Out of all the lockdown numbers that have been coming out these past few weeks, this one promised to be good. The song features Ali Hamza with his cousin Rakae Jamil on the sitar and Kami Paul on the duff. Maare Kakkya was not what I was expecting.
Considering this line-up of very accomplished artists, I was expecting an explosion of sound. Something that would just blow the listener away through its sheer virtuosity and creativity.
But Maare Kakkya isn’t that. It’s… beautifully understated. And that was the big surprise for me, personally. It’s reminiscent of Ali Hamza’s earlier work and it turns out, there’s a good reason for that — he wrote Maare Kakkya when he was in college. According to the song notes on YouTube, “It’s an ode to his friend (called Kakki) and the ladies he sought to impress!”
At three minutes and eight seconds, it’s a quick, uncomplicated listen. Rakae shows up halfway through the song and it’s as if the sitar is ‘singing’ the lyrics henceforth in the song.
In Maare Kakkya, Ali Hamza goes back to where it all started for him in music — college
The song itself is a bit playful, and is a conversation between two people, Kakki’s lover and his sister, each laying a claim to him. The tension is a bit easy to miss unless you know the background of the song.
Maare dukhiya re dil ki pukaar
[This is the mournful sound of my heart]
Kakki raja mori kahani
[Of Raja Kakki and my story]
Toray bin lagay purani
[It’ll seem old without you]
Maare Kakkya ko chherro na piya
[Don’t tease my Kakki, lover]
Kakkiya ki main hoon behaniya
[I am Kakki’s sister]
Moha Kishan, moha Kahanaiyya
[He’s my Kishan, my Kahanaiyya]
Chherro na re mora hai piya
[Don’t tease him, he’s my lover]
The song can be heard on Patari. There’s a simple performance-based video out on YouTube in black-and-white. The artists can be seen practising social distancing, since they’re never shown in the same frame, but are in the same location. The screen splits showing each individual frame when they are performing together.
Maare Kakkya is not going to be lifechanging. It’s a pleasant, delightful song to listen to, but not one that’s going to push the boundaries of art. Not all songs are meant to, anyway. But for all we know, this could be Ali Hamza warming up to release something even bigger later. If so, fingers crossed, one can’t wait.
Published in Dawn, ICON, May 3rd, 2020
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