After Farhan Saeed covered Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s “Halka Halka Suroor”, rumours were abuzz that the singer would be calling it quits with his band Jal. On September 3, Saeed finally confirmed the speculations, disclosing his departure from the band. He is now set to pursue his solo career and look after his business, the singer told The Express Tribune in an exclusive interview at his cafe.
Saeed, who joined Jal at the age of 19 after Atif Aslam left the band, believes that he has departed in an amicable manner, leaving no hard feelings with the other members — Goher Mumtaz and Shazi Aamir.
“When you’re in a band, it’s like being in a company where there is a board of directors and all decisions have to be made collectively,” explains Saeed. “Being solo now is like being the owner of my own business. I can do the things I want and do them on my terms.”
Saeed claims that he disclosed his decision to Mumtaz and Aamir around the first week of Ramazan, saying that the decision was met with nostalgia as the band is known for its close-knit nature with regular jam sessions: “I invited them over to my cafe and explained my reasons for leaving the band. Goher offered that I could pursue my solo career while being a part of the band, but for me it’s always been black or white as Jal would be my priority if I stay with the band.”
Recounting his years with Jal, Saeed explains that it was the most formative time of his life, playing for the band for nearly eight years. Though his contract terms only required him to sing for the band for five years, he remained a part of Jal for three more years until he realised that the band was not releasing enough music. “I think the pace was sort of slow because people need music and to serve music, you can’t really wait to release albums,” says the singer.
Understanding that many fans would connect Saeed’s departure to the rift of Atif Aslam with Mumtaz earlier, the singer says: “People love Jal and it’s heartbreaking to see us go our separate ways. So they would naturally blame Goher, but that’s not the case here. The fact is that I’m getting busy.”
Having opted for a solo career, Saeed intends to dedicate 60 to 70 per cent of his timeto music, leaving the rest for business and family. He also plans to get more active with humanitarian causes and is currently in talks to become Pakistan’s youth ambassador for The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. His new album is under production and several singles are also lined up for Bollywood with Saeed as a solo artist. “Khwahishain” — an original number, composed and written by Saeed — will be released along with a music video at the end of the month.
“I think my album will be very different from Jal’s music. It will be more like my music and how I want it to be,” says Saeed.
Part of Jal’s latest controversy are two more people — Saad Sultan and DJ Maq. Sultan has been the session guitarist for Jal for about three years, and even performed with the band at their last gig on July 29. Sultan also happens to be the producer of Saeed’s solo cover of “Halka Halka Suroor”.
DJ Maq, the former manager of Jal, was recently replaced with Mumtaz’ brother. He is now Saeed’s manager.
Though Jal’s frontman Mumtaz was not available for comments, his brother and the band’s manager Khurram Mumtaz said: “Jal the band will move on despite any controversies. The band is working on its third album, which includes a lot of new, exciting and experimental tracks. All our fans around the world should brace themselves for a lot of surprises and music worth listening to.”
Saeed called it quits with Jal — that gave him his identity — on a rather touchy and emotional statement: “I will not say anything to make the separation difficult.”
In less than a decade, yet another vocalist has left Jal. However, whether or not Saeed will get even remotely close to Aslam’s success, is a question only time can answer.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2011.