BY ALI NAQVI –
“If any art is devoid of lessons, it is certainly music” wrote Albert Camus in his book The Myth of Sisyphus. Being devoid of lesson is what makes music universal. But for any music to have universal appeal it has to evoke the emotions of pure joy or sorrow, anger or love while liberating the heart from the confines of time and space. Junoon is one band whose music ascends to the level of universality. It has the strength to transcend boundaries of nations and nationalities, class or creed.
Junoon is all set to perform in Bangladesh at Dhaka International Folk Fest which is scheduled to be held from 14th to 16th of November 2019. The former East Pakistan has always been a source of bitter and sweet emotions for all Pakistanis.
The tour of Bangladesh is most significant for Salman Ahmed, the ‘Bono of Pakistan’ and the backbone of Junoon, than anyone in the band. To understand why a gifted and aspiring Cricketer, whose talents were spotted by Imran Khan went on to become a musician, one has to go back to Dhaka.
The year was 1985. Salman Ahmed was engrossed with the passion to play cricket. “It was around this time that I began to think it was my destiny to play cricket professionally. On a cold day in December 1985, I played a friendly match against Imran at the gymkhana” writes Salman in his autobiographical book “Rock and Roll Jihad”. Things were looking good for Salman’s dream for becoming a cricketer as he was handpicked by Imran Khan himself for an official tour to Bangladesh.
“After the tragic events of 1917 it was the first official tour of Pakistan to Bangladesh. All our worries vanished the moment we emerged from the airplane. The airport was 100 percent positive pandemonium. The whole of Dacca, it seemed, had come to welcome us. Crazy Bangladeshi fans were screaming IMRAN! Mighty IMRAN!”
It so happened that on the New Year eve of 1985 Salman asked a Bengali band “I’m with the team from Pakistan. Can I play your guitar?” It was the moment that turned everything around for Salman. The night he performed with the Bengali band the people who heard his performance were not only the people of Bangladesh but also the legends of cricket including Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and many others.
Since that highly applauded performance at the fateful night in Dhaka Salman Ahmed the Cricketer transformed himself into a rock star. His passion for cricket may not be stifled with those turn of events but his cricket days were over.
Junoon will be performing in Bangladesh at the fest. History will repeat itself but time will never be the same again. This time the people of Bangladesh will watch and relish every note coming out of his magical guitar and the symphonies of Junoon which will make them one with the universal, a language we are all capable of understanding yet very few possess the ability to speak.