This is what separates the good from the best, but only under rare circumstances. Usually, relevancy separates the good from the useless.
As my wife constantly keeps reminding me, ‘When good does nothing, it is evil enough‘ – that is relevancy explained in another way.
Relevancy – how significant is your actions as compared to the situation at hand – can easily pass off as the dividing line between good and bad.
I fear that many commentators on our society and our politics miss this point. Ahmed Quraishi missed it by claiming that Ch Iftikhar did something that is – essentially – negative. In our society where you have to get the Quaid involved to get the court reader give you your basic rights, an act as simple and straightforward act of refusing to do something that happens to be wrong becomes immensely relevant.
Our music scene – as very accurately explored by Fasi Zaka – faces the same problem of not being relevant. No doubt our music has created some very serious waves in and around the region, if not the world, much is still required. Although we seem to have found our Beatles, Dire Straits & Pink Floyd, we still have to find our Lennon, our Knofler or our J Page. Heck, there are still no signs of our version of Rage Against The Machine here, so a Zach De La Roca in our society seems to be a far way off, unfortunately.
But there is hope. Shahzad Roy’s Laga Reh is as relevant as it gets, and that is saying a lot. Firstly, the music is rock, not pop. Rock is the language of rebellion, whereas Pop is a tool of a trade. Supposedly.
More importantly, the video goes where no video has gone before i.e. reflects the society on an ‘as is’ basis; there are no sultry chicks roaming behind veils, there are no hot cars racing everywhere, no heavy bikes, no wheat fields with a damsel keeping her promises. It is in-your-face. But not as in-your-face as the lyrics.
The lyrics are the real drivers here, as is the case with practically all ‘relevant’ songs. The lyrics of Laga Reh are – by all means – unique. This in itself does not make the song relevant, but it makes it what it eventually became – a hit.
The composition of the song, the sudden break from patterns, the use of guitar as a ‘vocalization’ instrument (dare ask me what that means ) and the deliberate ‘music less’ areas of the song makes this song the most unique I have heard coming out of our music scene so far.
mujhay fikar yay nahi hai keh yay mulk kaisay chalay ga, mujhay fikar yay hay kaheen aisay hee na chalta rahae
(I am not worried how this country will run, my worry is that it might run like this forever)
I have sat in a few sessions with Atif Aslam, talking about relevancy. I think the problem is the same. He – possibly like so many – wants to break out, wants to say his mind, wants to sing the most ‘relevant’ of songs, songs that induce change, if not bring it themselves. Bring change by being it.
But being relevant is usually not easy. It is not what will earn you the most money, at least initally. It is not what will win you more friends, at least initially. Almost certainly, it is difficult to be relevant – not only in music – but in journalism, in media, in business, in anything. I kid you not when I tell you that I think Shahzad Roy’s Laga Reh and Ch Iftikhar’s refusal to tow the line are both relevant in their own domains. The ex CJ’s domain just happened to have a more immediate affect than S Roy’s domain. But I wonder how can I be relevant, how can you be relevant? Kuch na, Kuch na kar tu, sab kuch Allah peh chore tuu, Allah hee taira haafiz hay