A touch of Frost, a dash of Nixon

Cover of Cover via AmazonEvery writer has a passion for writing. However, certain writers have a passion or a knack for writing certain genres or niche of stories.

Peter Gibson certain genres are writing about flawed and conflicted political figures. The Queen, The Last King of Scotland and now Frost/Nixon. With The Queen, Gibson delved into the conflicted character of a monarch divided with inner conflict. It was the role won Dame Helen Mirren an Oscar and became the most talked about movie for 2006.

In The Last King of Scotland, Gibson took the audience deep into the life of Idi Amin, whose portrayal by Forest Whitaker received considerable critical acclaim, winning the Best Actor award at the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild and the BAFTAs, in addition to awards from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the National Board of Review and many other critics awards, for a total of at least 23 major awards, with at least one more nomination.

With Frost/Nixon, Gibson adapts his own play of the same name and examines not one flawed character but two. Based upon the 1977 interviews regarding the Watergate scandal and Nixon's resignation, the movie is adapted by Gibson himself and directed by master storyteller Ron Howard. The director likes character conflict, just as much as the writer. A Beautiful Mind and Cinderella Man were both introspective looks into the lives of men against overpowering odds, and both movies that won Howard critical acclaim.

Our story begins with Nixon's resignation; a disgraced president retires to the background of his own surroundings. At the same time, across the world, a fallen talk show host, Frost, seeks hope for himself in the gloom of the former president. The story is essentially a duel between two once dominant men who discover they're more alike than either would care to admit. Both men are on the outs with their respective professions -- Nixon resigned the presidency as a result of the Watergate scandal, while Frost's TV gigs are drying up -- and need to make a comeback. Both men view these interviews as a chance to repair their reputations and get back in the game. Frost is so eager to do them that he invests his own money in it. Whereas Nixon's intentions betray him as he seeks more money than was initially offered to him. With such key story moments – though seemingly irrelevant – Howard crafts deep insights into each of the characters.

When Howard got the directing job, he immediately made it clear that the movie would not be made without Michael Sheen and Frank Langella, the two original actors from the stage play.
Sheen's worked on Morgan projects before. Both times portraying Prime Minister Tony Blair; first in 2003's The Deal and in 2006's The Queen. Though he has portrayed high profile characters, he remains primarily a stage actor, having starred in high-profile productions of Henry V, Peer Gynt, The Dresser, Caligula and Look Back in Anger, and others.

For Langella, this is a role that he has mastered on stage, an arena that has defined most of his acting career. He is best known for his success in the title role of the Broadway production of Dracula early in his career. He went on to play Sherlock Holmes in an HBO adaptation of William Gillette's famous stage play and repeating the performance in 1987 in Charles Marowitz's play Sherlock's Last Case. His recent film work includes roles in George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck as former CBS chief executive William S. Paley and Bryan Singer's Superman Returns as Daily Planet editor Perry White.

Both Sheen and Langella have portrayed campy villains. Sheen portrayed the rabid werewolf Lucian in 2003's Underworld and Langella portrayed the maniacal Skeletor in 1987's Masters of the Universe.

Already critics are showering the film with praise. Critic Roger Ebert praised Langella and Sheen's performances, commenting that they "do not attempt to mimic their characters, but to embody them." And it's true; both the actors immerse themselves into the role. Langella digs out Nixon's cunning, paranoia, failed charm and a longing sense of melancholy. It's clear that the Tony Award he won won't be the last prize Langella collects for this role of a lifetime. The same goes for Sheen as Frost; any actor can play intimidating roles, very few – like Sheen – can actually pull of intimated roles, which is exactly what Frost was of Nixon, intimidated but not showing.

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone praised Ron Howard's direction of the film stating that "Director Ron Howard has turned Peter Morgan's stage success into a grabber of a movie laced with tension, stinging wit and potent human drama." Then there are some critics who tend to compare this to Oliver Stone's Nixon, which humanized the former president's character to a greater extent. The differences however are staggering. Stone is a director that thrives on controversial moments and the inner workings of conflicted characters. Howard's direction and vision are different. He tends to pit characters against odds and situations through all of his movies. In this the characters are at odds with each other and themselves, which make for a perfect Howard recipe.

Even with its criticisms, the film was nominated for five Golden Globe Awards for the 66th Golden Globes ceremony, including Best Film - Drama, Best Director (Howard), Best Actor - Drama (Langella), Best Screenplay (Morgan), and Best Original Score (Zimmer). The film was also selected by the American Film Institute as one of the best ten movies of 2008.
Which is remarkable since the climax of this movie doesn't feature car chasing scenes, exploding buildings, or massive CGI effects shots. It is a simple face off between two remarkable actors portraying flawed and real characters.

Frost/Nixon has Oscar written all over it. It is no doubt that this movie will surely dominate the awards ceremony this year. Nominations are highly likely for Langella and Howard especially as each of them literally gives their all for the movie. Up until now, critics had been praising The Dark Knight – Heath Ledger in particular – this year, but now that Frost/Nixon is out, it will surely give the caped crusader and the agent of chaos a run for their money.

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Twilight of the Vampire

Vampires have graced the silver screen since the early days of cinema.

German director F.W. Murnau and actor Max Schreck defined the vampire genre in Nosferatu (1922). Ever since then we’ve had the Hammer Horror series (starring Christopher Lee) and the odd Dracula film here and there — but none have matched the classical film as of yet. Hungarian actor Béla Lugosi became a legend of the silver screen defining the character of Count Dracula. So much so, that he was associated with it for the rest of his life.

Later, notable entries in this genre included Joel Schumacher’s Lost Boys (1992), which was more comedy than horror and was popular with teenage audiences. That same year, Francis Ford Coppola made Bram Stoker’s Dracula, adapted closely from the Irishman’s novel. Though it did create a ruckus at the box office, critics questioned the faithfulness of the movie against the novel and Keanu Reeves’ lackluster performance.

Two years later, Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire (1994) redefined the genre, resurrecting the bloodsucker from slumber. Though Rice considerably diluted the origins of the fabled beast, her humanisation of the characters is what made the movie strong. And not to mention some amazing performances by Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and an 11-year-old Kirsten Dunst.

Sixteen years later and there’s a new contender to the box-office throne of the vampire. Novelist Stephenie Meyer joins the prestigious league of writers whose novels about vampires have been made into blockbuster movies. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) the film opened to the highest grosses every by a female director.

Twilight dilutes the vampire mythos further by turning it into a teenage romantic drama. The once menacing story about a monster now becomes a shadow of beauty and the beast.

After her father remarries, 17-year-old Bella Swan moves to another town to live with him and his new wife where new surroundings, new school and new friends await her. But when she sits next to Edward Cullen on her first day, there is a strange attraction between the two. More strangeness happens when Edward stops a speeding van — with his bare hands no less — from hitting her. Ultimately Bella learns that Edward is a vampire.

Edward displays characteristics unbecoming of a vampire, he only drinks the blood of animals and uncharacteristically introduces Bella to his vampire family. News spreads fast in the world of vampires, and word of Edward’s infatuation with a human reaches James, Victoria and Laurent. They’re three nomadic vampires who share a much more monstrous interest than Edward in Bella. Will Edward’s angst save the helpless Bella from them or will they spell the end for their romance and Bella herself?

On many levels, the whole aspect of vampirism in the story plays out more like Romeo and Juliet. Those expecting gore, fangs and tall capes better look elsewhere. This is just a simple story about forbidden teenage love.

