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Let’s just get one thing straight today: we love Bollywood films and Bollywood music but can’t we love them and still maintain our originality at the same time? This is a raging argument taking place between filmmakers and critics nowadays. Why are our films looking like a replica of Bollywood movies? Everyone says that Balu Mahi was an entertaining film, if we ignore the fact that it looked like an amalgamation of three different Bollywood films. Why are we ignoring this fact?

There is one side that says that of course we will be inspired from Bollywood; we’ve watched it all our lives, it’s very close to us and our culture, we speak the same language etc. Then there is another side that says no, we can be inspired by our friends across the border while still having our own distinct style and voice. Thankfully Abbas Ali Khan falls in the latter category and explains why we need to break away from our Bollywood influences.

“It’s not impossible to have our own individual style,” said Abbas Ali Khan when we ran into him at the Chalay Thay Saath trailer launch. Abbas is responsible for creating the musical score for CTS and judging by the trailer, he has done a good job in creating a distinct sound. “I wanted the music to sound Pakistani so we made sure to use instruments that are used in Pakistan. For example, since the film has been shot in Hunza, we used instruments such as the rubab. We have also incorporated traditional Chinese instruments specially made in China, as some of the film is shot in China. What’s interesting is that the raag of Pakistan’s mountainous regions is very similar to the raag used in China. It’s beautiful how the two sounds came together.”

This shows that Abbas has strategically and intelligently planned the music. “Nowadays film music sounds too similar to Bollywood music. I love Bollywood and I regularly watch their films, but we need to get out from under their shadow and create something that’s ours.” Abbas feels that Pakistani films should be using local pop music in their films. “Mooroo is a perfect example of original Pakistani pop music. He has a unique sound; his music doesn’t sound like Bollywood or Hollywood or anything else we’ve heard lately.”

Abbas also discussed another project he can be proud of: Patari Tabeer. The second song of the series, ‘Chitta Chola‘ featuring the 12 year old Jahangir on vocals, was produced by Abbas. While the lyrical content of the song is traditional, the musical composition is surprisingly contemporary.


Abbas Ali Khan

Artwork for ‘Chitta Chola’ by Jahangir and Abbas Ali Khan for Patari Tabeer.


“When I first heard the song, I started working on the music using traditional instruments like the tabla and the dholak. But that was creating a sound that has been done to death now. So I decided to go down a completely different route. That’s why the music is very electronic and it falls under dream pop, a new music genre. I’m really thankful to Patari that they trusted me and gave me a chance to experiment.”