Around 314,000 YouTube subscribers. Over 450,000 Facebook likes. An excess of 74,600 Instagram followers. This is the fanbase of the ever-eccentric and always lively Pakistani comic Taimoor Salahuddin, often referred to as “Mooroo” who enlightened about his rise to success from academic failure in an incredibly hysterical video-chat, that we’re terming as an “interview”.
He was situated in his chair, his face furnished with his trademark van dyke goatee, his skull sheltered with a leather brown baseball cap that directed his eyes straight into the webcam, and into our eyes. That’s when the seriousness broke down, and he greeted us with an enthusiastic “Hello!” which propelled the conversation.
As many people are aware, Mooroo grew up in Lahore and was educated in Aitchison College. He stated that his childhood “was good and comfortable”, one where there was “nothing to complain about” with regard to his environment. However, trouble seemed to creep into the fold when Taimoor’s academic performance was put to question by his parents. The YouTube personality states that there are “ups and downs in every childhood”, but what really emerged as an obstacle to him at that time was the fact that “parhai se koi dilchaspi nahi rahi thi around o levels ke time” and his lack of interest became apparent through his grades. He cited an incident where his mother scolded him since his cousin obtained “6As in his O levels aur mera aik bhi nahi tha” but “at some point, I was like I don’t care. Mujhe koi faraq nahi parhta. My internal reward system wasn’t based on grades”.
“My grades were so bad that I’d take my result, have it scanned, and then change the grade myself before giving it to my parents! I’d change the Ds into As and Bs, and my parents would read it and say “haye beta to bara acha kar ra hai”. He quoted a very humorous incident where, in a meeting with the principal, his parents showed up with Taimoor’s altered grades while the principal had his actual grades, and the two parties just stared at each other in awe, arguing “Aap ka beta to bohot bura perform kar ra hai” and his parents would say “Nahi nahi, ye to bohot acha hai”. Nevertheless, the unfortunate outcome of all of that was that he was eventually privatized for his O Levels.
He continued by saying “You set your own benchmarks. If you think that your grades reward you internally, then it’s well and good. However, the pressure of getting good grades on everyone a little unfair because everyone isn’t academically inclined. Particularly in Pakistan, we’re rewarded on the basis on subjects that are very specific such as chemistry, math, engineering and science or medical stuff”.
“Acceptance for my profession was something I had to fight for”
Progressing on from his results, he began to realise that academic excellence may not be something that he could achieve and subsequently “started living in (his) own internal world”. “Acceptance for my profession was something I had to fight for” since the Pakistani blueprint for success usually dictates a career path in medicine or engineering, something which Taimoor was not willing to pursue. His deepest desire was “art ko kaheen pochanchana. I took me a lot of time to find the right voice that depicts myself” and he found it through rigorous hours of practice. Now that he’s all established, “my parents accept what I do and appreciate it to a certain degree. When you grow up, they become your friends. It becomes normal as opposed to authoritarian. When you get to know them in that way, you understand them better.”
“Haan! Mai houn failure”
Mooroo described himself as being “reactionary”, a part of the cross-section of the youth that enjoyed the likes of “Marvel comics”. He said that since he was 5’4 in height, he was often referred to as “chotu” and “bullied a lot”, but “music made me cool in some way”. The “cool boys… would see that I’d attract a lot of girls with my guitar and my voice, and so I managed to form a crossover friendship with the nerds and the cool guys”.
Nonetheless, some people would still pester him over his grades and how he had to repeat classes, but he merely accepted it: “Haan! Mai houn failure”. From there, the next step was to “deal with it” and act towards changing your situation. Although good things come in strange ways, and he wound up meeting most of his closest friends during those make-up classes.
“Music ne bara sahara diya hai mujhe”
When he thought that he was down and out, with no way of achieving what he wanted to, Mooroo opened his ears and his heart to the mystical power of music. He said that music “helped me out during the most difficult times, especially when I needed it the most”.
He may not have been ranked high when it came to paper and pen tests, but “arts are a completely different thing. Like, how are you going to grade a great piece of art? Somebody could look at the Mona Lisa and say “Yaar ye to B grade hai”. So, I was not that type of person who graded their own activity based on a criterion created by some academic institution. I found that you develop your own gauge of how you rank yourself. I graded myself by how well I could play a specific cord or sing a song etc.” Taking inspiration from sources such as Kalaash, Nusrat, Sajaad Ali and Jeff Buckley among others, Mooroo stepped into the musical limelight.
