By Erica Ahmed
After waiting three long years for another album by pop sensation Shehzad Roy, Buri Baat Hai is no disappointment. With two songs so far on video, Saali and Hum Ek Hain, the promise of more videos to come fills with anticipation the ears, eyes and, perhaps most of all, one's sense of humour.
In both song and video form, Saali has been one of the season's biggest pop hits. "I have always heard the term saali, and for some reason I just like the word," explains Shehzad. "It's a cultural term and I wanted to play around with it in song." Since the release of Saali's video, the song's popularity has generated a bit of controversy as well. So many young people have been singing the song's lyrics that they were inevitably overheard and misinterpreted. "A few people thought that kids were singing an abusive word that sounds similar to Saali, but that has nothing to do with my song. Saali means one's wife's sister in Urdu, it is a relationship that is part of our culture and that's what I am talking about in my song."
In both song and video form, 'Saali' has been one of the season's biggest pop hits. 'I have always heard the term saali, and for some reason I just like the word. It's a cultural term and I wanted to play around with it in song,' says Shehzad Roy
A deep regard for Pakistan's culture runs through much of Shehzad's music. Buri Baat Hai's other hit, Hum Ek Hain is born of Shehzad's deep appreciation for all things Pakistani. "It's a patriotic song," Shehzad says, "though not one that is filled with bland praise for Pakistan. It acknowledges the problems we face but says that we have the strength to overcome them together." Shehzad admits to being very patriotic, a sentiment which he says profoundly influences his work. The video for Hum Ek Hain stars the Pakistan national cricket team with Imran Khan playing a major role. "The song is supposed to represent Pakistan, and I can't think of a better ambassador than Imran Khan," says Shehzad about the choice to include the cricket star in his video. "He is also a close friend who offered me a lot of support in founding the Zindagi Trust which brings working children back to school."
The video highlights major monuments and landmarks in Pakistan, with the cricketers joking and laughing around them. The original take of the video was serious and subdued, but was later revamped into a playful style. The meaning of the piece is still serious, though easier to digest in this entertaining format.
The Saali video is even more lighthearted, with Shehzad playing a lead role in the pantomime of the relationship between a man and his wife's sister. Shehzad has never done any acting before, "and certainly not such goofy acting," he says. And the video has been a huge success, "When I went to England after the video's release, Meena Chaudry complimented me on my acting. She asked me to act in a film with her sometime. I would never do it, though I enjoyed acting in the Saali video." Shehzad says he would consider contributing his songs to films, however, provided the meaning was kept the same.
The next Shehzad Roy song to be made into video will be Aankhain, Buri Baat Hai's second track, which Shehzad says is also a personal favourite. "The piece is very focused on the guitar, and I like that a lot," Shehzad explains, "I was really able to work with the sound of the guitar and was happy with the sound that came out." The sweet and romantic lyrics add to this piece's charm.
Though fans may have been frustrated waiting so long for the release of Buri Baat Hai, the time lapse was with good reason. Shehzad has dedicated the last three years to building up Zindagi Trust, the NGO which springs from his passion for helping impoverished and uneducated children. "I feel so sad when I see some child working, or on the streets, not going to school. The Trust is my best effort to do something about that." The programme has 25 schools across the country and uses unique teaching methods along with incentives to entice children to attend. If children pass daily assessments, they are rewarded Rs20. "Some people say its wrong to bribe children to be in school," says Shehzad, "but well-off kids are rewarded for their marks all the time. There is no reason poor children should not have the same support."
Shehzad uses the proceeds from his concerts to support Zindagi Trust, but has been spending his time making the organization more self-sufficient. For his efforts, Shehzad was awarded the prestigious Tamgha-i-Imtiaz, the youngest person and only pop singer to ever be granted this presidential recognition of efforts to help the suffering sections of society.
Though he remains dedicated to this cause, Shehzad promises that we won't have to wait another three years for the next CD. "I'll be making videos of more songs from Buri Baat Hai, and am already thinking about my next album as well." Shehzad's newest album is still fresh and new, with plenty of tracks to please a range of rhythmical and lyrical tastes. And, for those seeking an even broader stroke, The Best of Shehzad Roy offers a sampling of his classics, along with an interview and moving documentary about Zindagi Trust.
With his full lips that make female fans swoon, clever songs and a moving commitment to a cause, Shehzad Roy is one of the most exciting people on Pakistan's entertainment scene.
Edited by Ms. Bholi Bhali - 26 September 2005 at 12:59am