Shehzad Roy’s new album, Qismat Apnay Haath MeiN, and especially its lead song Laga Rehe has stirred up quite a storm. As it should.
Like all of Shehzad Roy’s music the tune is catchy and the beat is fast. But it is the political content and strong words that are catching attention. And a lot of attention.
Its worth a listen and worth thinking about.
I have not yet heard the full album, but I have heard and seen the much-talked-about track Laga Rahe. Take a look yourself, it does resonate with what ordinary people are thinking at so many important levels.
It is too easy to over-analyze the political content of what is really meant to be popular music. So, let me not try to do so. But it is clear that the song is making waves both as political comment and as popular music. It touches some raw nerves in both guises. It should be taken for what it is, and no more. But what it is, is quite remarkable.
Like a number of other contemporaries – such as Abrar – Shehzad has a track record of public service and social committment. This was particularly evident right after the 2005 earthquake when he became a symbol of mobilizing celebrities for the relief efforts and also through his service organization, the Zindagi Trust. This new album – Qismat Apnay Haath MeiN – is much more activist (and, maybe, angry) than his previous work. But as the very opening of the video above shows, maybe for good reason.
But even more thoughtful is the setting of where he released this album – from Juvenile Prison in Central Jail Karachi. One of the causes that the album focuses on is the plight of prisoners in jails in Pakistan. This news report of the launch, published in The News, explains:
The pop singer-cum-social worker, who runs his NGO, Zindagi Trust, in different parts of the country, revealed that the unique concept of launching a music album in the proximity of a Juvenile jail was part of the programme through which he plans to highlight the need to improve education levels in the jail to make the term of all prisoners more meaningful and worthwhile and a step in turning their stay one of rehabilitation rather than making them hardened criminals which is the normal outcome of a stay hereâ€.
… The lyrics (of Laga Rahey), written by Roy himself, talk about how he is worried about the self-destructive path this nation is on. “Mujhe fikar yeh nahin kay yeh mulk kaisay chalay ga. Mujhe fikar yeh hai kaheen aisay hi na chalta rahay” meaning “I am not worried about how this country will be run, I am worried that this country will continue to be run this way.”
The report in The Nation had some interesting quotes from Shehzad and more on the album itself:
The video of Laga Rahe is already a rage among the young people. It is a political comment on the current situation in the country… The title song Kismat Apne Haath Mein written, composed and sung by Shehzad is a song for creating awareness. It is about the less privileged ones in the society and their state of deprivation. Though didactic in both songs Shehzad has managed to present it all in a very light and interesting way. It, however, continues to haunt you about the sanity that is not there in things happening around us. The rest of the album is typical Shehzad stuff – love, romance and funky.
Talking to The Nation on Sunday Shehzad was overjoyed by the huge response from his fans and general public. “I feel that just like the kids in the juvenile jail the country itself is in a jail like condition wherein things are getting worst from worse. This was the concept that I decided to launch the album in a jail. And this has happened for the first time that album launching was held in jail. I wanted to send the message loud and clear to the masses and those in power. It is time to act. It is time to changes things positively,” he said.
“Donâ€™t go for the words but for the objective of the songs. That is more important. Four songs in the album are for creating awareness. One song is about Quaid-e-Azam and how he would have acted in current situation. We have to keep his vision about the homeland in mind and the progress of nation that he wanted. The song ‘Khul Kay Pyar’ is for the youth to excel in life and work for a better homeland. The objective of the whole album is to ensure that winds of change start blowing in our society,” Shehzad maintained.