"We missed out working on Peepli Live"
By Bohni Bandyopadhyay
Pakistani band Laal, whose songs highlight various social issues, said they were approached to compose for the 2010 film "Peepli Live" but missed out on the chance due to their political commitments in the country at the time.
The band's frontman Taimur Rahman says they were approached alongside Indian Ocean to work for the film, but they could not follow up the offer.
"When 'Peepli Live' was being made, Aamir Khan Productions had contacted us and Indian Ocean saying they wanted both the bands for the film. They wanted to send us the film's script as well. But at that time the Lawyers Movement was at its peak and we were so busy with the protests that we couldn't follow it through," Taimur told PTI.
Laal, whose songs include poems by Urdu poets such as Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalib, were vocal during the Lawyers' Movement, lending support to the reinstatement of the then deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
Indian Ocean finally went on to lend music to "Peepli Live", alongwith composer Ram Sampath. "We would love to work with Indian Ocean some day. They are doing the same stuff here that we do in Pakistan. We are also open to any collaboration with musicians and film industry people. It would be wonderful to work on a film here," said Taimur, who was in India recently to launch Laal's second album 'Utho Meri Duniya' and perform at Hard Rock Cafes across three cities.
Performing for the first time in India, Taimur said his band received massive applause and ovation. Their first album 'Umeed-e-Sahar' highlighted military dictatorship and their second one emphasises on religious extremism.
Taimur, a PhD in Class Structure of Pakistan from the School of Oriental and African Studies, said Laal was formed to give vent to their political views and to inspire people to bring in a positive change.
"I spent 15 years as a grass roots political activist before forming Laal. It wasn't my intention to become a musician. It was only a hobby. But in my political activities and my work as a teacher, I would use the guitar as a tool.
Our main purpose was not to make a band but to bring in a positive change. The band is a spin-off of our activism rather than the other way round," he said.
Having been vocal about many sensitive issues, Taimur said the band has received a mixed response from people in Pakistan. "When we began we thought we wouldn't get any support. A window was opened up thanks to the Lawyer's Movement which made space for such issues. But when we focused on religious extremism and violence, we found out that the media was not ready to talk about such issues the way they were ready to criticise the previous regime.
"They were reluctant to play one of our songs which openly challenged religious fundamentalists. There was another video called 'Jhoot ka Uncha Sarr' which had people impersonating various men in power. The channels refused to play it saying that it was anti-army and controversial. It's a mixed bag - there is a space to voice our concerns and our objective is to keep pushing the envelope," said Taimur.
He said that coming to India will help the band reach out to the international market. "It makes sense for any Asian band to visit their neighbouring countries as people understand the language. It was a natural progression to connect to India. It also gives us an opportunity to talk about peace between Pakistan and India," Taimur added. PTI