When heard closely, listeners will find a certain pattern to Sajjad Ali’s discography. If the 90s were typified by hip-hop and pop-rock tracks like Babia and Bolo Bolo, the succeeding years have seen the musician trade in the boyish looks for longer locks and a more sober appearance — as evidenced by his latest release Nakhun.
“It is not that I have stopped releasing pop songs, but my slow and melodious tracks like Nakhun have always resonated well with the audience,” Ali tells The Express Tribune. “Just look at Paniyon Mein, Chal Rein De, Koi Nahi and Har Zulm — all of these songs became major hits.”
Nakhun, which is Ali’s first single since Na Tum Samjhay Na Hum Samjhay, draws lyrical inspiration from the poetry of Mirza Ghalib. “Anyone who has read a little bit of Urdu poetry will realise that the song takes its inspiration from a verse from Ghalib’s poetry, ‘Zakhm ke bharne talak nakhun na barh jaenge kya,’” he explains.
“Basically the song is about people who are in relationships but no longer feel the same way about their partner. The affection and love they once had for each other is no longer there,” he says, elaborating upon the themes present in the track. According to the singer, Nakhun is a metaphor for the human ego and how people tend to get fixated on certain aspects of life, particularly unhealthy relationships. “I’ve seen so many relationships where, despite being married for several years, the couple just doesn’t feel the same way about each other and is unable to move on from that feeling.”
While the song has garnered over half a million views across various social media platforms, several of the musician’s listeners are of the opinion that Ali has reverted to a formulaic approach following the success of his preceding compositions. Responding to this criticism, the musician says that this was not the case because he had attained a level of success by treading into different genres and not restricting himself to a certain style of music. He did however, reason that the lyrics and melodious composition may have forced people to draw these comparisons.
Regardless of the kind of response the track has received, Ali holds the music video for the single very close to him as it has been directed by his daughter, Zaw Ali. This is not the first time that Ali’s daughter has collaborated with him on a project: Zaw earlier filmed a documentary chronicling her father’s musical journey. “I don’t mind if my children are pursuing a career in this line of work and I would only encourage them if they want to do so. It would be a great source of pride for me if they manage to do a great job in this field,” said the singer.
With the ninth season of Coke Studio currently in the works, the show has already managed to create a lot of buzz following their decision to incorporate multiple producers. Even though Sajjad Ali has excused himself from the upcoming season, he did disclose that he was approached to work as a producer. “They approached me to produce the show but due to touring commitments I let the offer go,” he revealed.
Having collaborated with some of the producers such as Shani Arshad and Shuja Haider in the past, Ali shared that he is looking forward to the upcoming season. “This is an excellent decision because audiences would now get to see different styles of music. At the same time there is also a great deal of risk involved since it is being done for the first time [in Pakistan].”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2016.