Selamat Ulang Tahun ke-20, Junoon!

Three things need to be shared worldwide: clean and green living, good soulful music and lots of love.

While much of the work on this blog has highlighted the former, Junoon – the U2 of Pakistan – has been one of my main inspirations for the latter two. This article has been written in commemoration of Junoon’s 20th Anniversary.

Thank you Salman Ahmad for asking me to contribute a piece to this wonderful milestone. Allah Hafiz!


Selamat Hari Jadi ke-20, Junoon![1]

I can’t actually remember how I got to know about Junoon. It must have been the result of a random search on Youtube in the late 90s. But I’m thankful for that random Youtube search, as Junoon music videos demonstrate a combination of some of my favourite things – Sufism, Rock Music and awesome beats to be grooving to… (and ok yes, I’ll admit.. a pretty darn cute guitarist!!)

Students of political science and international relations, such as myself, are accustomed to the term ‘soft power’ as coined by Prof Joseph Nye of Harvard University. Soft power refers to factors such as values and cultures which are primary currencies in influencing world politics. This is opposed to notions of hard power, where the use of military force and coercion are paramount.

One of the best biographies I've ever read.

Junoon is by far one of the best examples of soft power. As the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, once said, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” Junoon’s songs have clearly crossed linguistic and territorial boundaries far beyond the Indian sub-continent. Junoon’s music has and continues to be a shining beacon of peace and love.

Junoon’s ability to transcend linguistic barriers is clearly reflected in my own circumstances – a Singaporean with pretty much a 90% non-Urdu speaking background. The use of Urdu in my family pretty much stopped with my paternal grandmother. She did not speak Urdu with her children as it was the “secret” language that she would use with her elders!

In 2002, my love for Junoon grew more than just as a fan on Youtube and downloaded music videos on Napster. JUNOON WAS COMING TO SINGAPORE! I still remember going to Kallang Theatre with my pal Vik and seated right smack in the middle. Although down with a flu, I was still determined to be there to see Junoon in the flesh. *Hi Salman!!*

It was a great night, with fans both young and old clapping and bobbing their heads to the hypnotic beats. There was no mosh pit, but half way through the concert, some youth made their own in front of the stage.

Junoon was also particularly significant in my undergraduate years in Perth, Australia, where I and a fellow Singaporean friend, Jeskiran, would be crooning away during meal times in our hostel’s dining hall and beating dining tables like tablas.  Top tracks were Yaar Bina Dil Mera and Sayonee. It was such good fun for us, though our other girlfriends would often cringe when we hit the high and long notes.

It’s been about 6 years since those dining hall duet days, but Jeskiran and I still take the opportunity to drum tables in restaurants when we girls have get-togethers. More importantly, 20 years on, the spirit of Junoon continues to drum up passion and love for one and all.

Happy 20th Anniversary, Junoon!

[1] translation of title: Happy 20th Anniversary, Junoon (in Malay).

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