Published in Mar-Apr 2021
I got to the party late. Everyone had expressed an opinion (mostly negative) about the PSL 6 anthem and I was wondering what the hullabaloo was all about. To be more accurate, it was more than just a hullabaloo – words like ‘outraged’, ‘disappointed’, ‘tasteless’ and other synonyms were used generously. What amused me further was having watched Shoaib Akhtar’s video clip before seeing the anthem. So I decided to investigate further…
What a pleasant surprise. The song was a bold, joyful expression of youth and experience, looking forward to the upcoming edition of PSL. From the powerful vocals of Naseebo Lal, to the entertaining exuberance of Aima Baig, to the colourful attire of Young Stunners – what was there not to like? I went over the criticisms once again and discovered some unsettling undertones.
Finding fault with anything has become a popular pastime – not just in Pakistan but the world over. As I am only on one social media platform (FB) and do not follow anyone (why should anyone?), one still gets a sense of the current fleeting incident that catches the public’s attention (and ire) as these incidents are reported everywhere. We have truly reached the attention-level of a cat and a laser pointer, switching from the Kardashians to Gigi Hadid to Greta Thunberg to anyone else out there. We are obsessed with “who is doing what to whom” (and how many times)…
So on one hand it seems that supporters of Ali Zafar were mightily miffed as he was not the chosen one to deliver in 2021. Perhaps they forgot there are other talented performers in the country. We also had undertones of provincialism mentioned, for which we were too easily persuaded was the case. On a sadder note, there was an element of ‘classism’ and ‘ageism’ against Naseebo Lal that was totally unfair and uncalled for. Meanwhile, other aspects like pronunciations and the title of the track were dismembered. Of course, how could the video have fared any better?
The paroxysms of passion over the anthem were sandwiched nicely between the English lessons that a waiter at an Islamabad restaurant received at the hands of his employers and the feel-good video of Dananeer Mubeen making fun of her pronunciation of the word “party.” In the case of the former incident, we were able to castigate the ladies involved on several levels, dragging our subservience to our former colonial masters into it. Similarly, Shoaib Akhtar – who has been dishing out verbal bouncers against the cricket establishment for some time – also had some choice comments of his own.
So what was your take – young and exciting? Over the top? No connection to the local population? We know there cannot be something that is universally liked. As the composer Xulfi said, “This was supposed to unite us all behind a sentiment…” Unfortunately, we let our worst get the better of us. Midway through, the event was postponed and, hopefully, will resume in June. Much ire and anguish were yet again aroused, distracting us from the all-important Senate elections.
For the many who complain about subservience to our “colonial masters” who left a long time ago, please remember, cricket and tea were also bequeathed by the departing Brits. So while you rail against them, dip your biscuit in your tea while watching cricket and say: “Groove Mera!”
Leon Menezes is a Professor-of-Practice at IBA Karachi.