10 Things To Improve In Pepsi Battle Of The Bands

Pakistani music happened to me back in 1989 when I was hardly 5 years old and living with my mother in Karachi because my father was and still working in Jeddah. My broken memories of watching PTV in 1989 are a Puppet Show featuring Uncle Sargam, TV drama Jangloos, and songs of Allan Fakir and Mohammed Ali Shehki.

Pakistani pop music culture has always been rich. Many notable music bands became globally known among the South Asian communities like Junoon and Vital Signs. My last fondness towards Pakistani music was in the first decade of this century when many new musical bands emerged like Aaroh, Entity Paradigm, Fuzon, Noori, Mekaal Hasan Band, and Call.

In the recent times, Coke Studio and Nescafé Basement aided and gave favor to the global listeners to observe the quality, richness, and creativity in Pakistani music culture. A further addition to scrutinizing more upcoming talents, Battle Of The Bands has given the nation another musical platform to take the center stage and sought the attention.

Battle of the Bands, sponsored by Pepsi began back in 2002 in one of the local channels. It took 15 years to repackage the whole new competition under the same name and sponsor. Why season two came that late? I really don’t know but I will say it was a musical tragedy given the fact that the toppers from the inaugural season were Aaroh, Entity Paradigm and Mekaal Hasan Band and such competition didn’t return in the times when Pakistani music was beginning to decline. Imagine if PBOTB was happening every year, how many brilliant bands had emerged.

With two fresh seasons in two years, the audience has realized that Pakistani music is knocking the global doors and they have talent enough to mesmerize the listeners. Kashmir and Bayaan have deservingly won their respective seasons and hearts. And with such a magnitude of success, PBOTB has a lot of promises to attract the viewers.

But the producers/show-runners of PBOTB need to focus on this whole arrangement of the show. There are a few issues which they need to work on if they have to grab and attract more viewers and collect more critical appreciation.

This blog is about the factors which can make this show more impressive and raise its rank. I am forwarding 10 important points PBOTB needs to focus on when they begin working on the fourth season.

10. NO BIZARRE AUDITIONS

This point is not meant to fume insult nor I am encouraging to mock the participants. But this is everywhere. Some performances really come up contrary to our expectations. The performance could have been better but sometimes turn out to be actually funny or weird.

We like to see the reactions of the judges and how they respond to the artistic disaster. From the marketing point of view, such auditions can be covered in the episode to make the viewers observe how the platform didn’t enjoy the justice and the band miserably failed to perform. Millions of viewers love to watch funny auditions or funny moments in a musical show on the social media no matter how old those videos are.

09. CHANGE THE HOST AND THE DIALOGUES

I may be taken rudely by the readers to reflect this point. Ayesha Omer is a very popular name in Pakistan showbiz but I strictly believe that she hasn’t done justice with the hosting role in both the seasons. The problem is not if she lacks glamour as she is a very charming personality. The problem is that she looks very under qualified or unfit for hosting a musical series focusing on the bands. This is not her cup of tea.

Plus the dialogues written for Ayesha Omer are very flat, old and monotonous. She states the obvious. Some buddy please change this phrase, “Don’t Go Anywhere, We Will Return After A Short Break”. How is this tiresome line still acceptable in 2018?

If the show presenter fails to serve the viewers and get their attention, it will be boring to listen to her and wait for her departure to enjoy the show. In my opinion, Anoushey Ashraf or Mathira will do more justice hosting a musical show.

08. RESTRICTED MUSICAL VARIETIES

Alright, this is the battle between the bands. And we have discovered numerous promising bands on this platform who will give their fans pleasure on their beats. But I have observed that every band who is showing up is restricted to the understanding of the musical band. Under the inception of bands, no one is trying to do something different.

The bands either turned Western, performed rock and tried to be loud or went completely opposite i.e., either went Eastern Classic or focused on Sufi. How many musical instruments have been tried by all the bands in these two seasons? Almost every musical band have their members on the set of different guitars, keyboards, and drums. Fine! I am not complaining. These are the basic instruments for helping in composing any track. But why most of the bands do not think out of a parameter. How many bands came up with the idea of playing the flute, violin, mouth organ, trumpet, bongo, or harmonica?

