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CONTROVERSY: A tale of two videos

February 01, 2009

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As of now, Haroon Rashid (ex-band member Awaz) is not a very happy man. After seeing the Zeeshan-Parwez-directed video of Ali Azmat`s Tanha Hai Kyun, he`s left wondering what went wrong. Talking to Images on Sunday, he stated that he was in shock, since he had discussed an eerily similar video with Zeeshan, some time early last year for his song, Big Corporation Man.

When he spoke to Zeeshan about making the video for Big Corporation Man, Haroon said “I showed him a video online that a fan made of Big Corporation Man about a year ago. In that she had put western picture images of cigarette advertising, guns, profit, food, burgers, etc and other things that relate to my song`s lyrics. It was very basic and amateur, but cute. I told him I wanted a more polished and professional version based on this idea with western images and stock footage.” The video made by the fan as well as Haroon`s own vide of Big Corporation Man is available on YouTube.

“I further explained to him different aspects of my concept and song; greedy multinationals are bribing heads of state to promote their financial gains, destroying the environment, promoting war to sell arms, stock market highs, promoting tobacco sales when they know it causes cancer,” said Haroon, adding that “I explained the whole concept in depth. Furthermore I told him I wanted to incorporate the whole crash of the world economy into my song. All of these ideas are represented in the lyrics of my song.”

Haroon`s own video of Big Corporation Man is in colour to begin with, very literal in the message it`s trying to send and somewhat cheesy — an attempt by the crooner to add some humour to it. Shots of money, pharmaceutical pills, performance by the artiste are some of the few shots that seem similar but that`s where it ends.

Some of the issues he`s touched upon seem to overlap onto those presented in the Ali Azmat video, but from a radically different perspective and presented in a different manner. “These are the things that everyone is thinking about nowadays,” responds Zeeshan, “I`ve had several artistes approach me asking me to make a video on these issues, but since I`ve made some already and was working on one with Ali, I declined to make one for them.”
The director/musician also pointed out that making a video that is an amalgamation of text, video and photos is an age-old concept that has been used numerous times in various foreign videos. Case in point Sarah McLachlan`s video of World on Fire, also YouTube-able.

Zeeshan also added that his initial idea for Haroon, which the musician shot down, was to build up a fake corporation complete with fake brands and to “look at things from a cynical point of view”. He added that the imagery in the Ali Azmat video is more random and at times, it seems as though they are not connected to each other. “Why else would we have a photo of an alien coming in?” he says as if to prove his point.

Where Ali`s video has a definite vintage black and white feel to it — Ali has devoted months of research into obtaining facts, reading material and seeing documentaries (clips from which have been used in the video) — Haroon`s video was supposed to be more colourful, was to have a timeline and was supposed to be heavily composted. According to Zeeshan, he gave the reference of the end credits of the film, Stranger than Fiction, as to the kind of look/feel he wanted to give to Haroon`s video.

“I have not copied any concept/idea from Haroon. The content for Tanha Hai Kyun came from Ali, these are issues he`s been wanting to talk about for a long time now. I haven`t seen Haroon`s video for Big Corporation Man,” said Zeeshan, “Again, these are the things everyone is thinking about nowadays. It`s how you present them which makes a difference.”