Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on Dawn.com.

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience

.

Enjoying 'Aaloo-Andey' with the people

Email


Your Name:


Recipient Email:


Just when one thought Pakistani pop music had eaten itself and choked on its own self-indulgences, comes a band called the ‘Beyghairat Brigade’ (the Dishonour Brigade).

The name says it all: A tongue-in-cheek take on what is called the ‘ghairat brigade’ (honour brigade), the band sarcastically embraces a title that the peddlers of ‘qaumi ghairat’ (national honour) spit at those who disagree with the brigade’s conspiratorial rants and an almost xenophobic brand of ‘patriotism.’

In the wee hours of the October 17, the Beyghairat Brigade (BB) uploaded a video of a song called ‘Aloo-Andey’ (Potatoes & Eggs) on YouTube.

It was not just another ‘funny song’ about a guy talking about his mom cooking some potatoes and eggs. Nor was it a ditty toeing the usual line taken by the many political spoof shows and social parody songs that have been doing the rounds of popular TV news channels in Pakistan in the last decade or so.

For years one has come to expect everyone from talk show hosts, to their ‘expert guests’ all the way to mainstream pop stars and actors to (as if on cue) roll-out a now much worn-out and self-comforting narrative about the awkward political and social ills besieging Pakistan.

This is how it goes: Politicians are corrupt, America is evil, Indians want to break-up Pakistan, acts of terrorism are either being carried out by US/Indian/Israeli agents or by Pakistanis trained by these agents, or by non-Muslims posing as Muslims, or even if they are Muslims they are not Pakistani and if they are really Pakistanis then they are .. errm ... not circumcised.

In other words, the whole wide world (except Saudi Arabia and maybe China) wants to destroy Islam (and thus Pakistan, which is the ‘bastion of Islam’).

As ‘serious’ TV talk shows and drawing rooms ring with discussions revolving around such insightful understanding of the ‘new world order’ and as the oh-so-clever social and political satirists on TV base their uproarious creations on these same musings, BB’s ‘Aaloo-Andey’ simply digs out the questions being asked by those who are so endearingly being called ‘liberal fascists’ and beyghairat by the self-appointed keepers of Pakistan’s honour.

The mainstream English press, especially Dawn, The Friday Times and Express Tribune, have continued to pose these questions.

What has so far been contemplated by ‘liberal fascists’ in English, suddenly emerges in the shape of a highly catchy and jangly little tune fronted by lyrics sung in ordinary everyday Punjabi!

Things can’t get more interesting than this because the Punjab province (apart from the war torn Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), has faced not only rapid Islamic and sectarian radicalisation in the last 15 years or so, but it now has perhaps one of Pakistan’s most conservative urban middle and lower middle-classes.

The young men in BB are all based in Punjab’s capital, Lahore and boast basic middle-class backgrounds.

After watching the video on YouTube, I was thrilled that DawnNews actually played it in its 6 and 9 o’clock news bulletins, and today as it ran the song again I was lucky to be in a place where groups of working-class men (drivers and gardeners) were also present.

Many of them let out a tired smile when the song kicked in with BB’s singer, in typical ‘Lahore Punjabi’, complaining that he didn’t want to have potatoes and/with eggs that his mom had cooked.

The tired smiles then grew a bit wider when the singer goes on to say that he instead wants chicken and roti (bread) but then wonders why the price of roti had suddenly risen.

This question, of course, finally managed to get working men’s more-than-a-passing–attention.

The roti reference then automatically led to the dilemma of the provincial government of the Punjab led by the PML-N (headed by Mian Nawaz Sharif and Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif).

Though both the brothers now have expensive hair pieces planted on their heads, they had precious little hair some six years ago.

This is why BB refers to them as ‘ganjay’ (baldies), who (after struggling to run a smooth administration in Punjab) were hanging on kites and Imran Khan (the Sharif’s new nemesis in Punjab), is looking towards the Chief Justice/Chief of Army (to intervene and make way for new elections).

One needs to understand well the current political discourse in Pakistan to fully appreciate the lyrics that are largely studded with allusions.

