Strings (Urdu: ???????) are an internationally acclaimed Pakistani pop rock band composed of two members from Karachi, Pakistan. The band was initially formed by four college students—Bilal Maqsood (vocals and guitars), Faisal Kapadia (vocals), Rafiq Wazir Ali (synthesizer) and Kareem Bashir Bhoy (bass guitar)—in 1988. In 1992 the quartet disbanded, only to make a comeback with Maqsood and Kapadia in 2000. While the initial band rode the new wave of Pakistani pop music, the later lineup ushered in a revival in the Pakistani music industry.In 1990 the band signed with EMI Records and released their debut album, Strings. Their initial experiments with synthesised sounds and rhythms was not immediately recognised, although Strings sold 20,000 copies during its first week after release. Two years later the band released their second album, 2, which included the critically acclaimed single "Sar Kiye Yeh Pahar". The song was first aired on MTV Asia, and led the band to widespread fame. After the release of 2, the quartet disbanded to focus on their studies and careers. In 2000 Maqsood and Kapadia released Duur, which revived the band's popularity, and followed it with Dhaani in 2003. This album included the single "Najane Kyun", which was part of the soundtrack for the Hollywood film Spider-Man 2. Following Junoon and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Strings went to India (where they found remixes of one of their early songs playing in clubs). In 2008 Strings released their fifth album, Koi Aanay Wala Hai, with the singles "Zinda" and "Aakhri Alvida" (included on the soundtracks for Bollywood's Zinda and Shootout at Lokhandwala). The album was co-produced by Bollywood actor John Abraham, and was successful in Pakistan and India.Strings are acclaimed for their stringed rhythms and melodious, poetic songs written by Anwar Maqsood, Bilal's father. He has been writing lyrics for the band since its re-formation, with Kapadia the lead vocalist. Bilal Maqsood composes, plays guitar and occasionally sings. Strings' live performances are augmented by Adeel on lead guitar, Shakir on bass, Haider on keyboards and Qaiser on drums. The band have sold over 25 million albums worldwide. In April 2013 Strings joined Meesha Shafi, Ali Azmat, Shahzad Hasan and Alamgir as judges on the vocal-talent show Cornetto Music Icons, aired on ARY Digital.Quartet (1988–1992)Pop music became more popular in Pakistan during the late 1980s, with new artists emerging on the scene. Shalimar Television Network (STN), one of two channels in the country—the other was the Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV)—launched a show entitled Music Channel Charts to showcase new talent. In Karachi, however, fans of singers such as Nazia and Zoheb, Alamgir and Muhammad Ali Shehki were eager to hear the new wave of Pakistani pop music.In 1988, at the Government College of Commerce & Economics in Karachi, four classmates (Bilal Maqsood, Faisal Kapadia, Rafiq Wazir Ali and Kareem Bashir Bhoy) formed a band. They called themselves Strings after the host of their college farewell party asked for their name while they were being announced on stage. The band played songs with lyrics influenced by Maqsood's father, Anwar Maqsood. In 1990, with help from Mansoor Bukhari (head of the EMI Group in Pakistan), the band released Strings on EMI.Breakup (1992)In 1992 the band and the Shalimar Recording Company released a follow-up album, 2. Maqsood, realising that Strings needed more exposure, directed a video for "Sar Kiye Yeh Pahar". It was played on STN during their hour-long show; with little competition Maqsood's directorial début was a success, making the song a nationwide hit. The band had a string of hits, touring and enjoying the lifestyle of post-1980s pop stars. However, their fame was short-lived and the quartet broke up. Soon afterwards, though, their "Sar Kiye Yeh Pahar" video aired on MTV Asia and sparked international fame.After Strings disbanded, Maqsood attended art school and was later a creative director at an advertising agency. Kapadia went to Houston, Texas to continue his business studies; Ali and Bhoy continued their education as well.Comeback (1999–2002)In the nearly eight years since Strings were famous, their