Atif Aslam and The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Music Review)

June 23, 2013

Riz Ahmed - The Reluctant FundamentalistSo finally the much awaited film of the season ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist‘ got released almost a month ago. It’s a Hollywood venture directed by critically acclaimed Mira Nair and the movie is based on the all time best seller novel by Mohsin Hamid of the same name. Being an entirety Hollywood movie, what interests the local audiences is its story line that is deeply embedded in Pakistan. Still with whole of the story line based on a Pakistani, it couldn’t be shot in Pakistan due to some unforeseen circumstances but here comes the Pakistani music to the rescue as almost the complete soundtrack of this Hollywood flick consists of local singers which makes this movie even a better delight to watch. Of all of them, Atif Aslam once again tops the chart with his amazing vocal that he had lent for two of the tracks from the movie.

Every time when people think that Atif is now stuck with Bollywood style of singing, he comes back hard to negate all his critics. The tracks that he has sung for TRF (The Reluctant Fundamentalist) include ‘Mori Araj Suno‘ and ‘Bol Ke Lab Azad Hain‘. Both these tracks are basically famous poems by the revolutionary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

Mori Araj Suno has been sung by many other singers in the past. After couple of intro lines it shifts to the famous ‘Rabba Sacheya‘ that has been sung by Atif in the past as well. Here Atif sings his heart out in a rather haunting voice that totally goes with the story line displaying the anguish that resides inside a person facing the identity crisis. I always feel that versatility has been one component that was vital in the unprecedented success and fame of Atif Aslam. And once again Atif proves that point where he sings Rabba Sacheya for the 3rd time, and every time singing it with a different composition. First it was in Meri Kahani, then Coke Studio 5 and now TRF. Here the last stanza would surely be regarded as the climax of the song where Atif Aslam takes this mere single to a whole new spiritual level with his gripping and heartfelt vocals, not to forget some amazingly written verses by Faiz sahib.

The other track from TRF that cannot get out of my head for past few days is Bol Ke Lab Azad Hain, another famous writing by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, once again sung by Atif Aslam for TRF. Specialty about this track is that it’s in collaboration with the musical legend Peter Gabriel from Genesis. As mentioned by Atif himself, the movie budget didn’t allow them to have this collaboration so Atif managed this on his own and became only the second person from his homeland to collaborate with Peter after Ustaad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

According to Atif, “Bol Ke Lab Azad Hain’ from Mira Nair’s film is one song which connects to the old Atif. So the audience can get to hear the old me through this song.”

Bol Ke Lab Azad Hain is an 8 minutes track that starts off with guitar strums and soon you can hear the signature Atif alaaps in the background. While Peter Gabriel sings along in English, it creates an amazing harmony between the two. Atif once again proves his vocal power with some incredible alaaps and vocal belting that continues on and on in the second half of the song conveying an intense message without words. Perhaps this was something where even a music genius like Peter couldn’t help himself from saying that “Yours (Atif’s) is the finest falset to that I have ever heard after Jeff Buckley”. Abandon your fear, bring back your pride, is something what Peter sings with so much pure feel that any one can relate to the pain of the character.

Here I must mention that these tracks are composed and sung in such a brilliant manner that you can relate to them even if you have only read the novel. And the fact that how beautifully they fit in with the plot and the miseries of the leading character of the film, Changez.

These two tracks are definitely a special treat by Atif and this guy literally takes you to another world with his energetic vocals that surely have the ability to shake you from inside.