For example, when BB suggests that Imran is looking towards the ‘chief’ (as a bright light), the band means the CJP and the army chief but more so the army chief because the band alludes to the chief getting an extension (like the one the army chief got last year).

By now the people I was witnessing the video with couldn’t keep their eyes off the screen. Why? Simple. Here was a bunch of raw, early twenty-somethings poking fun at the military chief!

It’s easy making fun of politicians (because most of them do not bite back), but the military’s top brass has been one of the sacred cows that the media cannot touch, let alone mock. And let’s face it, there are many within the media who’ve been more loyal than the king in this context.

So, after lamenting the apathetic and confused state of the Sharifs, and winking at Imran Khan’s desire to see the ‘chief’ come in and light up Khan’s political career, BB then get to what are perhaps the most loaded and boldest lyrics of the whole song.

In a clean, unadulterated sweep that lasts not more than ten seconds, BB wonders about a country where killers like Mumtaz Qadri (who assassinated former Punjab governor Salman Taseer after accusing him of committing blasphemy) are treated as royals; and where Ajmal Kasab (the Pakistani terrorist who took part in the attack in Mumbai) is a hero; and where mullahs escape wearing a woman’s burqa (like the head cleric of the Lal Masjid); and how no-one ever mentions men like the Nobel-Prize winning Pakistani scientist Abdul Salam (just because he belonged to the outlawed Ahmadi sect).

I had no clue what was going on in the heads of the men I was watching the video with. They just kept staring at the TV screen, smiling away.

What the song was suggesting are simple, rational observations. Yes, but in a charged and tense country like Pakistan the rational can also mean anything from blasphemy to treason to being labeled as US/Indian/Zionist agent, and, of course, bayghairat!

These lyrics are the heart of the song. A heart that every Pakistani knows beats loudly but very few, if none at all (especially in the populist media), have the guts to follow, or worse, would rather like to rip out and replace with an artificial ticker they call patriotism/ghairat/et al.

As the song moves on, the singer can’t help but comment on yet another of our favorite excuses: the notorious Blackwater.

In a lyric that instead of absolving Blackwater’s many reported misdeeds in the world, BB instead suggests that we shouldn’t be worrying about Blackwater because the (suicide/terrorist) attacks taking place in our mosques, schools, shrines and markets are coming from within.

Again a rational observation, but a fact only a ‘liberal fascist’ is prepared to face?

There is so much more here that doesn’t get said by the singer. These appear as placards in the video and some of them are not only hilarious, but spot-on: ‘Nawaz Sharif bye, bye, papa Kiyani no likey you’ (alluding to the schism between the once pro-military Nawaz and the army); ‘Free Judiciary = Hanged PPP’ (the PPP regime’s problems with the judiciary that wants to see it brought to book for corruption); ‘Tehreek-i-Insaaf = A Good Looking Jamat-i-Islami’ (or how Imran Khan is just a more good-looking fundamentalist); ‘Your money + My pocket = We’re still enemies’ (a taunt at Pakistan army posing to be anti-America after pocketing millions of dollars worth of aid from the US); ‘Mullah + Military = Ziaul Yuckee’ (the alliance between religious parties and the military that began strengthening during the dictatorship of Ziaul Haq).

Then halfway through the video, as if preempting what a majority of the ‘ghiarat brigade’ would be decrying about this video, one of the band members is seen holding up a placard with the words, ‘This video is sponsored by Zionists.’ However, the parody in this respect turns darker still when at the end, the singer pulls up a placard with the words ‘If you want a bullet through my head, like this video,’ scribbled on it.

Hope not, but this song and video is certainly an apparently unassuming bolt of consciousness that, within a span of three minutes, has rendered all the conspiracy theorists, ‘analysts,’ talk-show hosts and robotic, contrary ‘patriotic’ show-biz exhibitionists as not only meaningless masters of chauvinist rhetoric, but apologists of lies.

As for the men who had gone through these three minutes with me, they were smiling widely by the end of the song.

Sure, it was more a smile of wonder than of complete acknowledgment, but in a country that is being torturously burdened by matters of faith, identity and its own history, a smile of wonder in this regard is good enough.

Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and Dawn.com.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


Author Image

Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and Dawn.com. He is also the author of two books on the social history of Pakistan, End of the Past and The Pakistan Anti-Hero.

He tweets @NadeemfParacha


The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


Comments (70) Closed



huma Oct 18, 2011 04:49pm
an excellent song. saw it yesterday. and an excellent piece. lays it all bare. i just hope these guys dont bear the brunt of the "evil forces". hope they keep going strong.
Nusrat Oct 18, 2011 04:59pm
Amazing analysis. NFP these kids have emerged from the very narrative you have been passionately advocating. Kudos.
Amjad Cheema Oct 18, 2011 05:15pm
What a song!
Arsalan Oct 18, 2011 05:23pm
While listening to this song I recalled all your columns you wrote in last 2 decades.
Imran Ali Sherwani Oct 18, 2011 05:31pm
As a writer u are doing great job. keep it high world deserve writers like you. God bless you.gentleman!
Ursilla Anjum Oct 18, 2011 05:34pm
In the 1990s NFP articles called for musicians to rebel against corporate capitalism, and many so-called underground started doing that. then, in the 2000s, NFP began writing against conspiracy theorists, military intervention and extremists. So now now we have young men doing that in music. Fantastic and bold song. But what a pen NFP has. Now this is called being an inspiration.
Sanity Oct 18, 2011 05:35pm
Excellent! The credit goes to the guys for their courage. Thanks NFP for sharing.
Sukhbir Maggu Oct 18, 2011 05:59pm
Thanks NFP. May God grant long life to the three young men. Let the four of you inspire a whole generation to see and spread the truth.
zafar Oct 18, 2011 06:03pm
Daring song. However, it lets off the hook, the incompetence of incumbent governing alliance which was supposed to direct the country away from the destruction destined in the way of 'ghairat brigade'.
Faz Oct 18, 2011 06:05pm
Despite being catchy the song itself lacks any thought, and narrates a simplistic view of political & social situation in Pakistan. The band just toed the same line fed to them by opinion-makers like NFP. So rather potraying it as some bold and outspoken effort it should be considered only a reaction to one extreme. Some school boys' stuff; no wonder the band was wearing school boys' uniforms.
Beyghairat Oct 18, 2011 07:04pm
The truth has been spoken..
CS Oct 18, 2011 07:37pm
alhamdulillah brother. you are absolutely right. school kids don't know history and they most certainly can't see the truth because they don't have beards and don't ride camels. and that makes them extreme. in fact i think every pakistani who refuses to sport the beard and ride the camel ought to labelled extremists
ali Oct 18, 2011 07:39pm
NFP likes this song because it does not mention anything about PPP.
Tauqir Oct 18, 2011 10:19pm
Dear Faz, Please eat some asloo-Andey and take a chill pill :))))
Junibutt Oct 18, 2011 10:26pm
Nothing daring about the song, message has been said over and over by everyone, even better by Shahzad Roy. Music and production was poor, not to say the voice. However the lyrics were the only good part of the song.
abbas Oct 18, 2011 11:18pm
these kids are amazing.... . They are daring and honest.... And establishment these kind of people.
gp65 Oct 19, 2011 12:59am
These kids are highly patriotic, courageous and immensely talented to cover so many important topics in such a light hearted fashion in 3 minutes flat. May their tribe increase.
saleem Oct 19, 2011 01:22am
Faz, by undermining them you can only fool yourself my friend!
Naeem Oct 19, 2011 02:08am
Like it but strange that no hit at PPP or MQM..Hmmmm???
Hasan Oct 19, 2011 02:20am
Sorry to say but your comment clearly shows that you either just saw first 20 seconds of the video and also you commented without reading the whole description above. What else you want in song that you need hundreds of words of many minutes to explain a three minute song.
Dr Usman Farooqui Oct 19, 2011 02:50am
