Pasoori has become an international hit since it was released in March by Coke Studio. It was the entrance for the newcomer Shae Gill who had previously only released music clips on Instagram, and was also sung and co-written by Ali Sethi. Recently, “Pasoori” was reckoned as an international hit, one of the few times Pakistani music has received that reckoning, and twitter user Tooba Syed shared that the song was about to reached 100 million views on YouTube and was being played in shops and clubs globally.
Pasoori is at 99 million & about to hit 100 million soon on YouTube. The song is currently a hit globally playing in the malls of Japan, the clubs in Sweden, the cars in India and all over Bangladesh. It hit the Spotify global charts weeks ago & was in top 20 on Singapore Spotify
— Tooba Syed (@Tooba_Sd) May 7, 2022
Today, an article by The New Yorker on the success of “Pasoori” was published where the writer explored the song writing and production process of the song, as well as the backstory of Ali Sethi from his childhood in Lahore and his education from elite institutions like Aitchisonian and Harvard. The article merely brushed over Shae Gill and her effort in the song, only referring to her as a “Christian” who was an Instagram singer and had been uploading clips of herself singing on the app until she was discovered by Xulfi and Sethi.
The article sparked a discussion on the internet about privilege, with many Twitter users who criticized the author for solely focusing on Ali Sethi while completely ignoring the fact that his elite connections as well as wealthy background that had gotten him to this platform today, while completely maligning over Shae Gill who did not have the same privilege that he did but only got here with her hard work and talent
Cultural writer Aimen Rizvi shared on Twitter that the piece had glamorized of Ali Sethi as a “ground breaking queer icon” for bold enough to release a queer-coded song and also discuss his non-binary gender, but she pointed out that it completely brushed aside the privilege that he had which sets him aside from the rest of the artists and writers of Pakistan who cannot access the same chances because opportunities are so limited, and material that challenges norms like Pasoori did often results in censorship or jail for activists or writers. Given the fact that Ali Sethi had connections which helped him get an Ivy League education and publish a book at a young age, and also the opportunity to train with Ustad Farida Khanum
Representation is so fractured, opportunities are so few, access is so limited – you can’t talk about our cultural achievements without being in conversation about these things.
And there’s immense trauma too – there are jail going writers and activists and academics who will
— Aiman Rizvi (@aimanfrizvi) May 10, 2022
never have the luxury to do interviews with the New Yorker from their apartment in New York while taking calls from Amnesty, or have a book deal straight out of Harvard. And if you know Pakistan, you know that’s not just a question of talent.
— Aiman Rizvi (@aimanfrizvi) May 10, 2022
Other Twitter users were disappointed at how the article had over shadowed Shae Gill which further shows how privilege and connections abroad allow certain people to achieve global access and make the music and art that would not make them fear threats from outsiders or financial difficulties. Many users criticized the article by calling it an “Ali Sethi profile” that didn’t take in to account the efforts of singers and artists from lowly backgrounds and made music that wasn’t in Urdu or Hindi language, like the success of “Kanna Yaari” which is a Balochi pop song
I wish you could have used this opportunity to highlight Shae Gill – at least she reached this breakout moment without getting to go to Harvard or Aitchison or being trained by globally renowned classical singers. This essay is easy writing
— Aliza Amin (@aliza_sukhera) May 9, 2022
Ali Sethi and *Shae Gill’s
Please commission Pakistani writers to write about Pakistani culture and media.
— Zainab Mubashir🌙 (@zainabmsheikh) May 10, 2022
And a big part os that success goes to Shae Gill.
She rocked the show https://t.co/upGdNlKwKp
— Abdullah Hammad (@abdullahhammad4) May 7, 2022
I’m absolutely infuriated that Pasoori became a huge hit 70% BECAUSE OF SHAE GILL AND SHE’S NOT GETTING THE RECOGNITION??
— Yea (@NoWonder_Woman) May 10, 2022