‘Who watches a 2-minute music video and makes an 11-minute video analysing it?’ Us. We do that. But please believe the hype that I am dishing out in the title of this post. This is one of the best music videos of the year! And the only reason I’m calling it ‘one of the best music videos…’ is because I don’t want opposing parties to clash. Well, at least not before they’ve watched our analysis video.
And to go along with it, there are some things that I want to highlight. Firstly, this is the youth anthem of Pakistan. At least for the foreseeable future. Secondly, this gave Verna something that it desperately needed. And lastly, this is a step by step guide for music videos.
So, let’s discuss.
This is My Fight Song
Even as I type, part of me is basking in the joy of relief. Thanks to the censorship shenanigans of the past few days (read all about it here) I honestly wasn’t sure we were going to make it.
Especially when this happened on twitter.
The word is that the censorboard want to cut a song out of #Verna Make a wild guess which track?
— #PowerDiGame (@XpolymerDar) November 16, 2017
‘What?’ my insides screamed, ‘They can’t cut Power Di Game from the movie! Not when we’ve all already heard it and are obsessed.’
In fact, I tweeted as much to Xpolymer Dar.
— The Kollective (@TheKollectivePK) November 16, 2017
There is a lot to love about the song. As you can tell from our video, there is a lot that we did love about it. But, this is also the song that defines the millennial Pakistani. Unique, uninhibited and completely unexpected; this is the song of our generation.
And while I’m glad the controversy died down as quickly as it was born, it may have even helped the song. In a strange way, the censor board turning its nose up at Power Di Game sort of proved its point. And even gave all of us more of a reason to rally around it.
Giving Verna Exactly What it Needed
Okay, so as I have argued, Verna is the most important film of the year. It is topical, it is unaffected and it is not what Pakistani cinema was churning out so far. But the song and video filled that tiny hole that the film needed filled before the release.
When a film is this unlike what the mainstream industry is pushing, it also needs a different marketing strategy.
Now, in case you didn’t watch our Verna video (which I will just link here) let me reiterate; Shoaib Mansoor is a genius. One indication of this is how he appreciates current trends. At a time when most filmmakers are using rap as a garnish for Masala numbers, Mr. Mansoor knows better. With Power Di Game, he has basically allowed Pakistani rap to fulfill its promise.
And, simultaneously, he has ensured that Verna reached its true audience. A film like this is tailor made for the country’s leftfield audience. These people also happen to appreciate Pakistani rap. Power Di Game is a gritty song that reflects Pakistan perfectly. But it also ensures that Verna stands out in a crowd of regressive ‘romantic comedies’.
So, why is this one of the ‘best music videos of 2017’?
At the risk of oversimplifying it, I think the success of the video lies in its minimalist aesthetic. Local music videos can be ornate to the point of being garish. This has also been a long standing tradition.
And don’t get me wrong, sometimes it works. For example, remember when Bilal Lashari directed music videos? They were almost always high on melodrama and I loved them! But that isn’t the only way to make a successful video.
Heidi Peters (in the article mentioned in the video) argued that music videos are tethered to the ‘star’. This person is at the literal core of the song, and responsible for whether the video works. I’d say that the best among the local lot take this into account. And instead of distracting us with a million shiny colours, let the magnetism of the star do its work.
And there you have it. This is a simple reminder of all that is possible when you let talent shine. It is surprisingly minimalist and yet incredibly effective. I have re-watched it countless times and this is going to be my song. Well, at least for the rest of the year.