Revisiting the national anthem

Published: August 17, 2013
Asif Sinan brings a personal twist to melody of the age-old national anthem through traditional alaaps and gamaks. PHOTO: FILE

Asif Sinan brings a personal twist to melody of the age-old national anthem through traditional alaaps and gamaks. PHOTO: FILE


While many artists have tried their luck with revamping the national anthem, the effort of Asif Sinan, a jingoist in his own right, is worthy of note. This relatively young chap has walked into the music scene and made quite an impression with a rendition of Pakistan’s national anthem.

Sinan has been able to blend together the genres of jazz, Indian classical and sufi music. Apart from having played alongside renowned German and American musicians in Pakistan and abroad, he is also known for making his guitar sound like a sitar.

One has to respect Sinan’s courage as he chose to play a purely Eastern classical number on a modern instrument while coupling the electronic version of the tanpura with his guitar. When asked how he came up with the idea of transforming the anthem into an Eastern tune, he says, “We all express our love for the country in different ways. And, as a musician I wanted to contribute in such a way that it would be forever. Hence, this Eastern classical rendition came up in my mind. The surprising thing is that it did not take long to arrange and record. I guess it was living inside me for the longest time — it was just seeking a way to come out!” says an emotional Sinan.

While revisiting such tunes are critical as people have a strong affection with them, how did Sinan manage the effort? “I am a follower of my heart and it told me that if I am making something with honesty of intention and purity of emotions then it would definitely be well received — at least by those who also listen to their hearts,” he exclaims.

Apart from the fact that the whole anthem sounds as if it’s played on a sitar, Sinan has also freed himself from ‘taal’ (a specified beat) and made the anthem flow free style. In doing that he gives the Anthem far more emotions than you may have ever experienced. He also adds an ‘alaap’ (prelude) to the anthem which is so seamless that it appears as a part of the anthem itself. The ‘gamaks’ (short slides) and ‘meendhs’ (long slides) add a fun feel to it and create continuity in the anthem that is missing in the common stop-short version. There are hidden notes and a hidden melody that do not take our attention away from the anthem for even a split second.

Even without the technicalities, you will enjoy the anthem for what it is — melodic and well played. Our emotions flow with the anthem — happy initially, sad in the middle and leaving us with a glint of hope in the end. So how does this renewed version make a similar positive impact? “This is the sound of peace. My mailbox has been flooded with people who have written to me that they are motivated to do something positive for Pakistan. This anthem has made some cry and made some renew their pledge to do something for the society. For many, it has renewed their love for their country,” asserts Sinan. “A Pakistani wrote to me from Australia saying he had just finished his studies and was thinking of settling there but after hearing this anthem, he changed his mind and had a conversation with his parents about coming back. These are far reaching impacts — this is art inspiring you to do good and for me this has been the biggest reward ever,” he claims.

Interestingly, Sinan first revealed this anthem live on the opening of the PTI Jalsa on December 25, two years back. “It was a very emotional experience for me — there was a crowd of more than 100,000 people and they listened to it with deafening silence and then cheered for it raucously. I was apprehensive about performing at such a big venue in front of such a mix crowd who had never heard of this version of the anthem before. But the appreciation I got was overwhelming,” he recalls.

He released the studio version of the anthem on August 14 this year.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (28)

  • GS@Y
    Aug 17, 2013 - 9:02PM

    Asif Sinan is a “jingoist in how own right”? Does the author know what a jingoist is? It’s someone with “[e]xtreme nationalism characterized especially by a belligerent foreign policy; chauvinistic patriotism”. I suppose the author meant to say Sinan composes jingles?

    Better editing, ET, for God’s sake!


  • Irtiza Nazar
    Aug 17, 2013 - 9:05PM

    This one is really good. Though I still like Salman Ahmed/Junoon’s musical rendition more.


  • PakThinker
    Aug 17, 2013 - 9:17PM

    That is simply WONDERFUL. Truly amazing.
    Pakistan national anthem has some mysterious things that makes listener fall into feeling of epicness.


  • hammad
    Aug 17, 2013 - 9:30PM

    just amazing. made my day, i will make this rendition of national anthem my alam. nothing like waking up listening to my motherland’s national anthem. my gora neighbours are in for a treat…………long live pakistan


  • hammad
    Aug 17, 2013 - 9:42PM

    just amazing.made my day i will make this rendition of national anthem my alam nothing like waking up listening to my motherland national anthe……. my gora neighbours are in for a treat ………………………………………………long live pakistan


  • Aug 17, 2013 - 10:17PM

    nice work doneRecommend

  • MC-PROUDpaki
    Aug 17, 2013 - 10:23PM

    Ur national anthem is in persian…shame on u guys…


  • Rizwan Afzal
    Aug 17, 2013 - 10:53PM

    everything was nice about it except that i could not find any similarity between national anthem and this music


  • Bilal
    Aug 17, 2013 - 11:31PM

    Sorry but I don’t hear anything related to our anthem in it, nonetheless its good music.


  • Pakistan One
    Aug 17, 2013 - 11:52PM

    Perhaps the only (and the most stupid) nation to have the tone/music of the anthem before the anthem was actually written.


  • truthbetold
    Aug 18, 2013 - 1:44AM

    This sounds too Indian classical and peaceful. Pakistan’s national anthem has to sound Islamic and more strident.


