• 20 May - 26 May, 2017
  • Shahzeb Shaikh
  • Interview

Amongst Pakistan’s famous names, Shafqat Amanat Ali is one such artiste, who is rarely found in media limelight but at the same time makes his presence felt with his perpetual melodious music. MAG had to catch up with Shafqat for reasons aplenty. I thought the opportunity seemed perfect after he had returned from an exhilarating tour of Mauritius. Interestingly, Mauritius hasn’t been a frequent destination for Pakistani artistes as only a couple of other local musicians have performed there before. “The plan was suddenly made. A local university is going international and is setting up a branch in Mauritius. The event was a celebration for the cause. I believe that it was perfect for Pakistan in the field of education as well as music,” shares Shafqat and adds, “The performance was amazing. The crowd was a mix of Pakistanis, locals and desis. I was excited to see that the locals were well aware of my tracks and sang along in unison. The presence of The President of Mauritius, H.E. Ameenah Gurib, made the evening very special for us. She was so humble and greatly enjoyed our music.” Regarding foreign performances, Shafqat says, “As an artiste, I always feel pride in performing on foreign soil. There are multidimensional advantages. First, I get to portray the positive and soft image of Pakistan in the global arena. Second, it is the best opportunity to spread the message peace and tranquility through music. Third, one gets to mingle with people of different cultures, and learn about their music.”

If one recalls correctly, Shafqat hasn’t released an album in a long while. So, why has there been such a delay? “The major reason has been my travelling. However, I never quit composing and have been working on new music all around. I don’t plan to release a full album but I will release singles at regular intervals for my audience.” And videos? “Videos have always been important and will continue to play an essential role in promoting the artiste’s music. I plan to release each single with a meaningful video,” he replies

It had been noticed that after his launching into a solo career, he remained much more active across the border than in Pakistan. What was the major reason?

“The period you have mentioned was one in which Pakistani artistes were very much in demand in India. In fact, you witnessed many other colleagues of mine working there. As an artiste, I’ve always worked for pride and respect. I have earned much respect and fan base in India. However, I have also been very much active in Pakistan and all over the world,” quotes Shafqat.

In addition to considering videos important, he is also a staunch proponent of social media. “Social media is playing a very important role these days including projecting one’s music, talent, or staying in touch with one’s fans. This has eliminated the middle agent. For instance, initially fans would wait for some news about the artist but now they can ask the artist directly, through this channel. In fact, fans and artists are on the same page,” explains Shafqat.

His thoughts on the present Pakistani music scene are, “Pakistani music scene is back on track. I think the present time provided a fabulous opportunity to come forth and portray their music skills. I firmly believe that the local channels and music platforms should promote local artistes especially the upcoming ones for the progress of Pakistan’s music industry.”

He lays great stress on the promotion of classical music in Pakistan through training institutions. He is of the view that there must be focus on young artistes who crave classical training. “I am currently training my nephew on classical music. He has a band of young boys who have potential,” he informs.

In the recent time, one finds a decline in the classical/qawwali music with the demise of legendary artistes, who had carried the legacy in the present era – take for example, Amjad Sabri. Since he also carries the legacy of a classical gharana, what does he think of the future of classical music and the legacies attached to it? “Classical music can’t end. Although, I agree with the fact that it is not at its peak like it was in the mid 70’s yet it still has its meaningful existence. It has its challenges which we as artistes have to counter,” he replies in a meaningful tone.

His future plans are exciting. “There are shows happening at many places in future. I have international tours lined up. My focus is majorly on my new music for now. There are many projects in pipeline and collaborations, which I will definitely share with you as they materialise,” he informs.