Bringing classical Pakistani music back to Lahore

Posted on: April 20, 2015

“Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city, once had a booming film industry and a flourishing music scene. Classical musicians, with their tabla drums, violins and sitars, would perform on stage, in movies and in crowded markets,” writes Linda Poon on Saturday (4/18) at NPR. “In 1977, Pakistan’s sixth president, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, clamped down on the film and music industry. That left classical musicians like [65-year-old violinist Saleem] Khan struggling to get by…. Today people mostly tune into pop music, says Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, an Oscar-winning filmmaker and journalist based in Karachi.” Obaid-Chinoy’s new documentary, Song of Lahore, follows seven musicians who “are part of Sachal Studios Orchestra, a group of about 20 Lahore-based artists who fuse traditional Pakistani music with jazz…. The documentary zooms into each musician’s personal life before their success. For example, 39-year-old Nijat Ali is tasked to take over as conductor of the ensemble when his father dies. Saleem Khan, the violinist, struggles to pass on his skills to his grandson before it’s too late. And 63-year-old guitarist Asad Ali tries to make ends meet by playing guitar in a local pop band.” Song of Lahore premiered last weekend at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

Posted April 20, 2015