Muhammad Atif

Coming to the office at 8:30 am, my restlessness was mounting as I was unable to find my way amid the long queues of vehicles. To normalise my mood, I tuned into a radio channel and diverted my focus from traffic to music.

Although the city always has a layer of smog hovering over, and before 9am one can feel freshness in the air which gradually fades away in emissions of vehicles as the day progresses. I started wondering if the canal running besides my car had been clean and trees on its edges not cut it would have been a refreshing sight, particularly early in the day. But now the view of muddy water and trampled grass was not leaving a pleasant impression.

 My agitation was growing with time until I heard remarkable guitar chords followed by an enthralling song on the car radio. It was an instant distraction from the ‘world outside’, where clogged traffic and slowly moving vehicles were affecting my peace of mind.

It was an Urdu song with some outstanding lyrics, which when translated into English would be something like ... :

“I see the world with eyes closed

And question my heart

Why are you unaware  

Come on, let’s have some fun

You are limitless”

After listening to that song I felt energized and motivated to discover myself again, or either live my life with renewed enthusiasm. Certainly, music does impact human thoughts, sentiments and emotions while bringing the body into rhythm..

It was an inspiring song that lifted my spirit and instigated me to whistle it’s tune while moving at snail’s pace. When it ended, a message was aired revealing that it was a song by Fanta and details about it were available on Fanta’s Facebook page.

While searching for the song on the internet, I found out that this song was the end product of a Fanta talent hunt campaign during which some 215 schools were visited across Pakistan to find young gifted singers for recording a new music video. The campaign was named ‘Fanta Rocks’ and renowned rock band Noori led the search in schools, reaching out to an estimated 120,000 schoolchildren between the ages of 12 and 16.

Nine students from major schools in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore were shortlisted on the basis of their confidence, singing skills and stage presence. Three winners or Fanta rock stars were declared but one of them could not make it to the rock station due to some personal reasons. Maria Fatima and Shaheer Naveed of Islamabad’s Roots International School were eventually declared winners.

The 2 winners got the once in a lifetime opportunity of composing a song together with Noori, followed by shooting an exclusive music video with the band. During the process they were also given the opportunity of living the life of rock stars and interacting with the band.

The impressive thing about the campaign is its target group - schoolchildren between the age of 12 and 18. Generally, in our country schoolchildren don’t get enough opportunities for expressing themselves. So launching a campaign specifically for schoolchildren is itself a remarkable effort that deserves praise.

The boom observed in the Pakistani music industry during the last decade, now seems to be ending due to various reasons including the precarious law and order situation. Globally, the country was and is being portrayed in somewhat opposite to what actually people are. But sadly our media, which should focus on promoting a softer image of Pakistan, is running in the race of breaking news and ratings.

Our film industry has already collapsed and the TV is not doing much at the creative front, despite earning higher ratings and the music industry was hit by terrorism and extremism. There was a time when Pakistani music industry was thriving and every other song was proving a chart buster but that trend has now come to a standstill.

Due to precarious law and order situation, music concerts have become rare occurrences for Pakistanis and even when such event is held, stringent security arrangements mars its spontaneity.

In such circumstances if someone does something to promote music particularly among schoolchildren, he must be admired. It is a step that can immensely help the cause of building a soft image of Pakistan at a time, when we desperately need it. Though, it may not do a rapid transformation but at least it will keep the wheel moving and won’t let us get stuck as the traffic jam clogs us on roads for nothing.