reputation had faded. Maqsood continued his work as creative director at an advertising firm, involving Kapadia in the creative process as well; the latter worked in the marketing department of a production unit in the same company. Both had married and were fathers. Although they had given up music, they still loved it.The new milleneum saw another shakeup in the Pakistani music industry and the were interested in participating. Since Ali and Bhoy were unavailable, Maqsood and Kapadia decided to re-form Strings by themselves; this meant giving up their day jobs.They recorded "Duur", asking their friend Jamshed (Jami) Mehmood to direct a video. However, Pakistan banned Indian television channels on its cable network. Non-government television networks filled the void, and new music channels were introduced in the country. The video for "Duur" was distributed to all stations, and its success marked the band's comeback.Although Strings were successful in Pakistan, they were unaware that a remixed version of "Sar Kiye Yeh Pahaar" was being played in Indian clubs and had established their reputation. When their new video was played on Indian music channels, "Duur" became a hit across the border. In January 2002 they reissued Duur on the Magnasound label, which had launched pop stars Baba Sehgal and Remo Fernandes.Revival (2003–2006)The realisation that Pakistani pop music had a cult following in India encouraged its artists, and local Pakistani music channels hosted collaborations with their Indian counterparts. Strings played with bands such as the New Delhi-based Euphoria. Samsung invited Strings to collaborate with Euphoria; they recorded "Jheet Lo Dil", Strings' cross-border breakthrough. The hit became the official song for the Indian cricket team's tour of Pakistan. After the success of their third album and "Jheet Lo Dil", Strings toured India with Channel V. The band were warmly received by Indian audiences, and lined up singers Hariharan and Sagarika for their fourth album.Strings appeared on Channel V's television show Jammin, performing "Pal" from their upcoming fourth album with Sagarika. The song was written and recorded in audio and video over a three-day period. The band then recorded the single "Bolo Bolo", later re-recording the track with Hariharan. Both collaborations were eagerly awaited and critically acclaimed. Strings played an unplugged set at the Hard Rock Cafe in Dubai, which added to their fame beyond the subcontinent. The band were approached by Columbia Records, who released their fourth album (Dhaani) on 1 September 2003.In June 2004 Strings released the music video of the title track, "Dhaani", directed by Jamshed Mehmood. The band were then approached by Columbia TriStar Films of India, a sister company of their record label, to include their next single ("Najane Kyun") on the soundtrack of the Hindi version of the Hollywood blockbuster Spider-Man 2. With their presence in the Indian pop music scene, Strings were thought to be an Indian band.In May 2005 Strings released the music video of "Kahani Mohabat Ki", directed by Umar Anwar. The single was a success, receiving positive reviews from critics. With their subcontinental success, the band won the Favorite Artist India award at the MTV Asia Awards 2005. Strings were approached by director Sanjay Gupta, who was shooting Zinda (a remake of the South Korean film Oldboy), for a song for its soundtrack. Bilal Maqsood composed "Zinda Hoon" (with lyrics by his father, Anwar) for the film. The duo acted with (and befriended) two Bollywood A-list actors, John Abraham and Sanjay Dutt, with whom they later worked. In July 2006, Strings were nominated for Most Wanted Band and won the Motorola Music Icon award at the 2006 The Musik Awards. "Zinda Hoon" was nominated for the Most Wanted Song and Best Pop Song awards. On 28 September 2006 the band released "Beirut", an anti-war video.Success (2007–2010)On 8 May 2007 Strings released "Aakhri Alvida" on the soundtrack of Shootout at Lokhandwala, a Bollywood film directed by Apoorva Lakhia. On 1 November, they released the single "Hum Hee Hum" and its music video from their fifth album. Also in late 2007, Strings signed an agreement with the Gibson Guitar Corporation; they and the Pakistani rock band