Hi BB, I guess I recognize Ali...Ali Aftab Saeed ??? Right??? Ali this is me, your cousin, I saw this video by chance on net...I have to say I am deeply impressed with your thoughts and creativity... I have to say "HATS OFF"...surely Pak can't fail...as long as we have youth like this, creative and sensitive...I have been living here in UK and following the news all the time..gets disappointed but every now and then Glimpses like this from our youth..surprises me..and this time..look what ...our own blood...my own cousin....amazing ..i am really pleased...God bless you all..BB I am your first international fan....LOVE U GUYS...
Ghulam M. Jarwar Oct 19, 2011 03:26am
Just one word; Kudos.
lucky Oct 19, 2011 04:26am
Great work done by these guys who beautifully describe the mentality of confused nation in just 3 minutes who has been handy caped by establishment since ages on name of religion its an amazing video with great message in light way..
Farooque Oct 19, 2011 06:14am
kudos Beyghairat Brigade!!!
roquefort Oct 19, 2011 08:03am
If you can't annoy somebody,there's little point in writing.
yawar Oct 19, 2011 09:56am
Wow. You have niether read the article nor looked at the complete video and yet commented. Here's a line from the article from the para in which NFP describes the background of the placards being shown in the vid: "‘Free Judiciary = Hanged PPP’ (the PPP regime’s problems with the judiciary that wants to see it brought to book for corruption)". Kindly think before you comment.
Noorian Oct 19, 2011 10:04am
@tauqir LOL! Good one. Faz, so what if these guys have been influenced by NFP. For more than a decade NFP has influenced not only young writers, but also musicians. There is nothing new about it. I remember what a huge influence NFP was on the political music scene in the 1990s and he has been influencing young writers and journos for over a decade now with his bold stands against extremism and especially with his sarcastic wit.
Farrukh Ejaz Oct 19, 2011 10:20am
May the force be with you Beyghairat Brigade
Faz Oct 19, 2011 11:01am
The comments were neither an effort to undermine nor deny the popularity. I said the lyrics were simplistic and at times showed utterly wrong depiction of Pakistani perception over issues. For example;Ajmal Kasab has never been hailed as a hero in Pakistan , he is not even considered a Pakistani by the so-called Ghairat Brigade. "Hundred of words of many minutes explaining" only signify that the NFP has made a mountain out of a molehill just because it suits his views,opinions and bias.
Ejaz Ali Oct 19, 2011 12:24pm
Just loved your write up. Dude in Lahore's quiet middle class suburbs a quiet revolution is happening amongst Punjabi kids thanks to the internet, youtube, skype facebook etc. Nadeem buddy, lahori middle class kids have had a gut-full of whats happening in Pakistan today especially to our beloved lahore. Hopefully this quiet revolution is going to someday hopefully bring change into Lahore and maybe in Pakistan too. fingers crossed.
Faz Oct 19, 2011 12:39pm
Yes, the school boys are supposed to be influenced. Sure, please be influenced by anyone "whom you can relate to" and then don't blame those who get influenced by different set of ideas. But being influenced is merely a reflection of thoughts rather than original thoughts, nothing fresh & encouraging about it.
Mohammad Assad Oct 19, 2011 12:53pm
The song has its moments... but frankly I agree that its nothing that one hasnt seen from others, such as Shehzad Roy or even Lal the band, before.
XYZ Oct 19, 2011 01:39pm
These are kids man ! This is just a start for them.
Zain Oct 19, 2011 02:18pm
Original, fresh and encouraging - that is what the theories of tv evangelists are. But they are far from the truth because it is simply escapism by blaming others for our plight.
Noureen Niazi Oct 19, 2011 02:38pm
@Muhammad Assad Dear M. Assad, kindly tell us which other musician has gone this far? Apart from journalists and writers like NFP, Kamran Shafi and Fasi Zaka and blogs like LUBP and Cafe Pyala, who else has challanged the rants of conspiracy theorists like this. Also, had Roy been doing this, then he would not have been invited by Hamid Mir on his show so many times. I hope you know what I mean. Beyghairat Brigade are the future. More power to them and the journalists I have mentioned.
Mustafa Oct 19, 2011 02:47pm
Well replied Faraz, Sukhbir Maggu wrote Let the four of you inspire the generation----. So it looks the forth one NFP is the writer, director or promoter of video which suits his ideas.
Munis Oct 19, 2011 02:56pm