Kristen Stewart stars as Bella Swan. Stewart has stared in an array of productions, Panic Room, Zathura, In the Land of Women, The Messengers, Catch That Kid, and the critically acclaimed Into the Wild. However she will probably be best known for her role in Twilight. And it doesn’t stop for her here since the remaining two books and adventures of Bella await her.

Newcomer Robert Pattinson stars as Edward Cullen, the 108-year-old vampire who appears to be 17. Pattison achieved minor fame when he portrayed Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. And now he’s earned a heartthrob role of his own in Twilight, in which he mostly looks around, acts morbid and pouts every now again.

Hardwicke’s direction of the actors, particularly the leads, is impressive. She captures each actor’s best emotions and gives them a completely natural feel. It is something that she previously did in Thirteen. Also most of the film has a hand-held type feel, which boosts its realism. Melissa Rosenberg developed an outline by the end of August and collaborated with Hardwicke on writing the screenplay during the following month. She was a great sounding board and had all sorts of brilliant ideas.... I’d finish off scenes and send them to her, and get back her notes, writes the screenwriter about working with the novelist.

Due to the impending WGA strike, Rosenberg worked full-time to finish the screenplay before October 31. In adapting the novel, she “had to condense a great deal.” Some characters from the novel were not featured in the screenplay, whereas some characters were combined into others. “Our intent all along was to stay true to the book,” Rosenberg explained, adding, “and it has to do less with adapting it word for word and more with making sure the characters’ arcs and emotional journeys are the same.” Hardwicke suggested the use of voiceover to convey the protagonist’s internal dialogue — since the novel is told from Bella’s point of view — and she sketched some of the storyboards during pre-production.

Overall, it is a faithful adaptation of the story and in this age of Eragons and Harry Potters, Twilight stands on its own feet rather than ride on the coat tails of other teen movies. And while the film has gone on to make an impressive $187 million dollars at the global box office so far and plans for its sequel, New Moon, are underway, director Catherine Hardwicke has parted ways with its production. She cited time restrictions, saying, “I am sorry that due to timing I will not have the opportunity to direct New Moon. Directing Twilight has been one of the great experiences of my life, and I am grateful to the fans for their passionate support of the film. I wish everyone at (the production company) the best with the sequel — it is a great story.”

It was announced that Chris Weitz, director and writer of The Golden Compass and co-director of American Pie was hired to direct New Moon. Weitz said, “I am honored to have been entrusted with shepherding New Moon from the page to the screen.”

And so another legacy of blockbusters begins at the box office. Twilight is a film that will surely deepen its bite into the interest of audiences around the world.


At Steak: Food for Thought

Some like it raw, some like it rare. Some cook it to medium while others prefer it well done. But we all love steak.

Derived from the Old Norse word steik, this meat dish is usually a juicy slab of beef, cut perpendicular to the muscle fibers. Meat is what man has primarily looked to for proteins, and all of the essential amino acids. In most cases it has also been a good source of zinc, vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus, niacin, vitamin B6, iron and riboflavin.

A popular dish with meat lovers, steak can be served grilled or pan-fried. Almost all are served with special sauces that differ from region to region and taste to taste. Tender cuts from the loin and rib are cooked quickly, usually through dry heat.

While these are served whole, the less tender cuts from the chunk or round are cooked with moist heat, sometimes even being mechanically tenderised. Temperature is the most important ingredient of the steak. A slight change in temperature changes the very nature of the meal and each appetite appreciates a different sort of steak.

The raw steak, for example, is the uncooked form mostly used in dishes like steak tartare, carpaccio, and mostly African cuisine. Blue rare, or very rare, is cooked very quickly; the outside is seared, but the inside is usually cool and barely cooked. The steak will be red on the inside and barely warmed. People sometimes call it 'blood rare', 'Black and Blue' or 'Pittsburgh Rare.'

Rare, on the other hand, is gray-brown on the outside, and the middle of the steak is red and slightly warm. The medium rare steak will have a fully red, warm centre. Unless specified otherwise, upscale steakhouses will generally cook to at least this level.

Next comes medium, where the middle of the steak is hot and red with pink surrounding the centre. The outside is gray-brown.

Another way to cook steak is to medium well, where the meat is light pink surrounding the centre. In well done steak the meat is gray-brown throughout and slightly charred.

Whatever the case maybe, a sign of privilege and wealth comes with serving of the steak. Since beef prices are above average, steak is something not so common among the masses. In which case, a lot of other meats have come to take its place. Though chicken is often available on the menu, it is the fish steak that takes variety to a whole new level.

Fish fillets are usually cut parallel to the backbone. But if cut perpendicular, then you have a fish steak. The tricky bit is for the steak to hold itself together during cooking. Hence the flesh should be firm – which means that only fish like salmon, swordfish, halibut, turbot, tuna and mahi mahi can be made into proper fish steaks.

The larger fish make boneless steaks; smaller fish (such as salmon) make steaks which include skin, meat, a section of backbone, and rib bones. Smaller fish such as mackerel are sometimes cut into similar portions for curing, but these are usually not called 'steak'. Fish steaks are usually grilled, baked, or pan-fried (with or without being breaded or battered).

There are lots of side dishes to go with steaks. Baked vegetables are the most common partners of the dish, whereas baked potatoes being the most popular amongst these. In modern times, we have seen the partnership of steak and fries come through as well.

So the next time you fancy some steak, you have a huge variety of meat, be it beef, fish or chicken and plenty of veggies to choose from but just make sure there is plenty of everything and don’t forget the sauce!

Elements: A second opinion

Before we begin, let’s get one thing clear. This is a very challenging album musically — both for the performer and the listener. Abbas describes Elements in his own words on his website, “The album represents a turning point in my compositional style. It displays a transition from straight jazz to modal jazz and eventually to jazz fusion with North Indian classical music.” He goes on to add, “Many different genres of music can be heard here reflecting the varied influences of my life. All the compositions are based on classical Indian parent scales (called thaats).”

The first track, Contemplation, is a sort of prologue to the album. A preface set in kalyan thaat (one of the seven modes of raga), the track beckons the listener and is soft on the ears. It is reminiscent of composers who flex their musical prowess before starting on a musical journey.

Jhoom Dewane is the track chosen for the first video. Once you’ve listened to the first few seconds, you’ll know the mood of the album. A musical blend of two worlds — Arabic music and classical Indian music — the track cycles through different stages of life, death and ultimately rebirth. The video for the track is especially interesting as it is an animated story comprising digitally painted photographs and the video captures not only the essence of the song but also adds to the story.

In Sajan Bana things take a lighter turn (probably the only upbeat track on the album) and Irfan’s vocals truly shine through. He’s not that famous yet but his flare fits in fine with the theme of the album. At times the tone and beat of the track is similar to that of a Dave Matthew’s Band number, but once you listen to it all the way through a deep sense of serenity envelopes you. The process whereby two interacting oscillating systems attain synchronisation is called Entrainment. It’s also the name of the fourth track on the album, and is quite apt for the album because it seeks to unite various different modes of music together. Abbas refers to this as his homage to the music of qawwali. The vocals indeed resonate throughout the song, echoing with the sentiments of qawwali, but they don’t match the same epic proportions like say Ghulam Fareed or Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Seek Peace is an interesting track because it features two narratives whereas the female vocals get monotonous after a while. It is Abbas’ musical narrative that carries the piece through.

Mahiya is definitely more rock than the rest of the tracks. There are moments when you can hear Abbas channeling his rock past through each tone. Unlike the previous track, Irfan doesn’t quite deliver which undermines the track definitely.

