There was prolonged applause in the hall, packed with Indian and Pakistani students, when Salman Ahmad dedicated the popular, catchy Junoon number 'Yaro yahi dosti hai' to "the Pakistan and India cricket teams and the people of both countries".
The occasion was a fundraiser for the flood victims organised by students at Harvard University last Saturday, featuring Shahram Azhar of Laal, who is currently studying for his PhD at the University of Massachusetts, and Salman Ahmad of Junoon.
"Is something happening at Mohali in a few days?" joked the activist-singer, who is known for his pro-peace stand.
A keen cricket fan whose boyhood idol was the legendary Majid Khan (who happened to be in the audience that evening), Ahmad acknowledged the "deep feelings of aspiration and fear" that Indians and Pakistanis were feeling as the big day approached.
"Sunno, tension dene ka, leney ka nahin, okay?" he added, launching into an energetic rendition of 'Yaro.., echoed by the audience.
As the music gained momentum, Indians and Pakistanis in the audience - mostly from Delhi, Mumbai, Karachi and Lahore (with a couple of Bangalore students thrown in) - bonded over old Bollywood numbers like 'Chura liya hai tum ne jo dil ko' that Salman Ahmad sang along with Shahram Azhar.
Salman Ahmad punctuated his music with insights from his own experiences, including Junoon's eye-opening first trip to India in the late 1990s, "when so many people warned us that we would be tortured, imprisoned or deported." And yet, when the time came for them to leave for the airport, there were all the cousins and sisters seeing them off with autograph books - "not for us to sign, but for us to take to India and get signatures of Kajol and other Bollywood stars".
When they got there, and were in the dressing room after their performance, "a very tall security guard said some people were coming to see us - we thought now we're going to be arrested or tortured," laughed Salman Ahmad. But in walked Kajol, Juhi Chawla and Salman Khan. And before they could take out those autograph books and ask them to sign, the Indian stars held out autograph books that their nieces and nephews had given them to get Junoon to sign.
And that, he added, "sums up the strange mystical relationship of India and Pakistan, how we see each other only through our films, music, songs" - and sport, of course.
Salman Ahmad ended the evening with the lyrical 'Ghoom taana' that he originally sang with the powerful Shubha Mudgal for a music video starring Nandita Das - a moving cross-border team up of dedicated artists from both sides. "Whatever the outcome at Mohali, this song'sfor you!" - http://youtu.be/EO7zZ6-DIq4
- Beena Sarwar
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
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The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
Except when the two countries decide to begin talking, yet again! This time a little before the foreign secretary level talks, some Pakistani prisoners were released by India (and vice versa must have happened) and some more were release....read more
For the past 2 years the Jang Group and Geo have been working on a project of great national interest; one that we hope will help usher in an era of peace and prosperity in the country and indeed, in the region. And one that hopefully all Pakistanis can be proud of. more
The Jang Group has entered into an agreement with the Times of India Group, the largest media group of India, to campaign for peace betw