Najam Sheraz had been one of the most sought after singers in the pop music scene of our country. If you get to meet him recently he is no more the same person that he used to be some time back. From his long hair, rugged look crooning to "Meri Aankhon Mein Samai" to a prim and proper and very politically correct attire, he has certainly come a long way.
It seems that everybody is slowly waking up to religion and becoming a better Muslim; recent examples are Junaid Jamshed, Farhan Ali Agha and a lot of other singers/actors who have changed their previous lifestyles to a more religious one. It happens only in this land of the pure that people start seeking purity after getting polluted by their own deeds. Since religion is a personal affair and a celebrity treated as a public property, the clash of both might result in a story that Najam reels.
In a country like Pakistan, religion is exploited every now and then for people's own means but just because it's a personal affair, nobody looks into it. People are fooled in the very name of Islam and those who fight against it, are considered the practitioners of blasphemy. This is very long and controversial debate and its better we discuss what we have up our sleeves.
Najam released a hamd (rhyme in the praise of Allah) last year, which marked his entry as a 'changed' singer and person. The latest album release of his, titled "Yeh Muamla Koi Aur Hai" (title of the hamd) is also out in the market and quite unlikely released during the holy month of Ramadan. The "Hamd" has captivating lyrics and feel and this is what has allured me to buy the album. A visit to the cassette shop asking for Najam Sheraz's latest release found me the centre of stare by the rest of the people in the shop. The 'oh you are so not cool' glares followed me till I left the environs of the same music store where asking for Britney's latest release is considered to be more cool than a Najam's Ramadan release. When I contacted Najam about the details for the album he dubbed it as a 'Ramadan release'. It is definitely the first to come out of the pop music industry.
There are three songs (I am not sure if they should be called songs or hamd/naat) in the whole album, which are sans any musical beat. The "Hamd" ("Yeh Muamla Koi Aur Hai"), "Naat" ("Raahein Bhataknay Waley"), and "Lab Pay Aate Hai Dua Ban Ke" are all 'music-free' and Najam reasons that the intensity comes through better without the music than with it. While the rest of the songs accompany music. Undoubtedly, "Hamd" and "Naat" captivate the listeners with their soulful lyrics once you get to understand them. Though, the entry of "Lab Pay Aate Hai" reminds you of the good old days when we used to recite this poem of Allama Iqbal in the school assembly. Then comes another 'national song', which spells peace through its title, "Sab Gilay Shikway Mita Do". There is nothing extraordinarily special to the song but the lyrics and beat do make a moderate score. "Kar Liya Sawda" is another recital in the praise of Allah rather a glorified version of hamd, which is sung with the backing of musical beats. The lyricist, Babar R. Chaudhri has written exceptional lyrics for "Hamd", "Naat", "Sab Gilay Shikway" and "Kar Liya Sawda", the only four songs that give the album its credibility. An odd entry of "Ae Watan" dubbed as "A dedication to the great Amanat Ali Khan" is nothing but to fill the space and give the album the religio-patriotic touch. The last two songs, "Shahpar" and "In Fizaon Se Aage" are both about good old Pakistan Air force and also are a variation of milli taranas.
It was very likely to have expected such an album from Najam after the singer opted for a complete image transformation just a year back. He seems content with how things are working for him and the kind of music he is producing. Talking to him about the album he stated "This is a mere effort from my side to thank the Almighty on what he has given me".
Though the album is picking up in the market, thanks to careful planning regarding its release timings and publicity, one does, however, wonder where does one categorize Najam as a singer after this feat? He has come up as a different singer and a different person altogether not for the sake of music but for the sake of himself as he puts it. And it comes as a shock to all those music buffs that have been raving about "In Say Nain". How hard is it to tune those fans to "Yeh Muamla Koi Aur Hai" is something that only time will tell.Ahmer Ashraf