Legendary British rocker Peter Gabriel joined Pakistani singer Atif Aslam in singing verse composed by renowned Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz for Mira Nair's The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
Nair confirmed the news and said, "Peter has composed the music for Faiz's beautiful poem, Bol ke lab azaad hain tere. It was my father's favourite poem. He grew up in pre-Partition Lahore and then came to Delhi. He spoke only Urdu. It was my dream to have Faiz's lines in my film. I've dedicated my film to dad."
Explaining how Peter came on board, Nair said, "He hardly does movie scores. I sent him 20 minutes of my film and he was blown away. He got so involved, he immediately started on the song. And then I went to spend a couple of days with him in London." Atif flew to London to work with Peter on the song. They finished work a month ago. Peter sang the words in English and Atif did the original Urdu lines. While the two of them were in London, I was here in Mumbai editing The Reluctant Fundamentalist."
However, Nair did go to Lahore for Atif's recording. "He has sung two Faiz poems for me: Mori araj suno and Bol. My hero Changez (Riz Ahmed) is a young, modern man. Atif's voice suited the character. And when I added Peter Gabriel to Faiz's poetry, our music moved to another sphere," said Nair.
Nair, who spent three days in Lahore, even had a private screening of her film there. Mohsin Hamid, whose novel Nair's film is based on, was also part of her Lahore audience. "Mohsin saw it. He's also one of the screenplay writers. He has been really involved with the film. He liked what we've done," she said.
Atif and Peter are an important if not the only part of the contemporary sounds in Nair's film. "Besides the two Faiz poems, we've worked with an iconoclastic composer called Michael Andrews, who has done the amazing soundtrack of a film called Donnie Darko. I didn't want a cliched soundtrack for my film. Michael plays every instrument himself. Alam Khan played the Sarod from California. It's music that embraces various cultures. Through all the stress that I underwent in the making of the film, its music kept me going. I'd sleep with my music."