Pakistani jazz-folk duo Zeb and Haniya are clear about one thing. They don’t want to be called a girl/pop band, or radicals from a conservative society. “Initially, it bothered us. People across the world were talking about us, but not our music. I guess over time, the misconceptions dispel anyway,” says Zeb.
And while the kurta-clad cousins have not performed a single gig in India, they’ve managed to become household names here. On Friday, they met fans at an impromptu gig at Bandra’s Zenzi, organised through Twitter and Facebook. “We’ve always wanted to perform in India. We were even scheduled to play at Blue Frog last year, but our visa didn’t get through,” says Haniya, adding, “So we thought before leaving the country, we should strum and sing for Mumbai.” Their informal, one-hour gig saw ank audience of over 200 including Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao, Konkana Sen Sharma and Neha Dhupia among others.
Ask them if their trip has made inroads to B-town and Haniya replies, “Not really, but we wouldn’t mind if our music fits the style of Bollywood.” For now, the two are content with their latest collaboration here.
The duo just spent a week in India, shooting for MTV Roots and an online music and travel show titled Dewar’s The Dewarists. They’ve also just wrapped up recording a song and video with Bollywood lyricists and music directors, Swanand Kirkire and Shantanu Moitra. “The Dewarists format is experimental. Getting the four of us to create a song was fun. Surprisingly, it didn’t take us long,” says Haniya, adding that they have already shot the video for their new track, ‘Kya khayal hai?’.
While striding across the city finding ideal locations for their video, the duo visited Mohammed Ali Road, Chor Bazaar, Britannia Café and the heritage cinema hall, Capitol: “It was amazing. The touristy-ness worked well with our music schedule. I wanted to buy everything from Chor Bazaar.” And while their jazz-bluesy music has been staple on the Pakistani edition of Coke Studio, the two have no plans to record for the Indian leg. “For now, we are working on our new EP, we have about six tracks ready. Hopefully, it’ll be out this year.”