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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


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