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‘Who rules the world’

Updated February 15, 2015


The bats and balls are out, the screenings of matches have begun, and bets have been made. The World Cup officially kicked off yesterday, but for us, it really begins with the match today — Pakistan versus India.

And only one man comes to mind when it is about Pakistan beating India: Javed Miandad. Not only is his last-ball six off Cheetan Sharma in Sharjah (1986) an iconic moment of Pakistan cricket, Miandad was also the backbone of Pakistan’s ’92 charge to the Cup.

“They were going to make a song for the 2015 World Cup, to boost Pakistani cricket,” says Miandad excitedly. “We needed a good song for cricket.”

Javed Miandad talks about his singing debut in Phir say game utha dey, a remake of Who rules the world — the 1992 Cricket World Cup theme song

Enter Faisal Kapadia of Strings, now also the co-producer of Coke Studio. Kapadia called Miandad while he was in Dubai and asked him if he would like to sing the song.

“The idea was to take inspiration from the 1992 World Cup,” says Kapadia. “That World Cup was held in Australia and Pakistan won it. This time, the World Cup is being held in Australia again, so we wanted to recreate that magic. There was no point in writing a new song.”

Indeed, a generation grew up with the ’92 World Cup victory as inspiration to win, in life and in sport. Coupled with the win on the field, the indelible memory was the 1992 Cricket World Cup theme song, Who rules the world, which used to be played before every televised match.

“That World Cup was held in Australia and Pakistan won it. This time, the World Cup is being held in Australia again ...”

The rendition of the ’92 theme song, Who rules the world, was to be called Phir say game utha dey. “We saw that moment,” he continues. “We followed the World Cup and the victory with that song, so it has a lot of emotional value for us.”

Having already seen Shakira’s success with Waka Waka (This time for Africa) that was sung for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Miandad was not averse to the idea. “It became a world hit right,” he says, adding that nowadays there was a lot of focus on songs for major sporting events.

“I don’t know much about the first version,” Minadad says. “Nope, I don’t know,” came his rather amusing affirmation when reminded he was playing in the 1992 edition.

Miandad said yes to Kapadia nonetheless.

“This is the sixth song for the cricket World Cup that we have composed,” says Kapadia. “I think we almost reached 11 artists, like the number of players in a cricket team.”

The video features a host of well-known Pakistani celebrities and artists: Atif Aslam, Aaminah Sheikh, Adnan Siddiqi, Adnan Malik, last year’s breakthrough artist Asrar, Jimmy, Sara Haider and Rachel Viccaji.

A hilarious Miandad moment from the ’92 Cup
A hilarious Miandad moment from the ’92 Cup

“You could say that this is the first time I started modelling as well!” laughed the iconic cricketer. “We used to give interviews and talk to the camera, but that was different. I knew the concept of recording like this — where you’re taking multiple takes and cutting them — but I’d never done it before.”

Was he nervous? “They were very nice,” he responded. “They cooperated a lot and said ‘Don’t worry, just sing!’ I thought ‘Let’s see how this goes.’” And after a few takes, he got better and better.

“The way he sang was so natural,” said Faisal, “We didn’t tune or try to refine the voices of these singers. It had to be very natural.”

“I like to sing,” Miandad confessed. “But I don’t sing the way professionals do, you know, by doing the riyaaz every morning. Consider me as more of a bathroom singer. I do recite naat during Ramazan. I try to recite at least one naat on television. And I love it.”

Other than having nostalgic value, Faisal felt that recreating this song was important because the current generation needs to be told about that glorious moment in Pakistan’s cricket history. “We recreated it for the youth, for them to know about it,” said Faisal, “Also, the idea was not to have just singers in it. We wanted different people, those who were passionate about cricket. That’s why you have actors such as Adnan Siddiqi, Aaminah Sheikh and Adnan Malik featured in the song as well.”

“I hadn’t met a lot of these guys personally before,” confessed Miandad about his co-stars. “But obviously I knew who they were. Atif had judged a music show on television in India as well. The atmosphere on the sets was fantastic. Everyone was very respectful and very happy. Later on, everybody became friends.”

Miandad added: “I have received so many calls from my friends everywhere that we saw you on television and that it was fantastic!

“It was nothing like that when we used to play,” he added referring to the glamour, the sponsorships and the coverage the sport enjoys today. “Cricket was not that popular. Now cricket has become commercial. I’ve been a part of six World Cups. I played the last World Cup in 1996 and left cricket. It wasn’t like this before. It feels good.”

The writer is a member of staff

Twitter: @madeehasyed

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, February 15th, 2015

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