India a hot destination for Pakistani rock bands

By Shweta Thakur

New Delhi, Feb 7 (IANS) The Indian music terrain is proving to be a huge draw for Pakistani bands, thanks to big money, fame and Bollywood prospects. And Indian listeners who find their music soul stirring are certainly not complaining.

When asked why he wants to perform here, budding Pakistani singer Adeel retorted: "Why not India?" He recently launched his album "Koi Chehra" in the national capital.

"Indian audiences have more understanding of music. The music industry is bigger and offers a lot of global exposure. Moreover, political upheaval in Pakistan is also one of the reasons that makes India a magnificent destination," Adeel told IANS.

Shallum Xavier, the guitarist of Pakistani band Fuzon, said: "The size of the country also matters a lot. Pakistan is much smaller in size as compared to India and there are so many places where we can perform."

He also said that more than six rock or pop bands are formed annually in Pakistan and no less than five perform in India every year. Some of the well-known bands include Jal, Junoon, Suroor, Fuzon, Mekaal Hasan and Strings.

For many, a hit rock album can prove to be the ticket to Bollywood and global acclaim.

"A hit rock album or performance can give us an entry in Bollywood. In turn the band gets a wider audience and global acclaim since Hindi films are extremely famous across the world. It helps the artistes grow," said Xavier.

"I have been fascinated by Bollywood since my childhood and want to make it big like Atif Aslam," said Adeel.

The huge pool of music buffs, political stability, an abundance of sponsors and an organised music industry are some of the reasons that make India an attractive destination for musicians from the neighbouring country.

And Indians love them too.

"There is a huge audience base for rock music and what makes their music a hit is the soul stirring lyrics in languages - Hindi and Urdu - that are widely understood," said Mihir Joshi, media and promotions manager of EMI Music India, who has worked closely with renowned Pakistani bands Mekaal Hasan and Fuzon.

"Quality lyrics are missing in most Indian rock bands' songs because professional lyricists are mostly consumed by Bollywood while the Pakistani film industry is not very big. Also, compared to Pakistan there is less piracy in India," added Joshi.

However, Indian rock bands and singers feel that the neighbouring country's bands are in no way superior to indigenous bands and say they lack sustainability.

"They might be successful in creating ripples among youngsters but a majority of these Pakistani bands are one hit wonders. They fade away as swiftly as they become popular," said Palash Sen of Indian rock band Euphoria.

"Also, Indian bands are technically better than Pakistani bands," contended Palash.

Singer Kailash Kher said: "In India, people are both aware and unaware. Whatever you will offer them they will relish. I am not very impressed with this idea because those who are talented will not have to leave their country."

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