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First person: Fait accompli

September 16, 2012

(L-R) Nabeel, Mehmood Aslam and Ayesha Omer in a scene from the sitcom "Bulbulay".–Photo by Eefa Khalid/

Ayesha Omer came to Karachi to do a TV serial but a call from Indus Music changed all that and she began doing a music show instead.

“I was about 10 years old when I did a child’s role on PTV courtesy Muneeza Hashmi, a family friend. In college, I did a sitcom named College Jeans. Many present-day stars like Ali Zafar and Faisal Qureshi started their careers from it. Faisal used to write while Nieni, an NCA graduate, directed it. I was super-active as part of the theatre society where we did acting workshops. Once on TV, I learned a lot from my colleagues,” she says.

When asked about her favourite television project, Ayesha names Bulbulay on ARY Digital which, she says, is also her most famous to date. “Then came Dolly ki Aayegi Baraat on Geo TV and Kaisa Hai Yeh Junoon. Another project, Woh Chaar, a series based on the lives of four women was also interesting. I would say Kaisa Hai Yeh Junoon was the most challenging because we had to travel extensively for it. In it, I danced the Bharat Natyam. There were also a lot of emotional scenes in it. We travelled frequently to London, Bombay and Karachi.”

Ayesha says she has had the good luck of working with the likes of directors Marina Khan, Nadeem Baig and Angeline Mallick, the latter being her good friend as well, “I am presently doing a serial by Sultana Siddiqui, which is a good experience for me. Among co-stars, the fun people to work with are Fawad with whom I am working on a Hum TV serial. He’s a really good actor. Asfar Rehman is a great friend and I love working with him. He’s a great guy with lots of energy. Adnan Siddiqui and Faisal Qureshi are fun, too.”

Recently, a violation of hosting ethics brought to light the fact that many hosts don’t practice what they preach. What does Ayesha think about such ethics? “Hosts, and especially those doing morning shows, serve as role models for young women. They should disperse sound opinion and advice on any given matter without invading anyone’s privacy. The basic theme of my morning show is related to social issues and I receive phone calls from every nook and corner of the city. Having said this, I think the present media boom is the best thing that has happened to this country. The coming of more good things would filter out average content as competition is necessary for positive activity. However, the negative impact of such a boom is the unhealthy competition that has been prevailing recently,” she says.

Ayesha is strictly against the plethora of Indian content being screened on local TV. “It’s good to run international content but not in excess for then it’s unfair to the local artists and industry.”

Having an impressive body of work on the fashion ramp, surprisingly Ayesha says her biggest personal achievement has been to compose her own music album. “I am not a fashion model. Just because I have done few ads and some shoots for friends with what you call as celebrity endorsements don’t not make me so. A model is one who does catwalk on a ramp with clothes, since I do not do that so I am not a model. I have been a showstopper for designers. A part of a celebrity walk for designer Nomi Ansari during a fashion week and then again for a bridal couture week and that’s about it.”

Ayesha says that in order to be a good VJ, one has to have strong communication skills and a sound knowledge of the local music scene as well as general music. “It doesn’t require any formal training but I was initially inspired by VJs from Channel [V] and MTV International.” Her debut album is slated for a release in the coming days. “I also plan to go on tour for it.

A couple of music videos are also in the pipeline,” she says. “I won’t confine my music to a specific genre but it has a lot of influences I grew up with. It has eastern classic, punk rock, but it’s melodious music.

Khamoshi has been recorded at The Silent Music Studios in Karachi and has been produced, mixed, mastered and edited by Faisal Rafi with Aamer Ahmad as assistant producer and co-editor. Faisal Rafi and Aamer Ahmad have done the recordings and the album has been arranged and sequenced by Faisal Rafi and Fahad Ahmad. All the tracks have been composed by Ayesha Omer, Aamer Ahmad and Dale Aarnie Birch.

She says the already released video of the title track is a personal favourite, “It describes a dying relationship where there’s nothing but silence and a lot of unexpressed emotions between two people who can’t live with or without each other. It’s a very melodic and tragic number which draws you in with its haunting feel created by layers of harmonies and backing vocals. The lyrics have been written by me and another singer/songwriter, Maryam Kizilbash, and the composition is the brainchild of Jafar Zaidi, Aamer Ahmad and the singer.”

Chalte Chalte is a swingy, feel-good, catchy number with a fun beat, which talks about finding companionship in the course of life and wanting time to stop right there and then. The song has a pop/rock feel to it and is very sing along-able. The semi-classical feel to Kaisay Mein Kahoon with a western arrangement and instrumentation is about a girl hopelessly in love and yearning for his presence by her side. The album switches to pop rock with Jaanay Yeh Kya Hua and Aaya Hoon where the singer shows off her funk rock music versatility along with western music influence. The latter has a jazzy feel to it which makes it unique.

Next, Bhool Ja is the only duet in the album and has been composed by Ayesha herself with lyrics by Ifti who is also on the vocals. This is a pop rock number with lots of other influences here and there. It may sound like a romantic ballad but is actually about separation and moving on in a very self-reflective way.

Ayesha Omer says her target audience for Khamoshi the album is between the ages of 15 to 35. “But a couple of songs like Khamoshi and Kaisay Mein Kahoon are more mature than others,” she says.