Khoon: An ode to the Shia community

Published: March 2, 2013

Topi Drama’s latest song says we have blood on our hands. PHOTO: PUBLICITY / DESIGN: MAHA HAIDER

KARACHI: 

Socially and politically-relevant music not only grips listeners, but also signals for a change in times of socio-political crises. Singers like Shehzad Roy have used satirical humour in songs like Laga Rahe and YouTube sensations like Faris Shafi have also taken the same route with a number like Awaam. But while a musician’s effort to laugh at himself is appreciated, another way is to say it exactly like it is.

With its new song Khoon, the band Topi Drama hopes to make listeners more aware of their surroundings. The song is about the blood that Pakistanis have on their hands for the silence and apathy shown by the government, media and citizens towards the persecution of the Shia community. A smooth listen on the ears, Khoon has gone viral since its release two weeks ago and Topi Drama has struck a chord with the audience right when it was needed.

The three member Lahore-based rock band Topi Drama was formed in 2010, with Sohail Qureshi as vocalist, Arafat Mazhar as guitarist and Kenny Zeerick on the drums. Mazhar also produces the songs in his studio Manic House Productions. Although the band is relatively new, it has already released Inquilab, a song which mocks the glossy version of revolution that people dream of, earlier this year.

Billy Joel-inspired work on the keys gives Khoon the perfect combination of darkness and hopelessness in a minimalistic arrangement. It almost creates a spatial vacuum that is reminiscent of the way people felt after the back-to-back massacres — completely jaded.

Khoon is a personal song,” Mazhar tells The Express Tribune. “I don’t want anyone to think we are trying to preach here or give a message. We are not under any illusions that our song can bring any change.”

While the song is short, thought-provoking and concise, it is also impactful with its bold lyrics. The words “meray or teray haathon pe khoon hai” stay in the mind of the listener.

“Every word in the song was inspired by our silence and inaction for the massacre that has been going on for years,” says Mazhar regretfully. “It comes from a sense of guilt that their is blood on my hands, and because we are silent — we are accomplices. “

The band is in the process of recording a rock-and-roll album with a couple of piano-based tracks. “My focus is for the band to play live and have fun,” Zeerick says. “It’s important to remember we are not an activist group with an agenda. We are a rock-and-roll band,” he says. “If our song was able to create a collective expression of solidarity with the Hazara community, that is a bonus.”

The young members of the band seem to be focused on composing more music. Topi Drama is a great addition to the Pakistani music industry, where band culture is almost dead. It’s also interesting to see that most music channels have shifted their focus to Pakistani songs in the last couple of months, which works in the band’s favour. After all, if a song like Waderay Ka Beta went viral, so should a serious song like Khoon.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2013.

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Reader Comments (26)

  • Sonya
    Mar 2, 2013 - 9:18PM

    Highly appreciated. Shahzad Roy has proven once again that he is a great Pakistani – once before i have seen him working for the earthquake victims in 2005.

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  • Awais
    Mar 2, 2013 - 9:32PM

    thank you for this song and for breaking your silence…it may encourage others to breaks theirs as well

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  • Ali S
    Mar 2, 2013 - 10:23PM

    I’m not a big fan of new bands trying to come out with ‘revolutionary’ political awareness campaigns – but let’s see how this goes. At least they acknowledge that they’re not meant to ignite a revolution or something.

    Also, how is it that nearly all good music acts in Pakistan are based out of Lahore?

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  • XCriminal
    Mar 3, 2013 - 12:27AM

    Wonderful song, true picture of the silent majority.

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  • goggi
    Mar 3, 2013 - 1:22AM

    Pakistanis just can´t refrain from their hypocrisy and double standards.

    We and our glorious history of 66 years are soaked in the blood of Hindus, Sikhs and Bengalis whom we raped or slaughtered in 1947 and 1971 and till today no guilty conscious, no apology and no songs!

    Harassing, abducting and killing of non muslims is regarded as a peccadillo from the general population and the law.

    Is the blood of Shias more red then our dearest minorities who are in fact the aboriginals of our this land just like our milleniums old sweetest mangoes of the world???Recommend

  • Turbo Lover
    Mar 3, 2013 - 9:30AM

    Good song, but action is demanded more.

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  • ayesha zafa
    Mar 3, 2013 - 1:00PM

    Intense song. Great sound and lyrics. One of the most sincere songs iv heard out of pak music industry

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  • Raj - USA
    Mar 3, 2013 - 1:10PM

    @goggi:
    So nice of you to bring out by inner thoughts. It is for the same reasons and I did not comment expressing my appreciations. At the same time, I did not want to comment negatively as something good is being done for the Shia victims.

