With the political pot close to boiling over, it comes as no surprise that many bands and artists, ranging from Strings to Ali Azmat and Abrarul Haq are working on music which is both insightful and satirical of the present situation in the country. However, the musician who initiated this trend with his controversial song “Laga Reh” is no other than Pakistan’s renowned powerhouse Shehzad Roy.
In 2008, the release of Roy’s album Qismat Apnay Haath Mein not only opened the door for all kinds of satirical critiques of Pakistani politics but also struck a major chord with the audience. Now the singer is working on releasing “Apnay Ulloo” — a follow-up single to his Djuice sponsored song “Kya Darta Hai”.
“I tried to write something that the average person could relate to and understand. This meant incorporating a lot of slang and everyday language,” says Roy. He adds, “It’s a good thing that multinational companies have started accepting and supporting this trend. Before people would run the other way, and of course, corporate sponsors would follow suit.”
Roy says that he has always had the support of his musical team which includes his producer Shaani and guitarist Imran Akhond who have played a pivotal role in his new sound.
Roy’s political inclinations are not limited to his music alone; as he is known for his humanitarian aspirations as well. It was some of the problems he faced while building Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School in Karachi that formed the basis of his song “Laga Reh”. Although his song aimed at bringing about a positive change, the
message of the song was misconstrued as being solely sarcastic by the audience.
Fearing that his upcoming song may also be misinterpreted, Roy clarifies his intentions; “It’s a completely different type of song. It also features an undiscovered Baloch talent who sings exceptionally well.” Unfortunately, due to the supposed contentious content of the song, none of the corporate organisations would sponsor its release.
When it came to finding a director for the single, Roy chose Ahsan Raheem. “I think he is one of the best Pakistani directors. Whenever he sees a song with a socio-political context, he leaves all his commitments and agrees to direct the video,” says Roy.
In terms of the lyrics, poetry has played a critical role in Roy’s song structure. Penning most of the political rhymes himself, he occasionally relies on lyricist Nadeem Asad to give finishing touches to or to help him with lyrics when he is stuck. On structuring the song, he relies on inspiration to lead the way rather than a defined, cohesive plan.
Roy is still considering whether to produce a new album or not. Although he has a couple of songs in mind, he says it is much too early to comment. For now, Roy continues to participate in rallies for both Leftist parties as well as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). On his political affiliations, Roy maintains that he has not joined
politics or PTI. “I support any movement that can bring about a change in Pakistan. I try to play my role by raising political awareness through my music. Technology is bringing a lot of changes and this new wave will hopefully uplift the lives of poor people,” says Roy.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 24th, 2011.