There is no denying that the Pakistan Super League has become one of the most important events in our calendar and has morphed into a sort of cultural phenomenon for Pakistan in a short span of six years, an idea brought by Najam Sethi when he was the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board.
There is always this striking brouhaha surrounding almost every aspect of the biggest sports event of the country that affects almost every aspect of the life of the green flag nation. The concoction of PSL cricket and entertainment in Pakistan is something that makes way to our conversation whether we are having a chat over a cup of chaaye at a dhaaba or having a tete à tete at our serious workplaces in those limited breaks we have. PSL diffuses into virtually every frame of a Pakistani’s life when it’s happening.
Just a few days ago, before even the first ball had been delivered in the opening clash between the Karachi Kings and the Quetta Gladiators, on February 20, the social media and our chatrooms had been buzzing with the discourse regarding PSL’s official anthem titled ‘Groove Mera’. The song features Naseebo Lal, Aima Baig, and Young Stunners. With such a mix of talented, established, and young artists coming together for the song, magic was bound to happen obviously.
Anthem 1 – Groove Mera
This song, like almost all official anthems of PSL, drew mixed reactions from different strata of social media. The reactions on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have been as diverse as the lineup of the artists for the song and the flavours it carried.
There were classist reactions, surprisingly from the very same people whom the artists were representing. Naseebo Lal, for example, an exceptionally talented artist with a strong set of vocal cords, was particularly targeted by such classist and somewhat racist reactions by social media users who could easily be called the remains of colonial hangover. Reactions by people like cricketer Shoaib Akhtar were particularly distasteful, who thankfully and rightfully was called out by various celebrities immediately and a large number of people. Targeting an artist such as Naseebo Lal, because of her socioeconomic background and inability to speak a western language, was very disturbing. Those criticising Naseebo forgot that she was actually a representation of our country, a large chunk lies on the middle or lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum.
The PSL 2021 anthem is unique in the sense that it’s diverse, inclusive and versatile in its artist lineup as well it’s musical flavours. What should have been appreciated by people was unfortunately overlooked initially. But the song’s power to grow over the listeners and the unjust scrutiny on social media actually helped it reach more and more people and is now the most-watched PSL anthem of all time. The song is unique in a way that you don’t have to like the entire song, you may like parts of it. As it combines different genres of music it kind of represents how diverse we are as a nation. The Urdu rap with an underground youthful feel, the slick and chic looks of Aima Baig and the high octane vocals of Naseebo Laal adding regional diversity is actually how we are composed as a nation; diverse, part of a spectrum with beauties of our own.
Anthem 2 – Chal Jawana
Now Groove Mera is not the only song that people are talking about. Over the course of time, PSL has inspired many artists to create unofficial anthems that have received widespread to limited applause. Last year, Ali Zafar’s Mela Loot Lia garnered much appreciation than the official anthem, for example. This year, it’s two others. A Gujrat based underground band called ‘Puthi Topi Gang’ collaborated with internet star “Bhola” to create a very raw yet groovy bhangra rap song “Chal Jawana”. The video garners generally positive feedback from the viewers considering its independent nature and low expectations associated with such unofficial projects.
The video, however, had to be taken down by YouTube when PSL launched a strike against the video for containing shots of PSL matches without permission. The band had to reshoot and re-upload the video. While PSL can not be blamed for launching a legally genuine copyright violation claim, a lot of people showed resentment against PSL with some claiming that it should have let the song be in “sportsman spirit” considering the artists were independent and underground and were celebrating the love of cricket and PSL in particular.
Anthem 3 – Jeeta Pakistan
Around two days ago, another PSL Anthem popped up on our feed. A charity organisation, Omair Sana Foundation, launched another PSL anthem called “Jeeta Pakistan” with a music video as well. Featuring legends of cricket in the video like former Pakistan pace bowler, Umar Gul, West Indian legend Curtly Ambrose, the former ICC Elite panel Umpire Simon Taufel, commentator Barry Wilkinson, and cricket analyst, Dr. Kashif Ansari, the video is screaming cricket passion. An NGO that works on general welfare, OSF has released an anthem focused on street cricket and the general “awaams” love for the sport.
The bottom line is we may have varied responses to PSL anthems due to our backgrounds, diverse tastes in music, and other forms of arts. The reactions to a work of art should never cross a line where the artist is disrespected and called all sorts of names. Art of any kind is a medium of expression, and it being liked or disliked is subjective to personal taste.
Whether it’s PSL or the artists associated with creating relevant art to it, the purpose of all, at the end of the day, is to bring entertainment to our screens and smiles to our faces. There is no competition between the three anthems as each caters to a different audience. There may be different teams in PSL, and there may be team Naseebo, or team Ali Zafar, or even team Bhola on the musical front, but ultimately we are all part of this big team that we so dearly call Pakistan.
Here are links to the Anthem 2 and Anthem 3:
Chal Jawana – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80S2RBxOjxc