Laal Band speaks the language of Marx and Faiz Ahmed Faiz

A song dedicated to Lenin, Lal Salaams, the revolutionary poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Habib Jalib and Ahmed Faraz and quotes from Karl Marx -- all intrinsic features of the Pakistan-based rock band Laal Band -- were the highlights of a performance at the Press Club of India here on Sunday.

“I feel upbeat. So all the songs are going to be fun and fast, nothing slow,” promised the band's lead singer and guitarist Taimur Rahman, an hour before the show was to begin.

During the performance, Taimur encouraged the audience to sing along, occasionally stopping to quote Marx or a bit of poetry.

“We have a song Jhoot Ka Uncha Sar with visuals that depict women who dress like the military – everyone refused to air that video because they felt it went against the Pakistani army and another song of ours which was against the Taliban. Well I still get hate mails for that one,” added Taimur Rahman when asked about the revolutionary nature of his band which has surprisingly done very well commercially.

The band has been in India for sometime, already having toured Mumbai and Pune along, and has given three recent performances in the Capital. “The response was amazing, equal or even better than in Pakistan. We got standing ovations in almost all our concerts here,” Rahman said, adding: “Delhi is just like Lahore. So much so that I feel more culturally and aesthetically connected to Delhi than other cities in Pakistan like Peshawar and Karachi.”

The band members said their philosophy was firmly based on socialist values and Leftist ideals and also sought to popularise the works of revolutionary poets like Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Habib Jalib and Ahmed Faraz. “It is an honour for us to put their poems to our music,” he added.

Taimur is also a professor of political science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences and has been leading the band for several years now. The band used to play at small gatherings, but all that changed in 2007 when lawyers in Pakistan started a movement against military dictator General Pervez Musharraf's unconstitutional sacking of Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

The band's philosophy and revolutionary songs calling on the country's young to fight against injustice and oppression had a widespread appeal, which propelled it into instant popularity.

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