Hum Dekhenge: Jawad Ahmed massacres Faiz

Published: March 17, 2011

The "how to start a revolution" video will confuse audiences and certainly not entertain them.

This year, it seems almost every institution in Pakistan is commemorating the late Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s 100th birthday - even the Sindh Assembly.

The latest to jump on the bandwagon is bhangra cum do-gooder Jawad Ahmed. The singer has recently released a music video covering Faiz’ classic Hum Dekhenge.

While the video may have started out as an attempt to pay tribute to one of the country’s greatest poets, it turns out to be little more than a half-hearted attempt to cash in on the “cool” poet that everyone is talking about this year.

The music video opens with an ambiguous, and rather meaningless baritone voice over by Ahmad. He says:

Revolution is a rare event, and cannot be created. It can only be steered, directed and driven towards victory.

What follows is a flood of images of suffering, hunger and protests –  but all this sound and fury signifies nothing.

The video consists of a mishmash of  clichéd images: young men run through different areas of Karachi passing a torch to each other, sketches of Jesus, Moses, Karl Marx, Joseph Stalin , Che Guevera, Mao ZeDong are interspersed with shots of Jawad Ahmed, who sits in front of a setting sun.

The “how to start a revolution” video will confuse audiences and certainly not entertain them.

Singing about Faiz sells

Bringing Faiz to the youth has become the ‘coolest thing to do’ in the industry. He is not the first poet to be covered by mainstream artists; poetry by Bulleh Shah and Allama Iqbal was used in songs in the 1990s. It is ironic that Faiz, a poet who represented freedom of thought is now being exploited by artists for commercial gain. After all, it’s Faiz Ahmed Faiz – that’s got to sell, right?

Jawad Ahmad’s cover song is a first step down a dangerous road. What comes next? Faiz t-shirts ala Che at Zainab Market?


Rafay Mahmood

Rafay Mahmood

A reporter for The Express Tribune who writes about theater, film and music.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/242/nicholas-sharaf/ Nicholas Sharaf

    The song had me in tears and I wanted to break my television. These talentless buffoons should stop vulturing on the works of othersRecommend

  • Athar Quraishi

    Brothers and Sisters of Pakistan:
    The revolution will not be televised on MTV.

    =====
    It is perhaps the telling weight of our times and our minds, that we are seeking out those tarnished strands of Pakistani thoughts and identity, which will strengthen the resolve of the ‘Pakistani Street’ to work towards claiming the true and progressive intent and inclination of our founding fathers. Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poem, Hum Dekhenge, is one such rallying cry.

    =====
    Our media, in this last decade has travelled a long path. One wishes it continued strength and progress. However, its stalwarts must arrest that glamorous impulse, which while seeking to popularise and intensify its reach, often, at the behest of the marketeer’s, employs the syrupy saccharine techniques. We see this too often in videos and advertisements, replete with soft-focus yellow-filters and slow-motions. We read it daily in the blogs of national dailies with precious column inches rented out to faux-issues, with the use of cliches and hackneyed vocabulary. We see it in the paucity of new ideas. Of the lack of emphasis on the practical renewal of Pakistan and Pakistaniyat. This temporary win of glamour over our national genius, needs to be addressed. As I viewed this video, these thoughts were foremost in my mind. I am sure, there are other compatriots, who share this appraisal.

    =====
    Yesterday, (quite literally), I was wondering: Where are the Faiz-es today? The thought turned to this poem. Rare is a Pakistani, at home or abroad, when given to despair, about our nation’s usurpation by a serried group of power-addicts; have not found temporary consolation (and eternal hope) in the rendering of these prophetic words by Iqbal Bano. I wondered, why there was no new rendition of this song? One that did away with the dry complaints of the old; replaced by and ushering in, a confident demand of the young. When I was intimated that this video was that answer, I was hopeful. But, sadly, it was a deep disappointment.

    =====
    And yet, just as one needs fuel to fire any engine; a revolution, is never to be started, without its songs and slogans. Pakistan, needs a young voice, who will find that the young of yesterdays, have left them their ideas and words. They are true and lasting. But they will only gain strength, when the young have realised the innate veracity of their content and character. It will not be sufficient, to add ‘jhankar’ beats and cafe-angst to music videos. In fact, that is the travesty. This superficiality is exactly what a changing guard must be cautious of. And avoid it, at all costs. No! We need a new tune. One we can march to. A tune, which will convince those, who have always marched on the wrong side, to break ranks and turn the bayonets to those who have exploited us.