Its really brave of these guys indeed
Jamshaid Oct 19, 2011 04:47pm
Excellent song. I have a great hope in pakistani youth who are not only creative and also sensitive enough to catch and reports which was a taboo. Excellent commentry on song. enjoyed reading it.
Unicorn Oct 19, 2011 04:56pm
I would differ with that argument yawar. it means that judiciary is biased towards PPP and only wants to prosecute them rather then do accountability across the board. this argument has been floated quite a lot
zeeshan Oct 19, 2011 06:22pm
one can easily observe the bias in this song. there is no hit against the ruling party ppp. and there is hardly a person, who take Ajmal Qasaab a hero. I can understand the jubilation of NFP. there is every thing in this song which NFP propagates in his articles.
Unicorn Oct 19, 2011 06:29pm
Puppeteer has done a great job :) the slip in this video glaring
Forbidden Fruit Oct 19, 2011 07:34pm
It's kinda sad that now one has to accept the label of "beyghairati" to speak the truth! Ghairat, it seems, is not only in denial but also doesn't let truth out, like an overprotective father.
Krishnaprasad Oct 19, 2011 11:43pm
My brothers I am physically far from you. I just happened to be this side of the line when they drew the Borders. I can understand your pain, but you can, the youth has the power. Pakistan is not the soil. You the youth of Pakistan Arise and awake. I am sure you will give your children a Pakistan where they can sing songs, write articles ,do whatever their heart says without fearing a gunshot
gp65 Oct 20, 2011 03:59am
I would add Najam Sethi and Cyril Almeida to this list. WIth Sethi, it's not just English language print media (which perhaps may not e so widely accessible) but ALSO his Urdu language TV show.
ayesha Oct 20, 2011 04:01am
Ameen!
jssidhoo Oct 20, 2011 07:35am
Thks NFP for drawing our attention to a excellent song that lays it out bare . Without your explanation i would not have been able to pick up all the nuances of the song . One bit i could not get where he talks about tawa and the size of the roti could you elaborate . I clicked like on youtube hope he does not get you know what.
Israr Raja Oct 20, 2011 09:36am
Yes, there is no hit on PPP and MQM.
Mohammad Assad Oct 20, 2011 09:41am
Everyone is a Kid when they start.
Yasser Oct 20, 2011 10:05am
LOL @ CS :D
Rahat Khan Oct 20, 2011 10:08am
I wish we had a million NFPs and a million Beyghairat Brigades.
DK Oct 20, 2011 10:14am
Great song..Like many other readers, I also hope the young artists are not harmed..This is just one sign to tell the world that Pakistan hope is not completely lost and young men with charecter can defeat the fundamentalists..At the end, I am proud to say that being an Indian, I never felt so proud and hopeful about Pakistan. Kudos..
ra Oct 20, 2011 10:57am
R.E.S.P.E.C.T
Prateik Oct 20, 2011 11:28am
C'mon - you know how the Pakistanis hate such messages. Grow up !
Rahul Oct 20, 2011 01:32pm
Yeah. They've got enough to worry about without being patronised by Indians. It's not like we're doing spectacularly or anything. Leave em alone.
Naeem Malik (Dublin) Oct 20, 2011 02:27pm
@NFP you rock for sharing such a funny and critical song...and explained well.
Ahmed Salman Oct 22, 2011 06:17am
Two observations; he mentions CJ specifically in the 'Khan' verse (yes I am a Khan supporter) and secondly the Ahmedis are not outlawed (I do have Ahmedi friends and think the Laws are discriminatory but they still are not outlaws, thankfully). And I do love the song. I don't have to completely agree with everything but love the satire especially the 'Zionist' placard.
pakistaniYouth Oct 22, 2011 09:44am
I didnt mind what he said. Message well taken Sir. That day will soon come.
Imran Saeed Oct 22, 2011 04:16pm
The song is excellent, the boys had the courage to say something what we all feel but dont say. The thought process behind this instant hit should be appreciated, atleast we can hope that the youth of Pakistan has the guts to take Pakistan a long way :)
Faheem Oct 22, 2011 07:50pm
Thumbs Up NFP...!!!
gp65 Oct 23, 2011 09:01am
Refers to inflation. The same reason that he has to ear aali anday instead of chicken boti, there is not enough dough to roll-out a big enough roti to match the size of tawa.
Aam Pakistani Oct 24, 2011 10:25am
