Stories about vital signs

Junaid Jamshed taught me the importance of humility, positivity and staying true to oneself

It has been a year since crooner turned preacher, Junaid Jamshed, passed away in an air crash. He had been coming back from a preaching mission (tableeghi jamaat) in Chitral, when he met his unfortunate demise. Jamshed had gained countless fans during his singing days and was credited for bringing Pakistan out of its Ziaul Haq-induced oppression of the 80s. Eventually, he turned to religion at the turn of the century and earned followers by delivering sermons and naats in his silvery voice. Interestingly, when Jamshed retired at the peak of his career and decided to become more religiously inclined, he remained popular. ...

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Will the Islamic State flag in Islamabad hinder Pakistan’s progress?

There is the lush screen scenery. There are the picturesque Margalla Hills. There are the curve-friendly roads on these hills that remind one of Vital Signs and Junaid Jamshed. There is the crisp and cool weather. There is a particular calm never found in other major cities of the country. Then there is the Lal Masjid – the antithesis of everything in Islamabad – loud, angry and not at all pretty. It was only a matter of time before this happened then, an Islamic State (IS) flag dangling in Islamabad, even though it may or may not have anything to do with Lal Masjid. Things in Pakistan have generally looked better off late. The military ...

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Kashmir: The perfect combination of Vital Signs and EP, all rolled into one

Despite being an avid music lover, I’ve stopped following contemporary Pakistani music for quite a while now. It would not be incorrect to claim that things took a wrong turn ever since Rohail Hyatt left Coke Studio. However, the recently concluded Pepsi Battle of the Bands has changed that. And it really is down to one band alone – the eventual winners, Kashmir. I was mildly surprised when they won the competition even though I was rooting for them myself. Badnaam, the runner up, had been impeccable throughout the competition, managed to stay out of the danger zone every time and ...

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How Bollywood’s curtain call became a blessing in disguise for Pakistan

This has been a year of reformation and introspection for Pakistan’s entertainment industry. After India closed its doors to Pakistani artists in the wake of the Uri attack last year, Pakistani artistes – who were minting a heavy buck from the biggest culture industry in Asia, Bollywood – were forced to come up with a plan B. Nothing can compare to the attention and recognition a successful project in India can bring. In fact, a lot of Pakistani artistes still bank on that one short role (that nobody remembers) to enhance their portfolio. But as Junoon said in their song, “khwaab ...

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30 years of pop and patriotism: How ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’ became Pakistan’s unofficial national anthem

In June 1987, an obscure Pakistani pop band, the Vital Signs were contacted by the then 36-year-old TV producer, Shoaib Mansoor. Mansoor had already made a name for himself for conceiving and producing a social satire ‘skit show’ for the state-owned Pakistan Television (PTV), Fifty Fifty. He had launched it in 1978 and it was an immediate hit with the viewers, running for eight seasons till Mansoor shut it down in 1984. Mansoor was teaching at the PTV Academy when one of his students, Rana Kanwal, drew his attention towards a pop band that had been playing at ‘college functions’ (mainly in the Rawalpindi-Islamabad area). They ...

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The B-side: Junaid Jamshed and untold stories behind the controversies

After leaving a lucrative career as a pop singer, Junaid Jamshed (JJ) has evolved into a preacher and poster boy for the austere deobandi group, the Tableeghi Jamaat. He once jokingly remarked, “When I was a singer people use to throw rose petals at me, since I came into Islam they throw stones at me.” This simple statement does more to highlight Pakistan’s state of affairs than explain how someone, who has been referred to by his musician friends, and in his Islamic circles, as “the nicest person one can meet”, can be party to one controversy after another? Some say, he is ...

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Let them fight

As a feminist, I never thought I’d feel sorry for Junaid Jamshed. Yet here I am, feeling unhappy that he was physically assaulted at Islamabad airport by short bearded men, who comically enough, looked like they should have been carrying the ring to Mordor, instead of shouting at the pop-star-turned-preacher in loud nasally voices, “Gustakh-e-Rasool!” (blasphemy!) It is almost as if someone had decided to take up a particularly difficult challenge. Man 1: “I bet you can’t make the public feel sympathy towards Junaid Jamshed.” Man 2: “What? Junaid ‘women can’t drive’ Jamshed?” Man 1: “Yes, no one likes him.” Man 2: “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!” Let’s be frank. ...

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5 classic national songs every patriotic Pakistani can relate to today

National songs play a vital role in instilling love for a country in the hearts of children and the youth. They are the incentive and encouragement needed to express affection for one’s motherland in every way possible. I remember when I was in school and TV channels would play the national anthem and patriotic songs beginning early August. The voices of the singers – painting new colours to the land in the minds of the patriots and making green flags greener – were the background music of our childhood. Skits and performances on patriotic songs were the life of celebrations in August, especially ...

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While Pakistani ad agencies are busy making ‘chai’, I made a World Cup response video for India

Just like my life, this blog might not have a particular sense of direction. There is a lot boiling up in my head and I will try to intersect all my rants. First of all people, calm down. Seriously. Learn to take a joke. If you cannot, shut up and move on. If you think that this world would be nicer to you forever and ever, then you’re living in a delusion. Get out of it. It’s an evil place and internet is the womb of all evils. Whenever there is something out, an article, a video, a cartoon, we all rile ...

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An open letter to Junaid Jamshed

Dear JJ Sahib, First of all, condolences for the recent situation you find yourself in. It is most unfortunate that our first correspondence be in times that are possibly troubling for you. With the formalities out of the way, I have a confession to make – I really could not care less about your situation. Why then am I writing you a letter? Like others from my generation, I grew up listening to your songs. I met you 15 years ago, backstage after a concert. I was a star-crazed teenager and you were, well, a star. You gave me a hug and laughed ...

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