Indian author Amitav Ghosh as the ability to use an ancient form of music, the classical raga, to challenge and expand notions of gender, sexuality, and belonging.
Every year, Time Magazine picks out 100 inspiring people ranging from musicians to medical professionals, government officials as well as movement leaders, and high-profile whistle-blowers alongside top CEOs for its TIME100 Next list, and this year, Pakistani singer Ali Sethi is among them.
On Wednesday, he took to Instagram to share the great news. “Proud to be included in the 2022 TIME100 Next list — that too with a write-up from guru Amitav Ghosh. [In] this old-world portrait of me by Umar Nadeeem, I am wearing ZN ALI and looking pyaar-se [lovingly] at the pre-colonial past,” he captioned the post that had a picture and screenshots of the write-up attached.
The award-winning writer, most recently of book The Nutmeg’s Curse, penned some words to capture the brilliance of Sethi. “Though written in Punjabi by a Pakistani artist, Ali Sethi’s song ‘Pasoori’ has become a global sensation with close to 400 million views on YouTube. Even more remarkable, the song has found a huge following in neighbouring India despite the escalating tensions between the two countries.”
He described Sethi’s gift as the ability to use an ancient form of music, the classical raga, to challenge and expand notions of gender, sexuality, and belonging. “‘Pasoori’ is a virtuoso demonstration of how artists can, in subtle ways, subvert the restrictions that are being imposed upon them by new forms of authoritarianism and intolerance,” he added.
Ghosh stressed that the ‘Rung’ singer is doing more than spinning melodies out of words — “Sethi shows us that differences of culture, language, religion, and gender do not need to be antagonistic; they can, and always have, enriched us, and given us some of our greatest works of art,” he wrote.
The news was met by a lot of love by Sethi’s well-wishers around the globe. They included artist Misha Japanwala, filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, high-end clothing brand Rastah, singer Abdullah Siddiqui and activist Malala Yousafzai.
The ‘Chandni Raat’ singer’s friends from the other side of the border, actor Abhay Deol and singer Ankur Tewari, also expressed their glee over Sethi’s latest accomplishment.
Time also releases its TIME100 list annually. The difference between TIME100 and TIME100 Next is that the former is a group of the most influential people in the world and the latter is a group of emerging leaders influencing the world. The magazine has defined the unifying factor for the diverse individuals in TIME100 Next being their “extraordinary efforts to shape our world — and to define our future”. Congratulations to the singer!