    =====
    In the vast storehouse of a resurgent Pakistan, there is that spark, which has been waiting to fire these convictions of Faiz into the ‘mashaal’ of our hearts. It is not a fake Olympic like fire-relay. It is made of ‘sterner stuff’. Maybe if you are reading this, you will provide us that tune. And then let the fire show itself from the Himalayas to Karachi. Bring forth that new tune. The old one and its parody (this one), will not do. Bring forth a new tune. A lasting tune. I wish I had the music talent to translate my feelings into a rearrangement of seven notes, but that is not my forte. Hence this appeal. It is a tall order. It is not the rescue of a poem or a song. It is the rejuvenation and rebirthing of a nation. One song, can do that. One good musician, can do that. Let us sing to that. We await those notes. Send it to us. We need it NOW.

    =====
    Hum dekhenge
    Lazim hai ke hum bhi dekhenge
    Woh din ke jis ka waada hai
    Jo loh-e-azl pe likha hai
    Hum dekhenge Recommend

  • Humayun Kasi

    Efficacious and organized Rafay. Good work. I agree that the way the corporate capitalists exploited the image of Che for marketing and demeaning purposes, the same is what the artists are upto. Let’s not forget the lawyers movement on how …they tempted the nation into recognizing their movement with the late Habib Jalibs poetry. The day they triumphed, Jalib was back in the archives of history’s bin. The pictures of Marx,Map and other Communist followers would portray the notion that in history what is called or termed as revolution, is what these selected icons achieved. While the Revolution in France, Spain and Japan were mere thirst for power and annihilation. Though history shows these people, like Mao and Stalin were nothing more than state capitalists ruthless self proclaimed dictators. So Mr. Jawan is not just offering us a paradigm for a revolution,rather he’s offering the people a model which promises ruthlesness and complete annihilation, just the way these dictators did with an ideology which was so full of flaws and pitfalls that today the atrocities carried by these people are remembered in the red pages of history. Which shows Mr jawad wants his nation to call on a dictator and end the process of democratization which the west mastered to make this world a place worth living, whereas Mr jawad wants to become a preatorian state like Myanmar and Thailand where people live in a country which was never for them and yet forced to believe it was for their own goodRecommend

  • smssr84

    the song isnt bad…. the video is confusing and useless!… I am surprised that Jawad Ahmad came up with such a video…. coz he is one of the top singers who bring out much organized and concept oriented videos!

    well… paying tribute is not a problem…. it is his two cents to keep the legend alive in the present youth. Recommend

  • Ali

    I have all of my reservations about calling FAIZ the greatest poet. This has become an easy filler for the ones who havent read Urdu poetry and do not know anyone than the much orchestrated FAIZ.

    Faiz Ahmed Faiz is a big poet inflated by media and his heirs who had nothing at their hand but Faiz to run their bread and butter. For years they are drawing out this pension of FAIZ.

    ZAHOOR NAZAR, who was the contemporary of FAIZ, is much much bigger poet than the eternal opportunist FAIZ.

    JAWAD AHMED is at par with FAIZ in being an incompetent but still enjoying the liberty of massacre… Lets call him the Raymond Davis of MusicRecommend

  • farooq

    @ Ali.
    i cant beleive you actually compared Zahoor Nazar and Faiz…and called Faiz an incompetent poet. Have u really read urdu poetry? I dont beleive you have…..Recommend

  • http://www.paradigmhouse.net Shazia Yousuf

    Come on people! The nazm itself is so powerful, it stirs the soul! Jawad Ahmed also has that strength in his voice that is so totally required for such words. As far as the video is concerned, I agree it is not up to the mark and better work could have been produced.

    And one more thing, you cannot compare Allama Iqbal, Bulle Shah and Faiz. They (and all the other famous names) have their own place in the world of literature. And if celebrating Faiz brings the youth to reading and understanding Faiz’s poetry, they will soon look for other similar works by other peots and writers.

    Conclusion: effort will not go to waste!!Recommend

  • IZ

    Jawad Ahmed is the Pakistani Andy Warhol, except while Warhol took banal mass-produced flotsam of consumer culture and turned it into highbrow art, Jawad Ahmed has taken highbrow art and turned it into the banal mass-produced flotsam of consumer culture.
    .
    Genius!Recommend