I am not asking to bring a grand piano to the stage and play. But what my ears want is to be seduced by a composition which gives freshness, a new feeling. They are selling the same product in different ways.

The upcoming bands must learn from Meesha Shafi! Unorthodox and giving music a new space, a new dimension. In the finale of season 2, she performed with a speaker and had a guy on the saxophone. In the finale of season 3, Meesha Shafi, in one of the darkest and the deepest tracks ever composed, introduced Tibetan bowls in Pakistani music.

Then there is a performance factor. Most of the performances by the bands on the stage were dull. The craziness and excitement were generally low. Tamasha band in the season 3 was the rare case who performed with the needed passion.

07. REDUCE THE EPISODE MINUTES

Why the episode has to be of at least 80 minutes? Why not reduce to 40 minutes? Do the bands need to perform a full song? Let’s assume if every band comes to the stage to perform for 5 minutes that means approximately 13 or 14 performances are covered each episode which is quite less. And this is what I am talking about an 80-minute episode.

The format and the continuity needs a helping hand, an idea or an approach to construct an episode with more ingenuity. In your limited presentation, you sometimes lose the purpose. I would rather agree on 16 episodes of 40 minutes instead of 8 episodes of 80 minutes. The other reason for keeping the episode that long is because the participants are less. But why less?

06. LIMITED CONTENTS

The hype you build among the viewers, the sources applied to the show are very limited. Only 8 episodes in almost 45 days! Each episode of at least 80 minutes! There were a host and a quartet of judges. The bands came and gave a full performance. The judges judged, off the bands went, “meet you in the next episode”, and curtains. That’s it?

The creative team should work and bring more ideas in the programming to add more content in such a lengthy episode. Not saying to make the show fake and dramatic as it happens in many musical shows. But the audience today need add-ins. Show the audience behind the scenes, reactions, their stories, from where they came from? How difficult has been this journey? What were they before they stepped to this platform? Show the discussions between the judges on and off. Between the screen time, share some past memories and achievements in Pakistan music culture. Give some interesting facts about the show and the judges with time.

Why did we only meet the families of the toppers in the grand finale? Why not give a couple of minutes of personal segments from some of the bands? Some musical stories are painful, some band members have a few lines to say. They can be covered, why not? Give some feeling, put some money on the contents to make the episode more exciting.

05. ADD MORE LOCATIONS

Apologies if my knowledge is incorrect but I think most of the participants from the different cities have traveled to Karachi to perform in the auditions. I think it is better if the panel of jury tour themselves to 3-5 most important cities. Not all the musical bands are financially stable enough to travel the city for the auditions. But Pepsi can afford expenses, right? The concern should be that Team PBOTB cover most of the bands in their cities. There is every chance that those bands who are financially poor are more talented than the toppers.

If Team PBOTB tour to the cities, there is a chance that those bands who had excuses to travel can save the expenses and participate straight to their city and try their luck. With more opportunities open, the judges will get to catch more attention and make their selections more easily.

In my opinion, the five most important touring cities should be Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Quetta, and Peshawar. Bring three of the best bands from each center. Then do your general proceedings with 15 best talents in your show.

04. RIDICULOUS FINALE WIND-UPS

I am sure many of the readers will agree here with me that the ending of the finale episodes of both season 2 and 3 was pretty ordinary. With such a tremendous hype built in the show and on the social media, millions of viewers watched the grand finale of the seasons and impatiently spent their 80 minutes and waited for the grand announcement. When the winner was announced; multi-colored paper confetti were released, the prize cheques to the toppers were handed and the trophy was lifted by the winner, and then the hosts concludes the show. This all happened in two minutes.

We noticed even the families of the toppers stepped to the stage after the announcement to meet their loved ones. The hosts could have bothered asking hardly a couple of questions on the stage to them but didn’t.

What the show-runners should do is give some respect to the toppers and let them speak some lines about these moments. Show their celebrations behind the scene after the conclusion of the show. Allow or request the toppers to send a motivational message to the coming bands and future participants.

03. RAISE THE PRIZE MONEY, FFS!

To be perfectly honest with you, any figure in the prize money less than a Crore rupees is awful, contemptible and revolting, keeping in mind that this musical series is produced by none other than *drum rolls* PEPSI!