Seven Heavens though epically named is anything but. It can be epic once it’s played live as most jazz, fusion or instrumental music is. But on the record, and prerecorded in a studio, it is at best the most mediocre track on the album. This one is best experienced live.

Abbas starts Heaven and Earth with the simplest of motifs. Along with Mahiya, this track is quite rocky in an almost Floydesque way. Abbas’ solo lingers on as his journey into the album and his music continues.

The title track Elements is a pleasant cacophony of sound, music and genres. It’s short and sweet, leaving the listener satisfied. Turn Inward, though introverted, is quite expressive in terms of its motif. But it is quite a conceptual track considering it uses a synth drum machine rather than an actual drum kit. Another such track, The Inner Sanctum, continues from where the previous one left off.

Atonement expresses the finality of the album’s theme. It culminates the journey that Abbas began abd the expressions and motifs indicate that he has come full circle.

All in all, Elements is a good album. How does it differ from old school Fuzon and/or the Mekaal Hasan Band? Drastically, as previously it had been the fusion of two genres. Here Abbas fuses three, sometimes four — rock, classical guitar, classical Indian and jazz music. To achieve harmony amongst all these tracks is quite a feat. But this isn’t an album that would be appreciated by the masses, and although even Abbas admits that he’s no Atif Aslam or Ali Azmat, he does believe in the power of music and its ability to enthrall listeners. Only time will tell.


Jumping the Shark

“lt’s great to be back,” says Saad Haroon, stand up comedian. “It’s been ages since I’ve done this and I’m looking forward to do ing more.”

He’s talking about stand up comedy, more importantly, his latest act featuring his new improv comedy troupe. This is the same Saad Haroon that brought us BlackFish, Pakistans first-ever standup improvisational comedy troupe, and now he brings us Shark.

But why create a new troupe? “BlackFish is what it was, and I don’t want to recreate the same thing over again,” said Saad. “That was a different kind of philosophy, with different people. With Shark, we have others — people who are passionate about comedy.” When asked about comparisons to BlackFish, Saad replied, “There is no comparison, that was different and it was a long time ago.”
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Finding people for the new troupe wasn’t easy. “About six months ago, I started spreading the word about Shark,” said Saad. “Then the audition process began and it was quite difficult and tedious, because you’re looking for people who have the talent and can easily be taught too.”

Speaking of the process, Saad said, “Once we had everyone then began the training, because with improv comedy you have these strange philosophies and techniques that’s quite different.” And once they were ready, they had planned out their shows.

But a call for charity would have it differently. They recently had their first show at the PACC as part of a charity event. Starting off the show Saad said, “We were supposed to have our first show in December, but we decided that a good cause should come first, so welcome to our very first show.”

The audience welcomed back Saad to his element and welcomed his troupe even more. The show started off with members of the troupe asking for suggestions from the audience on pieces of paper. Sprinkled with the odd celeb in the background, the audience settled in as the show began with Saad introducing his troupe.

Danish Ali joins the troupe after having been with Saad on his TV show. “Danish was the first person to be interested and it’s great having him here.” He’s joined by Sohaib Khan, Sana Nasir, Sohaib Junaidi, Jaffer Hashim, Daniyal Ahmed and Umair Pervez and the troupe is complete.

Overall, the first half of the show was filled with giggles, guffaws and laughs. And although you might have seen some segments before, Saad and his troupe made sure you still laughed.

The show started off with the skit called The World’s Worst. Audience members suggested certain things to be enacted as the world’s worst, such as dogs, break up, etc. It was then the crowd knew they were in for a treat.

It was in the second-half that the show lost its momentum. It was clear that some troupe members were better prepared than others. But it was Saad’s energies that were a constant throughout. A particularly funny skit, Roadtrip to Faisalabad, was enacted three times in three different styles. Star Trek, a Punjabi movie and a kung-fu movie were amongst the audience suggestions and the troupe pulled off all three — with the kung fu one clearly tickling the audience more than the others.

Finally after the show was over, Saad talked about taking the show across the nation. “We want to do shows in other cities, and we have things planned out in December. We’re doing shows in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore.”
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Rakesh Roshan is being sued by workers for nonpayment of wages. The case was filed before the California Central District Court on October 7, on behalf of members formally employed by Filmcraft Productions and its two other US associates — Nevada-based Happy Hours Productions and Bollywood Hollywood Production, based in Florida. The lawsuit states: “The 13 members of Local 399’s bargaining unit working on the production of Kites have not received wages for their work on the film during the week ending September 13, 2008.”

The lawsuit further charges Rakesh Roshan and other defendants of violating California Labour Code and not providing a complete itemised pay slip according to the US laws.

The Anurag Basu-directed feature Kites is expected to be yet another location movie, following the trend of many Bollywood features to be shot exclusively around the world. Whilst shooting has wrapped up in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New Mexico, principal photography is still being shot in India with an expected 2009 release.

In it Hrithik plays a street smart scam artiste whereas Latin actress Barbara Mori plays the mistress and Kangana Ranaut his wife. Rumour has it that he got into a bit of trouble during filming and wife Suzanne arrived on set to keep an eye on him. This is the second time this has happened, the first being in 2006 with Ashwariya Rai on Dhoom 2. So whether it’s father or son, trouble doesn’t seem to be far when it comes to the Roshans.
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Naan Controversial: Food For Thought

Bread is one of man's oldest sustenance.

Throughout history, mostly every country, nearly every culture, has its own portion of bread.

Whether it is the Iranian Persian lavashs, tabuns, sangaks, Mexican tortilla, Scottish oatcake, North American jonnycake, Middle Eastern pita, and Ethiopian injera, nearly every culture has had its bread served with many a dish.

In the subcontinent, bread is a vital part of nearly all the three meals of the day. Whether it is the paratha, chapatti, roti or naan, we love our bread in all its forms.

In all of these, perhaps it is the naan bread that has gained the most fame through its time. Not just being served in abundance in the subcontinent, but also in tables, restaurants, and homes around the world.

It is a staple accompaniment to hot meals in Central and South Asia, including Afghanistan, Iran, northern India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and the surrounding region.

The first mention of the naan can be traced to the notes of an Indian musician, scholar and a poet. That man was Amir Khusrau and it was within his notes that we discovered the culinary habits of the Mughals; the naan was accompanied by either a portion of qeema or kebab, particularly as breakfast.

Though the Mughals relished the naan, they weren't the ones who had made it. Culinary historians point towards the Persian speaking Central Asian nations – particularly the regions around Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Iran and Tajikistan. Through conquests and trade, the recipe of the naan found its way scattered across the subcontinent.

Naan is usually leavened with yeast; unleavened dough (similar to that used for roti) is also used. It is cooked in a tandoor giving tandoori cooking its name. Which is what makes roti different from naan, the former is cooked on a flat or curved pan or tava.

A typical naan recipe involves mixing white flour with salt, a yeast culture, and enough yogurt to make a smooth, elastic dough. The dough is kneaded for a few minutes, then set aside to rise for a few hours. Once risen, the dough is divided into balls (about 100 grams or 3½ oz each), which are flattened and cooked. In Indian cuisine, naans are typically graced with fragrant essences, such as rose, khus (vetiver), and kevra (a pine essence native to Southern India), with butter or ghee melted on them.

