Twenty-nine-year-old Mumbai resident Aamir Aziz has been making music since his college days, but it was only recently when he decided to leverage YouTube to reach people interested in his work. His song Achhe Din Blues, released in March 2019 and sung in his trademark style, established him as a recognisable voice of dissent.
His new song, Ballad of Pehlu Khan (above) has once again struck a chord with his audience, moving many of them to tears. As its subject the song picks up the lynching of Pehlu Khan, in Alwar, Rajasthan in April 2017. Pehlu Khan was a dairy farmer who was beaten to death by a mob of cow vigilantes.
Speaking to Scroll.in, singer and songwriter Aamir Aziz said that this song is not poetry – it’s meant to narrate the facts of a grave incident that took place but has been forgotten. “It’s like I am reading the news to remind people of the incidents that occurred,” he said.
According to Aziz, the main focus of his music is to break into the jargon of the ruling government and show people what really matters. “The ruling government told people that everyone will get Rs 15 lakh in their accounts, hence selling them jargon. Now, that’s all we are looking at, rather than talking about more pressing issues,” he said. “I am not criticising the protests against the government that are already in place. I support all creative forms of protest, but this is my way of telling people that they need to break out of these vicious cycles to look at issues that are far more important.”
Aziz recalled his days in Delhi, and the time he spent studying in capital’s Jamia Millia Islamia University. “Even though it’s a central university, people would always tell us that we are studying in a factory of Islamic education,” he said. This discriminatory behaviour made him develop political consciousness early on in life.
Using a creative art like music as a form of expression of one’s political opinion often invites trolling on the internet, but for Aamir Aziz, the hatred is not new. “It has become more targeted towards individuals rather than communities,” he said. Aziz also recounted incidents of violence, like the lynching of Junaid Khan, that had nothing to do with a person’s virtual presence. “It is natural for a person from a minority community to carry some fear in his heart under the ruling government. The fear is always there: on the internet, on the roads, in buses, and in trains.”
Aziz credited the ruling government with being the greatest inspiration behind his music. “With my music, I’m trying to put forward the fear in which minorities live, and the decadence of this time,” he said.