Asrar searching for sufism in times of pop
By: Sher Khan
LAHORE: Music artist Asrar, with his trademark sufi looks, recently released his own version of Amrita Pritam’s poem Waris Shah giving it a personal twist. There have been many renditions of the poem over the years and one wonders how these classics continue to resonate through generations with the same zeal. Asrar, who was trained under the guidance of Ustad Sultan Ahmad Khan, seems to be filling the gap in the music industry with similar songs.
With the aim of asking pertinent questions through his music, Asrar appears extremely passionate about the sufi genre. “My voice comes from within me. Sufi music is a call for love, peace and humanity and is supposed to supersede differences such as caste or creed,” he says. “The important thing is that we continue to upgrade our music. Hence, our thoughts can easily resonate with people in present times and that should be the main goal of every artist.”
The Lahore-based artist has been running his own production studio called Soul Speaks. So far, Asrar has released around eight singles including his latest one titled Waris Shah. It has been a viral hit all over the internet and on television. Having gained his fame mostly through the internet, Asrar believes social media is an important avenue. “Social media has provided us with a space where we can easily connect with our listeners. There are only two music channels now so it is important that us, artists, who are investing a lot on our videos, have an avenue where we can be heard,” says Asrar.
With his song Waris Shah, Asrar is trying to explore a different side to Amrita Pritam. He chose to use different stanzas in his personal version which he believes stands out from the poem; after the traditional introductory lines, he brings a different tone and sound to the poem, which seems to work well. Hence, the song came out as very different from any previous version of Waris Shah. Dominated by the rustic clarity of Asrar’s voice and the acoustic music that complements in the background, his goal is to give justice to Pritam’s lyrics and allow everyone to bask in its glory.
“We aren’t looking to make music for a specific category but the goal is for the song to express sufi thought through its music,” says Asrar. “We have a more acoustic sound so that the words or lyrics are emphasised. This is important so that the younger generation can connect well with lyrics.”
Asrar plans on releasing two singles in the coming month; a song based on the lyrics of the famed poet Jaun Elia and another, based on the work of contemporary poet Wasi Shah. “I think that music has to blend with ideas that prevail in today’s day and age. In fact, I believe that we should try to connect more with the poets of today since they are easier to understand,” suggests Asrar.
Elia’s poem, Allah Hi Dega Maula Hi Dega is based on a beggar who discloses the realities of society and poses existential questions about life and humanity. Whereas the second single, which is based off a poem by Wasi Shah, Ishq Hawa Mein, is something that Asrar is excited about because of Shah’s following amongst the youth.
“Wasi Shah is the teenagers’ poet. I think this song was not difficult to choose because he presents a completely original definition of love,” he continues. Meanwhile, in his search for soulful music, Asrar says that he has also tried his hand at writing lyrics. “As an artist, my goal is not simply to gain fame, it is more about producing something that is meaningful and has an impact on our lives,” he adds.