LAHORE: Punjab ho ya Sindh,
Makan ho ya pind,
teray sar pay, pooray,
baal hon ya tind…
Anger and hopelessness about Pakistan’s problems inspire many musicians to write and sing their feelings. Similarly, Faris Shafi’s latest single “Awaam” (opening lyrics above) is a reaction to the state of affairs in the country. “The situations people are being put through are what really inspired me to write the lyrics of this song,” says the singer, talking about the social (and abusive) commentary in his song that encapsulates the overall disenchantment with the status quo. “Awaam” is a brilliant attempt at addressing the madness surrounding the country by showing the struggle of an average citizen in a system where media plays king. While the content may seem to be something that has been covered and discussed to no end, Faris adds hip hop and rap to give it a fresh twist. “Rap music should have a strong message that people can relate to,” says Faris, who is the brother of popular singer and actor Meesha Shafi.
“I wrote about all the things our nation is being forced to go through every day,” Faris explains. “I added some of Mooroo’s funk into the mix and came up with ‘Awaam’,” he says, referring to the chorus by Taimoor Salahuddin (also known as Mooroo).
Unlike other satirical tracks which have recently gone viral, Shafi brings out raw, angry rap lyrics that are uncensored and crisp to the core. “I started writing verses in Urdu last year when I realised that in order to reach out to Pakistani people, I must speak and write in their language,” he says. The verses of Shafi’s song are complemented with well-choreographed interludes; the pauses in-between are filled with Mooroo’s booming voice.
The track makes more of an impact thanks to its video, in which Faris plays the role of a labourer and Mooroo, a factory owner. The labourer dreams of living the rich and famous life but once he starts making headlines, finds himself being chased by a notorious television host — played by Fazeelat Aslam — whose mannerism and willingness to dig out information bears an uncanny resemblance to talk show host Meher Bukhari. The video also has some captivating visuals of Pakistan’s mountains, which Faris included as he feels “showing violent images is like promoting it on public television. It forces us to be aggravated and fight each other and keep our minds off the more important things in life,” he adds.
While Faris confesses that his passion has a lot to do with his family’s love for music and his dreams to become a rap artist, Mooroo has quietly built an impressive portfolio as a music video director and a musician. Previously, his video for Jimmy Khan’s “Aisa Kaisa” used varied video techniques to show different period settings. Speaking about “Awaam”, however, Mooroo said that the concept came to him during the shoot of “Aisa Kaisa” where Faris played the rough cut of the song.
“The concepts come from life and dreams,” he explains. “You see things around you, they affect you, and then they manifest in some form of expression.”
“I was blown away by the song and was even more surprised when Faris said he wanted to dance in a shalwar and banyaan. I cracked up. That’s always a good sign,” he quips. “From there on, we’d just imagine things together and the video came from these sessions.”
The one-week-old song has already accumulated over 85,000 YouTube hits, with one commentor posting: “Brilliant song… wonderful… I love it when he says … insaaf hai kahan… these are the morals we need.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2012.
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