When Atif, Ali had to perform for VIPs
The courts of Kings and Lords, historically, had special seating spaces for their viziers on the sides in their grand halls while the people, whom they ruled over, were allowed to walk up to the rulers, within a few feet distance, to make pleas or present offerings.
However, the rulers of Pakistani fans hearts, the heartthrob Ali Zafar and the singing sensation Atif Aslam were asked to entertain people who were important to the event managers and sponsors rather than the general audience (the students of the university) which went to a private university’s event on Friday.
Pleas for songs and offerings of praise were presented to the stars but from too far away — so far that they, at times, diminished in the uncontrolled bass of the sound system (the sound controller seemed like a fan of Imran Khan’s ‘amplifier’ song).
Host Ali Gul Pir’s golden words then echo in spectators’ hearts when he repeated one student’s words on stage, “say no to VIP culture,” because that is what it seemed like: Ali and Atif performing for people who didn’t grow up listening to these artists but still were seated in front.
This first-hand experience might seem like the rant of a guy who paid Rs1,500 for listening to the duo and didn’t get what was promised, however, as a visiting faculty I was allowed to enter for free, and could’ve joined the VIPs in front, but this is not a single person’s opinion.
It was the music and fun-loving millennials who suffered. No one did lend an ear to their pleas even after Ali asked the management to bring some of the audience in front. You would be able to see a few dancing kids in the front when the videos come out praising the magnanimity of the event but most of them belonged to the management team or knew the organisers.
Concert culture in Karachi and across Pakistan died a long time ago, another price that we paid for the war against terrorism which in return asked us to tighten our nose on security. However, over the last few years, institutionalised performances of the artists have surfaced as a sign of hope adding one more option to the entertainment avenues for the Pakistanis.
Thus, this kind of discrimination and deceiving attitude where the promised was not delivered might take the audience away from it.
Also, credit should be given to the corporates who have kept the music scene alive in Pakistan, which is losing its worth slowly, but spaces like universities should not be made playing ground for such events where students then have to bear the brunt.
One example of corporate takeover can be seen in Pakistani films already, where the movie-makers are trying to revive the country’s cinema, while the sponsors want only one thing: in-your-face branding.
All in all, let’s start to care more about Pakistani audiences — they deserve better.
I rest my case here.