The battle of the boys continues…even in badly directed videos and unaesthetic styling
God made everything in pairs. And though Atif Aslam and Farhan Butt have gone separate ways, thus defying all laws of nature, they are still in constant competition with each other and will probably stay that way for a very long time if not forever. (It’ll probably be forever) Whether it’s an album release – Boondh and Meri Kahani came out around the same time – a concert or tour or merely a music video, the boys are in an inevitable horn-lock.
Atif and Jal have been compared to death – their music, albums, concerts, sales, popularity and success in India has been the topic of one article too many. But, no one and I mean absolutely no one would have imagined that they would also be competing for bad videos and, horror horror, bad styling. That day has unfortunately dawned on us too. The inevitable has happened and Atif and Jal are even in competition over who makes the worse music video. The two are destined to be together – even in critique.
The inspiration behind this article is the video of ‘Mein Mustt Hoon’ which has been playing on music channels recently. One fails to understand how a group that came out with a fabulous video in ‘Sajni’ could put out such a monstrosity? The answer, of course, lies in India.
‘It’s been conceptualized by an Indian director,’ is the easiest explanation that comes to mind. While Bilal Lashari made ‘Sajni’, ‘Mein Mustt Hoon’ is directed by Anand, another Indian director. And while Bilal Lashari also directed the fabulous video of Atif’s ‘Hungami Halaat’, the train wreck called ‘Kyun Chorr Gaye’ is directed by Indian director Kookie V. Golati. The Indian videos, one must comment, are as bad as the Bilal lashari directed videos were creatively innovative.
What, one must ask, compels these successful musicians to compromise on aesthetics for a video shot in India, as they obviously know better? Some Indians can make videos though. ‘Koi Aanay Wala Hai’ by Strings was made by an Indian director. The point is, it has to be done sensibly, it must synchronize with the genre of the song and most importantly, it must be a visual the musician can own up to as his own.
Atif’s ‘Kyun Chorr Gaye’ video simply blows you away…quite literally! ‘Kyun Chorr Gaye’ actually does look like a train wreck, with debris blowing here and there, frozen frames et al…all to a love song. It just doesn’t make sense.
And ‘Mein Mustt Hoon’ disappoints in its constant allusions to Kailash Kher’s ‘Deewani’. The twirling girl is a continuous reference to the image of a dancing girl in KK’s video. But that’s not all. The way these videos have been put together are just not in sync with the music.
Which brings us to the styling. Have Atif and Farhan vowed to out-do each other in dressing inappropriately? The bowler hat and orange shirt Atif wears is just as awkward as the rolled up jeans and scarf that Farhan has donned. Historically, musicians have always made style statements of their own – some odd and some weirder – but somehow the image always gels in with the identity of the musician. If Madonna chose to wear a conical bra (thus making it iconic) then it has to be said that she carried it off to the T. Plus, the bra was designed by John Paul Gaultier which lent it credibility amongst other things. The same sadly does not apply to the fashion faux pas that Atif Aslam keeps repeating and Farhan has now unfortunately started imitating!
The tragedy is that both these songs are pretty decent. They’ve just been packaged all wrong and that has taken away from their appeal. Musicians are responsible for the image they put out for themselves – if they won’t own up to it then who will – and the image becomes their brand. Madonna has an image, even though she constantly reinvents herself. Prince has an image – he is usually seen in well cut suits and high heels, rap artistes have a different image and rock stars have a totally different style identity. Musicians as diverse as Marilyn Manson, Axl Rose, Celine Dion, Michael Jackson (how can we forget the white socks and the single sequined glove) and even Shakira or Rihanna have a persona that is reflected in their style and their videos.
How does a musician or group expect to build an image when that image is so fickle? Though it has to be said that Atif has acquired continuity when it comes to bad taste – people now expect him to dress weird (some even love him for it) but it certainly wasn’t expected of Farhan or Gohar of Jal.
Established bands like Strings and even Ali Azmat must be appreciated for having some stability in their style and creative control when it comes to their videos. All we can hope for is some maturity when it comes to the newer generation of musicians. And until they grow up, one can expect both Atif and the boys of Jal continue the battle to out-do each other.