5 Beautifully Experimental Pakistani Music Videos

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After a brief deluge into all that is filmy and political, let’s talk about happier things. Like, Pakistani music videos, and creativity. Every time these two go hand in hand, a fairy somewhere finds its wings.

True, this doesn’t happen nearly as many times as we’d like. Mostly, we get the same sappy love story, scenic locations, and diabetes inducing sweetness. And honestly, I love that stuff! All gratuitous wish fulfilment. Which shows off the musical talents of the band’s frontman. Simultaneously, convincing you that he is that knight in shining leather that the fairy-tales promised you.

But sometimes, Pakistani music videos get experimental, they get creative, they even get nonconformist. And this is when true magic happens. Boundaries are pushed, imagination untapped, and audiences captivated. These inspiring treasures are what I want to celebrate today.

And really, that was the extent of my motivations. I just wanted to gush about some brilliant Pakistani music videos. But, since Laal Kabootar is simultaneously having its day in the sun, perhaps the timing is rather perfect. The trend of talented music video directors making their way into Pakistani cinema isn’t a secret any more. With Kamal Khan being the latest export.

(Seriously, if you still haven’t seen ‘The Dessert Journey’, you must. You simply must).

And there is quite a lot of talent to go around.

But the purview of my rose-tinted glasses can only go so far. I understand that both Pakistani music, and Pakistani cinema are standing on precarious grounds. The faint stench of unpredictability has led to much pessimism. But, and perhaps because of this, when creative talent does shine through, we should all be celebrating it. Today, let’s do just that. 

1. Aitebaar

This one is a blast from the past. And yet, try as I might, I cannot stop obsessing over it.

The early 2000s were a strange time for Pakistani music. Corporate agendas and a fledgling industry meant that many creative talents were stifled. Some of these individuals have recently ventured back into the music scene. But the damage is longstanding.

And yet, the early 2000s also gave us some truly adventurous ventures. Pakistani music videos in particular, were ditching convention. In a big way. And the video for Zeb and Haniya’s ‘Aitebaar’ is my favourite example of this. It was directed by Saqib Malik (who also directed ‘Na Re Na’. You know, just by the way). And I feel like this is a great example of both creativity, and symbiosis.

Music videos have to work in tandem with the songs they aim to represent. But the best music videos can also hold their own. They work in terms of filmmaking, cinematography, and in this case, choreography (tiny shout out to Omer Rahim. His stunning choreography was the perfect frame for this story). ‘Aitebaar’ ticks all of those boxes, which is probably why, after all these years, it still holds up.

This is also my way of getting you excited about an upcoming Pakistani movie. Saqib Malik has been in the game for a long time. But, his feature length debut is only now seeing the light of day. Possibly, this is down to the film industry itself being relatively dormant up until now. But regardless, I am really excited for Baaji. Because the auteur at its helm gave me ‘Aitebaar’ once upon a time. 

2. Mariam  

Gushing about Mooroo is like praising chocolate. Everyone is already in love with him, so you might as well hold your breath.

But, I can gush about his music. Which continues to be my favourite by-products of social media. Followed very, very closely by Shamoon Ismail. It also, much like Shamoon Ismail, continues to be ever so slightly underrated. And, I can’t say I’m surprised.

When you break the mould, not everybody understands your craft. And it is a Pakistani tradition to ignore things that we don’t understand.

So today, I will guide you out of your comfortable little bubble, with the gentleness of a nursery rhyme. ‘Mariam’ is what I want all Pakistani romantic songs to be like; uncomplicated, witty and addictive. Kind of like what romance itself should be like.

The song has generated a bit of a following. It was even picked up for the soundtrack of Challay Thay Saath. Which is where some of you might have heard it. But to get the full force of its charm, you have to watch the music video.

Oh, and by the way, this is what I want all romantic, Pakistani music videos to be like.

The concept itself deserves all the love in the world. The use of stop motion reminds me of the Book Group Urdu textbooks of yore. But it also appears to draw inspiration from historic romances, and folk tales. This was probably a monster to direct. And Salmaan Noorani did a beautiful job. 

3. Hum Nadaan  

I need everyone to remember the names Awais Gohar and Hamza Bin Tahir.

I also need their story to go the Kamal Khan route. Where a studio recognises their talent, and funds their passion project.

‘Hum Nadaan’,  by Pepsi BOB alums Bayaan, is a beautiful song. In fact, I would even say that it is very prescient. Capturing the mood of the times as they are, and offering some needed wisdom.

And the music video, is so unique that it almost heightens its impact.

It is a riff on the ‘play within a play’ concept, and plays around with the idea of ‘living statues’. The result is a really excellent production, that punctuates the poetry of the song. The cinematography in particular, by Awais Gohar, is quite excellent.

In fact, everything about this video is on point. Right down to the military style fashions adorning the band.

Bayaan really excite me as additions to the music industry. But, I also want these filmmakers to get more opportunities, to explore their own craft. I really do hope we get to see more of both.

4. Khwaab

Another attempt at praising someone who is already beloved, ladies and gentlemen.

‘Khwaab’ may be the perfect introduction to Natasha Humera Ejaz. The song is reverberating with her unique signature, and the music video does a good job of highlighting this. This one is particularly fascinating for me, because it is a great demonstration of doing a lot with less. 

I would love it, if filmmakers always had the resources they needed to showcase their vision. But, budgets are a reality. And sometimes, you have to make do. But a really imaginative mind, will be able to take any space and elevate it. Through camera angles and lighting, even a humble dance studio can convey a range of emotions.

This one is also a great example of a collaborative effort, because Natasha co-directed the video along with Shahrukh Khurshid. And she was also responsible for that emotive choreography.

5. Raat

Animation haters, I give you, the antidote.

Also, anybody who in 2019 still believes that animation is ‘just for kids’ I resent you. First of all, children’s media is much more poignant than you realise. Secondly, animation, like any art form, doesn’t have age-restrictions. You can use it to convey really mature motions.

This is exactly what the minds behind ‘Raat’ did. This one is a combination of traditional Sindhi folk traditions, age old poetry, beautiful illustration and Saif Samejo’s assured vocals.

 Which, in layman terms, means it is awesome.

Remember how I said I wanted all romantic Pakistani music videos to go the ‘Mariam’ route? Well, I’m giving you guys another option. Because I would be just as ecstatic if I got a romance picturized this beautifully.

Which Pakistani Music Videos Did I Miss?

You see, limiting a list to a number always means that I miss someone out. And, I’m sure there is a plethora of experimental treasures that deserve some love. So, tell me about them. And who knows, I might compile another list very soon.

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