By Shoaib Mohammad
THIS year saw an incredible surge of music video production and viewership, maybe the most we have ever seen. The Kashmiri landscape for music has evolved to be the most diverse and inclusive, with the genres ranging from traditional, folk, soulful, alternative rock to hip-hop, rap, and contemporary pop. We saw productions in each one of these genres, equipped with impressive cinematography and direction.
Down Town by Musaib Bhat
Released in the middle of the year, this music video instantly went viral taking its place as one of the most viewed music videos of the year with a whopping 4.6 million view count. Musaib Bhat, who originally made comedy videos on social media platforms tried his talent of songwriting and singing this year, releasing three music videos: Gulalo, Khaak and Downtown. While the other two were fairly received by the viewers, it was ‘Downtown’ which captivated the public the most. Its idiomatic yet witty and charming use of lyrics rhymed in a catchy beat, choreographed in a tone of carefree jubilance is what sets it apart. In its carefree tone, centered on Shehr-e-khaas, it very subtly mixes its ‘brotherly love’ and ‘maechar’ with some of its issues. “Yeti haspatal dah, yeti ni ambulance kanh… yeti lakit makan dah, yetni marriage hall kanh”, “yeti galyo manz gypsy nachan…yeti mashidan kulf lagan…” and so on. The catchphrases employed are very colloquial and reflective of the Downtown spirit, the stock Kashmiri names with the ‘kak’ suffix, the visible reverie on all the ‘kedal’ names reverb in the video and perhaps the most famous line of the song, “Mouji mouiji suin kyah ronnuth suen mea ronmai sabiz haak, daak govai dushmanan myanen, ath ditai che zor’i paak”, are all amusing, entertaining and etched to the tongues to the viewers. This music video is a package of genuine entertainment, laughter mixed with a tint of subtle and general reflection of downtown.
Dilgeer (Thok Mut Chum Shah) By Alif
Mohammad Muneem’s initiative ‘Alif ’, a music, poetry and performance band is known for its quality content and productions. Mohammad Muneem, who won the 8th Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival back in 2018 started releasing his new album “Siyah” this year in four parts. The first part, “Haal ” was released in June, to which the song “Dilgeer” belongs. The album is centered on Muneem’s Idea of “Siyah”, ‘darkness’ –“the darkness where everything occurs, emerging through and creating light. This is the source of all strength and light” as told in the album’s description. “Dilgeer ” is a profound mix of poetry, visual analogies and contemporary music. The song starts with “Dilgeer chum na, che naad akh sozakh na” –“My heart grieves, won’t you call for me”. The tone of helplessness and longing is carried throughout the song, except for two parts, first when the speaker directly quotes the answer from the authority he talks to and second when a totally different and objective voice speaks, in the traditional manner of ‘wanwun’. While all this is being relayed, we see a more interesting thing unfolding in the visual side. The whole video has very specific and abstract details which give a potential of multiple interpretations. There are two characters, the older self and the younger self, both bare-footed on a broken plank in Dal Lake. The younger one comes in with a suitcase which contains a pair of scissors he uses to cut the hair of the older self, quite irregularly. The scene continues as the older self’s hair is reduced to a bare minimum and the camera moves away from them as they stare coldly into it together. What exactly is the meaning of this? There are no easy answers. This is Muneem’s world where his ideas are hidden in the abstract eloquence of his artistic mastery. Unlike the most popular trends in music, Muneem isn’t memorable for just the beats and beams but most notably for his profound artistic mastery at poetry, composition and script-writing, all of which are very evident from this music video. Muneem stands among the contemporary artists of the valley who carry the legacy of Urdu and Kashmiri poetry forward along with quality script-writing. Dilgeer’s positive reception this year stands to testify to it.
Subhik Waav by Noor Mohammad and Ali Saffuddin
One of the iconic compositions blending the traditional with the contemporary produced by Teamwork Arts. Noor Mohammad, whose rise to fame gave a fresh revival of sorts to the traditional music, sings a popular folk piece “Subhik Waav” which draws inspiration from a naat written by the 15th central Asian poet Maulana Jami. This is then coupled with Ali Saffudin’s display of guitar proficiency while the saaran and Rabab accompany it in beautiful harmony. The video scored a hit of over 300k views in a matter of months and has appealed to young and old alike, just like Noor’s duet with Muneem did back in 2018. This blending of styles, and along with it an attempt to bridge the generation gap, in a genuine, respectful manner which eloquently appeals to people is what makes it historic and memorable in the collective memory of the people.
Qurban by Red FM J&K
Released on the eve of Eid, this piece was dedicated to all the healthcare workers in view of the ongoing pandemic. Written by Asif Tarek Bhat, composed and produced by Ali Saffudin, this piece featured the prime talent of Kashmir. Faheem, Rather, Huzaif, Tanzeeb, Ali, all sang the tributary lines in communion with Umar’s Santoor. The video showcased the doctors and healthcare workers in action as the lines of their commemoration were sung in serious dedication: “hakeeman hind, tabeeban hind chi yim ehsaan asi peth, chi yim rozaan karaan qorbaan panun zu jaan asi peth”. This music video was a great attempt at vivifying the collective consciousness of people towards the efforts and sacrifices made by the healthcare workers at a time when despair blighted our minds.
Ahmer – ‘I.D.’, by Ahmer
From one of the most prominent hip-hop artists of the valley, Ahmer, this short music video is an explosive and direct exploration of the psychological trauma suffered by Kashmiris on a daily basis. ‘I.D,’ a relentless attack on the blissful ignorance of the aggressions suffered by the local community, is produced by Delhi-based musician Lacuna and brought to life by the graphics of Anis Wani, one of Kashmir’s most intriguing young visual artists. This music video, both visually and lyrically provides the most direct and explicit accounts of sufferings of an average Kashmiri.
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