Attack or reject, he said what he had to!

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After the austere measures taken by the band to revolutionise it, Overload underwent interesting episodes such as live performances at The Apartment, collaborations with Club Caramel and finally, an intensified focus on the visual expression of art. ‘Neray Aah’ is a song that the band borrowed from the Syed Noor movie ‘Choorian’ and is known to be the epitome of what snobs would call ‘driver-aesthetics’. Sung in a very suggestive and rustic manner and witnessed and heard innumerable times on the infamous Mujra channel ‘Tip Top’, brought to us by our local cable providers, that the god-fearing aunties cringe at and the colourful uncles stealthily watch when the aunties are absent, the original had managed to scandalise (or at least made people act like they were scandalised) quite a few.
When I first discovered that a new Overload music video was released, I opened the Youtube link with a lot of expectations- I was aware of the band’s change in line-up, also of the band’s change in ideology. Yet, throughout the video, I was clouded with pre-conceived notions. I rejected, I attacked. The opulence, the visual intensity, the loud music, the negation of sensuousness along with the addition of crazy, neither pleased by desi nor my snob sensibilities. Farhad Humayun, the lead vocalist and drummer of the band predicted that reaction.
In response to when I inquired what basically gave Overload the strength to endeavour in such a direction, Farhad said “I have seen suppressed women throughout my life that seem to be opening up and dancing to ‘Munni’ and ‘Sheila’ on mehndis now. Dancing as an expression of performance is widely accepted now. We wanted to see exactly what it was that made a loud, suggestive song vulgar and whether a loud, suggestive song with contemporary drums and modern elements would still be vulgar? The reaction (which is 129 likes and 33 dislikes on Youtube) suggested that it is not!”
I agree with Farhad in that, Indian songs with slightly more suggestive elements are big hits as dance numbers at mehndis and Pakistani women openly appreciate those through performance. One may still question as to what thought went into the production of the visual matter of the video, which seems laden with themes, symbols and metaphors. To Farhad, the video represents a struggle between good and evil and signified the vociferous power of evil. (the demon-Farhad represented evil, which is immobile out of the lack of the necessity to move, as all that would be corrupted would come to him) The party is a metaphor for life. An innocent Farhad enters the party and is lured by the pomp and splendor of evil. Sabina Pasha, the seductress, welcomes him into the world of debauchery. Nasir Saeen, the sentinel of the house of decadence offers him an apple which he eats following the footsteps of the seductress. His incorporation into the evil world is disapproved by a motherly principle (Navid Shehzad) and a memory of a young child that represents innocence. Farhad, the character, dismisses the warnings and journeys further into decadence, just the way humans do in life. The video features Amina Haq (as the fortune teller adding to the aesthetic appeal of the video) Ammar Belal, Nomi Qamar, Abdullah Mohammad, Urouj Ahmed, Sadaf Kanwal, Alyzeh Gabol, Amna Babar and Akash and singers Haroon Shahid (SYMT) and Quratulain Baloch, Farhan Ali and Faisal Baig.
In essence, the video is reflective of how it is acceptable to be wrong in life and how it is a reality that we have been faced with and are desensitised by. What’s interesting is that the video is autobiographical for Farhad and although many of us contemplate artists to be monsters who give into their sordid whims and indulge in all that is corrupted, Farhad is of the view that youngsters’ party character makes him uncomfortable and each time he has to enter a party, he goes through a struggle between good and evil himself!
Whether we hate loud songs or love them, we have to admit that Overload has evolved its ideology and enhanced its visual expression. We are yet to see what other surprises Overload will unveil in the future for us to reject and attack.

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