answers, at his inarticulate best.

The word ‘body bags’ ominously flashes on the screen, Mr. Sattar changes tactics; ‘we were all laughing’, dismissing it as a joke.

The savvy anchor runs more damning clips.

‘It is out of context’, Farooq declares. ‘There is no reference to context’, he adds helpfully.

But your own SC took notice…

‘o’ that’, ‘mere emotional outburst.

Unlike those ‘media types’ this party member would not speculate on the origins or purpose of the stash. He, like other loyalists filed away the latest episode under ‘more malicious propaganda’ and ‘sinister witch hunts’, accused BBC of falling prey to Taliban influences and conti…

BOOK REVIEW: Pakistan: Beyond The ‘Crisis State’ / Author: Maleeha Lodhi

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Published under the title: 17 Reasons to Hope

“History will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, history will have its revenge and retribution”— from the movie, ‘Good Night, & Good Luck’

A region known for most “terrorist sightings”, a place feared for harbouring medieval mindsets next to progressive thinkers and a nation shunned for having an affinity for nuclear toys. By turns a cautionary tale, an indispensable ally and an international pariah, Pakistan does not fit into any mould — for long. But its name crops up whenever things go awry.

Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’ is a compilation of articles put together by Maleeha Lodhi that countermands the grim prognosis. When Ms Lodhi, who has served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US and UK, acknowledges that “resilience has been part of Pakistan’s story from its inception, obscured by the single issue lens…

Rebuttal: ‘Finding a Safe Place for Pakistani Christians’

Published in Global Village Space under the title: Is Pakistan as extremist as portrayed by the Western media?/ Sept 2017

‘Finding a Safe Place for Pakistani Christians’ by Marijana PETIR, Member of the European Parliament – finds systemic persecution in Pakistan’s backyard, implying a clear and present danger to minority groups while bypassing an inclusive society that honors and respects the contributions of its minority communities or a nation that deems the eradication of discriminatory laws and radical ideology an essential pillar of its counter-terrorism policy.

An impartial review must also consider the state funeral given to a German nun, the national flag flown at half mast as a mark of respect and the military men who carried her casket; remark on the monuments named after Christian martyrs who served their country, meet Roman Catholic Bishops or Franciscan nuns awarded highest honors and note Christian war heroes who are the pride of the nation. The civil society that forme…

The Book of Davis - Reading between the lines

Published by Global Affairs / Aug 2017

Raymond Davis is a champ. A team player, who puts the needs of his comrades in arms before himself. He is savvy. He is a man of integrity - a survivor - a trooper. Ray, the epitome of courage runs headlong towards danger and into a minefield - literally. He is all this and more. This is his story after all.

6 years ago, he was a trained Special Forces SF, undercover ‘contractor’, forced to navigate the cramped alleyways of Lahore on a routine mission – the details of which remain a mystery. His book ‘The Contractor: How I Landed in a Pakistani Prison and Ignited a Diplomatic Crisis’ with Storms Reback, revisits the scene of the crime to solidify his innocence and along the way take a few potshots at random players who helped secure his release. It’s a hair-raising ride.

His style is conversational, his demeanor - amiable. The case is still fresh in people’s minds and his intent to set the record straight ignites yet another round of controversy…

OPED: The Afghan Policy in Perspective

Published in Global Village Space / Aug 2017

True to its reality show inspired template, the Afghan strategy was rolled out after months of speculations, suspense and dithering. It used memorable taglines and inflated figures. ‘Agents of chaos’, sunk costs described as ‘billions and billions’ and going all in seeking victory against all odds. It offered to be tough on Pakistan, even as it was vague on the outlines and predictable in its deployment.

Reading between the Lines

This is essentially the new, improvised policy meant not just for Afghanistan but also Pakistan and India. With it the U.S. administration appears to have heeded the advice of keeping the enemy in the dark. They have also dismissed the necessity of keeping their allies close and have instead embarked upon a strategic vision that aims to expand the theatre adding India to the volatile mix and potentially widen the gulf between allies.

Yet it is not the public performance of the commander-in-chief that catches the e…

BOOK REVIEW: DIARIES OF FIELD MARSHAL MOHAMMAD AYUB KHAN 1966-1972

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal
PUBLISHED IN THE POST AUG 29, 2007

Books allow people to have their say. Diaries express what they actually meant. Therefore, every prominent personality must stray from the path of political correctness and leave behind a diary. One way to regain an insight into the defining moments of our history post ‘65 War would be through the diaries of Pakistan’s first military ruler and first C-in-C, Field Marshal M. Ayub Khan, who also authored the book, ‘Friends. Not Masters’. The personal lives of public figures are always intriguing; while their contemporaries indict/acquit them on consequences of their actions, diaries give individuals a rare shot at swaying the upcoming generation of juries. Recorded during the uneasy calm before an inevitable storm brewing on the Eastern horizon and Indian front, the entries, spanning 7 years from September 1966 - October 1972, are replete with shrewdness and candor of a narrator who observed the events initially as a key player…

VIEW: GOING DUTCH (2008)

Published in THE POST May 18, 2008

What does Cadbury have to do with 12 sketches and a 17 minute film? Nothing, really. Cadbury is neither Dutch nor Danish. But by now most Pakistanis - if not all - have probably received a text message stating otherwise. And thus begins a boycott campaign of all things Dutch or Danish. The self righteous lot, in their overzealousness, would acquiesce willingly. Yet, few who have received an email or sms that proclaimed the success of this boycott and lobbied for its continuity - or witnessed the demonstrations meant to convey outrage against both Denmark and the Netherlands for their alleged laxity in safeguarding certain religions’ sanctity - will stop to reflect on the virtues of pushing a hostile policy intended to coerce but neglecting to convince. Fewer still will bother to dig deeper and corroborate details of such episodes.

The cartoon controversy returned in 2008 – helped on by the aptly titled film ‘Fitna’- similarly denounced for its unflat…