Monday, July 28, 2008

Album Review: Shehzad Roy's 'Qismet Apnay Haath Mein'




By Faisal Quraishi

Shehzad Roy pulls off another Saali in Qismet Apnay Haath Mein.

lt’s easy to see where Shehzad Roy is coming from with his latest album, Qismet Apnay Haath Mein, launched this Friday, given his efforts to introduce wide-scale reforms in the government’s education sector under the aegis of the Zindagi Trust, along with Sami Mustafa of CAS. A case in point is the Fatima Jinnah Government School in Karachis Garden West area which has been turned into a premier academic institution with state-of-the-art computer lab and classrooms, improvised teaching methods and syllabus — all aimed towards gearing the students to explore and discover.

Back to the launch, and a very ingenious one at that, it was held at the juvenile jail with the aim that the sentences of all inmates who have performed well would be slashed by two months! And that brings us to the video of Laga Rahe, a political comment on the way things are in this country of ours. Ingeniously done, the Laga Rahe video zooms in on specific events that have rocked the very foundations Pakistan was founded on and stands firmly on today such as the restoration of the CJ and the judiciary’s wide-scale protests, the self-serving interests of corrupt politicians, rising inflation, increasing crime, the myopic views of the common man, the insurgence of foreign intelligensia and what have you.

And this is not where it ends. Qismet Apne Haath Mein (QAHM) has been written, composed and produced by Shehzad Roy himself with some very interesting artwork on the cover jacket, such as the imprint of a hand bound by chains drawn by a primary student to illustrate the sense of deprivation rampant among the underprivileged class. Touching, to say the very least. But what is heartening is that Shehzad Roy acts as a filter and has infused a myriad of such voices in QAHM the album.

“According the Constitution of Pakistan one cannot make any claim about the life of the Quaid-i-Azam that is not based on actual, established fact. But the message for young kids here is that just because a child is mischievous or scores low on an exam in school does not mean that he will not do great things in his adult life,” says Shehzad Roy.

Other than Laga Rahe, another track infused with a strong sense of social awareness is the title song, Qismet Apne Haath Mein, that discusses some more of the same, and of how a few people with vested interests are pulling the strings of the entire nation. A real shocker once you get down to lending an attentive ear to the vocals.

The same goes for yet another track, Khul Ke Pyar, that reeks of teenage rebellion with some strategically placed and rather interesting guitar riff that gives risqué meaning to the preceding vocals.

Roy skirts fringes of controversy yet again with Quaid-i-Azam, only this time he does it to familiarise and better acquaint the larger-than-life national hero with children and make him a role model whom they can easily relate to. He does so by suggesting that the young Mohammed Ali Jinnah, too, must have asked his grandmother to tell him stories and learned from his mistakes during his formative years.

All seemingly innocent, but demanding a lot of painstaking research as according to Roy: “According the Constitution of Pakistan one cannot make any claim about the life of the Quaid-i-Azam that is not based on actual, established fact. But the message for young kids here is that just because a child is mischievous or scores low on an exam in school does not mean that he will not do great things in his adult life.”

The rest of the album is peppered with listener-friendly ballads bearing the typical Roy signature. However, the afore-mentioned tracks are the real reason any self-respecting Pakistani should make an effort to buy the album, given the lack of sponsorship for Qismet Apnay Haath Mein due to the mildly explosive nature of the tracks therein. The way I look at it, any socially-conscious performing artiste whose music is geared towards a definitive direction when it comes to social reforms deserves such treatment from his countrymen who have the singer’s qismet literally in the palm of their hands.

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