Malang - Fakhr-e-Alam (1997)

Fakhr-e-Alam has come a long way ever since his "Bhangra Pao" days, but in many ways he is still there in all his bhangra glory. Always the one to do things that are contradictory to what every other person is doing, "Munda Pakistani" and "Tha Kar Key" are examples, both dealing with subjects never touched on. Of "Munda Pakistani", Fakhar says, "Everybody was making songs about the country, so I decided to make one for the Pakistani youth instead." And Fakhar's words on the album cover, "It is time I come out of hiding and bring to you more of myself," cannot explain "Tha Kar Key" better.

The Junoon induced bug of folk-rock seems to have bitten everybody for every second musician is now trying his hands at the tabla saturated sufi music. Fakhar is not far behind with "Malang" and "Ishq Kamal". However, the latter is a treat for it includes backing vocals by the celebrated ghazal artist Ustaad Hamid Ali Khan. His voice is haal-inducing, which along with the tabla plays magic.

Always attracted towards social causes, Fakhar offers his opinions through "Aye Khuda" and "Kacchi Goli". "Aye Khuda" talks of the violence in the country and how it devastates families. Particularly moving is the verse where the mother asks her dead son to open his eyes, talk to her, and when he does not, all hell breaks loose on that household. The lyrics can pierce your heart and jilt your feelings. "Kacchi Goli", on the other hand, is a humorous view of a poor but honest slum dweller who finds riches and opportunities to cheat but refuses all. The lyrics do ring sorely true.

Fakhar tried his hand at singing in English in his earlier albums and here too he has come up with "A Man Without A Woman" and "Our World". I am sure Fakhar's wife would not have enjoyed this song at all. The lyrics are inaudible at times. "Our World" is the social awareness song, with a haunting and bluesy feel to it.

Ali Haider paid tribute to Madam Noor Jahan with "Sayoni", and Fakhar did it with "Balori". The special thing about the song is that it has been given a rock feel with Faraz Anwar's enchanting and charismatic guitars.

To sing praises of the Almighty Allah, most people choose an upbeat and mostly folk induced melody. Fakhar has gone away from the usual with "Allah Hu", a very sweet, reverent offering to our lord, God.

Every album has to have its share of a mushy love song and "Gaoon Ki Larki" fits the bill here. However, its not without Fakhar's tongue in cheek humor in the lyrical content where he sings of being picked on by the girl's family.

"Malang" is something new Fakhar has done. He has moved away from the bubble gum pop era and tried to bring a taste of everything into the album. Faraz plays havoc with the strings on "Kacchi Goli", "Balori", and "Our World". However, his true talent as a neo-classical guitarist has not been explored. Least to say, the album is something Fakhar has never done before.

Ayesha Khalid
TV Times, Pakistan