When you’re 90 years old, what will matter most to you?
“Not having any regrets. The worst feeling is when you see your daadi or your nani and she’s like kaash mai ne ye kiya hota. Your death won’t be comfortable either because you’re not going to live a satisfied life. The most important thing is not to have regrets. That’s the main thing that one keeps in mind”.
Most notable encounter with a fan
He described an experience with a fan who was also a “friend’s friend” who was invited into Mooroo’s house. The “friend’s friend” had suffered from cancer, and he quoted Taimoor’s song “Tasveer” as helping him through cancer. He found this to be so remarkable, that he said that he has “done what (he) meant to do. If you can help someone through cancer then that’s just the best thing you can ever do”.
Honesty in music
“As far as technicality is concerned, it’s the acoustic effect. But the most important thing is honesty. It has to drive the song. You can’t have a song about me pretending that I’m a certain type of guy, because it has to be coming from some type of honesty. So, if I’ve been through a break up, there’ll be a break up song aur agr acha scene chal ra hai to acha song aye ga. The song making process is so long, and otherwise, half way through, you lose the feel for it if it isn’t true”.
What bothers you?
“What really bothers me is when people say things like “coming soon” or “the wait is finally over”. He posed the question “Who was waiting? The wait is over for you! That even goes for my song, like nobody’s waiting for my song. There’re other ways to introduce your content. Stuff like ‘The first time in Pakistan’ that bothers me. “Agr poori dunya main nahi kar sakte, to Pakistan ka naam dal diya. Some people even going as far as saying: the first time ever in Model Town, Lahore”.
The transition from songs to Vlogs
“Sharoo main aik musician banna chahta tha. And it was after a lot of effort that my parents allowed me to study film-making. Music to mere andar bubble hota raha hai bari der se so that was the first thing to come out. But I was slowly developing and trying to understand what medium I could use to showcase my own work in a completely different way, and YouTube seemed to be the best place, but it took me a while to understand what I actually wanted to achieve. I was during commercials and stuff, and basically, I wanted to be a story teller before I wanted to be a musician.”
The two sides of Mooroo – “Andar ka bacha”
From a “yo” figure to one that resonates beams of wisdom, it doesn’t take a genius to detect that there are two sides to the artist that is Mooroo. In addressing this, Taimoor said: “As you grow, you develop a philosophical side as well as a fun side. Curiosity stays within you agr aap andar ka bacha zinda rakhain. A kid will try to learn everything, and try his hand at everything whereas an old man will be set on his path and won’t try anything new. The kid inside me is very much still alive, but over the years there have been certain lessons that I’ve learnt and matured from them”. He stressed on the need to have a balance between both sides in order to conduct his work efficiently.
Snakes & How people change
Looking back at the change from Taimoor Salahuddin to Mooroo, the man on our computer screen told us about how “people used to advise me a lot and say ‘do this’ or ‘do that’ but now they don’t. They know that I know what I’m doing. That’s one of the biggest changes. People trust me more”
On the other hand, he also extended his statement by saying that “People can change – but temporarily because you’re intrinsically a certain type of person. However, I have seen bad attitudes develop and I just ignore it and don’t work with that person again. It’s generally because of the type of attitude that people develop, and my aim is to show them that I’m bigger than them and keep growing. Their attitude is their own downfall. The best thing to do is just ignore them and keep working and keep yourself in a positive mindset. Don’t go tit for tat with them. Keep focusing on your work and be positive!”
What’s up with your YouTube username?
Shedding light on a very funny and “stupid story”, Taimoor cleared up the mystery behind why is channel name is “Taimoor Sallahuddin aka Mooroo” as opposed to simply “Mooroo”.
He said “I wanted my username to be verified. The verification badge of Facebook used to be a very big thing, and I really wanted it. Previously, the name of my page was “Mooroo Music page” and I only used to release music on it. I, then, began to release videos and I thought the page name wasn’t very accurate, so I changed it to “Mooroo’s page”, but my personal profile and page name had to match in order for it to be verified. I then changed it to “Taimoor Sallahuddin aka Mooroo”, but it still hasn’t been verified and then I stopped all the name changing because it began to confuse people.”
Lastly, how was the interview?
“Acha laga. Bara mazaa aya”. He accepted our apology of not being able to provide any chai and we said good bye with a bang!