Friday, January 06, 2012

Twenty Twelve

cover story

Uprisings, economic crises, sovereignty violations … we all saw what 2011 dished out. Now it’s time to have a look at what 2012 might have in store for us. There is no doubt we will see political intrigues, sports scandals, new (and not so new) movies and music, and even an apocalypse or two. So read on and find out what is coming up. (Keep in mind, though, that the expected events are subject to change. Except the apocalypse; that will definitely happen! I mean, they’ve even made a movie about it, so it must be true!)

Apocalypse now, or maybe later
As usual, this year has been declared ‘the year of’ a number of things. Will those titles actually have any relevance to the year’s events? Perhaps we should hope they do. 2012 has been named the International Year of Cooperatives (jointly owned and beneficial enterprises), to highlight their “economic viability and social responsibility”; The Year of Sustainable Energy for All, to draw attention towards the “importance of energy for sustainable development”; and also the Alan Turing Year, in the hopes of bringing the world together in not knowing who Alan Turing was.*
But the most anticipated event of 2012 is the long awaited and repeatedly delayed apocalypse. Yes, this is the year that the world finally ends (and no, we don’t mean that metaphorically), at least according to some Mayan calendar and a movie by Roland Emmerich. Supposedly, the Mayans didn’t bother putting any years past 2012 on their super calendar and this must mean that they knew something we don’t know. Or it could just mean they ran out of space, or figured that by 2012 people would probably want a new calendar. But hey, let’s not get picky. Just be prepared for the occurrence of “cataclysmic or transformative events” on the 21st of December.
One thing that IS ending this year, at least for the rest of the century, is the chance to see Venus pass directly between the Sun and Earth. That’s right folks, 2012 is the last year of the solar transit of Venus for this century (its next occurrence is expected in 2117). This must be important to somebody, somewhere.

*He was a mathematician and computer pioneer who is widely considered to be “the father of computer science and artificial intelligence”. You’re welcome!

The winds of no change
Very often changing governments have meant new faces, same policies. Let’s hope this year will be different and for the better, as many countries are scheduled to have elections. After the uprisings of 2011, various Arab countries are set to choose new leaders. On the back of their financial crisis, Greece is going to elect a new parliament, while Russia picks a new President, with Vladimir Putin (who has already served two terms as President and is currently the Prime Minister of Russia) returning as a candidate. The US of A sees Barack Obama’s bid to win re-election for a second term as President, just so he can stay content in the knowledge that he would have been the next President of America had the planet continued to exist past December. On the home front, our politicians will continue to use cricket metaphors while we continue to cringe. Oh and rest assured that the media will leave no storm in a teacup unstirred!

No originality expended
Brace yourself for an onslaught of sequels, reboots, and adaptations, as nearly all of Hollywood’s most anticipated films of 2012 come from established franchises. Batman returns in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises (July), which reportedly marks Christian Bale’s final outing as The Caped Crusader; James Bond is back in Skyfall (October), with Daniel Craig taking on the role for a third time; Jason Bourne resurfaces sans Matt Damon, with Jeremy Renner taking over the character in The Bourne Legacy (August); Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reprise their characters in Men in Black III (May), which comes ten years after its predecessor MIIB (2002); and The Amazing Spider-Man (July) marks a reboot of the Spider-Man franchise with Andrew Garfield cast in the lead role. Also returning is the cast of The American Pie in American Reunion (April); the ensemble of action heroes in The Expendables 2 (August); and the vampires and werewolves of The Twilight Saga in the second and final instalment of Breaking Dawn (November). The adaptation of The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire, is also set to come out, but it is unfortunately slated for a December 25th release, and we all know the world will have ended by then, so that’s a shame. But months before the apocalypse hits, Marvel will unleash its crossover superhero film, The Avengers (May), uniting Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Captain America (Chris Evans) for a high budget adventure.
Major hopes for a new blockbuster franchise lie on the much hyped adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games (March). But if it’s a blast from the past that you crave, then you’re in luck: some of the most successful films of all time – including Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (February), Titanic (April), and Finding Nemo (September) – are set to be rereleased in 3-D this year.
Animation fans can look forward to the adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (March); the return of the hapless animal crew in Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (June); meet Dracula in Hotel Transylvania (September); and “discover the meaning of true bravery” in Pixar’s newest adventure, Brave (June).
But the film that is most anticipated by everyone who is me, is The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (December), the first part of the adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s book and a prequel to The Lord of the Rings film trilogy; it better be a life affirming catalyst to world peace, or some of us will be very disappointed in Peter Jackson.

