‘Achhe Din Blues’ Is A Poignant Protest Song Depicting India’s Stark Reality

‘Achhe Din Blues’ Is A Poignant Protest Song Depicting India’s Stark Reality

With the elections around the corner, there’s absolutely no doubt that today, everything’s political. You take a stand, that’s political. You don’t take a stand, that’s political. Silence can be deafening while screams are left unheard. People in power rarely take into account how their actions and inactions affect the psyche of the people. However, there’s one place we all find solace in. There’s one thing that is capable of dissolving all perceived barriers. That is, art.

Sadly, it’d be naïve to say that India as a country lets unpopular ideas fully breathe, especially in the case of political art. However, once a while you stumble across a piece of work which is as stunning in its craft as it is opinionated in its stands. ‘Acche Din Blues’ by Aamir Aziz is one such gem. Little over six minutes, this song is a poignant storytelling of India’s current state of affairs. Aamir’s folksy guitar playing interplays with his soothing voice to entice you into a narrative about the various odd interactions and observations of the song’s protagonist. The song is loaded with subtle undertones and innuendos, often hinting to the various sombre incidents taken place in the current government’s tenure. However, none of this is to piss you off. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

“I don’t know how to talk to the media,” Aamir coyly confesses in our phone conversation. Born in Bihar, Patna, 29-year-old Aamir has a theatre background and has worked as an actor. His musical sensibilities trace back to him picking up the guitar in college. “It’s an artist’s job to be the people’s expression and reflect the sign of the times”, says Aamir. He further explains that he doesn’t mean an artist shouldn’t be talking about say, love, but feels that the he or she should be equally ready to talk about the fear that comes with it. In fact, he admits that ‘Achhe Din Blues’ talks about nothing but the lack of love in today’s society.

The beautifully made video intercuts hopeful shots of children and unflinching glimpses of poverty with several watershed moments of the recent past. One of the more noticeable one would be the harrowing image of 32-year-old Mazlum Ansari and 15-year-old Imteyaz Khan hanging from a tree as a result of the 2016’s horrific mob lynching incident in Jharkhand, which inspired Aamir to write this powerful ballad. We are further made uncomfortable by the song’s haunting lyrics which say – Aur wo nazara rubaru tha meri nazar se/Do laashein latak rahi thi ek hi shakh-e-shajar se (And I came across a sight strange to see/ Two bodies were hanging from the single branch of a tree). Lyrically intricate, the song has a recurring mention of a ‘pagal awara kutta’ (mad dog on the loose), which seems to have be misinterpreted by some. Aamir clarifies the confusion by explaining the analogy at play, “It is inspired from Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s analogy, where he says the common man is the ‘kutta’, being manipulated and reduced to his immediate identity. In my analogy I’m attempting to further it by saying this ‘pagal kutta’ is the common man who’s not ready to accept the lies of the empire.” The song is filled with raw moments like these, so Aamir is aware of the possible angst that it may provoke in some. He is also aware that some may even make hollow criticisms because of his Muslim upbringing, but it doesn’t affect him, “I never look at anyone like that. I know people can reduce me to my Muslim identity, but there are some hard truths in the song that can’t be ignored.”

The response to the video (which also includes retweets by the likes of Kunal Kamra and Varun Grover) is a clear sign that people resonate with Aamir’s thoughts and sentiments. It’s a definitive testament that we all unanimously mourn the lack of harmony in our country. Will significant changes be made? Only time will tell. But one thing’s for sure, with people like Aamir Aziz speaking truth to power, the spark of hope remains ignited.

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