Thursday, October 27, 2011

This you got to see...

So all the buzz on the blogosphere (at least the corner that I frequent) is about the Begairat Brigade and their new song Aaloo Andey. Now, the name itself pegs the group squarely in Pakistan; but nothing prepared me for how much Daniyal Malik, Ali Aftaab, and Hamza Malik were prepared to walk the razor's edge. The band’s name in Urdu, “Begairat,” is best translated as “shameless.” I am guessing you already got the “brigade” bit.

Apparently, they are a band from Lahore – the cultural capital of Pakistan and that quintessentially Punjabi city. The Punjabi overtone is hard to miss on the track, which mixes Urdu, Punjabi and English seamlessly. Aaloo Andey is their debut release and what a way to start. OK, so there are no sacred cows in Pakistan!

;) Get the joke?!

They take shots at everything -- from inflation to the ISI (the country’s feared intelligence agency); and everyone -- from the Chief Justice to the Chief Executive and the Army Chief. They appear to lampoon segments of Pakistani society, which they say celebrate killers and assassins. They seem unafraid to speak up, even on issues that have polarized public opinion, such as the popularity of Mumtaz Qadri – the security guard who shot down Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, for his stance on the country's infamous blasphemy laws. Taseer urged a review of the law alleging it was used to target minorities. This in turn earned him the ire of the religious right. Aaloo Andey mocks people who celebrate Ajmal Kasab, the only one of the Mumbai terror attack killers alive and in police custody and even the mullah who escaped the Red Mosque siege under a woman’s veil.

But where the group really goes out on the limb is when they take a shot at Pakistan’s Army Chief Ashfaq Kayani, and the unprecedented extension of his term. But leaving aside the smart puns and the cheeky references these young chaps are making a serious social comment about how brutish and insecure life has become for the average resident of Pakistan. It is got to be more frustrating than funny when they rhyme that no one cares about the illegal operations of the security firm Blackwater (an American mercenary outfit said to be operating alongside the U.S. military), when there are plenty of attacks planned and perpetrated by local goons. However, I had to smile when they touch on the deep seated paranoia in Pakistan that blames the Zionists for all the country's misfortunes -Ali Aftaab holds up a placard that says “This video is sponsored by Zionists”

While the message might be funny – the truth it conveys is not a joke. The seriousness of their actions is not lost on the band members. As they sign off, a very morose-looking Ali Aftaab holds up a sign that says, “If you want a bullet through my head – Like this video.”

Oh, to be young! And wanting to change the world!