The runner-up gets 25 Lac (0.25 Crore) rupees and the winner gets 50 Lac (0.50 Crore) rupees with an album deal, concerts across Pakistan and lifetime royalties. 50 Lac? What is 50 Lac in 2018? And remember, this 50 Lac is not for an individual but for the band. No matter how many members exist in the band, this amount will definitely be divided.

The producers should consider this matter and improve the figures. Because when the viewers across the world notice and realize how much amount the toppers are winning in their currency, their jaws will drop.

02. LACKS FEMINISM

It is a sorry state that despite 71 years have crossed to the country’s inception, most of the women still do not have the freedom to make their own decisions, choose their careers and ambitions, befriend a man, go in a relationship, choose or wish someone her husband. And when it comes to the art, more objections are compelled and the doors are closed by their own families. Singing, dancing, and modeling for a woman in many houses become a family issue with the hashtag #LogKiyaKahenge (what will people say).

And this is the very critical reason, that only 4 women have participated in a total of 2 seasons; Mehek from Naksh Band and one from Roots in season 2, and Ifra from I.F.R.A and one from Kaghaz. Only 4 women!

If mixing with men into a band is making them insecure or putting their families in an uncomfortable position, or raising eyebrows in their concerned mohalla, then why a group of women is still not coming up with the idea of forming their own band? Just like the All Girl Band or The Cheapmunks in Pakistan. Sometimes I wonder how Benjamin Sisters marked their presence on the national television to the viewers in the late 70s and early 80s.

The show producers cannot do anything about this matter. Women in Pakistan are equally capable like men in arts and need no references from me as there is an open treasure of vast talents. If the education can really change the way of thinking, if the thinking among the people can change with time, then time will tell how many women will be stepping ahead to the platform and how many families will be in an agreeable position to support their women.

01. WHERE IS THE AUDIENCE?

My number 1 issue with the show is that despite being a musical competition between the bands, it is terribly silent. Whenever the bands finished performing, it was awkward to listen only 5 pairs of hands clapping in the studio like the raindrops knocking your window. It was a musical tragedy for not adding the audience when it needed the most.

Season 2 HAD audience straight from the 3rd episode once the judges were done with the auditions in the first two episodes. But the whole season 3 gave you the theatre rehearsal feeling. It is always exciting to listen to the boos and hoots and roars in a musical show. Audience repeatedly shouting and chanting the names of their favorite bands or their favorite lead vocalist.

How exhilarating and sensational was listening and watching Asrar perform Lajpaal Ali or Call perform Jilawatan on TV in season 2. Imagine the environment installed during these numbers in the studio last year. The attendees with uncontrollable adrenaline in a captivating ambiance.

Imagine if the audience was allowed this year and were to be blessed with the performances by Tamasha. The show-runners should not attempt this gaffe when the show returns for season 4 next year.


Through this blog, I would like to congratulate both the toppers of this season, Xarb and Bayaan, and wish them all the best in the commencement of their promising careers. Also, the bands who lost in the knockout phases, this is an experience to take with you for a lifetime memory. And is also not the end of your musical expedition. You are blessed with a platform which millions have watched and observed you. Continue doing wonders, some wise financiers will surely ring you in the near future. Those who left in the auditions, never mind and return next year strong with more improvement. The other musical doors and platforms are also opened to try their luck.

If any of the 10 points are taken seriously and are considered to work on, I hope the show will improve more and acceptable with further positive critical reception.

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THE RISING OF A FAILED STATE (LAST PART)

This blog is in the continuity from my previous blog. Before you begin reading further, kindly read the first part HERE.

In the previous blog, I discussed the issues Pakistan is facing in the recent years and what points the observers have to consider in scrutinizing the government. Now I will surface the expectations on the revival of survival.

INVOKING A TABDEELI

The result of the recently concluded general elections comes to a massive surprise with a voice of change drumming almost everywhere. Being hopeless to observe the cipher-bound nation to vote the same parties repeating the same destruction and failing the country, I was believing that the same Pakistan Muslim League – N (PMLN) running the government will win the election after collecting the sympathetic votes for imprisoning their favorite leaders or perhaps Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) will take the turn.

