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Ali Noor in the ‘Hot Seat’

Written by Maliha Mansoor for Dawn Magazine published on November 5th, 2006

He came to the forefront with his catchy melody (aptly assisted by a complementary video) Manwa Re, but Ali Noor of Noori asserts that the song which was initially meant for a tele film (which somehow could not materialized) was neither an attempt to start a career as a solo singer, nor did it conform to the Noori essence which by that time had a standing (and a solid fan following) of its own.

“Yes, it was much appreciated but it was not a Noori song; that is to say it did not conform to the Noori style or philosophy,” the bearded young man with soft expressive eyes candidly puts forth.

So what is the Noori style or philosophy, one is likely to ask.
“You see, although we were attracted to music from the very beginning as our mother too has been involved in classical music for as long as we can remember, the idea of forming a band of our own was not a thoughtless or aimless one-No, it did have a very solid and very thought out basis underneath it.
“Actually I, as a young adult, was quite disturbed with the way the people of our generation are wasting away (and often endangering) their lives in meaningless activities like car or motorbike racings, fighting over girls, etc, I felt that we needed to communicate to them, tell them that life is too precious and too short to be wasted away in such a futile manner, and that there has to be a purpose in life to make it productive, meaningful and fulfilling, I wanted to touch them through a medium that would make an impression on them and at the same time did not want to appear as a conventional preacher typically doling out lectures and forcing sermons down their throats. So music, as a medium, came readily, effortlessly and very naturally.”

Hence, Noori the band comprising the two brothers Ali Noor (main vocalist and composer) and Ali Hamza (lyricist, guitarist, composer), and Gumby, the talented drummer from Karachi, was launched in 2003. And it did not take very long to make an impression among the young ones. Going by the very prolific way Ali Noor puts forward his stance, it seems that he must be a well read person.

“Oh, I definitely like to read – I used to read a lot but now due to certain reasons it has become less frequent.”
And what are those ‘certain reasons’?
“Well, for one, I don’t seem to have as much leisure time on my hands. And then thanks to the ever progressing technology, everything is available in such a condensed form so readily that book reading is somewhat put on the back bench. But still I would say it is like a sleeping pill for me now. I cannot go to sleep unless I have read something.”

Ali reveals a pleasantly surprising fact when he affirms that he is into reading classic Urdu literature. “I loved reading Urdu jasoosi novels. I was absolutely hooked by Ishtiaq Ahmed and still am highly impressed and influenced by his simple, yet highly inspiring philosophical style. And then later on came to understand and appreciate the works of other great writers like Manto, Ghulam Abbas and Ismat Chughtai”

Although Ali says that he cannot really pin point one book or author as his very favorite, the one book that has left a lasting impression on his mind is Altaf Fatima’s Dastak Na Dou.

It seems Ali’s natural inclination towards philosophical literature has influenced his music making as well. And Ali justifies it in this way. “As I said before, we started Noori with a preconceived notion – to try and make an impression on the young minds positively. Our maiden album Sunno Kay Main Hoon Jawan was highly message-oriented and a very intentional effort to make the young generation see that there is so much more to life and we have such little time to make the most of our life. And without trying to sound pompous or conceited about it, I’d say that it was a very bold step at that point in time,”

Ali elaborates the point by asserting that their maiden album was able to make an impression despite being different and despite the fact that bhangra and rap were the rage of the age at that point in time.

“SKMHJ, despite being very different from the run-of-the-mill stuff, did fetch us recognition. And a very strong and committed fan following as well. I’d say that the album’s success definitely exceeded our expectations and that was one big boost for all of us.”

The band’s second album Peeli Patti aur Raja Jaani is very message-oriented too. Does this signify Ali is essentially into ‘heavy stuff’ with regards music?
“Not at all. I like to listen to practically kinds of music; and I mean it literally,” he discloses.

Ali also states that music to him symbolizes as a means of nonverbal self-communication. Ali, who listens to music most when he is traveling, grades Fiona Apple as his favorite artist.

And does he like to watch movies as well? “A lot, and all the time.,,” he is quick to answer.

Ali also says he likes “all kinds” of movies. “I have a huge collection of DVDs all categorized into various genres!” comes the animated declaration. And although Ali vehemently denies that he has ever considered composing music for a movie (or even acting in one), he discloses that besides movies, he likes to watch a lot of tele serials (like Small Ville and Nip Tuck) as well. And from among the various flicks comprising the long list of his favorite movies, he names Life is Beautiful as his all time favorite.

Currently taking “a nice Ramadan break”, Ali Noor intends to get back to concerts, videos and of course, Noori’s third album which is being worked upon slowly but surely. It is all set to carry the Noori message a step further ahead.

FAVOURITE MOVIE: Life is Beautiful
FAVOURITE WRITERS: Manto, Ghulam Abbas