Pakistan’s First Women’s Band

just after the 26/11 terror attacks.

‘‘Our visas expire in November,’’ says Haniya, who plays the acoustic guitar. ‘‘So despite being down with flu, we decided to come to India. I’ve been to Mumbai in the past but it is Zeb’s first visit.’’

The band is in India to perform and do a spot of networking. The duo, whose first album is called ‘Chup’, will also meet Louis Banks in Mumbai.

‘‘If things work out, we will come back to India, and if people like our music, we will keep coming back,’’ says Haniya

The last time India heard a female pop singer from across the border was, perhaps, the late Nazia Hasan who rocked the nation in the 1970s with ‘Baat Ban Jaaye’. But things have changed since then, especially in the last few years. Many regulars like Atif Aslam and Shafqat Ammanat Ali have cut down on their visits to India after the terror attacks, while there has been resistance in certain quarters of the music industry to Pakistani artistes living and working in India.Zeb and Haniya, however, are unfazed. ‘‘This opposition from the Indian music industry has certainly slowed down the business of Pakistani artistes, but music is something that has no boundaries,’’ declares Haniya. ‘‘And if people like our music we will certainly come back to India.’’

The women may be Pakistan’s first female band but they will certainly not be seen wearing T-shirt and jeans while performing on stage. ‘‘I normally wear a salwar kameez, but Haniya wears a kurta and jeans,’’ says Zeb. Haniya recalls a moment on stage much before they started their own band, when the public hooted at her.

‘‘We were at a friend’s performance — she insisted that I go up on stage,’’ she says.

‘‘I was in a salwar kameez, and the moment I went up, the public started screaming, ‘Aunty, get off the stage.’ But after I started playing the guitar and singing, they all fell silent. By the end of it they were shouting, ‘Aunty, we love you!’


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