IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Maha Ali Kazmi
Maha Ali Kazmi leaves a footprint with Jana Nahin, the single that has been Billboard hot for almost two months, writes Naashia Naufal
Amidst the billowing seas of uncertainty that threaten to stall the country’s progress, Pakistan’s vibrant, and ever innovating pop industry, continues to thrive.
Earlier this summer, Pakistan’s new rising star, Maha Ali Kazmi, who has already captivated the hearts of millions, released her second song Jana Nahin.
Maha is unique among singers in that she takes complete ownership of her music. She writes her own lyrics, something not many female, or indeed male singers, do. Indeed the standard practice is for singers to merely lend their voices to songs written for them.
Maha breaks the mould and creates art that she’s comfortable taking full ownership of. Her latest single has been Billboard hot for almost two months now. It’s not just the unique video or the fact that this is an aspiring singer who has wowed Pakistan, but the story behind the song and the video.
A chance meeting with the singer herself at Alliance Française for an art exhibition prompted one to try and scratch the surface: Surely, there must have been some tragic love interest or its like in her song?
Jana Nahin with its nostalgic rendition seems to have an obvious background for the casual listener, which is why one was struck by the smiling singer’s response: “Jana Nahin isn’t based on some heart wrung love story; rather, it is a philosophy in itself.”
As we sat in the little café at Alliance, the young singer explained how she had been struck by the abruptness of life and how Jana Nahin was borne out of the same concept. It can obviously pertain to love but the basic idea behind the artist’s creative vision was that insistent longing for the one thing they can never have, that haunts each of us.
Maha herself seems to be the sort of person who would go beyond the usual commercialised thought processes that seem to form such a huge part of most Pakistani artistes’ songs. With her penchant for classic black and white movies, her love for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and her recent interest in French classes, this is a woman who certainly wouldn’t want her art to simply be reflected in some glitzy little studio with drummers crashing on behind her. And this is what is strikingly apparent in the video.
One can honestly say that watching the video of Jana Nahin was as much of a treat as listening to the song itself.
The video starts with a glance at the Manora Navel Base lighthouse and the rest of the video itself has mostly been shot at Tushan beach; however, you will not get a typical Pakistani beach style feel to the whole affair.
From the very moment the video begins with a look at the lighthouse to the waves crashing against the shore and the vibrant hues of the sky one is easily reminded of the beauty of Brittany, which lies in the West of France.
From the long strip of concrete that appears before the soft waves break against the shore and show the foamy peaks to the sight of the stairs that lead to the beach itself and the artist bounding down them, one is momentarily lulled into a pleasant day dream; the hustle and bustle of Karachi does not exist.
All that is apparent is the story of a young girl who seems to have lost her lover and mournfully cries out Jana Nahin every time she thinks of him.
A complementary addition to this dreamy landscape is the well thought out wardrobe. Entirely done by Adnan Pardesy, the video features Maha wearing a soft pink and white dress and a black and white polka dot one. With her hair tied back and makeup that complements her features, Maha seems to entirely belong to the background of her music; an artist who is a part of her work in fact.
One of the things that one really enjoyed about this video was not only the European feel to the beach and the rest of the background or the artiste’s wardrobe but also the fact that the video has a very timeless appeal to it.
You can exist in 2014 or 1945 as you watch the video and can imagine a young girl beset by her fears and desperately running down to the beach, trying to rekindle the memories of her lover when she finds the lock she once buried in a bottle. This, or even the opening scene with the lighthouse which is so reminiscent of that tragic time during WWII when little thriving Breton towns such as St Malo slid into decay thanks to the ceaseless brutality of the time.
And just like a favourite classic we see a glimmer of hope for the artiste towards the very end when she sees her lover crouching by the edge of the beach and walks towards him dazzled by the brilliant sight of the setting sun.
Will they be together again?
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