By the end of this song and article, one gets the feeling that no one is right in Pakistan. All are bad badder and baddest. Whether Military or Politicians, all. Never in my life i have not felt depressed after reading an article by NFP. So i stopped. And today again, after many months, the title of song made me read it and when i felt depressed again, i looked for the author. And bravo, its NFP. Writers like these are always looking for the number of goals, and never the saves. That is what we call, infotainment. I am a young Pakistani. I need guidance. And if i will be told that no leader is good, who will i follow. Leaders are the ones who carry their nation. Iraq was not as bad in Saddam's regime as it is now without him. Same is the case with Egypt and will be the same for Libya. Leaders are at least known by all and followed by some. Especially the leaders of Military. Once they loose respect, they loose command and obedience. That is the reason why "no military general is laughed up on media" in the entire world. It is the first lesson given to any child, respect your elders. Today moral values are going down just because when a 3 years old swears, everyone laughs, instead of admonishing. People who are politicians today, and in power, lacks moral values. That is why are webbed in corruption. Highlight that please NFP.
impressed Oct 24, 2011 07:35pm
Great stuff. Wish we had a band that could hold up such a mirror in India.
Anand Oct 25, 2011 05:21am
"And if i will be told that no leader is good, who will i follow." Ever thought about leading yourself? Be the change you wish to see kinda thinking?
Ganesh Oct 25, 2011 09:31pm
Really a daring video, wish I knew the language well. However, this article helped me to understand the lyrics. I had read somewhere that the press is Pakistan is the most outspoken press in South Asia, and it needs to be such. Where the three columns of a state don't lead the nation in a right way, the media must take that baton. I have some online Pakistani acquaintances who can be called liberal fascists, but this one was really brilliant and the last placard was killingly true. Wish we had such thing in India. We need some baton holders. The media is here quickly turns toward the popular movement and instead of analyzing the situation, becomes a part of the movement. Again, may God bless those young friends. If this voice gets prominent in Pakistan and the country prospers in such a liberal thought, who can be in a more comfortable situation than us Indians? Long live the liberal voice in Pakistan, long live Pakistan itself.
Sarwat Oct 25, 2011 10:27pm
A.W.E.S.O.M.E .... I am an Indian ... and even though I didn't understand it fully ... its such a loaded yet such a light song ... each time I hear it .. feel refreshingly recharged ... kudos to the bb... wish we had some thing like it on Indian lines ... anyways its awesome ... beyond words .... n beyond the years wisdom n lyrics.... just one qns .. what's the name of the people in the video ... ?
Zeeshan Mughal Oct 25, 2011 11:59pm
Excellent. At loss for words to explain the elation I felt. I don't care that the band did not satirise PPP or MQM. What I care about is that they went after the (un)holy alliance of Mullah and Military. The public discourse has been beating around the bush for too long. Somebody, as Fahd said, had to say that emperor has no clothes.
Pankaj Patel(USA) Oct 26, 2011 02:43am
Excellent song.I do not understand Punjabi but Nadim has now explained it.As I made a comment in Nadim's previous blog I wish to repeat it. In India Naxalites used to do street drama's to make illetrate tribals aware of the problems and it worked well.Because the people who make up foot solders for fundamentalists come from poor illerate class this is only way to rich and awaken them I hope some one in Pakistan picks up this.This is a noble cause not only for Pakistan but for whole south Asia.
Prat Oct 26, 2011 04:25am
am not a pakistani but loved the song! really respect the three young singers and whoever wrote the song! fantastic piece of work and lyrics
AJ Oct 26, 2011 08:43am
Keep going brothers - the time has come for ordinary people to express their anguish over the divide between the rulers and the ruled. Revolution beckons...
saima Oct 29, 2011 01:26am
Amazing song,daring and honest.I think this is the voice of every Pakistani youngster .keep going.