LONDON: Famed Pakistani music maestros Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s producer and global manager Salman Ahmed has said that the three upcoming UK concerts have sold out completely showing the popularity of Pakistani artist across the South Asian communities.
Speaking to Geo News in an interview, the veteran talent promoter and producer said that Rahat Fateh Ali Khan produces magical music and without a doubt he’s amongst the most sought-after world artists.
Salman Ahmed has been managing Rahat Fateh Ali Khan for about 10 years now. The music maestro was well known in Pakistan because of his strong vocal skills but Ahmed turned around everything for the artist and had made him a household name in millions of homes in South Asia and beyond. Three months ago, the University of Oxford awarded the music doctorate degree to Khan – a huge personal honour for the musician and for his country of origin.
Salman Ahmed said that credit for the success of Khan goes to his entire team who worked hard throughout the year on the shows and on the brand of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.
He explained: “Behind every show, there’s sweat, blood and toll. We work hard all the time to maintain the highest of standards in what we promise and produce. Ustad Rahat performs for a few hours on the stage but thousands of hours of hard work are invested in the production of his shows and that hard work has worked to make him a mega hit. As a way of example, for our concerts starting this weekend at Wembley Arena more than 35 band members will be touring with the singer. There is a team separately working in an international office here in London on logistics, concepts, arrangements, production and marketing. Once these shows are over, we will start working on the next round of events. There is no break.”
There was some controversy around Rahat’s shows in America in the wake of the revocation of Article 370 by the Indian government and Salman Ahmed accepted that attendance at Rahat’s shows few days ago was slightly less but he said that the UK concerts were sold out. “You cannot deny that Rahat is loved by Indians, Pakistanis and other Urdu-understanding communities. There is no alternative to him.”
Salman Ahmed is one of the most experienced and respected Asian art promoters. His alliance with the showbiz started some 32 years ago when he started organizing Bhangra nights and small British Asian concerts. That was the time when British Asian singers had started making their mark. The BBC covered one of Salman’s first concerts at the time. There was no social media and no Asian channels around. The BBC aired a report then to showcase how the second generation of British Asians was growing with a fusion of British and Asian culture. Salman was then a teenager.
Salman Ahmed went on to manage several Indian and Pakistani artists afterwards and worked full time in the same capacity, never looking back or never trying to do anything else.
He said: “You should only do what you are good at. You can do excellence only in your job if you are devoted to it with full passion and commitment. I believe in total commitment and nothing else.”
Unlike the maverick ways of some, Ahmed believes in treating his clients as a product. “My clients are my products. I promote products in the market. We invest in our products. We take risks and we inject our life into our products to make them a phenomenal success,” said Salman Ahmed acknowledging that Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan has been the biggest hit for him as a producer.
Salman Ahmed says he believes in promoting Pakistani talent before the world and for Rahat’s London shows he is introducing around a dozen Pakistani musicians for the first time. “These are young, educated and dynamic musicians who have been playing at the Basement Café and in the underground scene in Karachi and Lahore. They are doing an outstanding job. For the fusion part of Khan saheb’s shows these musicians will be used. They will be performing in front of the international audience numbering in the thousands and this will bring a unique kind of confidence in them.”
Salman Ahmed said he was very excited about the latest round of shows because Ustad Rahat Ali Khan will be doing fusion, using instruments and sounds not tried before.