Shehzad Roy: Qismat Apnay Haath MeiN

Posted on August 2, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Music, People, Politics, Society
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Adil Najam

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.

Shehzad Roy, Qismat Kismat Apnay Haath Mein, Laga Rahe

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:

Shehzad RoyThe 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 here”.

… 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.

“Don’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.

34 Comments on “Shehzad Roy: Qismat Apnay Haath MeiN

  1. Usman says:
    August 2nd, 2008 8:33 pm

    Excellent song. He is saying what so many of us are feeling.

  2. iceCube says:
    August 2nd, 2008 10:33 pm

    I thought this was brilliant.

  3. Eidee Man says:
    August 3rd, 2008 12:47 am

    I really appreciate and admire Shezad’s efforts. Frankly, I’ve never been a wild fan of his music, but I love this song because he says the same thing I say to my friends and family ALL THE TIME. People are always predicting Pakistan’s demise; it’s particularly fashionable in the ex-pat community to predict when Pakistan will, God forbid, break-up, collapse, or annihilate itself.

    Personally, I believe that the very fact that Pakistan makes it through hell and back every five years is evidence of its strength as a nation. :D

  4. Zafar says:
    August 3rd, 2008 1:05 am

    I enjoyed the song, the content and message of it though I beg to differ with the ending despite the fact that it is kind of truth at the moment, a Pakistani being caught and dragged by FBI agents.

    It is true and sad fact but I think the ending of the song should have been different giving some positive thought for Pakistanis to come out of the troubles our leaders have thrown us into.

  5. Riaz Haq says:
    August 3rd, 2008 1:26 am

    There is a long tradition of social and political activism among the artists in the US and Europe. I’m glad to see it’s catching on in Pakistan to get more young people involved in what really matters in a nation where apathy prevails. Joan Baez, Beatles and other led the peace movement in the 60s. More recently, Georg Michael and Green Day have added their voices of discontent against the Iraq war, and war on terror etc.
    In Pakistan, Salman Ahmad and Junoon have used their celebrity to effect positive change. Shehzad Roy’s latest album is a good addition in this direction.

  6. Eidee Man says:
    August 3rd, 2008 2:12 am

    Yes, Pakistan has quite a history of such activism. Junoon’s Ehtesaab, Awaz’s Fraudiyae, and then there was this song called Jago by an ephemeral band whose name I can’t remember right now. And of course there are poets like Adil’s favorite, Faiz, and also Ahmed Faraz among others. A post about this topic would be quite interesting :).

  7. August 3rd, 2008 3:12 am

    Yes its really a nice video, but i dislike the idea of presenting Lawyers as agitator and Violent protesters.

  8. -Farid says:
    August 3rd, 2008 4:19 am


  9. dawa-i-dil says:
    August 3rd, 2008 8:18 am

    If lawyers were not presented as agitators..then Karachi kai thakhaidars mean MQM naraz ho jati…samgha karo…

  10. Manzoor says:
    August 3rd, 2008 8:24 am

    Roy has represented the feelings of a common man and this is breath of fresh air in the cliche ridden pop music industry. the art should be a mirror and criticism of prevailing conditions in a society and it is good attempt to keep alive the living traditions of resistance set by some of our legendry poets including Faiz, Jalib and Faraz etc.
    However, the political nature of roy’s work reminds me the tribulations of Chilean singer Victor Jara, who was imprisoned after the General Pinochet took over after deposing Allende in a CIA baked coup. Jara was arrested and put behind the bars and during his captivity, when he started to play his guitar, the soldiers crushed his fingers and asked him to play it with crushed fingers and was later shot dead.
    A stanza of his poem:
    My song is not for fleeting praise
    nor to gain foreign fame,
    it is for this narrow country
    to the very depths of the earth.
    There, where everything comes to rest
    and where everything begins,
    song which has been brave song
    will be forever new.

  11. Kamran says:
    August 3rd, 2008 8:54 am

    Though I am not a fan of Shahzad Roy’s music, but I am a big fan for what he stands for. And this song is conceptually absolutely brilliant, and the execution nearly flawless.

  12. Afsandyar Alam says:
    August 3rd, 2008 10:30 am

    My favorite part was “inn ko mat jagao, ye kissi khas kaam say so rahe hai”

  13. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    August 3rd, 2008 11:18 am

    @ Terey Azaad band’on ki,
    ne yeh duniya, no woh duniya.

    what about those living out side the prison ?

  14. ShahidnUSA says:
    August 3rd, 2008 12:39 pm

    Thank you! I totally enjoyed his music. Though reminded me of “wham” (George micheal) but he is better.
    Punching sarcasm, my kinda guy.

    It seems like he is giving a crash course to pakistanis to catch up with the rest of the world. But the question is why were they left behind in the first place?

  15. Aqil Sajjad says:
    August 3rd, 2008 2:51 pm

    Eidee Man:
    The song Jago was by a band called Jazba. They released an album in 1996. Unfortunately, it didn’t get much attention.

  16. Afsandyar Alam says:
    August 3rd, 2008 3:01 pm

    Aqil Sajjad says: “The song Jago was by a band called Jazba. They released an album in 1996. Unfortunately, it didn

  17. Afsandyar Alam says:
    August 3rd, 2008 4:23 pm

    By the way, is there any significance to the bandaged hand?

  18. Tina says:
    August 3rd, 2008 5:11 pm

    to Afsandyar Alam,

    the significance of the bandaged hand?

