By Maheen Sabeeh

It’s heartening to see that slowly but surely musicians are climbing out of their self-created bubble. They accommodate reality in their songs and videos. Whether it’s Shehzad Roy or more recently Strings, the idea is to open doors to the world that surrounds us.

Strings’ recent video, ‘Ab Khud Kuch Karna Parega’ which also features pop favourite Atif Aslam is not a fluffy video by any stretch of the imagination. It is a conflicting video, much like the issues that continue to haunt us. The video includes dark imagery whether its violence in the streets or corruption in uniform, Strings haven’t made any attempts to beautify the reality but rather take a close look at it. They have been criticized for being vague. But the fact remains that Strings played out reality in their music and video which is hugely important in today’s times.

Now with the devastating floods which have destroyed homes, families, crops, land, infrastructure and left 20 million people displaced, the time is ripe for musicians to take notice. Atif Aslam, Shehzad Roy, Ali Azmat, Zeeshan Parwez are just some of the names who have been helping.

Musicians like Noori, Jal, Ali Azmat, Call and a few others gathered at the Mall of Lahore for a celebrity camp and managed to raise half a million rupees.

Others are participating in a telethon ala Strings to raise funds. Faakhir has teamed up with Pakistan Navy while Haroon has raised funds via concerts.

And more needs to be done. Pakistani-American musician Salman Ahmed is planning a song for the floods victims through which he plans to raise funds.

And more music needs to come out with a focus on our tremulous surroundings, if for nothing else than just to prove that in these difficult times, the music industry is not detached from reality. The only other band to have done a song about the floods have been Laal, whose poignant ‘Doob Gaya Hai’ is out as a reminder about the greatest natural catastrophe in recent history. One wishes others come out with songs related to the disaster that has affected 20 million people and needs to be kept in the news so the relief effort gains momentum.

Music can no longer be about bubblegum fluffy stuff. Or even if it is then it needs to be hardhitting in the vein of Shehzad Roy’s epic ‘Qismat Apnay Haat Mein’ and ‘Laga Reh’ or Laal who so profoundly brought Habib Jalib back to such powerful effect.

Patriotic spirit, introspection, soul stirring statements, questioning society is what’s needed at this hour and that doesn’t exclude the entertainment industry. After all, a society is never complete without the arts. And the arts should be signs of the time.

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