Shahvaar Ali Khan – No Sazish, No Jang

Shahvaar Ali Khan

Instep Today’s Article About Him:
Lahore’s new musical find Shahvaar Ali Khan lends a fresh perspective of patriotism in his debut song ‘No Sazish,
No Jang’ that is doing the rounds on radio airwaves

Revolutionary music has always been part of our musical heritage and in recent years, it has definitely come back with full force. It just goes to show that we aren’t the apathetic nation we are often condemned to be. Whether its Shehzad Roy’s songs and videos in recent times like ‘Laga Reh’, Azal’s ‘Aisi Taisi’, or the more fervent Laal, artistes no longer believe in keeping their discontent in hushed tones and drawing rooms but have brought their concern to the most public of forums-their music. Pakistani poetry has always had under tones of political revolution: Allama Iqbal, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalib to name a few are the inspiration for Laal. But Laal’s front men Taimur Rahman and Shahram Azhar aren’t the only ones being advocates for activism. If you’ve tuned into your radios recently, you may have heard the profoundly stirring yet upbeat song ‘No Sazish No Jang’ by upcoming young artiste Shahvaar Ali Khan.

Predominantly in Punjabi, with voiceovers of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Benazir Bhutto, President Barack Obama and Mahatma Gandhi, this song is a melodious plea where the singer is beseeching all elements that have systematically torn this country apart – from men using religion as a cover to the corrupt government to ineffective puppet state heads imploring them to leave in the opening line itself: the citizens of this impoverished country, alone in their ‘malang’ state and simultaneously promising never to give up this fight: “Mullayae na kar tung, oo guraya na kar tung, meino rahen dae malang, mein nach nach kai larni yae jang de nal jang”.

(Don’t bother me o Mullahs, Don’t bother me O foreigners, Let me remain a free spirit, I will dance away and fight your war)

Including these diverse personalities in his song was an interesting choice, which Shahvaar defends: “I have appropriated the message of peace that all these political figures – Jinnah, Gandhi, Obama, Benazir have spoken about – and their concept of a plural society. I have tried to lyrically back up to their message. And I have chosen these figures since I wanted a diverse audience to be able to understand and absorb the message of the song.”

Featuring immaculate vocals, an upbeat amalgam of the harmonium, guitars and drums give this musical rendition a perfect blend of east and west, and the immaculate Punjabi give it an earthy feel.

An erudite young man, with a highly cheeky sense of humour, as his website ( and his Facebook group page suggest, Shahvaar is a passionate writer as well. Contrary to what one may think he did not study music but economics, which he claims was a “means to satisfy the clichéd expectations of Pakistani parents.” Shavaar then chose a career in advertising while training simultaneously with an Ustad. Shahvaar has also worked on ad film shoots in Bombay; and had a chance to work on a film script on contemporary Pakistani-Indian youth, which he has been “writing, changing, erasing and re-writing” since 2006. All these stints have contributed to honing a profound personality and it certainly shows in his song that is an eclectic but vibrant amalgam of history, politics, regionalism, society and ethics.

What is refreshing about this song unlike other ‘revolutionary anthems’ is that the song is not a harsh protest but a quiet yet powerful vow to keep up the struggle. He also makes it very clear at the start of the song that this a conspiracy to rob the people of their homes. The metaphor Shahvaar uses is interesting: of the malangs that haunt our shrines who he feels are the “real face of religion in this country. Taliban are as alien an invasion as the USA are to these masses who have been practising their religion with this unexplainable passion that may seem irrational to elements of organised religion such as the mullahs who are obsessed with given a particular structure to Islam-a structure that is foreign to the spirituality practiced by the masses”.

The 25-year old Shahvaar aspires to be the common man’s voice – a people’s singer. And he seems to be on the track to doing that: his single has been played at the South Asian meet at Harvard University and was declared the youth anthem at the India Pakistan friendship group in Bangalore, and was recently played at a fundraiser in Aspen for Swat. Like all upcoming artistes Shahvaar is trying to create a space for himself in the music industry. While he hasn’t been successful in striking a record deal or getting a video out, word of mouth has ensured that 4000 people have heard the song via his website since March.

Here’s to new blood and singers who manage to sing songs of redemption in these troubling times.
– Article by Hani Taha Salim (Lahore)

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