VJ-actor-singer Komal Rizvi’s attempt to deliver a spiritual lift in music with her new song Jhoolay Lal is not so successful.
Jhoolay Lal has been written and composed by Komal, produced by Shallum Xavier from Fuzon and features Abdullah Niazi brothers’ qawwali. In December 2012, Komal told The Express Tribune that she is highly influenced by sufis and feels spirituality has played a significant role in her life. “I can’t even begin to explain how spiritual I am,” she said, adding that the lyrics of her song Jhoolay Laal give off the same vibes. “I have sung it with all my heart and soul. I am sure the listeners will like it as well.”
She starts the song in an interesting manner with a decent alap (music without words) and when the guitar kick in, you are suddenly transpired into a good rock music setting. Komal’s vocals are impressive, which shows that she has definitely evolved as a singer since the release of Chahiye, her first come back number.
However, the song nosedives from there on, as all the spirituality in the lyrics and the composition turns into her Dil Ka Dard. The surprise is certainly not worth it as the remaining part of the song is ordinary and also brings the worst out of her vocals — quite unexpected after an interesting beginning. After that, there is chaos in the song; the qawwals come in again for some orthodox alaps, the rest of the song keeps revolving in a strange atmosphere created by a monotonous and an unappealing composition.
Before we go into the details of the audio and the video, the more important question is how do you define sufi music? Junoon introduced itself as a sufi rock band; Noori was labeled sufi rock too after the success of Aik Alif and the legendary Abida Parveen offers a mix of qawwali and ghazal with sufi poetry. Even Abbas Ali Khan uses sufi poetry in a semi-classical rendition. A safe conclusion is that any form of music that offers sufi poetry essentially leads to the formation of sufi music. However, the sufi kalam are conversations with God and love for Him; which is why all sufi renditions are inclusive of veneration which becomes the soul of the song. Rizvi’s rendition of Jhoolay Lal lacks that soul needed to qualify as a sufi song.
There is an undeniable dearth of female artists in the Pakistani music scene. Since the heydays of Fariha Pervez and Hadiqa Kayani, not many have sustained in the industry. Remember Huma Khwaja who came with a couple of catchy songs in 2007, and then there was Annie Khalid. Her 2007 song Mahiya remix gave her instant fame. Qurat-ul-Ain Balouch (QB) from the fame of 2011 Humsafar’s soundtrack fame has yet to deliver an album. Amongst some new comers, Komal has been trying to make a comeback for two years now. She has been trying to prove something as a singer and musician desperately, but has been missing the bull’s eye by a great distance; her new song Jhoolay Laal is a testimony to it.
It is good to see female artists generate music for neighbouring countries, especially if they make Pakistan proud. After all, pop music is what Pakistanis are known for. Komal’s Jhoolay Lal might as well be the last nail in the coffin for her. She should restrict herself to acting and hosting, which she does relatively well.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 4th, 2013.
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