KARACHI: A band’s performance has just wrapped up and the audience is left confused. It appears to be that the band on stage is not pro enough to get the dynamics right in a tough competition, but Fawad thinks otherwise.
He is convinced that they’re great bunch of musicians but something’s still missing. He gets up from his jury seat and walks right across the venue to the stage followed by a huge round of applause. ‘Lag gaye,’ (They’re screwed) says someone from the crowd but what turns out to be is quite the opposite.
Fawad asks the band to play without the monitoring earplugs as he plugs them in his own ears. The band starts playing – and is then interrupted by Fawad half way through. “They can’t hear their own sound completely, you need to fix this. It’s not their issue,” he calls the sound guy and repeats the same exercise with the rest of the band. While a new wave of energy rushes through the veins of the young performers, the crowd, which on this particular day was full of live music aficionados, was shocked at the actor’s attention to detail and understanding of live music.
Perhaps there’s still a lot of rockstar left in Bollywood and Pakistani entertainment’s new found Romeo. If girls today compare him to a juicy ice-lolly while swooning over him in cinemas, a bunch of head bangers is how this journey started for Fawad and he seems to be enjoying this homecoming.
In fact, he, with his band, Entity Paradigm, started as a contestant on the very same platform which marks his return to music after several years, Pepsi Battle of the Bands. His return has been nothing short of spectacular as fans get hyped for the superstar to guide and mentor the new crop of musicians, and even mesmerise them with his voice again.
Fawad, on the other hand, is perhaps as or even more ecstatic than the fans. Speaking with The Express Tribune, he was brimming with emotions to see the bands participate. “More than anything else, it’s emotional to see bands compete and see the culture that we grew up with, flourish again,” he said, adding, “It’s a trip down the memory lane and reminds me of how much fun we had just spending time together with the band and others around us.”
The journey for Fawad has come full circle with him being part of the jury on the platform where he started out. Now that he is on the other side of the stage, what is he looking for in the contestants? “Diversity and a fresh new sound,” said the Ae Dil Hai Mushkil star. “I know that it has become a cliché to say that, but I feel it’s really necessary and is actually going to happen again this time around.”
Whether the bands will carry on contributing to the local music industry in next several years, Fawad believes they will. He says, “We got a number of bands last time around who put out albums that a previous generation grew up with. And I’m pretty sure with the quality of songs and bands coming out now, there’s going to be a bigger and better crop this year.”
His experience on the set so far has been nothing short of amazing. One could even see him chilling and headbanging to the music near the stage and generally enjoying being surrounded by tunes echoing in the studio. “The experience has been great. We have heard a number of really great new acts and I feel there’s going to be a serious resurgence with regards to music and the band culture in Pakistan.”
Lastly, he talked about his dynamics with the other jury members, namely Atif Aslam, Meesha Shafi and Vital Signs co-founder Shahi Hasan. “Atif, Meesha and Shahi are a real pleasure to work with,” he shared. “Even though we all listen to a lot of different kinds of music, it’s pretty amazing how we all agree on pretty much all the decisions being made on the panel.”
While Fawad remains quite optimistic about the future of the Pakistani music industry, one can’t deny the fact that we are neck deep into a puddle made out of our negligence as an industry at large. What made Fawad’s eP into what it turned out to be, was undoubtedly the sturdy support provided by private music channels, a concept that hardly exists anymore.
While the Battle of Bands has already started airing on TV, Fawad as a jury member will take some time to sync in with the audience. People are eager to see him perform and with his excitement on, and around the stage, you never know what he may end up surprising us with. After all, not many saw him coming back to music after such a glorious entry into Bollywood.
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