Never judge a book by its cover. Or, in this case, a CD.
Take a look at tonight’s feature and I wouldn’t be surprised if you clicked on to another blog or simply through your hands up in exasperation. Looks like a chunk of Pakistani beefcake. Perhaps a refugee from a Bollywood Boy Band. But nothing worth my time.
But hold on. Look beyond ever-so-cool stare (yes, Mr Ali Zafar is a model, among many other things) and give the lad a fair go.
Within this very unlikely package lies some very unexpected music. I came across Ali Zafar in one of the Coke Studio discs I have lying about the shelves but had forgotten his name. After listening to Jhoom (2011) several times I googled the guy and found the following (paraphrased and condensed by your’s truly):
· Ali is 32 years old
· Born and raised in Lahore
· Ali is aka ‘Prince of Pop’
· Studied at the National College of Arts and did quick portraits for passersby at one of Lahore’s pricey hotels
· Starred in couple of Pakistani movies before being sucked up into the Bollywood dream machine.
· Everything he touches seems to turn to gold. His movies are cult classics and win awards.
· He has won more awards than an 80 year war hero.
· Voted 5th sexiest Asian man in the world (2011)
· He’s got a voice as pure as the Indus river at its source.
· He’s been an actor, artist, composer, singer and model.
The sobriquet ‘Prince of Pop’ rings true, for like Prince (or the artist once known as such) Ali Zafar composes, sings, arranges and plays all his own music. He’s got an amazing range of styles and is comfortable with every idiom from sufi to folk and rock’n roll to R&B. His arrangements are tasteful and fit the spiritual aura of this collection of sufi-inspired songs. You’d never guess it by looking at the cover photo but this is record full of classy, contemporary, innovative interpretations of Bulleh Shah and Ghalib to mention just a couple of luminaries.
It is one of my favorite records of the week. Really really nice.
02. Tu Jaaney Na
03. Jab Se Dekha Tujh Ko
04. Jee Dhoondta Hai
05. Koi Umeed
07. Nahin re Nahin
08. Yar Dadhi Ishq
10. Allah Hu
11. Jhoom (R&B mix)
12. Dastan-e-Ishq (Dhol version)