Zohaib Kazi is a music composer, producer, writer, and Assistant Producer of the critically acclaimed Coke Studio series. He first conceptualized Ismail Ka Urdu Sheher as a movie in 2006. Later on, however, Kazi felt that a music album would be a more fitting medium for his vision. The book was subsequently added to the project. The unique concept of this publication brought together brilliant minds from the industry, including singers, illustrators, musicians, as well as animators. The novel features performances by the talented Zoe Viccaji and Omran Shafique. Kamal Khan is the lead videographer and Abbas Ali Khan is the cover designer/vocalist. Last but not the least, Saad Irfan lends his magical illustrations to bring the novel to life.
IKUS is a science-fiction novel expressed beautifully through imaginative visuals. The plot is set on a distant exo-planet called “Elaan”, which has suffered extreme consequences due to an experiment gone wrong in the Large Hadron Collider on Earth. The main character, Ismail Alset, chases clues across the Universe that hold the key to its very survival. The entire story unfolds in a dystopian and post-apocalyptic world; themes that are rarely found in Pakistani art.
One of Kazi’s motivations behind the project was to give the youth of Pakistan its own local heroes to look up to. He feels that Western comic book heroes bring with them their own morals and philosophies. Hence, a different narrative in the same medium would serve to educate children about our own culture and values.
The book is composed of 10 chapters, supplemented by 12 musical tracks. Each chapter is a direct visualization on paper of one of the tracks in the album. The accompanying animated music video consists of hand-drawn frames, and was painstakingly completed over a period of 4 years. Its animation is influenced by Quentin Tarantino’s 2003 cult classic ‘Kill Bill’.
Contrary to its title, the book is written in English. However, there is a translation already in progress, with the aim of making the book accessible to a wider population in Pakistan. Kazi hopes that one day his book would be taught in schools around the country to foster children’s interest in Science, Philosophy, and creative thought.
The book and album were launched in December 2015 by Markings Publishing, and are available in bookstores across the country.
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