The most common of derivatives of naan are the Peshawari naan and Kashmiri naan. These are filled with a mixture of nuts and raisins and are much broader and thicker than normal naans. Possible seasonings on the naan include cumin and nigella seeds. Besides toppings, naans also come with stuffings. The most common is the aloo, potato, naan. Though served mainly in the Punjab region, it makes for a complete meal unto itself.

Sometimes, people get their naans brushed with ghee or even butter. Some even sprinkle a dash of glaric over the naan to give it an added taste.

The role of a naan in a meal is quite similar to that of a chapatti, it replaces the fork and knife and accompanies parts of the food, sometimes curry, sometimes meat.

In Myanmaar it is referred to as Naan bya and is a popular breakfast choice served usually with tea or coffee. It is round, soft, and blistered, often buttered, or with boiled peas on top, or dipped in mutton soup.

In Turkic languages (such as Uzbek and Uyghur), the bread is known as nan. In Tajik it is called non. Besbarmak is the most popular Kazakh dish. It consists of mutton meat with small pieces of pastry boiled in broth and sprinkled with parsley and coriander. The naan is a vital part of this traditional dish.

The next time you venture out towards your dinner or lunch, here's some food for thought: the naan has been served to kings and queens, and continues to conquer many appetites around the world.

It joins the proud family of few universal cuisines that have brought together some memorable times and good food.

In his Element... Abbas Premjee

"My first lesson in classical guitar was quite an interesting one," muses Abbas Premjee. "My teacher had given me this assignment, and when I performed it the following week, he said, 'okay, now let's make some music out of that' – for me that was a shock, I thought I was playing music!"

We're sitting at the home of classical guitarist Abbas Premjee in the suburbs of Karachi. Abbas is perhaps one of the lesser known of members of the Kolachi Quartet, the improv fusion jazz group. While the rest are associated with big bands and record labels, Premjee is not that well established with audiences. In the coming weeks, his debut album and video and set to be released. The musician discussed the album, the video and all things classical and jazz.

"I picked up the guitar when I was about ten years old," recollects Abbas, "and I taught myself how to play it. I've been involved in music ever since." A humble hobby soon became a lifelong ideal, as through the years Abbas continued to learn and play the instrument. His early influences were broad, "In those days you would get influenced by whatever was there to listen to, you didn't have a choice actually." But Abbas was not alone in his hobby. "Amir Zaki used to live near my house, we were friends, and I learned a lot from him, and he may have learned some stuff from me." It was during these stern times of the country, the two guitarists would share their arts and guitar techniques; everything from cords, solos and leads.

In the early eighties, the country's music scene was in its conception stage, scattered musicians searched for an output of their fledgling art amid the concrete ruling of martial law. Some would eventually find that release, whereas others would have to wait longer.

Abbas Premjee on the other hand was not going to be part of history, for the moment, "In 1985, I finished my secondary education and left for the United States for higher education in engineering." Though his heart was set to the tuned to the strings of the guitar, his responsibilities to his family had to come first.

At that point in time, many of the country's musicians were poised to take a bold leap into stardom, though ventured into obscuredom. But those that did survive became Pakistan's pillars of pop and rock. Family responsibility however steered Abbas away from music and into the world of engineering. "But I was still playing the guitar though, even when I went to the States, I was a part of a band there. And being part of that band, especially the fact that it was jazz, literally opens your vocabulary in chords and melodies. I didn't however consider getting an education in music there, at that point in time."

But in his senior year, he opted for a class in classical guitar; it would mark a turning point in his musical ambitions. With a classical rock influence and a part in a jazz band in the States, Abbas dove head in to the world of classical guitar, "I had no idea what it was, because it's a pretty isolated little field. It has its own ideology and discipline, and I wasn't exposed to any of that."

Following his first lesson, he was intrigued. What became a single class became another degree in music. And then another. A series of scholarships later, Abbas felt the tug to return to his home. Finally, after nearly 10 years abroad, he did so.

"It was actually a culture shock for me," he recollects, "I was in a specific environment, totally immersed in the guitar and I had come back changed to a changed environment."

First things first, once again Abbas' call to music would be cut short. Family business obligations had to be dealt with first. His family's business was suffering a lot of setbacks and ultimately his father passed away.

In 2004 Abbas Premjee pushed all of his setbacks aside and began to record music. These recordings, or sketches as Abbas calls them, would eventually become the base of Elements, his upcoming debut album. Around this time, he also started to delve deep into eastern classical music. "I thought if I could get into eastern music, I'd get into something that's appreciated in this region." But it things weren't easy for him as he soon found himself in a world of gharanas and being from a house with no music history, learning eastern music would prove to be a difficult task. "Unfortunately, there's a reluctance to impart knowledge out here," he speaks about his ordeal. "I then got a hold of books, the right kind of books that helped me eventually learn."

But Abbas was not deterred and continued to learn music and make compositions. So much so that he procured a mohan veena, a classical hybrid instrument that has deep roots in the eastern music field.

Ultimately, his growing musical knowledge and prowess would prove to be the strength of Elements. But would that strength be enough to attract an audience? "It wasn't easy," Abbas speaks about getting a music deal, "but there are some people who want to encourage new kind of music and they made this possible." At the same time, he acknowledges that he is a very un-commercial artist in a commercial driven market. "I don't fit the profile of a commercial artist, and in that sense this could be a bit of a gamble."

In the coming weeks, his album will be released and only then will Abbas find out if that gamble has paid off. Abbas was kind enough to offer a preview of the upcoming album. Abbas has had good help from the likes of Gumby, who helped out on drums and Khalid Khan who filled in bass duties.

The intro track coaxes you straight in. Like a warm greeting, we're being told to relax, sit back and to relish the journey in store for us. Titled contemplation, the track defines a meeting between the east and the west.

Immediately following is Jhoom Dewanay, the track for which the video has been made. With vocals by Mansoor (a singer Abbas discovered himself), the track is literally a composition of a story. The motifs of the album, a note here and there, are scattered throughout the track, being the smaller part of a bigger picture. The video co-directed by Abbas and Sharik Chapra, composed entirely of photographs and digital paintings. In it we delve deep into the world of mystical Arabia, where the story of the song unfolds. Not only is the video eye-catching, it is entertaining and most of all quite different than the dancing videos out there.

The next track is quite upbeat—the first one of the album—and features Irfan on vocals. Abbas is keen to work with unknown vocals because according to him he can "polish the vocals" according to his own advantage. Singing in his native multan tongue, Irfan's vocals not only stand out but blend in gracefully with Abbas' composition.

Entrainment is a brooding number that follows. The vocals here are strong and lead one deep into the song, tugging at emotions. Seek Peace is an award winning track that was featured in the United Nations World Music competition. Although it didn't win first prize it came second and after listening to it one can imagine why out of 15,000 entries, this track was one of the few that stood out. Featuring a quote by Hazrat Ali, the track is light, thought-provoking and seemingly fits into the mood of the album.

Although he talked openly and extensively about the album and his music throughout, it is ultimately his music that will speak for him and perhaps even speak to audiences.

(Photography by Asma Inayat -- asma.inayat@gmail.com)

Camelot for a new Age

On January 21st, 2009, historians would remember the day change swept America and perhaps the entire world.

Barack Obama is poised to become the 44th President of the United States of America, a country that came out in its stride demanding for change. More so than others, it was perhaps an insistence from Hollywood; an insistence for George W. Bush to leave and an insistence for Obama to take his place; that was the most effective.

The most powerful nation in the land boasts some of the most powerful entertainment and media houses. And almost every president, since Kennedy, has to come to terms with the media and eventually Hollywood.