Moreover, Imran Khan‘s former wife Reham Khan sparked nationwide controversy by making blatant allegations in her recently released book. I am not aware of how accurate the allegations are. My brain doesn’t accept the kind of allegations she made on her former husband because those claims make Khan look pure evil but then, Khan had a Sita White case in the past with whom he has an illegitimate daughter. Fingers crossed or in the other words, God knows the best.

But Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are victorious with 116 seats for the National Assembly. The 22-year wait to win the general election is over. Khan’s declaration of change in the form of a tsunami which he coined in a political jalsa a few years ago all becomes true. Back in 2002, when Pakistan Muslim League – Q (PML-Q) won the general election, PTI won only one seat and that too by Khan. This election, Khan win 5 seats alone wherever he contested becoming the first Pakistani politician to record victory at 5 different polling stations. Back in 1970, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto contested elections from 4 constituencies and managed to win 3.

Numerous wonders occurred at this event. PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto lost a seat from Lyari district where his party had political dominance for decades. Muttahida Qaumi Movement‘s 30-year rule over Karachi ended when PTI won 15 of the 21 seats in Karachi for the National Assembly. The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) had a tendency towards changing the ruling party in the general elections every time in the past 25 years. PTI became the first party to win KPK assembly in consecutive terms which prove that their contribution for the KPK people was recognized and trusted.

Voice of change and change of voice coincides across the nation. A politician like Maulana Fazlur Rehman who in almost every general election ended winning the seat in the National Assembly couldn’t win this time. Amir Liaqat joining PTI five months ago raised the eyebrows to the standards the party had raised or lowered to the voice the change for the better cause. But how crucial was this decision? People in Karachi, who were fed up of MQM’s rule especially Farooq Sattar, decided to vote and prefer Amir Liaqat over him for the sake of changing hands and looking a better future of Karachi under PTI after listening to Khan addressing tons of promises in the last few years. It indeed is a change when so many calamities over PMLN, PPP, and MQM occur.

KHAN’S ADDRESSES – A VOICE OF HOPE

The political dynamics are changing, so are the global voices. After a few channels from the Indian media displayed hatred towards Khan, many people in India including famous names in sports and film industry are praising his success and struggle, and hoping to see a new wave in Indo-Pak diplomatic ties. Navjot Sidhu accepted Khan’s invitation to participate in the oath ceremony. With Sidhu’s arrival, I hope a dove raises the bar of peace between the two countries.

Imran Khan with scores of addresses and promises in his jalsas forwarded highly impressive addresses after the election results before and after becoming the 22nd prime minister of the country. A lot of topics came to the attention but with a powerful stature and a command in speaking with the required determination that he always possessed, what made his listeners feel good and hopeful was the freshness of words. He spoke some lines which no biggest authority in Pakistan ever did. There is a reason why most of the viewers and listeners trust him.

What I will try to do is bring a few bullet points in attention to the readers from both the addresses to understand what we are to expect and hope in the next five very important and crucial years.

01. Khan idealized that the state under him will be like Medina under the times of Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaehe Wasallam (SAW). Now, to be honest, this religious circle of vision may take the nation into daydreaming and completely avoiding the ground reality of the offense the country has suffered under the name of Islam. With people belonging to many different Islamic ideologies under the same geographical roof, it is almost impossible to convince all at a point or put them in any religious agreement.

There is every chance that his every move or decision is put to an argument if the decision is according to Sharia law or if Prophet Mohammad S.A.W. allowed. Most of the people in the country have taken the religious matter to different dimensions, they understand less, gets sentimental more. Many times, the probability of doubt towards understanding a scholar or an orator about Islam or any aspect adds more rage, fury, and risk. In such a situation, my opinion is that Khan should have avoided such an extremely bold statement because when the lumberjack chops the trunk, the whole tree collapses. 

So the nation should observe that Khan spoke about the principles of the ideal state to establish so they should not fall delusional of thinking a whole newly constructed Islamic state and begin comparing his every move for the state with the state Prophet Mohammad S.A.W. established. He, in short, has set Medina state as a prime example.