    Maybe a reference to the album title, “My fate is in my hand”?

    The graphic of the album cover seem a little counterintuitive to me, since the hand print has the “life-line” emphasized, a reference to the fatalistic practice of palm reading. The point of the music seems to be the opposite–take control of your destiny (your kismet is in your own hands). Life is not just fate, it’s what we make it.

    Great post Adil :)

  19. Sherbano says:
    August 3rd, 2008 5:36 pm

    Now this is a work of art! Why?…because it’s relevant to the currant situation , most people can relate to it because the song expresses what people cannot in the same way. It is thought provoking and doesn’t sugar-coat the ending just to make people feel good or have false hope at a time when we cannot afford to be over optimistic. What this means is that those of us who believe that since Pakistan has so far survived all the bad that came to it doesn’t mean “hum aisay hee chaltay rahain”. We should also not take it for granted that it will keep on surviving.

  20. Owais Mughal says:
    August 3rd, 2008 6:31 pm

    Shehzad has been making songs and music videos for TV media since 93-94. I’ve never been a big fan of his music. I couldn’t recall a single ‘wow’ song from him in the past 15 years, but this one song ‘laga reh’ alone has made me re-think about his music. I like this song and it is indeed a ‘wow’ song. I haven’t heard rest of the album yet but i am looking forward to hear it.

  21. Adnan Ahmad says:
    August 3rd, 2008 9:17 pm

    His songs used to be mediocre at best. This is certainly good. I also liked the fact that he launched the album from karachi central jail. Not too long ago I saw a video where he was at the guitar and abida parveen was singing. That was good as well.

  22. Saba says:
    August 4th, 2008 12:45 am

    The song is thought provoking and depicts true picture of current Pakistani political scenerio.The chaos have been very well portrayed.The lyrics have hit the issues right on target. Shehzad Roy’s approach of utilizing music constructively is approachable.We have had enough of fantasy songs, at this hour, we need some real and serious stuff that cans erve as eye-openers.We need more and more youngstres,who can step out and voice in their opnions.Our long deep slumber has already got us in hot water and now we require a wake-up call.

    Significane of bandaged hand? A good question!

    Perhaps, it is to show that we should not put a lot of focus on the lines on our hands, instead try to make our own fate through hard work.In this context, he must have hidden his lines to show his belief.

  23. Barrister Ali K.Chishti says:
    August 4th, 2008 8:50 am

    Another one of those ‘Mushraff’s Goon’ who is giving the message ‘ that Army is better then politics!’ indirectly/directly.

  24. Ali Dada says:
    August 7th, 2008 1:41 am

    I didn’t care about his lyrics, or the music but WOW, Pakistan makes amazing pop music videos. This is one area Pakistan is maybe the best in Asia?

  25. Murtaza says:
    August 13th, 2008 12:02 pm

    @ Barrister Ali K.Chishti

    Are you calling Shehzad Roy ‘another one of Musharraff’s goons’ cause you probably saw yourself in the lawyer trying to burn the tyre and effectively crippling the economy of Paksitan?

    Truth hurts eh?

    And for your kind information, I absolutely despise Musharraff, before you call me a ‘Musharraff’s goon’ too!

  26. Gugu says:
    August 28th, 2008 12:21 pm

    I’ve no problem with his campaign and his education promoting efforts. One only hopes he is doing with sincere heart.
    But I have to say that after all the buzz created about this album from all quarters, I decided to give a chance to listen to Laga Rahe and Qismat song and purely from ‘song and music’ point of view, they are both mediocre.

  27. Kiran says:
    August 28th, 2008 1:04 pm

    I must say its a brilliant effort by Shahzad. The song fits superbly on the current situation of Pakistan. The lyrics are wonderful and Shahzad as always was outstanding. I espacially love the line ‘naek wo hai jise mauka nahi mila’. Its really nice to see someone realise the need of creating awareness among the people, of education and their responsibilites as a Paki. Good work Shahzad!!

  28. Rabia Shamshad says:
    September 5th, 2008 5:37 am

    hmm i was listening to shehzad roy’s interview today and i really found him a nice down to earth person. The cause for which he is working..zindigi trust is great and secondly this new album of Roy is no doubt the voice of common man of Pakistan. If i am to express my feelings about Pakistan current situation i would say the same thing but in simple words. No doubt his voice has more value. Keep it up Shehzad.

  29. emmad says:
    January 29th, 2009 9:34 am

    i m very shok 2 shahzad release a album ………
    this album is very aweosem……..

  30. Qausain says:
    March 25th, 2009 3:26 am

    Qismat Apney Haath Mein – Shahzad Roy (New Song)
    bohat zabardast vdo hay :-D

  31. Najma says:
    March 28th, 2009 12:45 am

    Pakistan ko aise he logon ki zarroat hai, jo ke country ke currept logon ko benikab karain.
    Weldone Shehzad Roy.

  32. Ather Syed says:
    December 7th, 2009 2:08 am

    Keep it up Shahzad ROY

  33. December 7th, 2009 7:43 am

    time to wake up. Time to fight extremism. It is time we and the media unite. Lets be one and give speace to moderate elements. See what happened in PIndi bomb blast where even many children died. We need to fight and get rid of all this before it expands.

  34. Hira Mir says:
    December 8th, 2009 5:59 am

    I hope the media realizes in time and starts supporting more stuff like this. Just imagine if this kind of track were shown 24/7 the nation would WAKE up within some time and fight extremism that is ruining our country from all sides.

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