Jal were the first South Asian bands to have a working relationship with the guitar manufacturer. It was reported that as part of the agreement, Strings would use Gibson guitars exclusively for concerts, recordings and music videos. In return, Gibson would provide concert venues and required equipment.On 16 May 2008 Strings released their fifth album, Koi Aanay Wala Hai, on Fire Records in Pakistan and Sony BMG internationally. The album, co-produced by Bollywood actor John Abraham, topped the charts in Pakistan and India and included songs from the soundtracks of the Bollywood films Shootout at Lokhandwala and Zinda. On 19 May the band released the album's title track, "Koi Aanay Wala Hai", featured John Abraham. On 24 June Strings released a music video for "Humsafar", directed by Jami Mehmood and filmed in Moscow. This was followed by a performance on the debut season of the musical television programme Coke Studio, which also showcased Pakistani artists and musicians Ali Azmat, Mauj, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Ali Zafar. During the second episode of Coke Studio, aired on 29 June, Strings performed their singles "Sar Kiye Yeh Pahar", "Anjane", "Zinda Hoon" and a duet on "Duur" with Ustaad Hussain Bakhsh Gullo. In August 2011 they again appeared on the show, performing "Dhaani" with Gullo. On 9 October Strings released another single, "Jago", with an accompanying music video. The band's success in Coke Studio's first season led them to an appearance on the show's second-season finale, airing on Pakistan's Independence Day (14 August 2009), in which they performed "Titliyan". In November Strings released the "Titliyan" music video, which did well on local music charts.In June 2010 Strings signed a one-year partnership with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways as its brand ambassadors, promoting Pakistan in the global market with the band’s music. Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer for Etihad Airways, said he was "looking forward to witnessing how the Etihad brand name reached across the world through the music of Strings." Vocalist Faisal Kapadia said, "It is not only about free air tickets. We needed something like this to promote the true image of Pakistan. We want to do concerts internationally, but it is very expensive. This deal will help to overcome that".On 5 June, Strings and Arshad Mehmood judged the National Song Competition for national awareness initiative Azme Alishan. The primary aim of the movement is to revive the spirit of nationhood and community in Pakistan, highlighting the country's young musical talent. The competition was televised worldwide throughout the summer, with the winner announced on 14 August. Other guest judges were former Vital Signs member Shahzad Hassan, singer Najam Sheraz and Khalid Khan from the band Aaroh. On 16 July 2010 Strings released their single "Ab Khud Kuch Karna Paray Ga", featuring former Jal lead vocalist Atif Aslam. In October Strings, in collaboration with Emirates International Mobile Humanitarian Hospital for Children, distributed over 500 gift packs to children displaced by the 2010 Pakistan floods who were living in the Sujawal relief camp.2011 to presentIn February 2011 Strings performed at Pearl, the annual cultural festival at Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani - Hyderabad in Hyderabad. The following month they played at the Aman Ki Asha concert in Ahmedabad with the Indian band Indian Ocean, releasing "Mein Tou Dekhoonga" on 28 March and its music video (directed by Jamshed Mehmood) on 4 April. The band also performed with Shafqat Amanat Ali in Dubai. Later in April Strings became brand ambassadors for Levi's Pakistan, and on 13 May the band performed at the Pakistani Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. On 26 May Levi's Original Music released a promo with Strings and Zoe Viccaji and a music video of an a cappella version of "Mera Bichra Yaar" with Zoe Viccaji four days later. On 4 June, Strings performed at the Beach Luxury Hotel. The band began with "Koi Aanay Wala Hai", the title song from their 2008 album. They followed with "Najane Kyun", dedicated to the journalists who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty, "Zinda