I feel that Indian Music, especially the independent musician scene, is not a patch on the Pakistani counterpart. Pakistani musicians are far ahead of India in the fusion game and has always been setting new benchmarks.
- I remember in the early 80s, it was Nazia Hassan of Pakistan that brought Disco to the sub-continent. Bombay film industry just took the lead forward. There was no disco genre in India before Nazia Hassan. She set it rocking with ‘Disco Deewane’; what a phenomenon she was. I daresay that the movie Qurbani could’nt have been such a big hit if Nazia’s song “Aap Jaisa Koi’ had not been such a mammoth hit.
- In late 80s, there was a phenomenon of Jahangir Hasan who brought Pop to the sub-continent, with his ‘Hawa Hawa’. The song is still being copied in India after 30 years
- Then there was Strings in early 80s with the guitar strums that no Indian group had strum before; and the soft ‘Purani Jeans’ by Ali Haider that set benchmarks. It has been copied ad nauseum in India.
- Couple this with the Ghazal era that was ushered in by Mehdi Hassan. Ghulam Ali was a class apart. Jagjit Singh came much later in the scene.
- Remember Rock Fusion of Junoon! No Indian group can match up to their rock. Yes, I am a big fan of Indian Ocean Group of India but again, Junoon started the Rock Fusion genre in India.
- Sufi music genre as we know it now in Indai was given birth by Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (his devotional song “Mera Piya Ghar Aaya, O Laal Ni’ was openly plagiarised for a gyrating song picturised on Madhuri Dixit, but that is besides the point.) Sufi Genre burst into the Indian scene with ‘Aafreen Aafreen’ sung by the maestro. Indians have only been trying to catch up to it.
- There were many more that can be called pioneers in their genres:
- The rustic sense of Reshma
- The sensual style of Farida Khanum
- The naughtiness of Mussarat Nazir
- The brilliance of Alam Lohar
Indian music owes a lot to the Pakistani counterpart, and Pakistani music still continues to lead the way. Just witness how their Coke Studio is eating away the Indian version; there is no comparison at all.
The current crop of Pakistani artists are carrying the baton too; sample Quratul Ain Baloch, Meesha Shafi, Arif Lohar, Atif Aslam amongst others; they have a good industry there.
I think if India and Pakistan can come closer some day, it is through the common cultural heritage of music, language and movies. Meanwhile, we just have to listen to them from a distance.