On his father’s fourth death anniversary, Sarmad Faraz, a musician best-known for being in the band Corduroy, released a music video titled “Shayar”. Sarmad chose this particular poem of his late father, the legendary poet Ahmad Faraz, because it was the pilot poem of Faraz’s first-ever published book Tanha Tanha, which espouses resilience, individuality and change.
Throughout the video, Faraz’s narration of Shayar and the instrumental music mesh well; Sarmad shares that incorporating Faraz’s poem and voice-over was a “happy coincidence”. The musician’s instrumental was completed last August when he realised that the music and voice-over would do well together and pay homage to his father’s service to him and the country.
“This poem discusses the role of a poet and his transformation from being an entertainer for royalty to becoming a loud, determined and powerful voice for the common man. It’s about motivation, bringing about a change and challenging ones fears,” comments Sarmad. Fittingly, the video that took seven months to complete tries to show the ability of change in human beings, not in a political or retaliatory way, but more personally. Four individuals are marred by the strains of their plight and their dreams are constantly held back due to social conformance and the tendency to maintain the status quo. However, they all eventually triumph over their obstacles and do what brings them personal happiness. Sarmad’s presence in the video is also over arching, as his music supports the inspiration provided by Faraz’s poetry.
Though the premise of the video is simplistic, the director Ali Maqbool manages to successfully depict each character. The density and complexity of each character is differently weighed, making an audience more receptive to some characters and not others as much. Unlike the other three characters in the video, the student played by Ali Khawar is already enlightened through Faraz’s poetry but struggles to accommodate his complex thoughts in the mentally shackled environment of his school and peers. However, he finds solace in becoming a poet himself, thus paying the greatest homage of all to Faraz.
The mechanic who yearns to be a musician, played by Numair Shazada, in contrast runs more parallel to Sarmad’s own persona and aspirations. Speaking with The Express Tribune Shahzada commented saying, “Ahmed Faraz wrote about revolution and change, we need that as a country. But he also wrote about individuality and freedom, that what we all must be true to in our own right. That’s what this video is about”.
Shot in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, the video is a labour of love as it was supported by friends and family exclusively. However, despite much hospitality, the video underwent a set back when Maqbool’s equipment worth Rs1.5 million being stolen. “That set us back by a lot of time, and money of course,” he laments.
Tribute aside, Sarmad also fears that Urdu poetry, although still appreciated and admired by many, is gradually losing its appeal amongst the younger generation that is now joining the bandwagon of globalisation. “Poetry now unfortunately needs to be sugar-coated for our youth to absorb and enjoy unlike previous generations where people enjoyed literature by picking up a book,” he adds.
Fortunately, the video fared good reception in just a few hours of its release. Singer Abbas Ali Khan commented, “I think Sarmad did a great job, we all know Ahmed Faraz and I’m personally very fond of his poetry. However, this tribute will definitely grab the attention of the youth and I hope they actually understand the meaning behind [it].”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2012.