Rahat Fateh Ali Khan – Nazrana-e-Aqeedat (Instep Album Review)

December 20, 2009

After recording the brilliant and hypnotic Charkha and singing for Bollywood films, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is back with Nazrana-e-Aqeedat. Instep lends an ear…

By Manal Faheem Khan

Artist: Rahat Fateh Ali Khan
Album: Nazrana-e-Aqeedat***

The ultimate goal for any Pakistani artist is receiving international recognition for his or her work, and many of our Pakistani singers have successfully made their way into Bollywood; however, only rarely anyone has managed to meander their way into the vicinity of Hollywood or leave a mark on the more thriving Western music scene. We have witnessed only the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan accomplishing this great challenge via his collaborations with Peter Gabriel and Michael Brook and the appreciation of his talents was ubiquitous with films like The Last Temptation of Christ (1985), Natural Born Killers (1994) and Dead Man Walking (1995). He may not have rivaled the popularity of their biggest pop acts but Nusrat is still mentioned with reverence by Western musicians who had never heard anything like the prowess of the extraordinary qawwal.

Like his legendary uncle, the next in line to bring Pakistan this honour and prestige is his nephew, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, who has overtime building himself up in terms of talent and skill. There is a lot to be said for riyaz, the fact that practice does make perfect.

Rahat’s work demands and deserves the admiration it receives. Versatility seems to be a powerful attribute which he possesses, and no praise can be enough for the variety of work and music that he has come up with time and again, from the melancholy starkness of Charkha to the hummable melodies that he makes for Bollywood. With his new album, Nazrana-e-Aqeedat, Rahat reminds us yet again, how he can successfully bring so much variety to the table.

The album opens up with a hamd, called ‘Allah Hu’. This is a beautiful melody, and as you start listening to it, you can’t help but wait till it ends. Following it is a naat called ‘Halkey Walay Rasoolon Key’, which has been sung very beautifully, and is my favourite composition on the album.

There are some songs which have a qawwali feel to them. For instance, the third track on the album is called ‘Noor Rab Da’. This track is approximately five minutes long, and has an interesting qawwali twist to it, with the help of the traditional tablas. It is slightly more upbeat as compared to the rest of the tracks. The next is another qawwali, called ‘Kainda-e-Qalandar’, which is somewhat similar. The last track is probably the fastest song of the album, called ‘Sain Nazar’, and it interestingly starts off with what sounds like an electric guitar. Shades of the fusion of Coke Studio live on. Another interesting thing to note about this track is that it sounds almost exactly like his song ‘Naina Thag Lein Gey’ from the movie Omkara. The tune of this track is the same as of ‘Naina Thag…’, however, the musical instruments differ, and so do the lyrics.

The rest of the tracks are somewhat more mellow and slow. For instance the track, ‘Maula Hasan’, is more slow and soothing, as it comes right after one of the qawwalis. Another track is ‘Woh Hain Hussain’. The next song is called ‘Izzat’, and what these songs have in common is how they are more soothing as compared to the other qawwalis. Again Rahat shows his diversity here, as he presents variations within one album, from the fast and upbeat qawwalis, to the slower, more soulful tracks.

The rest of the tracks in the album, ‘Jhuktay Hain’, ‘Jo Rang’ and ‘Imran Ka Tu Laal’ are three more somewhat similar tracks; however they still exhibit the brilliance of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s magnificent voice.

Rahat provides a wide array of songs, which cater to all sorts of audiences. He has fans of all age groups and social backgrounds: the young and the old, the rich and the poor.  As the years are progressing, the quality of his music and his vocal skills are growing and improving. He has experimented in almost all genres of music, and has succeeded almost effortlessly.

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan has made his presence felt strongly in Bollywood and has extended his realms into Hollywood as well.  In 1995, he worked with his uncle, the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, along with Eddie Vedder, of the American rock band Pearl Jam, and contributed to the soundtrack for the movie Dead Man Walking. More recently, in 2006, he provided his vocals for the soundtrack of the Mel Gibson movie, Apocalypto (2006).

Rahat has even sang for many Bollywood songs, ranging from slow love songs such as ‘Bol Na Halke Halke’ off Jhoom Barabar Jhoom (2006) and the more recent ‘Aaj Dinn Chadeya’  from the movie Love Aaj Kal (2009) to fast and upbeat dance numbers, which have been hugely appreciated by everyone.  Not only has he taken a place in Bollywood, but he has managed to establish himself with all the high profile movies of Bollywood.

Rahat has two patriotic songs under his belt as well: ‘Dharti Dharti’ and ‘Hum Pakistan’, which contribute to his wide collection of musical pieces. Rahat’s previous album, Charkha, was much talked about as well, as it was a contemporary take on his traditional music.
With his album Nazrana-e-Aqeedat, Rahat has once again proven that his talents have no bounds, as he has diversified his expertise, and created music that we have not yet heard from him. The name of the album means a gift, or a tribute of his faith in God, and these 11 tracks have a more religious feel to it.

The album could not have arrived at a better time. As the month of Muharram is almost here, the album and the music in it caters to the religious sentiment of the month; a lot of people will appreciate the timing of its release.

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan adds another feather to his cap. Nazraana reminds us of his late uncle, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan as well. The qawwalis as well as the more slow melodies, have a slight flavor of the music we have all loved and appreciated before. However, Rahat proves that he has used the same sort of music compositions as his uncle, yet managed to make them his own. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan has made his own place in the music industry, and his reputation as a truly gifted artist continues to expand to different parts of the world.

Source: Instep