Hoon", "Mein Tou Dekhoonga" and "Sohniyae". On 10 June, a cover version of "Anjane" with Bilal Khan and Zoe Viccaji was released by Levi's Original Music.On 1 August, in an interview with The Express Tribune, Strings confirmed that they were working on two new songs: "Tum Hi To Ho" and "Goli Maray". Kapadia said, "The whole idea behind going into a recording studio and making a bunch of new songs is just to have fun. We strongly believe that coming out with new music helps us grow and reinvent ourselves as musicians." On 15 August, in an interview on the BBC Hindi show Music Beyond Borders, they discussed the political situation in Pakistan, performed "Mein Tou Dekhoonga" and covered the Indian Ocean song "Bandeh" at the request of Indian Ocean lead vocalist Rahul Ram. On 26 August, Bollywood director Sanjay Gupta confirmed that Strings would provide music for the soundtrack to his movie Shootout at Wadala. Several days later Maqsood and Kapadia, in India, confirmed that they were composing music for the Bollywood film; Ekta Kapoor and Sanjay Gupta reportedly hosted a surprise party for the duo, with many celebrities on the guest list. On 28 August, the Hindustan Times reported that actor Imran Khan organised a special screening of his comedy Delhi Belly for Strings. In September, the Express Tribune reported that Strings and Atif Aslam were nominated for the Best Singer award at the 2011 Lux Style Awards for their collaboration "Ab Khud Kuch Karna Paray Ga". On 3 November the band performed at Waves '12, the cultural festival of the BITS Pilani Goa. A recent Pepsi commercial features Strings.In April 2013, String joined Meesha Shafi, Ali Azmat, Shahzad Hasan and Alamgir as judges on the vocal-talent show Cornetto Music Icons on ARY Digital.LanguageFrom their debut album Strings to their fifth album Koi Aanay Wala Hai, all Strings' songs are in Urdu. Most lyrics are by Anwar Maqsood; a few songs are by his son, guitarist Bilal Maqsood, and writer Zehra Nigah.InfluencesStrings' music is influenced by Eastern classical music and Western rhythms. With an emphasis on Eastern melodies (including a touch of raga in the vocals), the band use flute and sarangi to give their vocals an Eastern touch. Songs like "Duur" and "Sar Kiye Yeh Pahar" (from Duur) and "Kahani Mohabat Ki" (from Dhaani) are examples of this influence. Other songs, such as "Sohniyae" and "Najane Kyun" (from Dhaani) have elements of rock music. Bands influencing Strings include Junoon and Nazia and Zoheb.StyleStrings perform a blend of Western music and classical Eastern music, combining rhythmic guitar riffs with the tranquility of Eastern music. Their music is also based on worldly issues, emphasising world peace. Their music (such as "Ab Khud Kuch Karna Paray Ga", "Beirut", "Jheet Lo Dil" and "Titliyan") has helped keep national spirits high. Their music has been enjoyed by Pakistani youth for over ten years, compensating internationally for the departure of Vital Signs and Nazia and Zoheb. While Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan promoted Qawwali music and Junoon rock music, Strings blend Pakistani pop, classical music and rhythms on stringed instruments.Although Strings' music revolves around a male lead singer, the band has also featured other artists on their albums. Since the release of their third album, Duur, their music has combined Eastern and Western music. Their fourth and fifth albums (Dhaani and Koi Aanay Wala Hai) featured rock songs such as "Sohniyae", "Mera Bichra Yaar", "Koi Aanay Wala Hai" and "Jab Say Tumko". Several of the band's singles have been used on soundtracks for Bollywood and Hollywood films, including "Najane Kyun" (Spider-Man 2), "Zinda Hoon" (Zinda) and "Aakhri Alvida" (Shootout at Lokhandwala).Live performancesStrings are one of the few Pakistani artists to achieve international fame, and their popularity is attributed to their unique music and lyrics. Other internationally known musicians include Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Junoon, Nazia Hassan, Jal and Vital Signs. Even in Nepal, influenced by neighbouring Indian music, Strings proved popular and were named Asia's favourite band at the MTV Asia Awards. They were the first Pakistani band to perform at Rashtrapati Bhavan.