Song of Lahore

In Song of Lahore, the Pakistani musicians from Sachal studios in the capital city of Lahore are trying their hands at improvisational jazz. Although there are traditional instruments, like the tabla, the sitar, a flute and other less well-known instruments, the group is augmented by a string section and a guitar. They have recorded their own version of Dave Brubeck’s Take five, which has created a buzz around the world. Most of Sachal studios musicians are coming from a long tradition of  Pakistani music that dates back several generations. After a golden era in the 50s, the arrival of the Taliban made playing music almost impossible. Although things are better now, traditional musical instruments have been threatened to disappear because younger musicians are now into rock and electronic music. Izzat Majeed has founded Sachal studios so that they can keep the tradition alive. The decision to do jazz has paid off. They are invited by Wynton Marsalis to play with his Jazz ensemble at a concert at Lincoln Center. They arrive in New York (minus the string section) and the cultural clash is evident. Majeed sings John Denver’s Country roads with a street musician wearing only a cowboy hat and a bikini. During rehearsals, things don’t go as smoothly as conductor Nijat Ali would  have liked. They have to hire another sitar player. Directors Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Andy Schocken keep building up the suspense. There’s no need to worry. Not only is it a success with the audience but Marsalis and the other players from his Big band are happy. Song of Lahore should be seen mostly for the music and those Pakistani musicians and their love and passion for their art.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

Song of Lahore

Directed by:
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
Andy Schocken

82 min.

Rated 14A

In Urdu  and English with English subtitles.

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