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Strings with New Delhi band Euphoria.
Inset: Hariharan (left) and Sagarika
Euphoria photo courtesy: www.stringsonline.net
 


Cross-border jamming

Pop music commerce between India and Pakistan has been active since the late 1980s, when the music of the singing siblings Nazia and Zoheb Hasan hopped effortlessly across the barbed-wire fences into India. Likewise, Hindi films and music have always thrilled Pakistanis.

"During General Zia's rule, we did face restrictions," recalls Kapadia. "Nobody took the initiative to start bands. For eight years, from the early to the late eighties, there were very strong limitations. Since 1988, things started to get more liberal."

The ice broke early this year with the Indian cricket team touring Pakistan for the first time in 14 years. Even as Strings looked forward to the opportunity, they got a call from electronics major Samsung in Karachi.

"They wanted us to come to [Mumbai] and record a song with [Delhi band] Euphoria," says Kapadia. "The day we landed we went into the studio and recorded the song with

 
  them and over the next three days we shot the video."

"We had done quite a few gigs with Euphoria before this, and we were very comfortable with them," says Maqsood.

The result was Jeet lo dil, which became the anthem of the series. Earlier, Strings had played at Centurion Park in South Africa, when India and Pakistan met for a World Cup match.

Their latest album Dhaani also has collaborations with Indian pop stars.

"Pal was the first collaboration with someone from India," says Kapadia of the track the duo recorded with pop singer Sagarika. "We recorded it with Channel [V] for a programme called Jammin'. We met for the first time on the sets. We composed the song, wrote the lyrics, recorded the song, and shot the video in three days".

The joint ventures would not stop there.

"We had been listening to Hariharan and admired his singing," says Kapadia. But including the Indian singer on their track Bolo bolo was an afterthought. "We had recorded the album and after listening to the song, we wondered if Hariharan sings with us it would add a classical touch to the melody."

"And then we did an unplugged session at the Hard Rock Café in Dubai with him," says Maqsood. "He sang our songs as well, and we made a video."

Indian and Pakistani musicians have frequently performed for mixed audiences in the United Kingdom and the Middle East. "Neutral venues have always been there, but it was essential that we have this direct communication," says Kapadia. "Things have started now, and that's the best part."

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