Ali Noor has unleashed himself on the internet. First it was the peppy Banjo released a couple of months ago and now he’s put out two back-to-back singles, Nasha and Pagal. They’re both accompanied by two swanky new music videos, available to view on YouTube.

It seems that, following his massive health scare which saw him hospitalised with a serious bout of Hepatitis A last year, Ali Noor’s new mantra for his life is to not take himself too seriously and to let go and have fun.

“Pagal is a story about mental freedom!” the description on the song’s YouTube video reads. The dark toned video follows the visual design of any typical pop-rock video. There’s a visibly older Ali Noor in a black leather jacket sporting a beard and little pony tail — modern hippies look surprisingly the same as the ‘malangs’ from back in the day.

Much like Banjo, Pagal is a peppy upbeat number, a theme carried forward in the next single, Nasha as well. In an era where songs are just over three minutes long, Pagal is a ‘whopping’ five minutes and 20 seconds. The overall sound of Pagal harks back to the youthful rebelliousness of Noori’s early days when they broke on to the mainstream media with their pop rock energy, not the music they were doing when they were underground artists. Pagal’s music is different only in that there are a few electronic tweaks made here and there and, in addition to the physical, full traditional drum set, there are also the electronic drums and darbuka, which is used later to give a more desi dhol-esque sound as well.

With his recent releases Pagal and Nasha, Ali Noor shows there is no age limit to rebelling and having fun

Even as an older rock artist, Ali Noor is still singing about following your heart, freedom and that you can’t stop him.

The main chorus of Pagal goes: Mujhay jaanay de/ Yeh dil to pagal hai/ Yeh dil to jhoota hai/ Iss dil ko koi bhi samjhay na/ Na koi janay/ Na koi manay/ Is dil ko koi bhi rokay na/ Tau yaaron kaho/ Oh oh oh oh oh [Let me go/ This heart is crazy/ This heart is deceptive/ No one can understand it/ No one knows/ No one agrees/ No one can stop this heart/ Friends, let us go/ Oh oh oh oh oh]

You might be getting older but you’re not getting any slower. We hear you, loud and clear Ali.

He switches gear in the delightfully fun Nasha and goes retro pop with an ‘updated’ 1980s-esque sound that is very much in vogue nowadays. Global artists such as Lady Gaga and The Weekend have thrown themselves completely into this new-old genre. And now, Ali Noor has too.

The video, shot in a living room, with one of the musicians even sporting a dhoti, gives the impression of a slumber party gone wild. These adults are channelling their inner teenagers when the parents are out of the house. The lyrics, in Punjabi, are silly, they’re fun and at times nonsensical but that’s okay.

The pre-chorus goes, ‘Hor/ Meinu chaida kuch hor/ Nawa nawa hor/ Le kay ao hor [More/ I want something else/ Something new/ Bring something else]’, while the main chorus belts out, ‘Nasha nasha mainu/ Nasha nasha mainu aj charrheya/ Pata pata mainu/ Pata pata mainu hun lageya [I’m finally intoxicated today/ I’ve only discovered what it feels like now]

Of course, the nasha in the song is completely halal. This intoxication is of ‘overpowering exhilaration’ — being high on life.

Published in Dawn, ICON, October 18th, 2020