Sajjad Ali: The fall of a star

Published: January 3, 2017


KARACHI  : There’s a saying in the music industry that no matter what new ground one tries to conquer, Sajjad and Waqar Ali have been there done that.

Although debatable, the brothers continue to believe it holds true. Both, seasoned musicians and newcomers reminisce how they made Sajjad listen to a new song only to hear, “Acha hai par mein or Vicky yeh 90s mein kar chukay hain”.

There’s no denying that if Alamgir is king, then Sajjad is very much the prince of Pakistani pop. But any prince surrounded by yes men for long loses control of whatever transpires outside the castle.

“Who cares if AR Rahman praised my singing? If he is AR Rahman, then I am Sajjad Ali” and “I won’t produce Coke Studio episode as I deserve an entire season” are just two of the many instances of Sajjad’s ego squandering a chance to remain relevant.

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This is around the same time when Tum Naraz Ho had become history, as had Har Zulm. It is also when Sajjad bhai probably realised how difficult it is to survive in a time when your fan base is directly associated with the number of viral music videos you have and not necessarily, the quality of your music.

Sajjad’s increasing desperation could be seen in his antics on social media and their failure to make a mark. So much so that he eventually took a break from releasing music and tried to play mentor instead with Sajjad Ali Master Class.

The maestro gave vocal exercises in a well-produced series of episodes. People would have paid for the stuff had it not been offered to a nation that considers music and the practice of it a taboo. Sadly, there wasn’t anything new in the lessons either.

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Despite having an enviable discography of memorable songs, this seemed like the final nail in Sajjad’s coffin. Here was a legend who reportedly refused to endorse any products because ‘real artistes don’t do that’ despite having been around for over three decades. He even turned down many remix/revisiting offers thinking only he could redo his songs.

If living in Dubai for the past two decades had not alienated Sajjad from the industry, then his self-created walls certainly did. As his monologue lost takers, he decided to bow before change.

In a first, the musician released a song featuring Bohemia, the Punjabi rapper, yesterday. This marked the first time he included another artiste on a track of his. The formula looked straightforward; get someone a lot more relevant to reinvigorate one’s brand.

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That, however, didn’t turn out to be the case. Sajjad bowed down only to find a new constant and made the most hip desi rapper sound and act like one of the extras from Laari Adda.  Tamasha left a lot of Bohemia fans disappointed and proved Sajjad was open to change, but only on his terms. Such an attitude can spell doom for both, his career and the industry at large.

It’s time veterans like Sajjad take note of the silver on their heads. The music industry – or whatever remains of it – now revolves around a few brands and friends of friends who call the shots. It couldn’t get any worse.

Alas, there’s nothing like evergreen music. The recall value of any old song is directly associated with nostalgia, which keeps on changing with every passing generation.

Here’s hoping the Faakhirs and Ali Haiders of the industry are also listening.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • X7
    Jan 3, 2017 - 10:45AM

    If whatever he releases is good/bad, the public will decide. As unlike decades ago, we have something called the internet. Recommend

  • Beenish
    Jan 3, 2017 - 11:41AM

    Pakistanis do not appreciate trained musicians. They like good looks and a bit of pseudo-modern appeal..all it takes to become a musician.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Jan 3, 2017 - 1:00PM

    All artists have their ups-and-downs……Sajjad Ali is no exception…..let his fans decided.Recommend

  • Ahad
    Jan 3, 2017 - 1:43PM

    Seriously the writer seems to have a personal bias against Sajjad Ali.Recommend

  • Bilal
    Jan 3, 2017 - 2:34PM

    No the bias is in your head….he wrote spade a spade with reference, profile and keeping in mind the achievements he have had in recent past….Recommend

  • TimeBeing
    Jan 3, 2017 - 3:21PM

    If you carefully review most of the articles of Mr. Rafay you might notice he has got poor taste & has nothing to offer in his articles except bland criticism & dull habitual hatred towards every artist of every entertainment industry .. may it be a Pakistani director trying to revive the film industry, a legend old timey musician trying something new, a Bollywood producer or a new & upcoming artist.

    Mr. Rafay has been provided the opportunity but oh! what a wastage of cyber space. So who is trying to become relevant here is anybody’s guess. Well, go figure.Recommend

  • Junaid
    Jan 3, 2017 - 3:27PM

    I don’t care what writer has to say. I love Sajjad Ami’s music.Recommend

  • Talha
    Jan 4, 2017 - 10:53AM

    A musician who is still very much relevant after 30 years in the music industry , u call it a downfall ?? Writer do ur self a favour and read the feedback of Tamasha .. Recommend

  • Faraz
    Jan 4, 2017 - 9:41PM

    Sajjad Ali’s music never had any class and many of his songs are complete rip-offs. I as a Pakistani take pride in Junaid Jamshed, Nazia Hassan, Salman Ahmed, Bilal Maqsood, Arif Lohar and many more but Sajjad Ali ..NO. Recommend

  • @Rohwit
    Jan 30, 2017 - 3:31PM

    What a fab fab write up!

    It pains to see the ‘legends’ we grew up listening to, stoop to such levels due to misplaced sense of self worth. In India as well, there are a lot of examples like these but we have very few journos who can point out the B.S. so vividly and with data

    Keep it up rafay…love your writing!

    Love from India

  • Afridi
    Feb 16, 2017 - 5:01AM

    a singer is a legend if he can give one hit per album!! i am not an avid fan of sajjad, but he has been giving hits upon hits, so he is a legend. A legend is someone who sits over a coffee cup with his guitarist and drummer mates, decides to make some money during the banter, starts a tour for a month and becomes a million bucks richer. Sajjad has all the ingredients to do that anytime of the year! so revisit your post and rethink, its never too late to realize. Recommend

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