Compelling reasons to purchase a set of earplugs
2012 will face no shortage of new music internationally. Returning to the soundscape are pop rock band The Cranberries, who were reasonably popular in the ’90s and are set to make a return after a nearly decade long hiatus, as are Ska outfit No Doubt who plan to release their first new album in eleven years; alt rock band Garbage who return with the follow-up to Bleed Like Me (2005); rock band Soundgarden who unveil their first new record since 1996’s Down on the Upside; and pop rock legends the Beach Boys, who have a 50th-anniversary reunion tour slated for the year, along with plans of working on a new album. Following the falling out of Fallout Boy, Pete Wentz’s new project Black Cards are expected to offer their debut set, and new albums are also expected from Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, Keane, Paramore, Matchbox Twenty, The Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day, Linkin Park, Creed, Bruce Springsteen, Muse, The Killers, Aerosmith, Alanis Morissette, Christina Aguilera, Ke$ha, and Leona Lewis. Oh and Madonna is set to release her twelfth studio album in March, which almost makes one wish the apocalypse would hurry up and strike a few months earlier than scheduled.
In the local scene, as well as music from much hyped upcoming Lollywood films, like Kaptaan (based on the life of cricketer turned politician Imran Khan) and Waar (directed by Bilal Lashari), artists including Ali Zafar and Roxen will also release music for Bollywood projects. A new Jal album might also see the light of day, plus new music might (with emphasis on the word “might”) also be released by Sajid and Zeeshan, Annie Khalid, and Junaid Khalid (refer to the Rewind article for details).

iPad killers since 2400 BC
Bibliophiles are in luck, as 2012 promises a host of new releases. Stephen King offers the eighth novel of his fantasy horror series Dark Tower, titled The Wind Through the Keyhole (April), and might also release Dr. Sleep, the sequel to The Shining (1977). Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan’s The Mark of Athena, the third book in The Heroes of Olympus series, comes out in autumn. Author James Patterson has a number of projects in the works, with books co-written with writers including Maxine Paetro, David Ellis, Mark Sullivan, and Michael Ledwidge set to be released this year. Jeffrey Archer continues the Clifton Chronicles with The Sins of the Father (March/May). John Grisham will publish his mandatory yearly novel in the form of Calico Joe (April) and will also give us the third instalment of his young adult legal thriller series Theodore Boone (May). And fans of the Vampire Diaries series can look forward to The Hunters: Moonsong (March). Plus autobiographies are expected from everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger (actor, former Governor of California, and now ex-husband of Maria Shriver) to N-Dubz singer/The X Factor (UK) judge Tulisa Contostavlos (who is reportedly writing an autobiography at the ripe old age of 23), so as long as you’re ok with reading celebrity dross, there’s no chance you’re going to run out of things to read this year.

Run, Usain, run!
Pakistan has the chance to maintain its nearly two decade long streak of 0 gold, 0 silver, and 0 bronze medals at the Summer Olympics, as the Games of the XXX Olympiad (July – August), the biggest sporting event of the year, make their way to London; the city, which has the honour of hosting the Games for a third time, will also be the venue for the Paralympics (August – September). Meanwhile, the inaugural Winter Youth Olympics will be held in Innsbruck, Austria (January). Also, along with all the regular events for various sports, some other bigger tournaments are also on the cards. Football fans will get to enjoy the UEFA European Football Championship (June–July). In cricket, Australia hosts the Under19 Cricket World Cup, while Sri Lanka hosts the ICC World Twenty20 tournament. And who knows, maybe this year the Pakistani cricket team might actually be in the news not for scandals but for actually winning a tournament! Stranger things have happened! If nothing else, it would at least be a sign of the apocalypse, which would only be fitting.

So there you have it – dodgy politics and impending global doom. Looks like it’s going to be an interesting year. Or perhaps it’s going to be just like every other year. In any case, stay tuned in late December to find out if we were right or not. Of course, since the world’s going to end, chances are it won’t matter if we were right or wrong, because we won’t be around to comment. But just in case…

- S.A.

Us Magazine, The News - 6th January, 2012

Rewind (part ii - Pakistani music in 2011)


Musicians look back at Pakistani music in 2011, and share their plans for this year

Haniya Aslam: Some very exciting music came out last year. We had Uth Records at the beginning of the year, and I had Ramlal’s Naughty Boy on repeat for a couple of months. The soundtrack of Karachi – The Musical blew me away also. And over the past month I heard Natasha Ejaz’s new single Jahaan, Poor Rich Boy’s debut track Alice, and two new tracks from a the new band Fables of Cantt. All very innovative and exciting music. Can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store for us!

