Asim Raza & an Urdu Cover of Zombie
Very glad you covered this. I agree with you that Rohail's approach and the Coke Studio format can make rap tough to digest. In School Di Kitaab, the restriction to sing live made Bohemia gasping for air and the intro lyrics to Saari Dunya seem out of place in a humble-braggadocio. “Meri yeh dastaan suniye mujhse dilbar pyaaray” are also lot of words meaning nothing because I clicked on the song to listen to it!
That said, Saari Dunya sent me down a wormhole which led me to this Urdu cover by Bakht Arif of The Cranberries' Zombie. It's as pleasing and cringeworthy as it first sounds but there's more: the lyrics—a faithful ode to the original's protest ethos—come from Asim Raza who, in the popular realm, has been a lyrics consultant to Coke Studio since its inception but also helped shoot Rahat Fateh Ali Khan to fame with Jiya Dhadak Dhadak Jaye for Kalyug (2005) (Raza's uncle served as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's promoter). Asim, in an interview, says his record label, Sargam Records—the same one this cover is released under—launched Humera Arshad and Ustad Rafaqat Ali Khan.
I am sure this cover went viral at some point given its views and is interesting just as an Urdu cover of a popular English rock song (thus falling in the same realm as another obscure, early 2000's cover of Evanescence's Everybody's Fooled by Maha*) but especially for readers of Hamnawa, I thought it would be a good bridge into Asim Raza, one major and often hidden piece of this loose constellation we call a music industry in Pakistan. In the same vein, this song epitomizes music's ability to transcend Pakistani socioeconomic boundaries: Zombie, a popular Irish altrock song, right up the alley for burger bachas, gets recreated at Sargam Records, a studio located at Scheme Chowk (read as: Chonk for full effect) in Allama Iqbal Town and founded by a UET Electrical Engineering-graduate-turned-lyricist-and-poet who also happens to have launched popular Urdu singers and produced and composed for Nusrat and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.
In parting, the lyrics in Urdu:
یہ جتنی آنکھیں نم ہیں
گھٹتے دم ہیں، کم ہیں
اور کیا کیا کچھ خود پر سہنے والے ہم ہیں
آنکھوں سے دیکھیں بھی
کانوں سے سن کہ بھی
یہ چیخیں، یہ آہیں
ہم چپ ہیں
ان ظالم ہاتھوں میں ہم بھی تو شامل ہیں
ہم ہی اپنے ہی قاتل ہیں
اور ہم ہی گھایل ہیں
ہم چلتی پھرتی ہوئی
*If anyone has a link to this, or knows this song, please write back! I have scoured the internet for it and it seems someone's done a very thorough job scrubbing it. If tracing obscure music through the interwebs excites you, this Reply All episode is fantastic.
Shahan’s note reminded me of a song that friend of the show Aizaz Ahsan remembered but couldn’t find.