Lead vocalist of Beygairat Brigade Ali Aftab Saeed is known for his power-packed lyrics through which he blatantly comments on prevailing social issues. Be it the tongue-in-cheek Aalu Anday that unearths societal pitfalls or the self-reflective Sub Paisay Ki Game Hai, Ali has relied on his own words to voice his satirical views on society.
For the first time, he has composed Urdu poet Kishwar Naheed’s poem Woh Jo Bachiyoan. Ali shares that he is proud of the composition of the song. “It is catchy and memorable. I have given a poem the format of a song,” he comments.
“My friend and political activist, Zeeshan Noel, who liked this poem, asked me to try and compose something around this song. However, I told him I don’t have the money to make it,” says Ali. The song was then commissioned as part of an activism project by the NGO Avaaz.
Ali has been an active part of Avaaz’s 16 days of activism campaign that took place some time back. Made three months ago, Ali shares that the song has been well-received by members of political parties, who have shared the song on social networking websites.
The song diverges from the satirical songs that Ali is recognised for. “I think that because this was an independent project, the poetry is serious and different from what the Beygairat Brigade has done so far,” shares Ali.
This is a one-off project, Ali feels, is free of controversy. “It’s simply a song about how females have the right to go to school. The response to it has started flowing in even before the video has been made,” he tells us.
Composing the song was not an easy feat for Ali, considering that the poem’s stanzas vary in size. Ali shares that he decided to release the song in the wake of the 2014 kidnapping of young girls by militant organisation Boko Haram in Nigeria.
Originally, Kishwar wrote the poem in response to the attacks on schools for female children in Swat. Its pertinence increased following the attack on Malala Yousufzai. “This is why many people assume that this poem was written for Malala,” says Saeed.
Grounded and deeply loyal to the band, Ali shares that the success of the song does not mean he will be turning his back on the Beygairat Brigade. It wasn’t a conscious decision by him to do a solo song — just an opportunity that unexpectedly came along. “We [band members] all work together. However, I do solo projects sometimes. It depends on the requirements for each project,” says Ali.
Beygairat Brigade was supposed to release another single during this period, but was forced to delay it due to the ongoing media war. The circumstances weren’t conducive for releasing it, Ali reveals.
“We were working on a project, which should have been released by now, but we delayed it. The delay was because of the current political situation in the country. The song has a mention of journalists, so we felt that it should wait,” says Ali.
Running Themes Of Beygairat Brigade’s Singles:
Aalu Anday (2011): Defies censorship and the celebration of violence in Pakistan
Sab Paisay Ki Game Hai (2013): Highlights how the power of money overshadows one’s ethics
Dhinak Dhinak (2013): Criticises the idea of a dictatorial regime
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2014.