Slinging A Victory

Just when you thought the local pop scenario couldn't get any more dull, insipid and pretentious, out springs a surprise from across the border that makes us heave a sigh of relief and reaffirms our faith in our brigade of ready, willing, and able popsters. For you see Strings, that duo of just plain nice dudes, has scored a place on Hollywood monster Spider Man 2's soundtrack. Don't worry, this writer was in just as much shock as you probably are right now.

Don't get us wrong. Strings churn out some pretty all right numbers and have been enjoying steady success based on the formula of safe, poppy adult contemporary hits that aren't too taxing on anyone's ears ... or intellect, for a while now. But considering the soundtrack from the first film featured such major recording industry names as Aerosmith, Chad Kroegar (the singer from Puddle of Mudd ... or is it Nickleback ... does it make any difference? They all sound the same) and Macy Gray, it was a bit perplexing why Sony, the record label, would come to Karachi looking for Strings.

But, as it turned out, the label has changed its strategy and the soundtrack for Spidey 2 will sell as it is in English-speaking markets (featuring hokum by modern rock bands such as Train, Hoobastank), but for the subcontinent release, the album will feature an additional track, Strings' "Na Jaane Kyun".

Without a doubt and with all joking aside, this is a major achievement for the whole Pakistani pop music industry. Strings' latest album "Dhaani" was selling well on the Indian charts and hence the label decided to override the army of (mostly invisible) Indian popsters and reach out to Strings. Naturally, the band gladly accepted.

"When we were approached by Columbia to do this track for Spider Man 2, it was unreal," said Faisal Kapadia. "Spider Man has been a favourite character of ours for a long time, so to sing a track for the worldwide film is an amazing opportunity," added partner Bilal Maqsood, in an interview with the Times of India. The next step was filming the video, which the duo just completed in a recent sojourn in Mumbai.

"We shot the video with an Indian director, Marlyn Rodrigues. It was shot at a place called Mukesh Mills. The concept is very interesting because scenes from Spider Man 2 have been mixed with shots of the band performing," said Faisal.

"The song is very emotional in the beginning and gets even more intense during the middle. It works well because the movie explores Peter Parker's relationship with his girlfriend, Mary Jane, and Aunt May. In the middle of the tune, one can see the metamorphosis from Peter Parker to Spider Man. The flow of the song and the video are very much in tandem," Bilal revealed.

This was all very nice, but we still wanted to know how the record label zeroed in on Strings, considering the long line of hopefuls that cluttered the scenery.

"When Columbia approached us, they had no clue we were Pakistani. At the time we were on top of the Indian charts, and the label wanted a band that could support their film, both with its image and music," Bilal explained.

"I believe it is the first time this has happened, because Hollywood soundtracks are released pretty much as they are in the West. We were briefed and were ready to go to work, but as it happened they heard 'Na Jaane Kyun', which is on 'Dhaani', and felt it was a perfect match," wrapped up Faisal.

The video will air in the first week of July. Strings have pulled off quite a coup and one is sure it'll set both Pakistani and Indian industries abuzz with machinations a plenty. What's next? Junoon crooning for Captain Planet? Or Sonu Nigam belting out one for Wonder Woman? That only fate will reveal.

One interesting facet of the deal is that since the film will be dubbed in Hindi for South Asian audiences, Peter Parker has been dubbed Pavitr Prabhakar. No word yet on weather Spider Man's trademark web slinging has been replaced by flying tirshuls. Spidey was unavailable for comment, reportedly enjoying masala dosa on a Mumbai beach with Doc Oc.

Qasim Abdallah Moini
July, 2004
Dawn, Pakistan