02. Khan spoke highly of human development and recognition of the poor to be fed and paid what they deserve. He was so highly concerned of child growth that he, live on the state channel, showed two diagrams of children only differing due to consumption of nourishing food required for a two-year-old child.

03. Khan confirmed that political rivalries are the past for the sake of bringing solidarity in the country. I do not expect the rivalry to end. When he is running the government, there is every possibility in the coming years that his rivals ridicule the country’s political and socioeconomic situation in the coming years.

04. Khan clearly stated that the accountability will start with him and his ministers, followed by the others. One of the most impressive lines in his address.

05. Khan encouraged the overseas Pakistanis to invest the money in the country under the new leadership and promised the nation to protect the tax money and better the tax culture.

06. Khan innovated shaping the PM house into an educational institution and to bring in public use of all the governor houses. Because he admits humiliation for living in a palace of a country where more than half of the population are poor.

With that, he submitted his assurance that he, his governors and ministers will reduce their expenditures and adopt simplicity. The expensive vehicles which were used by the previous governments will be sold in the auction to the businessmen and put the received hefty money in the national treasury. The security will be reduced.

07. Khan talked about sending a team to China, make a report and learn the progress of the efforts the Chinese government made to overcome poverty at such a high rate.

08. Khan gave equal importance to both Saudi Arabia and Iran and voiced for immense efforts to ease the Middle East crisis. I have discussed Pakistan’s role in the Middle East crisis in the previous part.

09. Khan expressed disappointment to the Indian media for spreading negative portrayal but urged for dialogues and stepping ahead for better ties and open on trade relations and transactions.

10. Khan spoke of law amendments to ensure speedy disposal of civil cases within a year. We know that thousands of cases are shelved unfought for years and the poor is the one who suffered the most. If this happens, justice may be believed to earn its lost repute.

11. Khan stressed on the improvement in the education and the government hospitals.

12. Khan raised the issue of global warming and emphasized on a nationwide tree plantation campaign. Khan on the 3rd of September has launched a mega Tree Tsunami project in which 10-billion trees will be planted in the next 5 years against the climatic and environmental challenges. If this plan succeeds, Pakistan may be counted among the countries who raise their voice and contribute against the challenges. It may prove to be a significant turning point.

13. Khan challenged and offered cooperation to his rivals by investigating on any requested stations where the losing parties believed that the elections were rigged. This act of daring is something which the previous ruling party didn’t commit or offer.

14. Khan, in his final lines, envisioned that the country will financially prosper to the extent that there would be no tax receiver and he doubted if he may be alive to see that happen. This statement will be remembered for a long time even after his soul departs because the quality of the great people is that they, in their lifetime, utter some quotes which become the observational phenomena.

WERE THE ELECTIONS RIGGED?

Many observers have depicted their satisfaction. I am not an observer of this scenario. Rigging has always been in our blood, this will never stop. As far as politics is concerned, after every 5-year period, the victorious party claims the general election to be the purest while the rest whine. The same method was applied this time when all the losing parties assembled for the conference and decided whether to sit in the national assembly or not. It indeed is traditionally hilarious that after losing the election, the party claims rigging and later on decides to sit in the assembly indirectly and technically accepting the results, and become the opposition. Because seriously, who refuses the power of seat in the national assembly? Better to sit in the opposition and play chess.

They say that the Election Commission of Pakistan was responsible for the election. But let us agree on the open secret that there is something fishy about the happenings in Pakistan’s political affairs in the recent months. The judicial and military accountability over the-then existing political scenario troubled them, the biggest names went to prison or were declared impotent to contest any seat for the general elections. Yes, nature had its say too when the heavy rains in Lahore exposed the lies of the provincial government and the professed Paris in Lahore turned in to Venice. The army security had much of the control on the polling stations I agree. I asked a few of my friends about the situation there. But why the cameras weren’t allowed inside the stations? Only God knows what exactly happened but, to be honest, if the elections still were rigged, I am certainly okay with it.