During the last few months and years of Bush's presidency, there has been an outcry from Hollywood for his outing, some public, some subtle and even some shouting. We have seen Michael Moore craft an entire series of award winning pseudo-documentaries attacking George W Bush. We have seen Al Gore transform from a goofy Vice-President to a venerable environmental messiah. We have also seen an African American woo not only the world of politics but the world of Hollywood as well.

Hollywood and Politics have quite the love and hate relationship. And there have been some poignant times in the history of the United States where we have seen the good, the bad and the ugly side of this relationship.

The most prominent display happened during the 1960 race to the White House. Vice-President Richard Nixon hoped to secure a republican presidency but he did not count on his candidate being so strong with Hollywood.

Contrary to Nixon, who represented the dull and boring establishment, Kennedy stood out almost like a movie star. He was tanned and always smiling, appearing confident and calm in front of cameras, whereas Nixon appeared confused and pale. For example, during the debates of the 1960 election, Kennedy used his image to great advantage. In the first ever televised debates, Kennedy knew that his image would play a big role. He rested before the debates and used make-up unlike his opponent, who deemed it too "feminine." Instead, Nixon appeared almost haggard like and unkempt, viewers of the debate clearly favored with the younger, dashing, candidate.

And the results clearly had an effect; Kennedy won and eventually went on to have a favorable relationship with Hollywood. His reign over the White House was such a pristine picture that would end up being associated with the fairy tale of King Arthur. They would call his reign, Camelot.

In recent times though, that relationship has been quite strained. George W Bush wasn't a media darling, in fact, he's had a troublesome relationship with Hollywood and Michael Moore has been spearheading that trouble, since Bush's election.

In 2002, we saw the release of Bowling for Columbine which was an attack on Republican ideals, such as Gun Control and media violence. Though it didn't attack Bush directly, the pseudo-documentary gave Moore more ammunition than before. Two years later, Moore led an all out assault against Bush and his war in Fahrenheit 9/11. Hollywood had suddenly created a new craze, it had made a nation mock its own leader and the world loved it. Every move that Bush made during his remaining tenure of Presidency became the object of scrutiny or mockery.

The most recent jab comes from Oliver Stone in the form of W. Although some dub the movie controversial and an attack, the movie is perhaps humanizes Bush from the past demonizing of Moore's perspective.

Bill Clinton's reign, though marred by controversy, was much favorable with Hollywood. In one of his last televised addresses as President, he prepared a video of his last day at the White House. Included in the video was a small snippet of him accepting an Academy Award. Though that was simply a skit, it clearly indicated that Clinton liked Hollywood and vice versa.

Obama has had a similar journey. He first came into the spotlight in the 2004 election when he made a key note address. He then caught the attention of the producers of the West Wing, who even modeled a character after him in the show. Some say that it was the character of Matthew Santos (Jimmy Smits) on the West Wing that braced America for the change they now have.

In February 2007, Barack Obama announced his candidacy for the 2008 Presidential Elections. He made the announcement in front of the Old Capitol building and set his campaign ablaze. Obama's popularity would ultimately spill over into Hollywood, with the likes of Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney carrying the torch for him.

Obama's status with Hollywood was completely clear when the choice between him and Hillary Clinton became wasn't much of a choice. Immediately, the majority of Hollywood would side with Obama, even the likes of Oprah Winfrey.

Will I Am, of the Black Eyed Peas, released a song about the Obama campaign, called, "Yes We Can." The lyrics of the song are composed almost entirely of excerpts from Obama's speech on January 8, 2008, following the New Hampshire presidential primary election. The video features appearances from numerous celebrities like Scarlett Johansson, Tatyana Ali, John Legend, Herbie Hancock, Kate Walsh, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Adam Rodríguez, Kelly Hu, Hill Harper, Amber Valletta, Eric Balfour, Aisha Tyler, Nicole Scherzinger, Nick Cannon and Bryan Greenberg. Within a week of its release over four million viewers on had seen the video on YouTube alone. Clearly Hollywood had given Obama its blessing.

Edward Norton believed in the campaign so much that he had arranged for a documentary crew to follow the campaign wherever it went. And now, HBO plans on releasing the documentary in the near future.

Will Smith and his family were so sure that he'd win that he and his family filmed the entire election day in all of their home cameras. African Americans in Hollywood especially took a much bigger interest in this Election. Obama's heritage played an important role in the election. His critics accused it of being his greatest weakness, but his followers saw it as a sign of change.

Now Obama is poised at a new age, an age one hopes that will be filled with prosperity and betterment, an age where historians will begin with a fairy tale-esque "A long time ago…" as the new age of Camelot once again begins.



Entourage is to men what Sex and the City is to women. It follows the lives of four male friends who come to Hollywood in the search of fame, friendship and family.

Vincent Chase (Adrien Grenier) is a rising star in Hollywood, his first movie ‘Head On’ was a box office smash and he has aspirations to go further. Joining him are his friends Eric Murphy (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), and his brother Johnny Chase (Kevin Dillon). All of them believe in him and know that he can go further, an ideal also believed by his agent, Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven).

The first season deals primarily with Vince’s newly found fame status and how his friends adjust to it. The second and third seasons deal with Vince returning to mainstream Hollywood and his friends finding their own niches in their lives. The fourth season deals with Vince seeing the bad side of Hollywood as he learns what it is to fall out of fame.

A recurring theme in Entourage is the might of friendship and its importance over work, which makes it seem inspired by the super hit Sex and the City.

Although the show may be about Vince, it is the character of Ari Gold that has gained much appreciation by fans and critics. Jeremy Piven has won three Emmys and Golden Globes for his portrayal of the character and continues to be the strength of the show.


All that Kolachi Jazz

They say that jazz is an acquired taste.

If that is so, then Karachi has quite the appetite for Jazz. On a brisk Saturday evening, the jazz/fusion supergroup, the Kolachi Quartet performed a gig at the PACC.

The who's who of the entertainment industry loitered around the entrance of the inner-theatre, where the concert was set to take place. TV stars, musicians, photographers, models, all mingled with the band members, a sight not particularly seen before the concert – or come to think of it, at any concert.

The group is comprised of varied musicians. Pakistan's prominent percussionist Gumby, handles the drums; classical guitarist Abbas Premjee helms the guitar; Khalid Khan of Aaroh provides the bass lines; finally to round things off, Emu of Fuzon fame, chimes in with his synthesizer and keyboards.

The Kolachi Quartet has performed before, but that was a special performance, away from the prying eyes of the public. This time around, they have opened their doors and although there weren't enough members of the general public around, the group's provided a very interesting performance.

As the lights dimmed, the musicians took to the stage. They looked relaxed, grinning at each other, obviously knowing what they were about to do.

Abbas greeted the audience and announced the track the name of the track, "Oops." Like a well oiled machine, each musician fell into place. At first, it doesn't seem that out of the ordinary, four musicians playing in a band. When you put them in their individual perspectives, that's where the interesting bit kicks in. Each of them brings their own flair and passion, each sound is different, yet when they all come together, their music gels perfectly.

The track itself was jumpy and upbeat, filled with the jazzy and fusion sound and gave a sneak peak for the audience what the show is all about. "That sinking feeling" followed and it was when the band shifted gears into a slower tune. The crowd seemed to sink itself into each tune and although Jazz is ambient music, the band made sure they were center of attention. An untitled piece follows: "We haven't given this one a name yet, but we call it the Kirwani Jam," says Premjee. The piece begins with an erratic but stable beat and pretty soon the audience gets into the groove.

