It wasn’t long ago that Bilal Khan first broke into the scene with ‘Bachana’, a pop single that has been everyone’s favourite song at some point in time. Back then, Khan was an introvert at LUMS who didn’t really have too many friends.
“I barely got any attention back then,” laughed Khan over the phone as he remembered a time when things were so different. However, this is also how he justifies the meaning of his song ‘Bachana’ and maintains that it wasn’t a sad love song about unrequited love. “I didn’t even have a girlfriend back then so it’s not possible that it was about a girl.”
But Khan does admit that while not all of his songs are about heartbreak, it does run as a prevalent theme across most of his writings. “I must admit that I’m not doing too well in the love sphere and that reflects in my writing. Most singer-songwriters write from personal experiences so my music also reflects what I’m going through at the time.”
Khan had been away from the Pakistani limelight for a period of two years as he had gone to the US to pursue his Masters in Advertising. Did the break affect his work in any way? “I feel that I have become a better musician now. The experiences of the last two years have helped me evolve as a musician. In fact, I have recorded tons of music which I’m about to release, and a lot more songs are about heartbreak this time.”
Clearly the singer-songwriter had a tough time finding true love in these past two years but does writing about them ever prove to be cathartic for him?
“For me, music is sort of like therapy. The way you would talk to someone about your pain, I talk about it through my music. And when I find so many people relating to my words, it feels great.”
One can safely conclude that Khan’s heart may be broken, but his professional space seems to be flourishing because of it. One is almost reminded of Adele, who made her career after suffering from heartbreak, or Ranbir Kapoor from the Imtiaz Ali film Rockstar, in which Kapoor is constantly told that a broken heart produces a better musician. “When I first saw the film, I didn’t understand it. But I can relate to it now as I feel my work has more character and depth in it. I think as an artist, it’s easier to write when one is pain or anger. Inspiration doesn’t come easy when everything comes to you easily and you’re happy.”
However, Khan has all the more reason to be happy because things are going well for him professionally. He is one of the most popular Pakistani stars on social media; he’s performing concerts all over the world (he recently performed in Seoul, South Korea) and is creating music with world renowned producer Nitin Sawnhey, (who produced the riveting soundtrack for Mira Nair’s The Namesake). He is also all set to make his big acting debut in a TV serial titled Sammi, which will also be starring Mawra Hocane. “I’ve actually acted before but that was for a tele-film called Tamanna Ki Tamanna.”
Many musicians are usually criticized by their fans for jumping ship like this, so we wondered what made Khan make the musically fatal decision.
“I had been getting a lot of acting offers but I decided to take up Sammi for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it has many experienced names attached. The cast is made up of some of the biggest names in the industry and we have a solid director. Secondly, it revolves around a very important social cause and is different from your usual saas-bahu sagas.”
Khan assured us that his acting career won’t affect his musical work in the future as he is ready to release new and original music in the coming year. “I figured that if I give a month and a half to one TV serial, I’m still left with 10 and half months to work on my music.”
And as much as Khan is enjoying his latest acting gig, it does not match the cathartic effect of creating his own music.
This article was first published in Instep, January 18th.