  • Sara Suleman
    Aug 18, 2013 - 2:20AM

    Where do all these haters come from??? Btw, Ed you DO need to replace ‘jingoist’!!!!! Loved the anthem!! Loved the way he said ‘it was inside me all along waiting to come out’ – he’s certainly talented and has done a great job! Pakistan always produces amazing talent! God bless you!


  • Xone Guitarist
    Aug 18, 2013 - 2:22AM

    Mannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!!! This wuz AWESOME!!!!! I’ve been playing guitar for 5 years but this dude just killed it!!! WOW!


  • gReEn pAkIsTaN
    Aug 18, 2013 - 2:26AM

    Have been looking for the whole thing since I heard it in the TCF TV commercial… it made me very emotional and almost brought tears in my eyes.


  • Atif Sulera
    Aug 18, 2013 - 2:29AM

    People who can’t hear the national anthem in this rendition are BLIND FROM THEIR HEARTS. Our national anthem is always played in such a marching band military style and to be played in such a soft emotional way is too difficult! I guess this country will always its share of stupid and tone deaf people!


  • Bacchus Piggawalla
    Aug 18, 2013 - 3:09AM

    No one understands the lyrics of the anthem because it is in Faarsi. Time to start a campaign to propose alternatives that we can understand. One option is to cobble something that has lyrics from regional languages cobbled together. Another is to adopt “aye vatan mere vatan” sung by the great amanat Ali khan. Other ideas?


  • Td
    Aug 18, 2013 - 3:54AM

    @Rizwan Afzal:
    You both must done deaf. After the initial alaap, it is exclusive your national anthem that was played.


  • Zen
    Aug 18, 2013 - 4:08AM

    What calming beautiful notes. This boy has a pure heart.


  • Zunair Baksh
    Aug 18, 2013 - 4:12AM

    Oh come on man! I saw far more genuine comments on Sinan’s FB page! Tribune sucks!


  • Hammad Irfani
    Aug 18, 2013 - 4:15AM

    JINGOIST????????? hahahahahahahhahaaaaaa!!!! What does he do? Whack people on the head with his guitar when they dont listen to the anthem??


  • Aug 18, 2013 - 11:52AM

    Urdu has commonalty with Persian and lot of Urdu is Persian derivative. Shame is where?


  • Reply Bacchus
    Aug 18, 2013 - 2:26PM

    @Bacchus Persian is a beautiful language and the best poetry in the world is in this language (hafiz, rumi, iqbal, ghalib etc etc). It was taught in every ‘parhi likhi’ family till Partition and was a mark of distinction. 60% of Urdu is actually Persian! Even our great minds of Pakistan (Jaun Elia, Qureshpur etc etc.) knew Persian. Languages only enhance your understanding and therefore your personality so pls learn and understand the meaning of our anthem as a starting step to Persian. Btw, 60 languages are spoken in Pakistan (Incl Persian!!) … so what exactly are you going to ‘cobble’ together??? You think you are smarter than the greats goneby???Recommend

  • KrAsH_n_bUrN
    Aug 18, 2013 - 2:28PM

    Salman Ahmed’s version is just the same thing played with distortion on an electric guitar!!! Big deal!!! Nothing creative about it. This Sinan guy has done something stellar! Good boi!


  • Safeerullah
    Aug 18, 2013 - 2:34PM

    600 comments and 5,000 shares on Asif Sinan’s FB page about the anthem. Mind boggling. Guess there is some hope in this country after all. Lol.


  • Mudassir
    Aug 18, 2013 - 4:34PM

    Crap and flawed!

    There are some things which should better be left untouched. Our national anthem is one of them. No other rendition can come close to the original.

    And most of the people here, who think our anthem is Persian or Farsi, they are actually mistaken. Its written in Urdu.

    All words in the anthem originally belong to Farsi, and are adopted in Urdu… except one.

    Pak Sar Zameen Ka Nizaam

    This word Ka does not belong to Persian, but Urdu. So if you want to label the anthem with a single language, it would be Urdu, not Farsi. There is no Ka in Persian.


  • Aug 18, 2013 - 4:35PM

    @Reply Bacchus
    * Also Omar Khayyam! The most popular one in west.


  • M. Emad
    Aug 18, 2013 - 6:24PM

    Pakistan did many illogical ‘experiments’ with the writings of Muhammad Iqbal / Jagannath Azad / (Bengali: Nazrul Islam – Gulam Mustafa) / Hafiz Jullandhari etc for its National Anthem. Now, 99% Pakistani does not know the meaning of current national anthen as it is written in Farsi (Persian) language (not used in Pakistan). However, 99% Iranian citizen may understand Pakistani national anthem as it is in their language !!!

    Pakistan may adopt a suitable Rabindranath Tagore’s song (Urdu/ Punjabi translation) as its National Anthem. Pakistan in the past showed great disrespect to this great poet-philosopher. The core of Sufism — peace, love, tolerance, enlightenment — and Tagore’s philosophy are essentially the same. Like the Sufis, Tagore has message for the soul.

    Rabindranath Tagore’s song as Pakistan National Anthem would increase Pakistan’s prestige million-fold in the world.


  • Td
    Aug 19, 2013 - 12:07AM

    @Atif Sulera:
    You nailed it. I was trying to understand how they could fail to hear the tune of Pakistani national anthem. But it is exactly what you said – the issue is not the ear but the heart, @truthbetold referred to this same issue in a slightly different way because he/she is an Indian.


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