Fifi Haroon Interviews Zeb Bangash

Incredibly honest, sharp, and beautifully spoken conversation between Zeb Bangash and Fifi Haroon of BBC Urdu – from late September.

Zeb talks about her views on the industry, on performing in India, on the security situation, on Zeb & Haniya’s image in the media, among other things.

Zeb’s complaint of being portrayed in the media as ‘Pashto singers’ is quite damning. Aside of just plain laziness and inaccuracy in most news write-ups, it speaks to the increased understanding of Pakistani identity through the eyes of foreign viewers. Our realization of who we are has been driven more and more by how we are talked about in American and British newspapers. To Western eyes a couple of girls in a band is like an oasis of liberalism in the desert of Pakistan’s conservatism. But in truth it was just a couple of girls singing in Lahore Cantt. It was made a big deal for the wrong reasons, and it did so to the detriment of the music. There was some great musical menagerie in Chup, but it unfairly paid second-fiddle to the incorrectly-reported demographic of its performers.

This is why Coke Studio was important, because it wrenched control of national identity via an unparalleled introspection. In the PTV of yore we found depth of story that allowed us to see each other as human, that allowed us to see ourselves as capable of deep emotion and sincerity. The same emotion was what we saw in Nazia & Zoheb, and in the Vital Signs. Unfortunately in today’s TV we are only breaking news. You’d think Pakistan was the land of ominous jingles. It is time bring our eyes back home, to begin seeing ourselves by ourselves, not through the eyes of another.

Fifi Haroon deserves real credit for orchestrating such a great conversation. This is right up there with her interview of Rohail Hyatt a few months ago. That interview provided more insight into Rohail’s recent approach to life and work than almost anything in recent years.

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