Where music is life
Of all the musical instruments being taught at Alhamra Arts Council in Lahore, the guitar is by far the most popular. On a typical evening at the iconic performing arts venue, dozens of young aspiring musicians can be seen strumming their guitars.
‘Routine practice,’ one would think. But what distinguishes them from others is a combination of raw passion and idealism: all of them want to make it big; and that too, in the shortest time possible.
For 18-year-old Taimoor Hassan, making it big means to become a rock star.
“Initially it was Atif Aslam, but recently I’ve been inspired by Ranbir Kapoor,” he says.
Taimoor is referring to the 2011 Bollywood film in which Ranbir plays Jordan – a college student who dreams of becoming a rock star but is laughed upon by his friends. Of course, after a series of ups and downs, Jordan succeeds and gains a cult following in the process.
While in real life there is no musical romantic drama at play but by no means does that imply – Taimoor is non-serious about making his dream come true. In fact, at 18, he’s already said goodbye to PAF Public School in Sargodha and moved to Lahore to follow his passion.
“I do have an opportunity to learn from an acclaimed qawwal, but guitar is what I really want to play,” he says.
If Taimoor’s struggle to become a musician is inspiring, meet another 20-year-old, Armughan Sarwar who has come from Sialkot to join the guitar class. “I’m not interested in studying any further since I’ve already decided that music is what I want to pursue…its tough but I know I can do it.”
Armughan’s story began years ago when along with three close friends of his, he decided to form a band and create patriotic songs. Since none of them knew how to play an instrument at the time, they decided to divide responsibilities. Armughan is learning to play the guitar here in Lahore and whenever he goes back to Sialkot, he teaches it to his future band member who will be playing the lead guitar. Similarly, the third and fourth members of the band are learning to play the drums and keyboard.
“I don’t have support from my family and I don’t expect them to provide me any either,” says Armughan, who is currently looking for a night job so he can practice during the day.
“A guitar is the trendiest out of all the instruments and I love how it draws attention,” he adds.
What really draws attention, however, is the similar fashion sense of these aspiring guitarists. The flashy bracelets, skull caps, torn jeans and sunglasses worn by them, seem to have come out of one huge box from the sets of ‘Rockstar’. Everything is so similar that at first glance one cannot help but discredit the individualities of these musicians.
“But there is more to it than meets the eye,” says Sajjad Tafu, their instructor – an accomplished eastern classical guitarist hailing from the Muzang Gharana of Lahore.
“Currently the class consists of 30 students and all of them are so talented and committed that I do whatever I can to help them,” he says.
Tafu mentions that many of his former students have become professional guitarists while others are teaching music at various colleges and universities.
A former student of his, Safeer Jaffery, is already in the limelight. The 20-year-old singer/songwriter has performed at colleges around Lahore and has his own house band. Jaffery plans to collaborate with Ahmed Jahanzaib and Sanam Marvi in the near future.
“Like any other art form, learning to play the guitar properly requires patience and practice and its not as easy as some of these kids think,” Tafu adds.
Tafu is right. The dreams of these youngsters may not be the most realistic, but the commitment and passion displayed by them in learning the art of music has no bounds. Above all, they represent a generation that progressives such as Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and others had envisioned.
Gar baazi ishq kee baazi hay jo chaho laga do darr kaisa
Gar jeet gayay to kya kehna, haaray bhi to baazi maat nahin – Faiz