The Beygairat Brigade

9 Apr

This group — “The Dishonourable Brigade” — of smart and very cute…and very brave…Pakistani kids out of Lahore put out this cool song last year that became an instant hit.  It’s called “Aalu Anday” or potatoes and eggs, and the Punjabi refrain says “my mom made me potatoes and eggs [again]” i.e. “I’m sick of this shit,” and the song then proceeds to bash and mock the whole landscape of corruption, religious fanaticism and social stagnation of contemporary Pakistan.  A viewer will need a bigger expert than me to explain all the references, but enough can be gleaned from just the subtitles, and the YouTube comments contain a lot of information too, if you can pick it out of the mutual Indo-Pak bashing and obscenity that’s usual to YouTube comments.

Takes a lot of guts to put out a song like that but it obviously hit a nerve because it became wildly popular and was embraced in both Pakistan and India.  Does anybody know what happened to them?

Don’t miss this television interview with them, conducted in that effortless switching back and forth between Hindustani* and beautiful English that it is so damn enchanting to listen to (or is it Punjabi?):

And another one where the lead singer Ali Aftab Saeed gives us a nice acoustic version towards the end:

I’d love to get some further news on them.

Are things shifting on the sub-continent?  A new thaw apparently; Zardari visits India: 

A start, eh?  Now let’s get to work on reversing Partition.  Well, we can dream, can’t we?

*I use “Hindustani” as often as possible because I try — as often as possible — not to acknowledge the supposed difference between Hindi and Urdu, despite the intense efforts on respective sides of the border to Sanskritize and Islamicize what is essentially one language.  Nationalism’s manipulating of what people spontaneously speak is one of its most insidious forms of mind control.  Serbs and Croats have been trying to prove their language is not the same one for almost a century now — unsuccessfully, given the capacity of Serbian and Croatian paramilitary thugs to hurl the most fertile insults at each other across battle lines in the nineties with no comprehension problems whatsoever — and now there’s a third contender, the ‘Bosnian’ spoken by ‘Bosniaks.’  To some extent Turks and us went through the same process, though they’re obviously not the same languages: nineteenth-century Greece tried to make Greek Greeker, which meant archaicizing it, and though I don’t necessarily think katharevousa was the artificial monster a lot of people do — in its simpler, less pretentious forms it was capable of great beauty in the hands of certain writers like Papadiamantes — the ideology behind it was a deeply problematic one.  Ditto the Turkish Republic, which in the late twenties and early thirties tried to eliminate remnant Persian syntactical features from Turkish and replace all Persian and Arabic words in the language with new Turkish ones (even forcing muezzins to sing the call to prayer in Turkish), an attempt which, if it had succeeded to the full orthodox extent of its intentions, would have left the entire Turkish people mute for everything except the most basic human communication — like in the Hundred Years of Solitude where they have to write “cow” on the cow.  Apparently, in 1934, the Great Leader himself made a series of speeches in the New Turkish which were completely unintelligible to everyone except him and his inner clique.  They backed off a little afterwards apparently but, between the high learnedness of much Ottoman literature and the Republic’s tinker-tampering, much of nineteenth-century Turkish literature is now unreadable to most modern Turks.  As Benedict Anderson said, the nation-state pretends to be the guardian of your culture and traditions but “is actually hostile to the real ways of the past.”



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