Karachi Jazz: A Different Time, A Different Beat

Posted on April 20, 2010
Filed Under >Adil Najam, History, Music, Society
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Adil Najam

An absolutely fascinating documentary from Dawn TV on the Karachi music scene from the 1960s into the 1970s. About a Karachi that is no more. A Karachi where Duke Ellington and Quincy Jones fly in to play. A Karachi which had the only piano manufacturing facility in all of pre-1947 India. A Karachi that even the Beattles passed through.

Absolutely fascinating. Or have I said that already!

This is about a Karachi from a very different time. A Karachi that moved to a very different beat.

Nostalgia – and the glamorization of nostalgia – not withstanding, this does not mean it was a ‘better’ time or a ‘better’ beat. It was also a time with many many problems. And big ones. Of poverty. Of economic divide. Of intolerance of a different kind. In many ways – and for some people – it was a much more innocent time. In other ways – and for other people – it might have been harsher.

But it was, quite clearly, a very different time. And that, of course, is the point.

What one sees in this documentary was not the only face of Karachi of that time. Karachi had many many faces. It has always had many many faces.

It is too easy to forget that it still has many many face. And that, of course, is the point. And not just about Karachi. About any place, really.

21 responses to “Karachi Jazz: A Different Time, A Different Beat”

  1. Hi!

    Nice to documentary. I feel that you are still confused nation. Some times people in Pakistan portray it as Islamic state, some times people portray it as old western country where music, dance and other non Islamic activities were popular.

    Sometimes people are more nationalistic , sometimes more religious and sometimes more anti western.

    Anyway nice try to show Pakistan as modern, western friendly and IT nerdy nation.


  2. Wasiq says:

    I have been watching this documentary over and over again — thanks for posting these — my favorite all time Pakistaniat piece. Wonder what happened to our Goan community — are they still in Karachi in decent number? Was floored to learn that Duke Ellington and Quincy Jones actually played in that once fair city called Karachi. Spent the best years of my life there in 1975-1977 and still dream of the atmosphere thats passed.

  3. sidhas says:

    Karachi was different city back then.

  4. Watan Aziz says:

    To the Pakistanis here:
    Please allow the Indians to visit and mock. Please allow them to participate pretending to be Pakistanis. Please allow them to monitor this and other Pakistani sites.

    After all what are good neighbors for?

    They need relief from their tragic lives and they need to be humored to feel better. And if Pakistanis are helping them in this cause, all power to them.

    After all, with over 400 Million (yes, their numbers run in Millions) naked and starving people, they need help. India has more people in bonded labor than the entire population of Pakistan. They have more people with HIV cases than the entire population of Punjab. They have more people dying of simple diseases than the entire population of Baluchistan.

    Just today, UK passed law to help the untouchables in India and in UK.

    But none of this solves problems of Pakistan. And I am no way trying to do a one up. Misery has no joy. And I do not find any humor in India’s misery. As a matter of fact, it is a threat to Pakistan’s stability.

    But frankly, have you noticed, since this has flared up in Pakistan, RSS and their cohorts have stopped killing Christian missionaries. They are letting Gujarati Muslims breathe easier. The Sikhs are feeling more at home. And even the Buddhists can mediate in peace. And lo and behold, even the Kashmiris are dying in fewer numbers.

    And btw, they dumped UK at the first opportunity and went with the Soviets. Then they the dumped them as soon as Soviets fortunes were out. And they are now dreaming about their equal status with the Americans. Even the fair weather friends have some morals. Their new found friends will in time find out how reliable they are. But that is not Pakistan’s problem either.

    So, please, let us all help them feel better. After all, it is audacity of fantasy that they think they are a power, super or duper with the kind of problems they have. But, hey, that is their business. I wish them luck and happiness, even if they get it by mocking Pakistanis.

    Pakistanis have to get the house in order. And too many good Pakistanis are working very hard to fix it. Everyone may not agree from time to time, and that is OK, I know everyone’s heart is in the right place.

    Good will come out of it.

    We will get there. Soon.

    And on this, I can quote both Jinnah and Iqbal. And we all know those quotations. But, Jinnah’s reminder is just so good. So one more time,

    Unity, Faith, Discipline.

  5. Amna Zaman says:

    So I really wish I was born in this era where I could enjoy the diversity. Today the things are different as for some reason the Taliban mindset has taken over a handful which will categorize this music in liberalism! And surely they do hate faces of foreigners.

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