Posts tagged Bilal Khan
Chupee from the second album “Maktoob”
Bring back hope & happiness
Bilal Khan, singer and rising star, lays siege to “an evil empire through his art, his music, his brilliance and resilience”
In 2011, before debuting on Coke Studio came I was riding a totally different but pretty surreal wave of quasi-fame and quasi-normal.
Just the year before my first hit ‘Bachana’ had seen immediate viral success. My debut albumUmeed was out there and people were loving it. But none of this was ever intentional. I was just another guy in his early 20s looking to get life jumpstarted. At the time I was in the middle of finishing up at LUMS and anticipating what the big, bad world of work had in store for me.
But when ‘Bachana’ was released…and people actually sat up and took notice…there started crystalizing in me an idea that perhaps I’m being confronted by an opportunity. And I could do one of two things; continue on the path of the 9 to 5 job circuit (albeit with a tinge of regret) or throw all caution to the window and try to better whatever talent a Higher Being appeared to have put in me.
Today, it’s been a year since the release of Umeed and my first season on Coke. And the world’s diverged a whole lot from the initial plan. I think it’s safe to say all caution has been thrown straight out the window and my present day has opened up in some fantastic proportions.
Nonstop throughout the last year I’ve had the immense joy and pleasure of kicking off international touring — from Malaysia to London to the Mid East — as well as putting on a show in every city across Pakistan.
Even with an overwhelming surge of support and love from fans in all corners of the world…all the traveling and touring…and pushing and experimenting myself as a musician and songwriter…it would still be too simplistic to say all the pieces have fallen in to place.
Most of us grow up expecting life to hook us up with dignity and direction. This is not always the case. Mostly what we find is chaos and confusion. For the original me, the quiet writer and private singer, to have all of a sudden fallen in to a world of brand endorsements and photo shoots has been a gradual but large shift.
Currently am in my second year as brand ambassador for Levis, earlier in the year wrapped up a Valentines day special ad for Jazba, recorded a couple of OST’s for Pakistan’s favorite past time Hum TV dramas (‘Mata e jaan’ which is winding down and ‘Roshan Sitara’ most recently) and now in talks for possibly even going from just OSTs to acting itself…All in all, it’s safe to say the pipeline is expanding from being just another touring artist.
Most people will fail at what they attempt because of an undecided heart which forever asks ‘Should I/Should I not?”. My aspirations and intention is to strictly curtail this inner dilemma by making the choice to stick to this thing I’m in now.
No matter what the conditions may be of Pakistan as a society or it’s entertainment/music industry…a committed heart will search for a solution and refuse to wait for conditions to be exactly right. Why? Because the chances of conditions being just right are nil.
Arundhati Roy once said that when it comes to taking down a corrupt empire…to changing a state of affairs…the way to go about is to confront that empire, to lay siege to it…through”our art,
our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer resilience”.
Music as a career was not an easy choice.
Not in a country where music to many is a passion…a time pass…a habit that will (& should) pass. Similarly, it isn’t easy to travel away from home to perform your music and realize that not only is your music being immensely appreciated abroad but there’s an added element of security and comfort provided to those living in these cities.
Security and stability is a basic human necessity. But its value is missing from the lives of most Pakistanis.
Even something as straightforward as getting on stage and putting on a fun show for a city can become an impossibility when you have to take in to consideration the political events which certainly affect the cultural life of a city.
Such experiences become all the more frustrating when juxtaposed against the backdrop of other countries. Found myself in Malaysia where, on the night of my show, the entire city shut down due to an extremely rare outburst of a political nature. But the fact that the show went on, that the value of culture and arts trumpeted, and that chaos and bloodshed limited if not non-existent become an emotional burden, which you bring back to your own soil where something as simple as showing up in Quetta to give a show for music lovers can become an alleged life-threatening issue. I mean, it’s a very lowpoint in our society, in my opinion, if we have lawmakers looking to shut down the entire institution of musical concerts in Pakistan. Consider the recent law which was proposed in Punjab. Of course, the events which transpired at the concert…the death of young, innocent concertgoers is a tragedy that is incomprehensible…but shutting down an entire institution that only looks to add hope and happiness in society is extremely regressive and futile.
I would make a point of noting that it is and has never been Pakistan that disappoints but instead Pakistanis…the group of individuals upon whom we have placed reliance on…who we have given authority to hold the reins in our society…that can prove to be a disappointment.
I think this frustration against particular components of our society…these ideological disparities that have stunted our growth as a nation…is where ‘Larho Mujhey’ (one of the tracks off my upcoming second album ‘Maktoob’ which is also featured on this season’s Coke Studio) stems from.
‘Larho Mujhey’ was already dear to me because it was such a divergence from my traditional thematic style of songwriting. But since it’s release the song has become even more poignant because we quickly realized the controversial nature of it. It is loved by many but misunderstood by many as well. It confuses…is it a song? Or is it a poem performed almost in the style of spoken word poetry? Is the song title even grammatically correct? One of my fan’s answered this for me best fill this in. Since it’s release this week I’ve had tons of people ask tons of pretty heavy and reasonable questions. Others have pointed out the unfairness of a song written and composed by me appearing in an episode of covers of some of the finest Urdu literature and poetry. Fair enough but for the most part, totally missing the point.
We all by now acknowledge that Coke Studio’s an innovative platform – a beacon akin to the Great Gatsby’s green light of hope. And Rohail Hyatt, a mentor for many including myself, is the musical equivalent of Christopher Nolan. Brand anything with Coke or Rohail and rest assured that just like The Dark Knight franchise…you’ll have a hit.
My simply being able to put in to words self-penned which can add to the optimism and resilience is all I have asked for as a musician since day one. Especially this time around…I’m not here to prove myself as a singer or to portray some type of image or to sell my brand of music to the masses. This time around on Coke Studio I’m here to do my small bit alongside some of upcoming and already-came Greats.
Frankly, right now, there is nothing more disillusioning than a dose of Pakistan. Tune in to any media publication, or any conversation at any high end restaurant or at any dhaba, and this is what you will come to know.
Some people are calling ‘Larho Mujhey’ an anthem. I don’t proclaim to be a voice for any generation or any individual. The listener winds up connecting simply because most human experiences and emotions are universal. So, I don’t know if it’s an anthem. I don’t even know if it’s a song. Perhaps, it is a poem. Or a message of an internal inqilab. But if it arouses even just one listener in to action or helps him or her discover that feeling of hopeful anticipation…than my job is done.
The debut album Umeed…the tracks were composed of universal themes of love, loss, life. But Maktoob…which is an Arabic term translating to “It’s written” is a lot more optimistic and a lot more visionary. It is a reflection of my internal state of mind. A personal diary of sorts.
And because of this ‘Lardho Mujhey’ is a very significant part of Maktoob.
Because its about overcoming one’s inner passivity. It’s not a physical pushback or fight (nor is it a battle against dengue ke mosquitos even though that would be very relevant) but it is instead about engaging in an intellectual war. A war fought not with sticks, swords, and stone but with one’s pen. By overcoming the distortions of media, the biases and stereotypes of others, your inner limitations…really whatever demon you are confronting. ‘Larho Mujhey’ can easily mean a lot of things to many kinds of people.
And that’s the real purpose of any string of words…be it a novel, novella, haiku, sonnet, or a pop song…to take you back to a deeply repressed memory…or conversely, to concoct new ones.