Dhol, dholak and tabla in harmony with harmonium and benjo

Published August 10, 2015
Mai Nimani sings ‘Chal malanga chal’ at the two-day music festival, which ended on Sunday night.
—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Mai Nimani sings ‘Chal malanga chal’ at the two-day music festival, which ended on Sunday night. —Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: The crowd on Sunday, the second day of I Am Karachi Music Festival, was nothing like the first day’s crowd. The people just kept pouring in and Port Grand, where the programme was being organised, absorbed all without letting it become claustrophobic.

Once again the modern music stage was the main focus for not just the performances but also because it was near the main entrance with the food street nearby and so many other attractions for the kids, such as balloons, popcorn and cotton candy stalls. But then when the kids became too demanding the parents dragged them to the traditional stage side where they could either appreciate the soothing music or enjoy the fountains.

Another thing that got people to cross over to the traditional side from the modern one was someone’s re-singing beloved late pop singer Nazia Hassan’s ‘Boom Boom’. No matter how much she jumped, skipped or hopped on the stage her timing was out as far as the song was concerned. “Nazia will always be missed, but this woman is making me cry now,” said a middle-aged fan before covering both her ears with her hands and running off in the other direction.

But when the same singer sang ‘Raatein dhalein’, a song she had written herself, she did it amid cheers and applause. Originality was much appreciated. More good music followed as Sikandar Ka Mandar, Jimmy Khan & The Big Ears, Fuzon, Mizmaar, The Sketches, Kaya and Rushk, performing for the first time in Pakistan, came on the stage.

On the flip side, the traditional stage, there was Ahsan Pappu playing the flute with not everyone so much into the slow music. There were occasional calls of ‘Bahut aala’ and several rounds of applause to make him go away but the performer took his sweet time.

Ahsan Pappu plays the flute.
Ahsan Pappu plays the flute.

A dhol, dholak and tabla kept harmony with the harmonium and the benjo for a nice little instrumental until the next artiste was ready. And then she came to liven up the atmosphere. Mai Nimani, in her bright susi ghagra and choli and those traditional white Thar bangles up to her arms, enthralled the audience with ‘Chal malanga chal’ in Sindhi followed by another catchy Saraiki offering.

Just then looking upwards to the sky one member from the audience commented that he was hoping for the performers on the traditional stage to make such music with their raaga that Karachi’s skies, overcast for days, open up to make way for rains. Somewhere up in the heavens, Tansen must be smiling.

Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2015

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