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  • Salman Zaidi
    Mar 3, 2013 - 1:18PM

    @goggi you should appreciate that someone has the balls to come out against the injustice towards one of the minorities. More appreciable is the fact that none of them is a Shia (is this Kenny Zeerick a Christian? If yes then this just multiplies the appreciation by a hundred!). You are ignoring the fact that Shia fit the definition of your aboriginals of the land. a place where voices against oppression are silenced or ignored this indeed is a breath of fresh air. A great message acknowledging their own mistakes. The first step towards resolution of a problem.

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  • Zehra Rizvi
    Mar 3, 2013 - 1:46PM

    OH God I just saw the video of this song and have tears in my eyes. What a beautiful piece of music. Thank you very much for becoming the voice of the voiceless. I pray to God that it brings some awareness. I’m so happy at the fact that non Shias have come forward with such an amazing piece for our community.
    @goggi I wish you’d participated in one of the Ashura processions only then will you understand what the Shia community feel.

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  • Syeda Fatima
    Mar 3, 2013 - 2:29PM

    At last you guys care about us. Thank you for the nice gesture. Wonderful song even a better video.

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  • Salman Zaidi
    Mar 3, 2013 - 3:59PM

    Atlast someone has the guts to say what should have been said years ago. What makes this effort much more appreciable is the fact that the guys are not shia and the best part is that there is a christian involved in this as well. Nothing but respect for you guys. Not only is the choice of the topic wonderful but the music, vocals and the video are all amazing.

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  • Mantis
    Mar 3, 2013 - 4:46PM

    What great song. Beautiful to say the least. Wonderful video as well. Thanks ET for unearthing this amazing piece of art. unbeleavable!
    @goggi Raising voice against injustice should never be looked at negatively. You should not expect one person to raise voice against every injustice. They have played their part by pointing out one. Have a look at the video and you’ll understand that it is indeed a gutsy effort.

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  • MAQ
    Mar 3, 2013 - 4:50PM

    Dangerous waters. Tread carefully you guys. I hope you stay safe after the faces you’ve shown in the video. Great song and great video I must say.

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  • Serene
    Mar 3, 2013 - 5:24PM

    The music part at the end is so beautiful. I can’t believe that this song is by a Pakistani artist. Very different and unique in a way. Thanks for sharing ET.

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  • SufiSal
    Mar 3, 2013 - 5:57PM

    Naya Pakistan with great upcoming music. Vredit to E.T for unearthing these musicians. Beautiful Beautiful song!

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  • Insiya Syed
    Mar 3, 2013 - 6:08PM

    What a beautiful piece of music. Especially the violin in the end is just to die for! Goodness me!

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  • PTI Panther
    Mar 3, 2013 - 6:12PM

    Use your vote carefully next time. See the faces in the video and remember them. Only IK has named these ‘supposedly’ faceless murderers. Good song though.

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  • Hazarvee
    Mar 3, 2013 - 7:57PM

    I’m in tears after waching this. All I can say is thank you very much. Beautiful melody.

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  • Abdul Rafay
    Mar 3, 2013 - 8:25PM

    beautiful song. Great violin solo at the end. Full of emotions!

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  • Amruta
    Mar 3, 2013 - 8:29PM

    @Mantis:
    @Salman Zaidi:
    I fear you are missing the substance of goggi´s message! Hi to all from Mumbai, Amruta Mehta

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  • Raj - USA
    Mar 3, 2013 - 10:56PM

    @PTI Panther: “See the faces in the video and remember them. “

    I agree with you totally on this.

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  • Mar 4, 2013 - 7:07AM

    Thank you all for the kind words and appreciating the song. You can like the Bands facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/topidrama .

    Bilal

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  • Arafat
    Mar 4, 2013 - 8:04AM

    Thankyou everyone for the support. We are releasing our next track in 4 days inshallah

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  • manish
    Mar 4, 2013 - 10:17AM

    @goggi:
    Bro it’s a fact that the Shias along with Ahmadis, Christians, Sunnis, Buddhists & Hindus are all native to the land.
    A great majority of them are converts from the Indian Religions, but nonetheless, are aboriginals. And as such, have equal claim on the land.
    When a Sunni oppresss a Shia or a Hindu or vice-versa, they must realise that they might be from the same family, a few generations back.

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  • citizen
    Mar 4, 2013 - 6:24PM

    Thumbs up guys . intense lyrics . You said a lot in few minutes . Just beautiful . Praying for peaceful pakistan

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