Staff Reporter

Karachi

”Not only is there immense talent in Pakistan, but Pakistanis also have big hearts,” Asif Hassnain told me. This is a story of music lovers who just want to explore and advertise classical music talent that Pakistan holds.

The scribe heard about this journey through a social media friend, Mushtaq Ahmad, when he showed me the teaser of this documentary a while ago. Luckily, I got a chance to meet these music enthusiasts at a music festival.

The group consists of 5 to 8 individuals who have spent most of their lives outside Pakistan. “We have been listening to qawwali for the last 25-26 years and we know how much talent is out there,” Arif Ali said who has been living in Canada. “We want to make people aware of the classical treasures hidden in remote and small areas of Pakistan,” he answered when asked why he started this effort. “We want to show people the historical classical music background of our land and give those artists a platform to showcase their talent,” he said. “There are beautiful kalams both Sufi and other, and bandishaen which have been forgotten for a long time, we just want to revive it,” he answered. “There are raags which need regular practice but have been buried somewhere, we want to unearth them and show their worth to people.”

He further told me that there are raags and bandishaen that are not only being forgotten by the listeners but qawals have also not sung them for a very long time.”These raags and many bandishaen have not been presented for the last 60-70 years and most of them belong to specific music families, but the current generation of musicians have not played them,” he added. “It is our heritage and people inside and outside Pakistan need to know what treasure we hold in our roots and it is not only for listeners but is immensely valuable for music students around the globe,” he exclaimed. “During the journey even the qawals were pleasantly surprised that we want to listen to these specific items.” When questioned about how this journey started, Arif Ali told me, “In 2014, we discussed the idea to make a documentary for us and for other music lovers. We contacted this talented female director Mahera Omar and she agreed to shoot this musical road trip with us,” he said.

“How did you contact and find these Qawals and musicians?” I asked. “We knew some of them already because we have been listening to them and then we made a list of around 40 to 50 talented Qawals and categorized them according to the regions,” Arif Ali told me. “We visited Dipalpur (Okara) and Karachi for the first part of our documentary and for the second part which is under progress we are visiting Lahore, Karachi, Faisalabad, Islamabad, Sargodha and Peshawar,” he said. “Part I is a 22 hour long movie including the road journey, interviews of these musicians and special individual performances of them,” he told me. “We are releasing it on social media and all other online channels in parts with performances and interviews separately,” he explained.

“In part I, we have visited and recorded Mustafa Khan & Muhammad Shah, Hamza Akram, Moiz and Ghayoor Ahmad, Ahmed Raza, Taj Muhammad& Shah Muhammd Niazi, Subhan Ahmed Nizami, Ustad Abdullah Niazi & Waqas Niazi, Ustad Ameer Ali Khan & Imran Ali Khan, Ustad Farid Ayaz & Ustad Abu Muhammad and Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan,” he told me.

He further told the purpose of this effort that there are a few renowned Qawals in the Pakistani music scene but there are so many others who are full of potential and talented ones who need to be showcased to the listeners. “Along with performances we observed a unique teacher-student relation; how a teacher encourages and teaches his pupil during the singing,” he added pleasantly. “Also, we want to show people the real lifestyle of these Qawals and artists that how they are spending their lives in real because people see them in pictures and on stage but have little knowledge about their real lives,” he added.

“There are always a few listeners of classical music but this number is decreasing further and we don’t want this legacy to end, we want people to know and appreciate their own heritage and legacy,” he said. “And this is the main purpose of our journey, we think that this music needs to be heard by this generations and the coming ones,” he said.

The Dream Journey is an effort that must be appreciated. Listeners can follow their efforts through their Facebook page ‘The Dream Journey’. Kudos to these people for such effort.