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September 28, 2022 6:00 AM EDT

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 neighboring India despite the escalating tensions between the two countries.

Sethi’s great gift is that he is able to use an ancient form of music from the region, 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.

Through his music, as well as his writing, 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.

Ghosh is an award-winning author, most recently of The Nutmeg’s Curse

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