Thursday, January 5, 2012

Shehzad Roy , maintains that he has not joined politics or PTI.

“I support any movement that can bring about a change in Pakistan. I try to play my role by raising political awareness through my music. Technology is bringing a lot of changes and this new wave will hopefully uplift the lives of poor people,” says Roy.

“I tried to write something that the average person could relate to and understand. This meant incorporating a lot of slang and everyday language,” says Roy. He adds, “It’s a good thing that multinational companies have started accepting and supporting this trend. Before people would run the other way, and of course, corporate sponsors would follow suit.”

 “It’s a completely different type of song. It also features an undiscovered Baloch talent who sings exceptionally well.” 

Shehzad Roy ہ is a singer and humanitarian from Karachi. With five hit albums under his belt, including the 2008 Qismat Apney Haath Mein (Fate Lies in One’s Own Hands), he is also the president and founder of Zindagi Trust, a non-profit charitable organization, that seeks to educate the underprivileged children of Pakistan.
In June 2004, Roy was honored as one of the youngest ever recipient of the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, which is one of the highest Civil Honors awarded in Pakistan for excellence in serving humanity. For his organization’s earthquake rehabilitation in Kashmir, he was awarded the Sitara-e-Eisaar. He was also selected to be a torch bearer for the 2008 Olympic Torch relay as the pride of Pakistan. Recently, Roy took the city of Chicago by storm when he was awarded the 2008 Patricia Blunt Koldyke Fellowship award for excellence in social entrepreneurship.

Roy was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan. He made his debut in music in 1995 with his first album Zindagi. At the time, he was only in year 12. Even though he went on to get a Bachelors in Commerce, it was clear to him that music was going to be his career.

Roy got married in April 2009 to Salma Alam, an ex VJ at "MTV Pakistan"

From a young age, he was struck by the huge class divide in Pakistan's society. When his cousins would visit from overseas, they would ask him why the street children were not in school studying. Roy of course did not have an answer. It pained him to see these young children who had no future and who were never going to break free of poverty. Determined to help these children, he established a non-government organization, Zindagi Trust, in 2002. The organization's objective was to provide quality education to the underprivileged children of Pakistan.

“Everyone is worried about the millions of children not going to school”, Roy says, “but I'm just as worried about the millions of children who are going to public schools!” In 2006, Roy became an advocate for quality government education for all in Pakistan. Zindagi Trust, along with Bookgroup, attained management of SMB Fatima Jinnah Girls Government School in Karachi, from the government. Roy’s objective was to turn around this public school into a model school and then push the government to replicate it in all public schools of Pakistan.

Zindagi Trust has set a precedent for how a public school should function. In 2010, their aim is to set up a similar model in other Pakistani provinces and achieve a critical mass that will enable them to pressurize the government into replicating this model in all public schools.

In order to promote cross-border cultural exchange with India, he sang a hit duet with Indian singerSukhbir in 2005. To promote cultural awareness through music, Shehzad Roy brought Bryan Adamsto Pakistan for a charity concert to aid the victims of the tragic October 2005 earthquake. Bryan Adams commended Shehzad Roy for his efforts in education. Adams also pointed out that one need not look for inspiration elsewhere when it came to material for music, as there was so much to write and sing about right here in Pakistan.

In 2008 Roy came out with a bang with the release of his socio-political defiant album, Qismat Apnay Haat Mein, (Fate Lies in One’s Own Hands) that he launched at the Karachi Juvenile Prison at Central Jail, in July 2008. He underscored the need to rehabilitate Pakistan’s justice system that ignores the pitiable conditions of many prisoners, most of whom have spent many years in jail just waiting on their court hearing.

Shehzad Roy’s method of tackling issues of political and social importance in his music differs however from those of, say, Rage Against the Machine. Surprisingly, his commentary is deft and full of sarcastic quips, rather than an outright attack on the institutions in our country. This is evidenced in the other significant politically-charged track on the album, the title track, Qismet Apnay Haath Mein. Throughout the album Roy is lyrically in fine form, chucking interesting turns of phrase left, right and centre with aplomb.

The soundtrack of Akshay Kumar's movie "Khatta Meetha" features a song by Shehzad Roy. The song, titled "Bullshit" has been composed, written and sung in Pakistan. Khatta Meetha is a political satire revealing the corruption in the Indian bureaucratic system. Akshay Kumar was looking for a theme track for his movie when he first met Shehzad Roy. He was immediately taken by Roy's song "Laga Reh" and "Qismat Apney Haath Mein" and asked Roy to make an original song with the same theme.


  • Zindagi (1995)
  • Darshan (1997)
  • Teri Soorat (1999)
  • Rab Jaanay (2002)
  • Buri Baat Hai (2005)
  • Qismat Apney Haath Mein (2008)
  • Khatta Meetha OST (2010)

Awards & recognitions

  • 1999 Ptv World Awards- Best Pop singer
  • 2003 1st Indus Music Awards- Best Male Artist
  • 2004 Tamgha-e-Imtiaz
  • 2005 Indus Music Video Awards- Best Performer in a Video (Saali)
  • 2006 Sitara-e-Eisaar
  • 2006 Indus Style Awards- Best Stylish Song
  • 2006 3rd Indus Music Awards- Best Pop Song (Saali)
  • 2006 3rd Indus Music Awards- Best patriotic song (Hum Aik Hain)
  • 2008 Torch Bearer for 2008 Beijing Olympics
  • 2008 Mtv Style Awards- Best video (laga reh)
  • 2009 Mtv Music Awards- Best lyrics (laga reh), Best pop song (laga reh)
  • 2009 Patricia Blunt Koldyke Fellow
  • 2009 Lux Style Awards- Best album (Qismat Apne Haath Mein), Best video (laga reh)

Zindagi Trust started with civil works. Even though this public school was termed as one of the city's "best", it was in an appalling condition. The school grounds were being rented out in the evenings for private parties and other functions. The food remains would, in turn, attract dogs and rodents. In fact, when the trust went for its initial inspection, they found a decaying dog body in the kindergarten room. The school water lines were mixed up with the sewage line. There were heaps and heaps of garbage and some walls were on the verge of collapse. Roy not only renovated the existing structure but also went on to add more facilities such as a library, cafeteria, computer lab, health room, audio-visual room etc, that did not exist before.

Even though the program was a great success, Roy realized that the “I am paid to learn” initiative was not enough to educate the masses. Of the almost 28 million kids that are in school, nearly 19 million, or two-thirds, attend public schools. Unfortunately, the public schooling system in Pakistan has completely collapsed. The school culture, from kindergarten to grade 10, has become one of rote learning, cheating and many other vices. Currently, all public schools have to use government textbooks that are several decades old. The books are dull, with unattractive layouts, and encourage memorization. So even after students spend 10 years in a public school, they have no critical thinking skills and often can not even write a letter in proper Urdu, their own mother tongue.

As Roys’s humanitarian reach grew, so did the tone of his songs. He went from mainly singing romantic songs to songs that reflected social issues. In 2007, Shehzad Roy came out with a musical collaboration between him and queen of Sufi soul, Abida Parveen. Previously, she has never collaborated with any other musician on any project and this is also her first proper music video to date.

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