Why so? Because the previous rigging established no hopes but sorrows. Voters voted the same parties and whined all the years. You have tried and trusted them for decades twice and thrice. You have lived in fear at certain places. This time, the rigging that brings the new faces and new hopes are acceptable, the majority of the nation is convinced that they can certainly expect better from the new ruling party. Perhaps, this was the fairest ‘rigged’ elections ever. And there is nothing wrong in hoping that the country’s broken spine and damaged reputation can be tried to fix and improve.

REALISTIC PATRIOTISM

Pakistanis are the most patriotic nation in the world because there is no country whose nation celebrates its independence like her, but unfortunately, their sincerity and passion are over-dramatic and unrealistic. I call it chauvinism with the all-is-well approach because their contribution is less to what words of their utmost love for the country they utter from their mouths.

Patriotism is a form of emotional madness towards liking and loving a particular geographic piece of land with the addition of developing aerial theories which most of the time doesn’t make logical or lacks common sense. People with such mentality loses conscience and begins to believe that they are superior to the others.

Failed governments have destroyed the societies for decades and as compared to the golden period of their cultural integrity, we have observed more moral calamity, rage, hatred, delusion, frustration, madness, negativity, lie, manipulation, backbiting, brainwashing, abuse, killing, and firing.

Further destruction came in the education when so many lies while teaching the country’s history wrecked and manipulated the generations and developed disturbance and confusion towards the reality which they declared frailty. After all of this, if the nation thinks that they really are patriotic, then it is a lost case and doesn’t make sense.

Thinking and understanding towards the religion and tolerance have dropped a severe low, also in decades, when religion was used as a political tool and many many many so-called religious organizations came to existence to fool the illiterate and ignorant people. Many flags under the motive of spreading the message of Islam clashed the brains of common and aided with false and wrong beliefs. The wrongs and fongs became traditions and rituals. Some of those organizations became political parties and some campaigns for spreading terrorism.

The passion of the-then nationalism and patriotism which was highly delusional on paper with zero motive now have a new voice and new hope. Under a new leadership, this jazba can flourish and help to contribute an honest cause and build them a new mason.


I am not a nationalist or a patriotic individual but I feel disappointed to observe a country in such a miserable condition and totally lost on the purpose of its existence. I admire Mr. Jinnah’s charismatic personality but do not believe in the vision of Mr. Jinnah and strictly disagree with the partition of a land into two on the bases of a two-nation theory which is built on strict racism and hatred. Both Hindus and Muslims have lived together for centuries. The existence of both the countries became a possibility thanks to the conclusion of World War II which pushed the British Empire to release the countries from the colonization. God knows how long we all would be colonized if this war would have never happened or never ended.

I am not a rebel nor a time traveler to rectify the blunder of the country’s founder but with the passing of time, I have to compromise and recognize the existence of this country and I, like other people, build HOPE to see a better future of this country with the new masons enrolled.

People should not jump waiting for the results from the day after taking the oath. People must realize that much a loss in shape of money has been suffered. The act of begging by the previous governments towards the institutions and supreme authorities has led the country in bad repute.

After some years, we will look back and observe how the revelation of the Panama Papers and Microsoft’s Calibri font ate PMLN. It looks no less than a wonderful script of a political drama.

What is Naya Pakistan? It is a substantial imagination of building a utopian state which failed to create in 71 years. It is a renovation of the destroyed building. This is not coming to reality soon. I have observed the craziness on the social media about people asking and questioning the possibility of observing Naya Pakistan in a few days and weeks. This is sheer nonsense. Even the final results of your board exams do not show up that quick as the people are demanding.

Tremendous patience is required. It is about rebuilding a country, not a school or shopping mall. It will take years to produce the genuinely positive results. Enough addresses from Khan, action has to be implemented. The government should be judged after at least six months and should be highly discussed when the first federal budget under this government is announced. But people must realize that Khan cannot do this alone, the nation has to cooperate and contribute. The nation has to do the favor to aid Khan to produce the expected results. If the level of trust has raised a few percentages under him, there is a possibility to believe because hoping is believing.

No government in the political history of Pakistan has ever completed its 5-year tenure. Will Khan be able to complete? Will Khan fulfill the promises? Will the ruling party surpass the expectations of the nation? Will there be a booming economy? Will the poverty decrease and the workers earn the deserving? Will the justice serve the right and prevail?

Time will tell…

Rise…