Hai Koi Hum Jaisa - Strings (2003)

"Hey O Hey O Hey O Ahh / Aaley Aaley Aaley O" goes the chorus of the new Strings song also known as Cricket World Cup song, sponsored by who else but Pepsi. The drink is the official sponsor of the Pakistani Cricket team for this World Cup. With Strings being the drink's blue eyed boys it didn't come as a surprise that their song got selected as the official World cup song for Pakistan. Rumour has it that the song is also bidding to become the official song for the entire World Cup tournament.

For a world cup song (which is supposed to be a buck up song), "Hai Koi Hum Jaisa", is not bad at all. The music and beats are very catchy and funky and the above-mentioned chorus may seem cheesy in writing but it has turned out to be the highlight of the song. It was sung almost like an anthem at the Qaddafi Stadium Lahore where a huge crowd gathered to bid farewell to the Cricket team.

The song is currently on air on local channels boasting a heavy budget colourful video directed by the talented twosome, Ahsan Rahim and Amna Khan. With a crisp print and slick editing, the video features a bunch of all-good looking, upper or upper middle class kids surviving the final moments of school as a match is about to commence. They all live in the same beautiful and posh neighbourhood and gather at one place to watch the game together. There are a couple of scenes featuring street children and ordinary folks listening to the commentary on radios but the focus remains on the cute, have-it-all bunch who are armed with all the necessary tools representing their excitement e.g. pop corn, tattoos on their faces and of course the official drink! However the enthusiasm, spirit and the way they watch the game is no doubt universal and captured well by the directors. Like all of us, they declare a Waqar Younis victim 'Out' 20 seconds before David Shepherd does, duck for cover at a bouncer by the super speedster Shoaib and finally do their version of "Mambo No. 5" when the last man bites the dust.

The video also attempts to highlight what many perceive as the universal properties of a Mathemetics teacher. The old fellow will always be stern, fun hating guy who has to ruin a party when it's in full swing. In this case, for a few seconds the teacher stands among the stunned youngsters with a "yeh-kya-ho-raha-hai (What's happening here?)" expression on his face. But after all, it's Cricket being celebrated so he too sees sense.

Five of our Cricketers - Wasim, Waqar, Shoaib, Inzamam and Afridi make an appearance in the final scene wearing loose floral shirts and tattoos on the faces. All pumped up and high-spirited carrying sponsor's bottles in their hands they throw a challenge mouthing the tagline "Hai Koi Hum Jaisa" together. In case you are wondering why these five out of the team of 11 - this is because all five of them are endorsed by the soft-drink giant.

Strings, while talking to the press at the ceremony, where the song was declared as the official anthem by the PCB, excitedly said that though they were confident prior to the release that people would like the song, they never expected it to be endorsed officially by the PCB. This scenario reminds one so much of the 1996 World cup when Junoon were going through the same juncture in their career and their "Jazba-e-Junoon" was the official World cup song. The role of cola companies in their careers (good or bad), however, can be debated upon endlessly.

"Hai Koi Hum Jaisa" could be termed as an intelligent amalgamation of all the right ingredients, which delivered the right results. Though because of the very catchy and fun loving beat one tends to ignore the lyrics which are not as extraordinary as one expects from Anwar Maqsood, they nonetheless, turn out to be more than mere fillers. They focus more on playing, trying and fighting hard and having fun all the way rather than declaring Pakistan as the obvious winners like in most of the previous World cup songs. They wonder "Ab kay jeetay ga kaun yahan?" and "Hosh Udanay ko / Jaan laganay ko / Saaray aayein yahan". The word Pakistan or rather "Paaakistaaan" as it's pronounced in all patriotic songs, is not mentioned even once which is a relief. This fact also adds to its prospects for being qualified as the official song for the tournament, - something that this song is aspiring to be. Lines like "Jitna dum hai zor laga do / rastay ki deewar gira do / tum kya ho dunyia ko bata do" are as much for other teams as they are for Pakistan. So all teams should know that a lot remains to be done before one of them holds the trophy and asks the world "Hai Koi Hum Jaisa?"

Fizzah Hussain Rizvi
The News International, Pakistan