They’re virtually unknown to the rest of the country outside of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but within it, Ismail and Junaid are a popular music act to come out of Peshawar’s budding music scene.
Their debut song, Qarar (‘Peace’ in Pashto), conceived in 2008, with an audio release in January 2010 and via a music video in June 2010, has almost half a million hits on YouTube. Several local Pashtun artistes have also released their own cover versions of Qarar.
They followed that up with the music video of their second song, Ranra (‘Light’ in Pashto), in June 2011, which also turned out to be a popular among their audience. Both Qarar and Ranra are written in Pashto and the videos on YouTube carry English translations. Shoaib Anwar has directed the music videos for both songs.
On their upcoming plans, the band revealed that its next song will be in Urdu, and has a working title of Raat. The musical composition will be a mixture of genres ranging from soft rock as well as the band’s signature use of the rabab to add a folk element to the song.
“It’s the first song I composed back when I was in school,” related Ismail Khan, the lead singer, songwriter and composer, “it’s the first official Urdu song that we will be releasing. I have some lyrics penned for it.”
Known for writing their lyrical content in Pashto, why have they decided to switch to Urdu? “Urdu is a medium through which we’ll be able to create an awareness of the Pashtun culture,” responded Ismail, “and we’re hoping we’ll be able to create bridges between the various cultures that exist in Pakistan.”
“We have songs written in English as well,” he added, “we’re a versatile band in terms of language, dialects and genre. We are in the process of working on content that includes material written in 15 different dialects of Pashto as well. That would be our version of attan (a traditional Pashto dance) but with a soft-rock feel to it.”
They are also in the process of developing a “new age Sufi song” with the lyrics taken from the poetry of Hamza Baba. Ameer Hamza Khan Shinwari, popularly known as Hamza Baba, is a popular Pashto poet, philosopher and playwright, known for fusing classical and modern poetry. He is also known as the Father of Pashto Ghazal and was awarded a posthumous Presidential Pride of Performance award. The title that Ismail and Junaid have given to the song inspired from Hamza Baba’s poetry is called Pakhwa (‘Past’ in Pashto).
The band has preferred not to give an exact schedule of when these three bodies of work will be released. n