The band then welcomed Zara on the stage. The singer has been previously heard on the "Khuda Key Liye" soundtrack and although she does justice to the film, her live singing is a bit less impressive. "Suniye Jee" is a soft ballad, Zara's vocals sinking into the ambience created by the band. At times, she seems a bit lost, but through the most of it, she's on track. After another track with Zara, the band then took a break as Abbas Premjee took the stage to perform a few solo compositions. The audience watched with awe and wonder as Abbas plucked and strummed two different pieces. From crescendos to soft whispers, Abbas clearly showed off his training in the guitar—and the audience loved it.

The band re-groups and then is joined by singer Irfan on stage. Irfan is a folk singer from Multan and sings in his native tongue. Although he stumbles a bit at first (perhaps due to some technical glitch) as the songs move on, he finds his own temperament and settles in with the band.

After the concert, the band spoke about the premise of the concert with much glee. It was clear that not only did they enjoy playing as a group, but they did so as individual musicians as well.

"This was probably more for us as musicians than as a band performing for an audience," spoke Gumby. Emu agrees, "It's just something that had to be done. As a musician, I've always been into Jazz – I was trained in it – but had never had the opportunity to play it live or as a part of a band." Khalid said, "I enjoyed playing with them, this was our first public concert and it was amazing."

When asked if they would ever release an album, Gumby replied "Every piece that was played in the concert – except for one – was an improvisation piece. We've practiced a basic structure, but apart from that, it's all something that happens once every concert. It's not something that can be captured on a disc, it has to be done live, in front of an audience." Emu reiterates this fact, "This is total improvisation, which is the essence of Jazz music." Guitarist Premjee echoes the sentiments of his fellow band members, "Jazz music is spontaneous, you can't have that on a disc, its meant to be played live—hence, we'd like to do more shows." Bassist Khalid Khan echoed his band members but added, "We can probably look into a record but at the moment, we're planning on doing more shows."

However, the band faces one criticism. Jazz music as a genre is extremely niche in Pakistan at the moment. There are very few people who play it, and even fewer who can appreciate it. "That's right," agrees Gumby, "it is niche, but at the same time, we're doing it and it's not like nobody came to the show." Emu says, "It is very niche, but then we had so many people show up at our show and because of that support we now have more shows lined up!" Whereas the majority of the band agrees upon its niche genre, Abbas Premjee has a different view: "I don't think its niche at all and if it is its less than ghazals and everything else that we have." Premjee insists that more shows will lead up to jazz becoming a broader genre than it already is.

Although we can expect more from Kolachi Quartet, the members themselves have a busy schedule up ahead. Premjee spoke about his solo album "Elements" and that it would be released shortly. Khalid Khan spoke about Aaroh, "We're working on some new songs that will lead into a new album." Meanwhile, Emu and his band continue to broaden their audiences, "We're [Fuzon] going to India again soon, so that should be exciting." Finally, and not the least, Gumby has his hands full too, with working on Abbas Premjee's album, providing drums for other people, like Kaavish's upcoming record and ultimately, more Kolachi Quartet shows.

The concert itself was probably the first of its kind, and it’s a shame not enough people get to experience it the first time around—but according to the band, more shows are around the corner so that the most of Karachi can experience the sounds of the Kolachi Quartet.


The Masters of Controversy

Through each of their professions, they have individually shaped the 20th and 21st century. Their professions, of course, delve deep into the chaotic realm of controversy: whether it is politics or cinema.

President George W Bush, whether you consider him to be a pariah, savior or a plain old fool, has attracted all sorts of attention and created perhaps the most controversy in the 21st century. Whether it is the hunt for the elusive weapons of mass destruction, the inability to converse, or good ol' fashioned greed, President Bush has had his fair share of controversy. There have been many writers, movie-makers and entertainers who have had caught on to his coattails and tailgated along for a boost in their career.

But Oliver Stone's career needed no such boost.

Stone's movies have always attracted attention from the media, whether good or bad and have made people think twice about the things they thought they knew so well. It was Stone's interest in Bush's controversial life that has brought about Stone's latest project W to life.

Stone was mentored by Martin Scorsese in NYU Film School, is best friends with Fidel Castro, has directed eight actors to individual Oscar winning performances and served in the US Army near the Cambodian border during the Vietnam War. It was here that he was wounded twice in action. His personal awards include the Bronze Star with "V" device for valor for "extraordinary acts of courage under fire", and the Purple Heart with one Oak Leaf Cluster. Stone would go on to make three movies about Vietnam, but more on that later.

His initial foray into screenwriting spread evenly across most genres, starting from his student film entitled Last Year in Viet Nam (1971), followed by the gritty horror film Seizure (1974), Midnight Express (1978), Conan the Barbarian (1982), and Scarface (1983). Stone won his first Oscar for Midnight Express (1978) and this was just the beginning of his career.

It was clear that the more controversial the matter, the more Stone's interest in it. He has made three films about Vietnam – Platoon (1986), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), and Heaven & Earth (1993). For Stone, these films are a very personal trilogy even though they are inspired by other people's stories. Platoon is a semi-autobiographical film about Stone's experience of war and combat. Born on the Fourth of July is based on the story of war veteran Ron Kovic. Heaven & Earth is derived from the memoir When Heaven and Earth Changed Places, the true story of a Vietnamese girl whose life is drastically affected by the war.

During this same period, Stone directed Wall Street (1987), which earned Michael Douglas an Academy Award for Best Actor; Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio (1988), and The Doors (1991), starring Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison. However, it was the film after this that truly cemented Stone’s career as a master of controversy. JFK (1991) was a star spangled cast of who’s who of Hollywood, with Kevin Costner leading the cast. Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Bacon, Gary Oldman, Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek, Joe Pesci, and John Candy all starred in this no holds barred look at one of the most shocking moments in America’s history, the assassination of US President John F Kennedy. In true Stone fashion, this movie is more than just the assassination of a political figure; it is about the assassination of a political ideal, or even, as some say, the assassination of democracy itself.

Stone then made Natural Born Killers (1994) starring Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Robert Downey Jr. and Rodney Dangerfield. The movie, an adaptation of one of Quentin Tarantino’s earlier screenwriting works, was the story of the love and hate relationship of the media and violence. Stone’s movie was a kaleidoscope of violence and satire. Blurring the line between funny and offensive, the movie was filled with gruesome scenes of violence, juxtaposed with scenes of comedic nuances—more specifically black comedy. Nixon (1995), with Anthony Hopkins and Joan Allen, earned nominations for the actors and Stone for screenwriting, but failed to recover its budget.

During this time, Stone had slowed down in his movie making. Even the subject matter had saturated from spicy to quite bland. U-Turn (1997) had a very interesting storyline but was perhaps more Hitchcock intrigue and less Stone’s controversy. Any Given Sunday (1999) saw Stone veer off into the world of American Football and it wouldn’t be until 5 years that we’d see the director come back and do a film that he’d wanted to do for a life time. Alexander (2004) is perhaps Stone’s most epic film to date. The story of the great king who had conquered most of the known world, perhaps echoed the story of the director who had come so far in life and was desperate to rediscover himself. Again, the film failed to find an audience and barely recovered its budget through international DVD sales.

