I didn’t know what to expect walking into the studio in the middle of Karachi’s Korangi Industrial area. All I knew was that one of Pakistan’s most popular musicians, who’d carved a niche for himself in Bollywood as well, had asked that I drop by to see a project that he was working on.
What I did see was Sajjad Ali, Jawed Sheikh, Humaima Malik and Fahad Mustafa to name a few standing around outside and having a conversation among themselves.
Inside, one of Pakistan’s pioneering pop artists, Mohammad Ali Shyhaki was lip-syncing to a song in front of a camera operated by director (and former model) Bilal Khan.
Pakistan’s artistes come together to put their collective voice behind the victims and survivors of the Peshawar massacre and their families with Urain Ge
Soon, a very tired but happy Ali Zafar came up to me and explained that they were in the process of filming the music video of his song 'Urain Gay' (We will fly). A song he’d written for the victims and survivors of last year’s Peshawar massacre.
“I had been wanting to come back to music for a very long time,” said Ali Zafar, “but whenever I sat down to write, this incident is all I could think of. I’m a father as well. I have a son whom I send to school and we’d like to know that our children are safe there. We have to think about the kind of world we’re leaving behind for them.
Our government took a very long time to bring all the political parties on one platform but I think it’s time that we, the artist community, also unite and speak with a single voice on the matter.”
“Everything in the video came naturally, the emotion, the expressions,” said Jawed Sheikh who was very moved by the song and the experience of having recorded it. “It’s a beautiful song and it was about time we said something on the matter.
I can’t imagine the pain the parents of the children went through. It’s beyond anything you can think of,” he added. Fahad Mustafa echoed his sentiments, adding as that as parents they too felt traumatised by the incident.
“What we went through on December 16th cannot be described in words. If not for ourselves, let us rise together for those children who gave their lives for our awakening, and for the children of the nation.” — Ali Zafar
“Ali Zafar for me is a global artiste, he’s not just restricted to Pakistan,” said Mohammad Ali Shyhaki, “I love Urain Gay, as a song it instantly appealed to me.”
Some of the other artists from the community that came forward and recorded for the video include the likes of Fawad Khan, Meesha Shafi, Saba Qamar, Junaid Khan, Junaid Younus, Mehreen Raheel, Haroon Rashid, Haroon Shahid, Farhad Humayun, Hadiqa Kiyani, Mikaal Zulfiqar, Gohar Rasheed, Fariha Parwez, Assad Ahmed, Shoaib Malik, Ahsan Khan, Anwar Maqsood, Sajid Hasan, Marina Khan, Sahira Kazmi, Ali Kazmi, Behroze Sabzwari, Bushra Ansari, Ali Azmat, Hamza Abbassi, Bilal Lashari, Aaminah Sheikh, Mohib Mirza, Humayun Saeed, Mehwish Hayat, Mahira Khan, Imran Abbas and Sanam Saeed.
In a statement, Ali Zafar said, “For years, you have seen me sing, dance, act and perform to entertain you and earn my livelihood through it. My gratitude for your love, appreciation and admiration can never be expressed through words. Therefore I chose music.
“I have always believed that an artist should be more than just a tool for his art to resonate through. He must resonate the voice of his surroundings by being socially aware and strive to contribute to his environment for the better in whatever little or large manner that he decides for himself.
“Through decades we have witnessed our society degenerate because of various socio-political reasons. If we don’t take a stand now, and continue to rely on others to do it for us, we will never attain, retain or sustain the status of a homeland we aspire for.
“We are a resilient nation who has made it through in the toughest of times and battles as we shall now. Let’s rise and play our part in creating a better future for all of our future generations and us.
“What we went through on December 16th cannot be described in words. If not for ourselves, let us rise together for those children who gave their lives for our awakening, and for the children of the nation. Let’s do it for our own children. Let’s look into their eyes and decide what we intend to leave behind for them.
“I have travelled the world; seen it all. There is no greater joy than in giving. Let’s start giving. And let’s do it together!
“And to sign off, I am deeply indebted to all the artists, who came and participated in the video. After I recorded the song, I thought how to take it beyond a personal expression. I started calling my friends, acquaintances and colleagues from the industry, old veterans and upcoming stars, shared my thought of coming together for a cause greater then all of us and the response I met with further strengthened my belief that Pakistan will rise!”
Urain ge us aasman mein;
(We’ll fly in such a sky)
Rahainge aisay jahaan mein;
(Live in such a world)
Jahaan dard ka koi maara na ho;
(Where no one quivers in pain)
Akaila na ho be-sahara na ho;
(No one is lonely or left alone)
Koi maa say bichara dulaara no ho;
(No mother would lose her child)
Siva ishq kay koi chaara na ho;
(No other choice but to love would prevail)
Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, February 1st, 2015