By Samreen Mushtaq and Khalid Jaleel
It is not unusual at Jamia to know a student who is very good at his studies, or is very good in some sport. Every year, Jamia gets a small set of highly talented students who achieve great heights in the field of academics or athletics during their studies, or soon after they complete their studies from Jamia. But it is rare to come across a talented artist of any kind at Jamia; and especially a music artist. This year, however, Jamia has been lucky to get a really talented budding music artist, who has already made a name for himself in Delhi. Irfan Bukhari, a 23-year-old student in the AJK-Mass Communication Research Center (AJK-MCRC) is that rare find in Jamia. He is the lead vocalist of a five-member Rock band that goes by the name of Firaaq, meaning ‘a keen desire’ in Urdu. Although all the members of Firaaq are students, Irfan is the only one from Jamia. The rest of his band members are from other universities in Delhi.
Irfan hails from Kashmir’s Baramulla district from where he completed his senior secondary education and then moved to Delhi to pursue his higher education in film-making, so he could fulfill his dream of one day becoming a renowned film-maker. On arriving in Delhi in 2008, he enrolled himself in MassCoMedia Institute’s graduate program in Mass Communication. After getting his Bachelor’s degree, he applied for Jamia’s prestigious postgraduate program in Mass Communication in 2012 and got accepted.
Since the inception of his band, Firaaq, in 2011, Irfan and his band have been asked to perform at several colleges, malls and five-star hotels in Delhi. Earlier this year (2012) his band even won a music contest called ‘Delhi War of Bands’ held at Shaheed Rajguru College of Applied Sciences in Delhi.
On Wednesday, Oct. 3, Jamia Journal had an opportunity to sit down with Irfan on-campus at Castro Café, a.k.a Fx Uth Café, to have a chat with him. Following is an excerpt from that conversation.
Clad in a white T- shirt and blue jeans, sporting a messed coiffure and a charming stubble, Irfan sits with his guitar over his shoulder at one of the benches at Castro Cafe to talk to us.
Jamia Journal (JJ): Irfan tell us what music means to you?
Irfan Bukhari (IB): When I am pestered by worries, pains and frustrations, it is music which soothes me and breaks me free from all chains. It provides me a chance to be truly me. When things are inexpressible and indefinable, I pick up my guitar and hit the strings as hard as the agony I feel inside me. To cut everything short, music for me is an escape from conflict.
My story of music has transitioned well. I remember my singing as early as my boyhood and school times. Even as a kid, I would often sing and say that I wanted to be a singer. And after so many years today, my will and desire to be a singer hasn’t budged an inch.
JJ: How has your passion for music flourished in Delhi? I mean, has Delhi helped you reach your dream to become a singer?
IB: To start with, it was after completing my graduation in 2011, I met Salil, Nikhil, Manish and Karthik in Delhi, who later came together to form a rock band. We called it Firaaq. I took the position of the lead vocalist in the band.
JJ: Are your band members also Jamia students?
IB: No. They are all studying at different institutions in Delhi. But I am glad that despite studying at different places, our band has managed to jam together pretty well.
JJ: How did you end up at Jamia then?
IB: I always cherished this dream of being a part of the Media school, AJK-MCRC, of Jamia Millia. I appeared for an entrance at MCRC in 2011. I got selected but was disqualified because my graduation results were not declared in time. I joined Indraprastha University for a year but couldn’t give up my dream of joining MCRC. So I successfully tried again for MCRC in 2012. It was because of my interest in film-making. I am delighted that my dream has been fulfilled. I want to work hard to realize my goal of becoming a film-maker in the true sense of the word.
JJ: You aspire to be a singer and a film-maker. Is it possible for you to be both? And if you had to choose to be either one, what would you prefer to be?
IB: I have harbored two dreams, not conflicting but very coherent: Filmmaking and Music. I’m inclined to the art of fiction and documentary film-making, and that’s the reason I have joined MCRC. Right now when my band Firaaq is well established I’m planning to direct all music videos we release in the future; perhaps the other reason for joining MCRC. The only two things you’d find me addicted to is films and music. I think I can be a musician, a composer and a filmmaker at the same time.
