Our boys of Aalu Anday

Published: November 1, 2011

They are clear in stating that Aalu Anday does not mean anything, it was a phrase they liked, it went with the tune.

Do you know how long it takes for kids to grow up in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan? One and a half week. If you don’t believe me, listen to this story. It involves eggs, potatoes and three boys—and it’s scary.

The three boys went to school together. They were best friends. One boy was extensively tall, one unsuitably short, and the last one was just fifteen. They were nice, proper boys who kept their hair neatly oiled and parted on the sides and their neckties on even in the sweltering Lahori heat. They were good boys in most ways—respectful of their teachers, got along okay with their parents—but they had a problem. Each day when they opened their plastic lunchboxes, they got kicked in the nostrils by the cold, greasy reek of boiled eggs and potato curry. It was disgusting. But since that’s all they had to eat, they shut up and ate it. It was painful and it went on like that for a while, but one day their inner demons got the better of them. And then they just let it rip. It all led to the Aalu Anday music video last week.

This isn’t the scary bit though.

These ex-nice boys started calling themselves the Beghairat Brigade and launched a music video that chronicles their descent from niceties. It features, among other things, exaggerated facial expressions, inappropriate hip-movements, formula-1 flags painted on the faces, and placards and song lyrics which make fun of everybody—including those who think that the boys could be killed for making the video. The song was a hit. The world at large was in shock and it quickly united in opinion that these boys were not being funny at all but rather deadly serious, and here’s where the really scary part begins.

If you observe the first interview the Beghairat boys gave, which was aired, quite incredibly, the very day after the launch of their video, you’ll notice what their emphasis was: nothing. There is no agenda, no teaching point; they are just having fun, and in many cases saying things they don’t even believe in (it’s there for the rhymes). They are clear in stating that Aalu Anday does not mean anything, it was a phrase they liked, it went with the tune, and so they bummed it. It’s a catchy ploy, in other words. But then, a week and a half later, watch foray on NDTV and you’ll see the change: all of a sudden the boys are talking about the deep messages in their work. When the NDTV presenter pushed them they even agreed that ‘Aalu Anday’ signified/symbolized Pakistan’s present reality while ‘chicken di boti’ (piece of chicken) was what they wanted Pakistan to be.

It took us precisely one and a half week to help the boys lose their funny and start parroting the talk of the town.

Let me just say this more plainly: what is not being said about the Aalu Anday video is precisely what makes it tick. Here are a bunch of kids who are having fun with the world that gives them constant grief. The subversiveness of their video lies precisely in generating laughter and dance and inappropriate hip-movements from something we all have consigned to the status of Mighty and Holy. These boys are our heroes because they have chosen to laugh in the face of a world that wants them to be all-serious all the time. But of course we are serious people, and laughter is never enough. We want messages and nice worked out solutions to all our political problems. And we want all of it in music videos. So help us God.

However, there is much to be said about laughter and its subversive role in arts, but I have hit the word ceiling, so here’s a poem instead. Meanwhile, I recommend more Aalu Anday for the constipated. Cheers.

The Sea and the Man

by Anna Swir


You will not tame this sea

either by humility or rapture.

But you can laugh

in its face.



was invented by those

who lived briefly

as a burst of laughter.


The eternal sea

will never learn to laugh.


Translated from Polish by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Natham

Bilal Tanweer

Bilal Tanweer

A writer and translator who teaches creative writing at LUMS.

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

  • Majid Urrehman

    @Bilal Tanweer you have helped me regain my confidence in being a Lahorrite, which I lost after seeing this stupid song and after that senseless support by Lahoriites for Imran Khan. Wonderful analysis. We don’t want to understand how system works but love to grab a guitar to show that hello…we are revolutionary.

  • Cosmo

    I liked the video and song. If someone wants, like the author twist the stated satire in the song and take a pot shot at the kids, as it challenges Pakistan’s ghairat brigade. Otherwise the video does highlight the absence of the of logic in Pakistan’s current political and social norms. Recommend

  • Ayesha

    These guys are brill, i am so glad they didn’t turn the video into something cliche, just pure, fresh and funRecommend

  • http://www.sidrahmoizkhan.blogspot.com Sidrah Moiz Khan

    Uggghhhh. Aalu anday! Not againnn!! The horrorrr!!Recommend

  • Ed

    very thoughtfulRecommend

  • Hassan

    o_O is this Cheetarah guy Recommend

  • MK

    great analysis!Recommend

  • Dr.jobless

    I think the sudden surge of attention took its toll. And they thought how shameful it would be to label a now becoming song as just-because-it-rhymed. That also on indian national television (really?) So they decide to act all mature and end up making fools of themselves.
    But, really, why do we care?
    It’s alu anday afterall.Recommend

  • http://awaisaftab F.

    Tthe best art holds a mirror to society; it shows you where you are, but it doesn’t tell you how you got there or how you can get out, or even if you should get out. However, just as a mirror is no good without anything to reflect, so a work of art is incomplete without an impact. The message we see is actually something we might have been thinking without being fully conscious of it.
    Yes, the words ‘aalu anday’ etc were certainly chosen because they rhymed, and I don’t believe for a minute ‘chicken di boti’ is what they want Pakistan to be (mainly because in the context it was used, it seemed far too obviously a comment on inflation)
    But saying this song has no deeper meaning beyond a few laughs is like saying Animal Farm was only a story about animals running a farm, ha ha.Recommend

  • Mohammad Assad

    I like there song, but frankly they are no philosophers. What they have said is nothing new and is/has and will keep being repeated by people much smarter then them.

    There NDTV interview made them look like some sort of Habib Jalib re-incarnation. Which they are not. Alu Andey should be taken as satire but not some deep sociological/philosophical insight into the mind of the Nation. Recommend

  • Hira Z

    There is nothing in Alo Andday to took seriously .. how indian media depicted it is sicccccck! Recommend

  • miss….. human

    even if they decided upon these lyrics just because they rhymed, it’s obvious that there must be some truth in those lyrics, after all they are from Pakistan. they have lived there for their whole life. plus, it’s a great song :)

    atleast, it made everyone notice. and, pakistani government is certainly not defending themselves.Recommend

  • miss….. human

    @Majid Urrehman:
    can’t we just stop being a lahorrite, or a pakistani or indian. aren’t we all human beings. countries were formed so that there could be a system, a certain rules on living, not that people would start discriminating themselves on their countries. even this religious discrimination doesn’t make any sense. our forefathers were certainly not from any particular religion, then why are weRecommend

  • Atif

    “Great work of art!”Recommend