The subcontinent’s first international rockstar, Salman Ahmad, Pakistani band Junoon’s frontman, recently released his autobiography, Rock & Roll Jihad: A Muslim Rock Star’s Revolution.
The book, a memoir of Ahmad’s efforts of bringing about a rock and roll jihad in a country that was initially resistant to it, also chronicles the struggles of a Muslim rock musician in the Western world, and Ahmad feels that the book could be fodder for a Bollywood movie.
"I hope that Bollywood actors and producers like Shah Rukh Khan, Karan Johar or Aamir Khan will find Rock & Roll Jihad a good read," Ahmad says. "It’s got romance, music, tragedy and Junoon.
The passion I saw in the eyes of the teenagers and college students during Junoon's historic concert in Srinagar could be a theme for a movie about Rock & Roll Jihad, if the universe conspires!"
Ahmad is referring to Srinagar’s first rock concert in more than a decade that took place on the banks of the Dal Lake, in front of a crowd of over 5,000 Kashmiri students in 2008. The musician, who is also a UN Goodwill Ambassador for HIV, has ended his book with memories of the historic concert, and reveals that his affection for India goes further back.
“Growing up in Lahore, I remember watching Amritsar TV’s Chitarhaar and having childhood crushes on Sharmila Tagore, Helen and Mumtaz,” Ahmad fondly recalls, revealing further that the music video of Junoon’s breakthrough single, Yaar bina was inspired by the visuals of Kamal Amrohi’s Pakeezah.
Although Ahmad has been strongly involved in creating a cultural bridge between India and Pakistan through his music and his peace efforts, including a performance at the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony in 2007 with Indian percussionist Samir Chatterjee, it’s been a while since the musician collaborated on this side of the border.
“That’s only because I was busy making documentaries for PBS and BBC, writing the book and recording new music in America,” he responds. “But I recently met A R Rahman in New York, who invited me to his Jai Ho tour, and I hope to collaborate with him in the future.”
Ahmad also plans to launch his book and a compilation CD in India in the next couple of months, followed by a tour of the country. Explaining the relevance of his book in India, Ahmad says, “Rock & Roll Jihad is a universal story of following your heart, believing in your dreams and never giving up.
My book reflects the pluralism, tolerance and passion of growing up in a multicultural world, taking inspiration from Iqbal's couplet ‘Khudi ko kar buland itna…’ (Make yourself so strong…).