JJ: In the pre-interview you had mentioned something about winning a contest conducted by Farhaan Saeed, vocalist for the Pakistani Jal band. Tell us about that.
IB: Yes, one of the most amazing moments of my life was when Farhan Saeed, a well-known Pakistani singer and former lead vocalist of the renowned Jal-The Band, told me that he would send me a signed CD copy of his upcoming album after I had won the contest. The story is: I happened to come across a post by Farhan on his official facebook page in June this year in which he said that he wanted his fans to send a cover music video to one of his songs ‘Pii Jaaun’ in their own voice. Ten people were shortlisted and Farhan chose mine as the best among the lot. I cannot tell you how dear and special that feeling was because he has always been one of my role models and greatest influences.
[Watch the music video Irfan made for the contest he won here: http://youtu.be/JRF3xDN8teA ]
JJ: Do you think Jamia has a conducive atmosphere for your music activities?
IB: Being a fresher, I can’t say much about whether Jamia encourages my art or not. I can only hope that it supports my music fairly as it would support my film-making. But if it is not a music carpet, I’m surely going to make some music lovers here. I believe I’m going to grab some lovers as I play under the tree shades, in the lawns, amphitheater, auditorium and all around Jamia campus.
JJ: And what about studies? Does your preoccupation with music affect your studies?
IB: I made my study plan keeping in mind music too. Had I not been into mass communication, I would have faced a cave-in between my passion and my studies. But I believe everything is going smoothly. It’s tough and tiresome to deal with both, but then I have left myself no other choice but to go with the flow without a stopover. I love them both and I must do both, and I will do both.
JJ: OK. Now going back to your music; tell us, do you also write your own songs or do you only do cover songs?
IB: I have been writing songs for a long time now. And if you were in my shoes you would write songs too. We as a band have a number of self-composed songs that we intend to release soon. My lead guitarist Salil and I have written all the songs for the band. We will release a single to begin with and not an album. The track titled ‘Intezaar’ will be our first single that will be released in the first week of November, with a music video.
[Listen to a teaser track of Firaaq’s upcoming single “Intezaar” on Youtube here: http://youtu.be/L2TGlw6ibMs ]
JJ: That sounds promising. We look forward to it. Moving on; all musicians say they have been inspired by other musicians. So tell us who has been your inspiration in music?
IB: I still remember the song ‘Aadat’ by Jal band that instantly made me a Jal fan and a Rock fan along with it. Gradually I was finding a haven in rock genre of music. My inspirations have clearly been Pakistani rock bands, notably Jal, Call, Akash, Entity Paradigm, and Roxen. English rock bands like Pink Floyd, Oasis, Poets of the fall, RHCP too have influenced me to a great degree.
JJ: Would you like to send a message or a word of advice to students at Jamia who maybe thinking of taking their passion for music more seriously, and maybe are in the initial stages of forming a band like you did after your graduation?
IB: Students are, at times, falsely passionate because they take up music once they see a crowd of fans hounding a musician but music needs true dedication. Results are unknown and uncertain, you must be a patient music lover therefore.
[Watch Irfan and his band perform a medley of “Bikhra hoon main” by Jal & “Ji liya” by Aakash here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmMW5pnJKfo]
For More on Irfan and his band:
You can follow Irfan and his band on the band’s facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/FiraaqTheBand. There you can view photos, listen to his songs and learn about his upcoming gigs.
You can also watch all of his music videos on his band’s Youtube channel here: http://www.youtube.com/user/thebandfiraaq
It is sad to know that although Irfan and his band have been invited to play in concert at several colleges in Delhi, they have yet to perform at Jamia. And it is unlikely that they will ever perform in Jamia because unlike other colleges in Delhi, music festivals are not a norm at Jamia.