Social commentary in music videos, at its best, can tell stories — grim, provoking, devastating, infuriating and catastrophic real-life stories. Keeping that spirit in mind, here are five spectacular music videos from the last decade that still ring true in these times of conflict.
Song: Chor Artist: Co-VEN Single producer: Mekaal Hasan Video producer: Rola Direction: Uns Mufti & Vasi Hasan Themes: decaying society, corruption and greed
In Chor, Co-VEN take on issues like corruption, gun culture and greed, among other things, in a fearless and provoking manner. The music video(s) mixed with a dark and hard-hitting song have a visceral effect.
Images on Sunday presents five music videos that must be revisited given Pakistan’s present state of affairs
There are three cuts of this video and each one is worthy (the band put out three cuts because they had the footage and they felt like it). One cut features Co-VEN (Hamza Jafri, Sikandar Mufti and Sameer Ahmed) performing the song in their element, while the other two cuts portray Pakistan’s decaying society: guns, guards, dancing girls (or mujra scene if your will), lecherous gawking and piles of money being thrown around. The angst within the song is in sync with the visual imagery. Plus, the performance cut is electric.
Trivia: Chor is Co-VEN’s first Urdu song. Hamza Jafri found inspiration in Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s Bol — hence the line: “Bol ke tu chor hai.”
The video also stars indie artists, Sibti and Zain Ahsan.
Song: Bum Phatta Artist: Ali Azmat Themes: political circus, an anxious, struggling, infuriated public and a dodgy carnival Director: Jamshed Mahmood, also known as Jami
As a musician, Ali Azmat is miles ahead of his contemporaries (there is no real rival to Junoon’s musical legacy except Salman Ahmed or “SufiSal” and he’s been singing and writing books, teaching and educating people), like Ali Haider, Hadiqa Kiyani, Faakhir to name just a few. Technically speaking, Ali Azmat can’t be rivaled because there was no ‘mainstream’ rock scene or name. Noori and many others did arrive but that was decades later.
Bum Phatta is, therefore, exactly music that you can expect from Ali Azmat. At least, there’s no Junoon hangover. The music video, however, for Bum Phatta is comical, tragic and fierce. Ali Azmat emulates Hilary Clinton, Che Guevera, Raymond Davis, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, and Raymond Davis. That’s a strange, and alarming assortment of characters but Ali Azmat makes it work. Some of his imitations are, yes indeed, dramatic, slightly psychotic which is why it is hilarious. Black comedy mixed with funk-guitar-rock-music.
A lot happens in this music video. There’s the general public, struggling for basics like water and electricity and a music carnival of sorts also taking place. The two clash as chaos erupts and gun violence usually leads to disaster. This is Pakistan’s cruel, everyday phenomenon.
Trivia: The video also stars two of Pakistan’s finest musicians, Omran Shafique and Kamran “Mannu” Zafar, both of whom make up the Ali Azmat session lineup. Munib Nawaz designed the costumes for Ali and music party while Kamal Ahmed did a beautiful job with make-up and styling. Jami previously collaborated with Ali Azmat on the song Deewana from the album Social Circus.
Song: My Punjabi Love Artist: Bumbu Sauce Director: Adnan Malik Themes: women’s rights, revolting societal norms
Bumbu Sauce’s earthy, Punjabi grunge makes the perfect setting for this music video. This band is ingenious and yet another example of Pakistan’s enormous talent explosion. Aaminah Sheikh stars as a woman in Pakistan, the end.
Thankfully, that’s not the case here. It gets better as patriarchal concepts and loathsome men make their presence felt. It gets better, seriously. This is not a ‘damsel-in-distress’ story but more like damsel goes Kill Bill bride with training by an old man akin to Master Shifu from Kung-Fu Panda.
Trivia: Adnan Jaffar stars as the despicable wadera-type fellow. Adnan Malik directed Mera Bichara Yaar featuring Zoe Viccaji and Strings and won a Lux Style Award for Best Music Video Director.
Song: On the Run Artist: //orangenoise Director: Nadir Shehzad Khan Themes: mainstream media, shoegaze style
Broadcast media in Pakistan takes on a whole new meaning during talk shows. Anchors and guests shout at each other, cut each other’s sentences and make rancid statements with an eerie regularity. Every such show ends with credits rolling and anchors vowing to return and it starts all over again. But, what if, at the end of every such broadcast “debate”, guests throw punches at each other? Now that’s a broadcast, right?
Nadir Shehzad Khan pulls this off in his debut music video for Pakistan’s unique music band, //orangenoise. Band members Talha Asim and Daniel A. Panjawaneey star as two anchors, Faizan Riedinger stars as the weather reporter and Danial Hyatt stars as the cameraman. It starts off like a quirky news broadcast but eventually three anchors get in a hand-to-hand combat while the cameraman shakes his head.
In an alternate dusty setting, this four-man unit also perform and these guys are excellent. It is an introduction to the changing, evolving sounds that make up the indie scene. Having said that, it is the news broadcast element that will have you in fits of laugher. It is innocuous and none of these guys are taking themselves too seriously.
Trivia: The original concept for the music video was darker and a school project for Nadir Shehzad Khan, who fronts another indie-act from Karachi called, Sikandar Ka Mandar and runs an independent music show called Lussun TV, which also includes most members of //orangenoise. They also dabble in electronic music. Phew.
Song: Chal Bulleya Artist: Mekaal Hasan Band Director: Bilal Lashari Themes: Seven deadly sins, spirituality and faith
Before giving Pakistan a hit like Waar, (starring Shaan Shahid), Bilal Lashari established himself as a fine music video man. Mekaal Hasan’s Chal Bulleya finds Bilal Lashari in terrific form as he directs a combination of actors, models, musicians, or the ambiguous term that catches our attention, aka celebrities — in a black comedy of sorts.
It is, in many ways, a short-film while a slew of celebrities star in this mammoth effort — sloth, gluttony, lust, greed, wrath, envy and pride — pick your poison. This video fills up your senses with a gorgeous and all-true, part-depraved sense of reality. The song is a theological question. It is, in the end, as much about mental filters and altered reality as it is about visual synapses.
Trivia: Meera, Moammar Rana, Rabia Butt, Ahmed Ali Butt, Aaminah Haq, Juggan Kazim and Fawad Afzal Khan while Ammar Belal designed the various looks and costumes.
Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, July 6th, 2014