Jester’s Jingle: ‘A Voice Of Concern For Downtown’

Musaib Bhat in poster of his Down Town music video.

Termed as a refreshing song on Shehre-Khaas, humourist Musaib Bhat’s ‘Down Town’ music video is seen as an artist’s ode to his birthplace.

AS the lately-proscribed drone snaps the signature ensemble of Kashmir’s grand mosque, the funny man whose pranks have become a debated online laughter makes an entry on a hand-pulled cart — singing: “One minute up, one minute down, Baby this is DownTown.” A telling trajectory of the love-hate facts about the city of seven bridges follows.

Makers of ‘Down Town’ video song have blended humour with different hues of life in Shehre-Khaas. Apart from immaculate visual storytelling, lyrics and tunes are making it an engaging number. Sung my protagonist Musaib Bhat who goes by his stage name, Mr. Musaib, the song captures the characteristic pulse of downtown.

Days after his song got released and praised for its content and creativity, Musaib is attending endless calls from unknown “fans” inside his fabric store in downtown’s Saki Dafar area. To every wish and praise, the entertainer armed with a Masters in Commerce degree replies in a jest manner.

“This song is my tribute to my city, my downtown,” Musaib says. “I’ve only tried to maintain my own style in the video.”

Three years ago, when his debut funny video went viral, the “shy person” was thrown out of his home for his antics. But that hardly stopped him staging some uncanny street performances. Amid lockdown, he was seen pulling off a “Pepsi bottle” prank in the trade-heartland of Srinagar and almost faced the wrath of paramilitary personnel. His baker-barber-butcher prank performances made him a new comic cult. His fun videos on a typical Kashmiri woman conversation style and imitations of a funny political activist only swelled his fan base.

Loved for his spontaneous “Adi” catchword and loathed for his “overweight” expressions, this Nawa Kadal lad says he doesn’t mind the virtual vitriol. “I’m work in progress,” he says, “creating comic acceptance in society. And this DownTown music video is part of the same creative resilience.”

In a candid chat with Kashmir Observer, Musaib talks about his new video and the need for decent content in Kashmir.

What inspired you to come out with this Downtown themed song?

Well, it’s a tribute to my city, my downtown. But sadly, the place today lacks even basic facilities despite being an ancient city.

Frankly speaking, I feel people of downtown are being pushed to the brink. And whenever we try to raise these issues, everything is being justified with the so-called drug menace in downtown.

So, I decided to bring all these issues together in the shape of a comic song and presented it in front of the world.

But do you think your ‘musical tribute’ will pave a way for more refreshing content on Downtown?

I hope this video creates that local response — because an act of mentioning roots determines a global consideration.

I think every content creator should talk about the local issues. We cannot just ignore them.

So how did this all start for you?

Well, let me first tell you, I’m a full-time businessman and a part-time comedian.

For someone like me born in Nawa Kadal area, Downtown and its intrigues instilled that sense of humour from the word go. Someone out there might find my antics eerie, but I’m only expressing that signature street humour of downtown.

Back in 2018, when I was an extremely shy and camera-conscious person, a friend introduced me to an application where I could record video with a background audio. I recorded my satirical expressions and uploaded them on Facebook. Within days I was a viral sensation around Kashmir.

After that, I decided to create my own content and fill Kashmir’s entertainment space with my family-friendly content with social-messages. People liked my humour and with a span of just three years, my Instagram followers went up from 20 to 70K.

But do you think your pranks and satire have found acceptance in people?

Let me tell you, my father threw me out of the house for my so-called antics. But now, he understands the difference.

In Kashmir, there’s acceptance towards decent and dandy content. Just look at Pakistani serials. Because of their decent storyline, they’ve more acceptance in Kashmir compared to Indian dramas. Akin to those serials, I try to avoid grossness or rudeness. I personally believe that decency is the basic ingredient of viral content.

But having said that, we could’ve created our own slot and spot in the world by investing in our creative content all these years. Kashmiri entertainment industry was much more popular than the Punjabi entertainment industry once. It had everything—from Sufism to Nature—but we Kashmiris never invested in it.

How do you want to change this as a content creator?

Well, I want people to invest in content-creators and help them achieve their goals, rather than pulling them down. If there’s no unity and effort, then how can we expect decent content?

Personally, for me, even if one of my followers follows my way of working and creates something unique out of his own perspective, that’s where I’ll feel as if I’ve achieved everything.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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