Ali Zafar: I think, considering the potential in Pakistan, music was still at the back burner. However thanks to online social networking, one did come across some very interesting stuff. I liked a song Alice by a Pakistani band abroad, and I liked Aalu Anday, too.

Zeeshan Parwez: Music-wise, I’m proud of what was achieved by the bands selected in Uth Records, season one. The likes of Yasir & Jawad, Ramlal, Jumbo Jutt, Athar Sani, Usman Riaz, and Natasha Ejaz were my favourites for this year. It has been a low one for me personally. I was really expecting our album to get [released] last year, but it just kept on getting delayed, because of security conditions and etcetera. We hope the new Sajid and Zeeshan album will surface soon because we don’t want to keep our fans waiting anymore. On the other hand, I’m working on my solo audio project that I plan to release mid of this year, Insha’Allah.

Faakhir Mehmood: Pakistan has immense music talent and as usual music making continued in Pakistan in the year 2011; however Indian produced music grabbed more limelight and attention! Sadly, the economy woes and law and order problems in our country continued to haunt the music based entertainment industry. Pakistani musicians continued to look towards Bollywood for a break and in the process failed to stand up for their fair share on Pakistani airwaves (music and entertainment TV channels), despite PEMRA prescribed percentage that guarantees more airplay and preference to Pakistani music.
My favourite Pakistani track in 2011 was Aalu Anday. I like the overall direction that Pakistani music is taking and feel that it will arrest the decline it’s been facing with its sheer free spiritedness and the strength of its originality. As far as I am concerned, I released a new album, Jee Chaahay, after a lapse of over six years and retained my signature sound. The response has been overwhelming and the tours and concerts have started to take shape. Quite a few music videos are in the pipeline as I will continue to invest in our industry. I am ending this year on a very satisfying note and looking forward to a great new year.

Annie Khalid: My favourite of the year was Neray Aah by Overload; the audio and the video were amazing, and if asked to pick my favourite of the year, I think it would be that. If I have to pick a release for 2011 that I didn’t like, I think it would be Komal Rizvi’s version of Someone Like You, originally by Adele, simply because I think that when you are dealing with such an amazing song like Someone Like You, you automatically expect the artist who is doing a cover or their version of the song to be absolutely spectacular, but it fell short of that. Although I really admire Komal Rizvi and I think she is a really good artist, I feel it was a song she shouldn’t have done. As for me, a few of my videos got released this year and I did many tours. Besides that, I got the opportunity to represent Pakistan on an international platform with the ‘Lebara Norway’ campaign and my collaboration with the international pop band A1. I take things as they come, and I really can’t think of any lowlights. Alhamdulillah, last year was very good for me. About my future projects...well, more collaborations as I have said, a few surprises, and many more tours and videos are in store.

Mustafa Zahid: 2011 [music] scene for me was a lot better in terms of shows and overall, thanks to the country’s security situation that’s getting a bit better. Favourite release was Call’s album Dhoom, and not to forget Overload’s Batti; superb track really. As for Roxen, our new video featuring Bunny was released and we got superb response for that. Looking forward to more collaborations, specially the one we have done with RDB. 2012 will have Roxen written all over it. Tons of music is in the pipeline with a lot of Bollywood music, too. Fingers crossed!

Junaid Khan: The overall music scene in Pakistan is not so well, though I have to give it to the artists who are not losing hope and still continuing to produce good music so that this industry can hold its grounds till it revives again. Also the brands are playing a very important role to support this industry and the artists. Brands like Coke and Ufone and Pepsi have been doing their respective bit in giving a huge international platform for this industry; let’s hope they continue to do so. There are quite a few who are actually doing a great job lately. Out of the latest, I would say Qayas and QB are really talented. We need artists like these in the industry to follow the footsteps of the ones who gave this country a huge name in the world in music. As I mentioned earlier, I like the fact that the artists are still pushing to make their name in the market though there isn’t much support for any new talent, which is a good sign. For me, I think, the career has been a smooth sail, and also for the ones who actually emerged during the 2003 era. Musicians who have emerged from that time have been stable throughout because that was the prime time for this industry, but any new talent emerging now is finding it real hard because focus has shifted from entertainment to news due to wrong decisions on the part of the government to give excessive licenses to news channels. For me, Call launched its new album a few months back by the name Dhoom; we are currently doing shows throughout Pakistan. Other than that, I am also focusing on a few solo tracks apart from Call, which will be released within the next few months. Plus I am doing a few acting projects under the Momal Productions banner; the current one on air is Mujhey Roothney Na Dena, and next is Mataa-e Jaan, set to release at the end of January, Insha’Allah.

- By Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 6th January, 2012