Ali Sethi’s song “Pasoori” whose title roughly translates to “difficult mess” has taken the world by storm, blending traditional poetry with contemporary beats to elevate the Pakistani singer’s stardom.
The Punjabi track, which explores the complexities of forbidden love, became the most-searched song on Google in 2022 and has amassed over 500 million views on YouTube.
With a danceable rhythm and a metaphor for the India-Pakistan conflict, the song was originally created for Coke Studio after an Indian broadcaster pulled out of a partnership due to Sethi’s Pakistani nationality.
Sethi’s experience with the limitations of his identity sparked the song’s creation, which has since become a cultural sensation worldwide.
After being told by an Indian broadcaster that they couldn’t work with him because of the ongoing India-Pakistan conflict, Ali Sethi’s creative instincts were triggered.
“The theme of prohibition is such an eternal theme in south Asian love songs – all true love is prohibited,” he reflected after a thrilling performance at the Coachella music festival in the US, the crowning achievement in a remarkable year.
Wearing a hat with colourful embroidery and a black button-up, Sethi drew inspiration from Punjabi folk songs to create “Pasoori”, a track that throws a flower bomb at nationalism and hetero-patriarchy with puns and innuendos.
He performs the song with Shae Gill, a Christian-born singer from Lahore.
Despite expecting it to be an “indie, niche thing”, Sethi is astounded by the global success of the track, which blends traditional South Asian sounds with contemporary beats from Turkey, flamenco and Latino reggaeton.
Sethi, the son of journalist Najam Sethi and politician Jugnu Mohsin, is a published author who began his Hindustani classical musical training after graduating from university.
He studied Qawwali and ghazal, and now lives in New York, experimenting outside the confines of his education and collaborating with musicians of various genres.
Embracing multiculturalism was a process for Sethi, who believes that such identities were celebrated in the Sufi shrines of Lahore 800 years ago, but not encouraged in his upbringing.
Sethi rocked the Coachella stage on Sunday (16) with Raja Kumari, by his side for their Pasoori duet, celebrating all types of forbidden love. Kumari is an American rapper and singer born in California to Indian parents.
“What we can’t do over there we can do over here,” he said as he grasped Kumari’s hand onstage following their electrifying Pasoori duet. “There’s all kinds of forbidden love represented here today.”
“If you forbid it we will do it!” he said to resounding applause.
Sethi is set to perform at the festival again next weekend, but despite his huge fan base in India, he can only tour in the US and Canada.
However, Sethi notes that the Hindustani classical music genre has been thriving in America for decades, thanks in part to Ali Akbar Khan’s influence.
For him, being a little eccentric, unexpected, and too traditional in the land of wild ideas is just another wild idea he loves.
Source : Eastern Eye