Peace Out,Bro

LooK past the chaos of Pakistani politics,and you will hear music in the air.

Written by Suanshu Khurana | Published:February 22, 2012 3:56 am

Pakistan band,The Raga Boyz,wraps its message of peace and love in classical gayaki,alt-rock and hip hop

LooK past the chaos of Pakistani politics,and you will hear music in the air. A slew of new bands are making their presence felt in India and abroad. The once battered music scene — because of Zia-ul-Haq’s policy restricting public performances and distribution of music — now boasts of musicians belting out peace tracks that are liberal and slightly indulgent. The latest entrant to this young club is The Raga Boyz,a band of three brothers,whose music is rooted in Patiala gharana’s classical gayaki with jagged undertones of alternative rock and hip hop.

The band that was launched four years ago is touring India currently and will release their first album,Zindagi,here

in March.

The brothers,Inam Ali Khan on classical vocals,Nayab Ali Khan on lead guitar,and Wali Hamid Ali Khan on lead vocals,are sons of legendary Pakistani musician Hamid Ali Khan. They trace their roots to the 18th century icon Mian Kalluji who constructed the Patiala gharana’s ornate style of singing khayals. “Since we are from the Patiala gharana,we consider India as home. This is the place responsible for all the music we know today,”says Wali,who recently performed with the band at Mumbai’s Kala Ghoda Festival. “We have embraced our family’s classical music tradition and are presenting it in a way that appeals to the audience,” he adds.

The three were thrown into the regime of riyaaz at a young age,and that is the reason for the camaraderie among them. “While other children played,we would sit and practise the sargams. We may disagree on musical notes sometimes,but there is never any discord in the relationships,” says Wali.

The 14-track Zindagi is dominated by simple love lyrics set to a mishmash of R&B,pop-rock,heavy metal and classical tunes. The mellow title track carries a message of peace for India and Pakistan. This is followed by Rang,a bandish in Raag Puryadhanashree,the lyrics borrowed from Baba Bulleshah’s poetry,and Kya Ye Pyar,a soft ballad. “We have performed these tracks at various gigs in India and are being yelled at for encores every time,” says Wali.

Cousins of Shafqat Amanat Ali of Mitwa fame,the brothers are open to Bollywood offers. They are currently composing for producer Bobby Pushkarna’s next venture,that will release in June. “Bollywood music is what we have grown up with in Pakistan. To compose for a film here is a great opportunity for us,” says Wali. The band will perform in Delhi and Mumbai in March.

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