BISRU: The hot summer day in Mewat, a semi-arid region in the foothills of the Aravallis, some 70 km from the national capital, does not prevent Arshad Khan Bisru from wearing a waistcoat, popularly called “Modi jacket” after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who wears it often, as he tries to pen a song.
Arshad’s affinity for anything related to Modi, however, ends with the jacket.
“I love Modi’s jacket but not his politics, and write and sing songs about the social ills and divisive policies of politicians,” says the 26-year-old, a singer who has completed just higher secondary level education and now writes songs of social consciousness.
He is a celebrity in the district, ranked the most backward in India, with few amenities and even fewer role models.
Bisru, who releases his songs on social media, has been singing for several years despite stiff opposition from his family. But in 2017 his art found a strong cause when he recorded a song to highlight the lynching of Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer from a village in Alwar, Rajasthan, by a group of cow vigilantes. The incident, and the haunting song on it, rattled the region.
Bisru wrote many other songs touching on the plight of families whose members have been victims of hate crimes, female foeticide, and the backwardness of the area. “I call my songs ghazals because these are melodies of an unspeakable amount of pain,” he says..
Art for a cause
26-year old Arshad Khan Bisru, who releases his songs on social media, has been singing for last several years despite stiff resistance from his family. But in 2017, his art found a cause when he recorded a song to highlight mob lynching of Pehlu Khan.