It wasn’t until World Trade Center (2006) that Stone finally found rediscovered himself and found his voice. Starring Nicolas Cage, the movie finally cemented the director with audiences and critics alike. And now, with the upcoming W, Stone sticks with what he knows best and delves knee deep in controversial subject matter once again. In the much anticipated movie Stone revisits the tumultuous youth of a man who came from a wealthy, oil family and whose father, George H. Bush, was also president—and his rise to power. "I want a fair, true portrait of the man. How did Bush go from an alcoholic bum to the most powerful figure in the world? It includes his belief that God personally chose him to be president of the United States, and his coming into his own with the stunning, pre-emptive attack on Iraq. It will contain surprises for Bush supporters and his detractors," he told a Hollywood magazine.

As usual, Stone found the process of making a political biopic motion picture quite difficult. “Nobody wanted to finance this film,” Stone told AFP, “Every studio said no. You’d be surprised to know the number of people in the business who don’t want to have their name associated with politics. This thing almost never got made.” But it did get made and cheaply at that too, thanks to tax cut incentives for only $30 million.

Speaking on being neutral on the subject matter, Stone told AFP, “Fifty million people voted for him on two occasions, He was in the same league for a long time as Ronald Reagan, until he became so offensive.” He told USA Today he had "tried to stay human to this man. People get me confused with my outspoken citizen side. But I'm a dramatist first and foremost. I am not interested in that radical 15 percent that hate Bush or the 15 or 20 percent who love Bush,” he said. “That's not our audience. Those people probably won't come. I'm interested in that 60 percent in the American middle who at least have a little more open mind.'

But however, Bush wasn't the only real life personality portrayed in the upcoming movie. The cast reads like a who's who of politics and hollywood: Elizabeth Banks as Laura Bush, Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice, Jesse Bradford as Thatcher, a college buddy of Bush, James Cromwell as George H. W. Bush, Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney (originally, Stone was interested in Robert Duvall for the role, but he turned it down), Scott Glenn as Donald Rumsfeld, Ellen Burstyn as Barbara Bush, Ioan Gruffudd, Jason Ritter as Jeb Bush, Noah Wyle as Donald Evans, Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powell and Toby Jones as Karl Rove. Josh Brolin steps into the shoes of the American President and he spoke about the role to EW Magazine, especially about the mannerisms such as the walk, "It changes over the years, how he walks in his 30s, how he walks in foreign lands, before 9/11 and afterward. People hold their emotions in their bodies. They can't fake it. Especially him."

When news broke that W was in production, Stone told the movie industry newspaper Variety that the movie would ask a very simple question: 'How did Bush go from an alcoholic bum to the most powerful figure in the world?' Bush, a former Texas governor, has never hidden the fact that he once battled alcoholism, but says he quit after a particularly heavy night on his 40th birthday in 1986 and has not touched a drop since.

Stone is a three-time Oscar winner. His directed films have been nominated for 31 Academy Awards, including eight for acting, six for screen writing, and three for directing. Not only is he well suited for making a movie about one of the most controversial figures of the 21st century, he is also the most capable since throughout his career, controversy has played a vital part in Oliver Stone’s success.

President Bush's actions have secured him a place in history books for years to come, but it will be Stone's portrayal of his character that will truly immortalize the President.

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The Aunty Disco Project Tea Party

Underground band Aunty Disco Project's have surfaced with a new video, titled "Nazar". True to ADP style, it is quirky, surreal and – wait for it – commercial!

Omar Bilal Akhtar, the band's singer and songwriter, admits with a laugh, "Yeah, this is our first commercial video." The video itself may be commercial, but it sticks with the spirit of the band, "All we told the director, Umer Adil, was that we wanted it to be funny, which was very important to us," says the singer/songwriter. Although the video is funny, in a surreal way there is more to it than just that.

The track itself is very unlike ADP, a slow graceful number that reflects the band's true essence. "It was a different pace from what we do: hardrock covers, headbanging, but this was a very introspective track, and everybody on the band loves it. And it's quite personal to me."

Omar, or Oba as he is known, sounds much relaxed and calm about the fact that they are now veering into territory they thought they'd never venture into. "This is definitely one of the most easy listening tracks that we have, it's quite commercial." This is from the band that totally scoffed at the idea of anything commercial when they broke out with their self-released album, almost a year ago.

They did name drop a few directors back then, but it was pretty clear that they were steering clear from anything too commercial. Not anymore as Oba states: "Ali Alam's been a great influence on us, not just on our music, but as musicians. He was the one who introduced us to Umer Adil." And what about Alam's involvement in ADP? "We're negotiating at the moment," laughs Oba, "although we're writing songs and helping each other out, we're still touring together as a live act."

Before I can ask him, Oba gets one thing clear, "Imran is not a part of the band anymore." At first, one can assume that the separation was tumultuous, but Oba makes it absolutely clear: "He has his own career now and we have ours, but even with that we're helping each other out all the way through. We remain good friends." Even though they are one less Aunty, the band is adamant they are still ready to Disco it out.

From one Omar to another, Umer Adil, the director, has established himself with niche TV shows, from gardening, cooking to children's programs. Along with his wife, Beenish Waiz, the two of them came up with the concept of the video and presented it to the band. "When I first heard the song," says Umer, "I immediately had the image of the jester figurine [one of the first frames in the video] in my mind." He ran with the entire story of the video and it was pretty clear that they were meticulous with their storytelling. "We then expanded upon the fact that the jester is the storyteller and other nuances, so much that people will actually enjoy watching it over and over again."

The video opens on each band member, individually, from Oba's serenading on the guitar, to Omar Khalid's slumber on the hammock, to Yasir's chess playing. Seemingly each character is not connected, that is until we are introduced to the Tea Lady. Played by a friend of Oba, Natasha portrays a mysterious character, living in the middle of the forest, in what clearly appears to be an allegory to the Hut of Baba Yaga. And upon watching the video for the second time, I was picking up things I had not seen before. "That's the thing," states Umer, "it's open ended enough so that everyone understands it, but at the same time, it is open to interpretation and is multi-layered."

Shot on a farm outside Karachi, the video is one part costume drama and one part tea party satire. In it, the boys appear dressed in costume and get called upon by model Natasha, for tea. But nothing is what it appears to be, subtle hints dropped along the way, blink and you'll miss them moments and especially the twist ending, is what makes this video one to look out for.

The video is now airing on all channels. And now that the work is done both Umer and Oba are quickly getting on to other things. "I'm doing and will do a few documentaries at the moment," says Umer and I ask him about doing more music videos. "If the song is good enough," he replies.

Meanwhile, Oba and the group are busy writing new songs. "We've written quite a few now, they're interesting and different, but we don't want to do the same old songs over again. I think this is going to be a totally fresh start."

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Science Fiction or Science Reality

Science Fiction literature and entertainment have given us many awe inspiring visions of the future. From visions of space travel, to weird and alien life forms and advanced technology, Science Fiction and the minds behind it, have shown us the future.

But science fiction doesn’t stay science fiction for long, soon the dates mentioned in the stories come to pass and hardly a whimper happens. The scope of Science Fiction is such that it would take many articles to properly categorize and review each and every advancement or predictions; this is just aimed to be the first of some.

It would take an unprecedented amount of time to tally each and every timeline, since there are many, therefore only a selected few have been presented here. Along with a list of notable entries.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Perhaps the best known date in science fiction, Arthur C Clarke's magnum opus and Stanley Kubrick's defining cinematic venture, 2001: A Space Odyssey has been hailed as a motion picture before its time and one of the last century's defining science fiction work of literature. It has been labeled by unexplainable by some and one of the most intelligent murder mysteries of all time, but it is filled with technological advancements that thrilled and awed audiences of the late 60s.

