Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Celebrity Encounters...

One of the cool bits about being a musician is that I get to run into a lot of people who are famous, some of them are my idols, some of them are people I just plain respect and some of them are assbackwards stupid. I've been fortunate enough to meet with a whole bunch of some famous Pakistani celebrities, with a range of experiences, some were funny, some were heartwarming and some were downright bizarre.

Omran Shafique (Mauj/Ali Azmat's band): Omran is one of the nicest, most down to earth musicians I've ever met. ADP's been lucky enough to perform with Mauj three times now and while I suspect they consider us bad luck (it rained the last two times they were slated to go on after us), I hope they enjoyed sharing the bill with us. I'm in awe of his guitar playing and everytime I've run into him, he's one of the few guys who always greets me warmly. To be honest, I probably look like an asshole to him because I never know what to say to him, I just feel like I'll sound amateur or 'underground' which is this stupid label ADP's been stuck with for so long. Having said that, everytime we've been on stage I felt the need to compete fiercely with Mauj because I know they have such a high standard and I hope people would think ADP isn't far behind. I've been especially spurred on by the fact that they got nominated for Best Live Act at the LSA's because next year...(if we ever get called to the LSA's, thats the one award that I feel would really vindicate us)

Ali Zafar: Ok so for the longest time I had been criticizing Ali Zafar as pop trash because, well, he hit on this girl I used to like.. a very long time ago! Petty I know. But it was through her that I met the guy. He came over to a dance practice at a friends wedding, the dude was suffering from a cold so he didn't really say much. So he was sitting alone and probably feeling a little awkward so I went over and talked to the guy. We didnt really talk much, he apologized for being kinda quiet because of his flu. But I got the impression that he was really cultured, polite and cared very deeply about his music. Since then I've had a grudging respect for him because lets face it, the guy is bucketload of talent and he's held himself to a really high standard as an entertainer. I know he's an easy target because he prances around in Telenor ads, and yes I have lambasted artists like him for letting their sponsors buy airtime for videos, but from what I know of him, he's a decent guy with a good head on his shoulders.

Shallum (Fuzon): I've been fortunate enough to have jammed with Shallum and Immu from Fuzon and even performed a one off show with them along with Gumby and Khalid from Aaroh. Let me tell you this, Shallum is a guy who takes his music really seriously...
So we were at this little celebration thrown by Zeb and Haniya celebrating the launch of their album in Karachi. I went over to the food table to get some munchies and I met Shallum picking on some chips. He greeted me warmly, and I asked him how the shows were going and if we were gonna see him perform in Karachi soon. He replied that Fuzon were mostly performing in India now because concerts in Pakistan were too difficult to organize. He then asked me how ADP was going. So I did my usual obnoxious bit about how great it is to be a rockstar and how I was all about the chicks. Now I thought I was fairly obvious with my joke and I was expecting an amused response. Instead, I looked over at Shallum who had suddenly gone rigid and was now giving me an icy stare. He looked me straight in the eye, and put down his plate of fried shrimp and said

"It is NOT about the chicks"

Now I could have just agreed and let it go. But the asshole in me decided to push it a little further because I was determined to let him know it was a joke! So I persisted, along with a not-so-welcome backslap

"Awww c'mon Shallum, it's a little about the chicks...c'mon...*wink* *wink*

Shallum was having none of it. Once again, an icy glare, and he repeated, quite obviously annoyed

"It's NEVER about the chicks. if that's what you're here for, you'll never make it".

So I slunk away, thoroughly confused. And then it dawned on me, "Did I just inadvertently offend Shallum Xavier from Fuzon?". Wow, talk about train wreck. Anyway Shallum, buddy if you're reading this, I apologize if you were offended by my crass humor. But for me it has and always will be about the chicks.

And finally a story that always makes me happy was when I met Ali Noor. Now Noori are one of the few Pakistani bands whose concerts I would attend and whose music I would actually buy. They were my idols and when I saw them at this get together, I was genuinely starstruck. I kept avoiding them because I was so painfully shy, but desperate to meet them at the same time. Seeing this, Ali Alam just grabbed me and forced an introduction. So I met Ali Noor and we exchanged intros, while I babbled some cliches about how I was such a big fan. At this point he was still a little aloof, like he had heard it all before. But then Ali Alam said, "Omar's a musician too, you've probably heard of his band The Aunty Disco Project". At which point Ali Noor's entire demeanor changed and he gave me a warm bear hug saying "Arrey yaar why didn't you say so, I love you guys and your song Sultanat!" At which point I was too dumb struck and I remember thinking..."I can't believe he's heard of us!". After that he gave me a few pointers about the music industry and and how we should embrace being promoted on television even though we might not like the way it's done, every musician has to go through it. I'll remember that.

*Ali Azmat: Is in a separate category because although I have seen him around a lot of times and shook hands with him once, I've never actually said anything to him because...the guy is my idol. For me Junoon were in the same category as Led Zeppelin and The Who. I own everything they ever released...every single album and I followed them from the day they first formed to the day they broke up. To me Ali Azmat isn't just some Pakistani celebrity, he's an icon who respect tremendously and just plain old look up to. I'm afraid if i meet him, and if he turns out to be a total douche or a huge sleaze bag, the way a lot of people say he is, it'll ruin my image of him and his music forever. It's my dream to share the stage with him someday, or maybe open for him. To me, he's still a living legend, and thats just how i would like to keep him in my head.


Blogger Ahsan said...

Wow. I'm amazed at your capacity for self indulgence. Next time, why don't you write a post on the exact technique you use to brush your teeth?

6:37 AM  
Blogger Omar said...

I think I issued my disclaimer about how self indulgent this blog was pretty early.
It's a diary...not a cynical but occasionally humorous commentary on the political and social issues in the world. Who would read that anyway? :)

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ali azmat is pure sleaze, love the music, not the man himself although his guy friends say otherwise, but i'm female and our experiences with such people tend to differ.

the shallum part's so funny, couldn't stop giggling, i've done that to a few people like a geeky friend who hates the f word, so i deliberately f away and watch him literally turn green! oh fun fun fun!

truly love ali noor i'm glad there's someone else out there with something nice to say about the guy, his exchanges with fans are always civil.

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahsan never has anything good to say about anything.

11:53 AM  

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