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Hear the Pakistani voice of protest

Activist sufi rock band Laal launches second album with a multi-city India tour, talk about why they prefer being left of centre, reports Nirmika Singh.

music Updated: Apr 15, 2012 14:23 IST
Nirmika Singh

Frontman of Pakistani sufi rock outfit Laal, Taimur Rehman couldn’t care less whether or not his audience buys his band’s left-leaning ideology. “It never bothers me that people might not adhere to our beliefs because we’re comfortable in our own skin. In life, you will always find people who don’t agree with you, but we know what we are talking about. Music, in essence, is a great unifier,” says Rehman.

Like the band Indian Ocean that brought protest back into rock, Laal rose to popularity performing socialist and politically-active, melodic numbers during Pakistan’s pro-democracy Lawyers’ Movement in 2007.

This week, the band will launch their second album-Utho Meri Dunya with a five-city India tour, starting with Mumbai on April 17. “The songs in this album are different. Previously, our lyrics focused on fighting dictatorship, but now, they revolve around religious fundamentalism and secularism. For the album, we’ve borrowed from the poetry of greats like Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Habib Jalib and Ahmed Faraz,” says Rehman.

The musician also feels that their rebellious image works to their advantage, “It gives us a little shock value. We don’t try hard to fit in like other bands, and this works well for us. In fact, people think that that’s cool,” he says.

Laal’s music may be coloured with heavy strokes of the communist agenda, but Rehman feels that there is enough reason why they shouldn’t be stereotyped so easily. “Even though some people may not like us entirely, there are aspects of our music that they love — such as promoting social consciousness and reviving Urdu poetry, among others. I feel many people are still hoping for an egalitarian society and we talk about that in our music.”