But 2001 the year itself came and went. What were the advancements we were promised by Clarke and Kubrick? Many. First and foremost, the illusive Artificial Intelligence. In the story, one of the main characters is HAL 9000, a sentient computer that not only enjoys chess, but also a good conversation. Clarke denies he used a one-letter-shift from IBM to come up with the name.

January 12, 1997 is an important date in the novel, because that's when HAL 9000 is first activated. Computer enthusiasts celebrated this date without the birthday computer as we are light years away from a sentient, artificial intelligence. HAL is responsible for making sure that the spaceship Discovery continues with her missions safely and keeping its crew is proper hibernation.

That's another thing, suspended animation. Since the mission in space will take time, scientists today are working diligently to discover how life can be preserved long enough to make the time and distance traveled, but we are still miles and years away from the technology. Something we're relatively closer to are lunar colonies. NASA already plans on establishing a lunar colony by 2020 along the lunar poles.

In the story, sometime in early 2001 the alien monolith is discovered on the moon, kick starting the story but recently scientists have been trying hard to discover as little as water on the lunar surface, alien objects are still the stuff of science fiction.

Star Trek

Though Clarke and Kubrick told a great science fiction story, they didn't imagine the future. That was the job for futurist and TV writer, Gene Rodenberry. On September 8, 1966, Roddenberry went boldly where no one had gone before; the debut of Star Trek gave us strange new worlds and alien life, and a world the futurist hoped would come true.

Gene Roddenberry had a utopia in mind when he thought about the future, because the times that he lived in were setting up an apocalyptic and probably despotic future. Racial segregation, war in the far-east and the rise of the cold war between the US and the Soviets, were just some of the troubles brewing on the horizon.

Eugenics Wars begin when a group of genetically bred 'super-humans' seize control of one-quarter of the globe, plunging Earth into a terrible conflict. Some Trek historians refer to this as The Third World War and according to the character of Spock, some 37 million people lost their lives. As the Eugenics Wars end, the genetic tyrants are overthrown. One "super-human", Khan Noonien Singh, escapes into space aboard the SS Botany Bay. He would later on appear in an infamous episode of the TV series, "Space Seed" and an entire movie dedicated to him, Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan.

The 1990s are long gone now, and although we gladly didn't suffer any world wars, the 90s saw a myriad of conflicts that have reshaped the world. Firstly, the Gulf War began for the first time, a conflict that continues to rage on until today with no clear end in sight.

Strangely a certain aspect of this has come true. Genetic engineering and cloning are slowly emerging as the frontier of science with a big "WARNING" sign stuck to its fence. With such a list of conflicts and wars, perhaps the mythos of Star Trek wasn't that far off. But it was from the ashes of these fires that Roddenberry imagined mankind would be reborn from.

But the future Star Trek went on to present, came up with interesting concepts that are seeing the light of day. Communicators or Mobile Phones?

UFO: The TV Series

Not many people would know about Gerry Anderson, but they'd know about his TV shows, and amongst Terrahawks and Thunderbirds, UFO is one of them. Originally made in 1971, the TV series was set 10 years into the future, 1980, when a fictional organization is created to deal with an impending alien invasion. For only a ten year jump, the show's vision of the future was sleek and very tech savvy and it made many predictions, some came true others didn’t.

Car telephones for example, the series would often show cars with phones in them. By the early 1980s, technology had almost gotten the phone into a car by way of a small briefcase. We also got to see cordless telephones for the first time and they did come true by the early and mid 1980s. The show also predicted the widespread use of the computer, granted it didn’t look small, but even thought computers were well on their way in the 1980s, especially the Macs, the home computer didn't quite hit home until the mid and late 90s, all thanks to Mr Gates and his Windows operating system. Several other technological advancements were highlighted in the show, such as voice print identification systems; also, vocal analysis used to identify individuals in the same way as fingerprints. These systems didn't see the light of day until the later half of the 1990s, when privacy became such an issue. Another aspect, though not dealing with science, was the fact that racial prejudice was completely eliminated, something that has not seen the light of day even now and remains the stuff of fiction.

These were but some of the aspects of Science Fiction that have showed us the story of human potential. The imagination of a few authors, filmmakers, and artists have shaped the future of millions, the choice of making it come true however is only limited by our own potential and imagination.

Silent Running

Long before there was Inconvenient Truth, there was Silent Running. Living up to its name, this silent hit from the early 70s was one of the first movies warning about the effects of global warming. The movie was clever in the fact that its premise stated that in the near future, the Earth would not be able to sustain life.

Bruce Dern plays a botanist living on green houses on space freighters around the orbit of Saturn. He caters for the last surviving species of plant life within these giant green houses along with robot helpers. Even as we speak, NASA has gathered several species of plant like and is catering to them on the International Space Station. It isn't as epic as Silent Running, nor does it serve the same purpose, but it is a small step in what would be mass preservation of earth's ecology. Using the same thought, but on a much grander scale, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure seedbank located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near the town of Longyearbyen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago. With support from a diverse financial institutions and donors like The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Vault's purpose is to preserve seeds of various plants from across the world. Although it's not in orbit around Saturn, the almost alien and frozen landscape of the northern hemisphere is as close to science fiction we'll get.

These are just some of the Science Fiction inventions, ideas, events that have happened in books or on the big screen. To capture each and every single invention, idea or event, would truly require an imagination of epic proportions…

The following is a list of inventions and technologies, discussed before their time, but now seen in everyday life.

1867 From the Earth to the Moon

Depicting man's journey to the Moon, Verne was responsible for predicting many interesting aspects of Space travel. From the fact that it was retro-rockets that carried man, to the strange coincidence that they would be launched from Florida.

1888 Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy

It has been rated as one of the most remarkable books of American literature, in it writer / lawyer Bellamy talks about many modern day inventions, such as Credit Cards and shopping Malls.

1889 In the Year 2889 by Jules Verne

Verne wasn't just about traveling to the Moon, in this book he talked about getting up to date news update long before the likes of CNN and even 3G mobile phones.

1895 The Crack of Doom by Robert Cromie

One of the earliest references of an Atomic Bomb.

1899 When the Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells

Famous for this Martian invasion and time machine, Wells dabbled with information and entertainment technology in this novel by showing inventions that pre-dated the iPod and conventional DVD and VCR players.

1911 Ralph 124c 41 + by Hugo Gernsback

This turn of the century novel talks about personalized news, much like we get with services like Google alerts to underground, undersea, tunnels, like the Channel Tunnel.

1920 R.U.R. by Karel Capek

Though we're quite far away from an actual Robot, the term 'robot' was first used here.

1923 Men Like Gods by H.G. Wells

Proving his consistency to imagine new technological wonders, Wells depicts Wireless Networks in this novel.

1931 The Prince of Space by Jack Williamson

In the novel's City of Space, we get to see a habitat where human live in outer space, much like they have started to do now with the International Space Station.

1934 Triplanetary by E.E. 'Doc' Smith

Wells described the system, but it was Smith that explored the possibility of the medium of entertainment as platinum discs. He was off about the material, but CDs and DVDs of prove that she was right.

1941 Methuselah's Children by Robert Heinlein

This novel by the scribe of Starship Troopers, this novel discusses the invention of genetically engineered food.

1948 Space Cadet by Robert Heinlein

Again, Heinlein shows his prowess for the imagination by showing off "portable" or mobile phones, as we now know them, in this story.

For further reading on what kind of inventions first appeared in the books of science fiction, visit http://www.technovelgy.com/

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