February Issue 2008

By | Arts & Culture | Published 12 years ago

A swarm of cameramen and photographers engulfed Atif Aslam, looking immaculate in a high-cuffed black suit, with their flashes and their hovering presence. Atif’s over half-an-hour-late arrival at the Sheraton, the venue of the press conference launching his latest album Meri Kahani, had already built up anticipation among the restless media personnel. And when he finally arrived, the proceedings swiftly moved from ceremonial speeches by the heads of Geo Television Network, Fire Records and LG Mobile — the album sponsors — to the ground-breaking of his latest musical offering.

The album’s two premiere songs, ‘Meri Kahani’ and ‘Hangaami Halaat,’ kicked off with a blast. Atif sung along during the presentation of the videos, but could only get a bunch of tweeny-boppers to cheer for him while the rest just looked on.

The title track, ‘Meri Kahani,’ was better appreciated for its sweet lyrics and its Atif-esque rendition, even though some in the audience maintained that he had downplayed his famous high-strung vocals. The song, apparently inspired from Atif’s childhood memories, could not, however, match up to its video: it depicted romance and girls instead, typical of Atif’s previous music videos. “I have absolutely no interest in girls,” said Atif, rejecting all responsibility for the romantic element in the video when pointed out by the media. “It is the director’s idea.”

The second song, ‘Hangaami Halaat’ — a rock-punk fusion — was novel in its video element. However, one could not help but draw parallels to songs of other renowned Pakistani rock bands. “I was travelling from Lahore to Karachi. I was seated inside the aircraft when I saw the sign Emergency, below which it was written Hangaami Halaat,” said the pop icon about his inspiration for the song. Atif had no qualms about admitting that the song has no underlying social message, when one reporter questioned him.

But Atif did agree that his fame and fortune made him responsible towards the society and said that he would like to set up schools for underprivileged children.

The current album, the third in his soaring career, is a mix of pop-rock and spiritual numbers. After striding into Bollywood and earning commercial success among Pakistani pop music fans worldwide, the young star is set to take the music scene by storm once again.

Nadir Hassan is a Pakistan-based journalist and assistant editor at Newsline.