Apart from the sweltering heat and inescapable load-shedding, June has brought with itself the much-awaited music release of Pakistani film, Zinda Bhaag. Music director Sahir Ali Bagga has given deep thought to the compositions and has asked renowned singers such as Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Arif Lohar, to lend their voices to the melodies. The film has been co-directed by Farjad Nabi and Meenu Gaur aka Farjad and Meenu.
“Both of us are big fans of old film music. We have a collection of music from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s,” says Nabi, adding that classics have inspired him and Gaur every step of the way. “There are seven startlingly different songs in the film.” Produced by Mazhar Zaidi, the film boasts seasoned Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah as a cast member and also features several local theatre artists.
The film’s music is primarily local Lahori pop. “Our stories have been told through songs for centuries,” Nabi adds. “We have adopted a specific form of storytelling in Zinda Bhaag, where the songs are central to the film’s narrative and if you remove any of the songs, you will lose a part of the story as well.”
Talking about how the music has been interlaced with the movie’s script, Gaur says, “It masks a class bias which suggests that films laden with [shallow] songs provide mindless entertainment for the wider audience as opposed to more mindful art cinema liked by the educated elite.” She adds, “It was a deliberate decision to use songs in a traditional and filmy way.” He feels South Asian films provide a platform for expressing emotions.
The original soundtrack (OST) of the film, sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, will also be the first original qawwali he has ever performed. Written by poet Hassan Mujtaba, the song is simple yet haunting. Bagga has a dominant footprint in the recording of this track; it features a cellist and several violinists from the Pakistani film industry.
“I have worked the hardest [in my life] to produce the music of Zinda Bhaag,” says Bagga, proud of his achievement. “We have a filmy qawwali; this has been missing from the industry for the past 35 years.” He admits it took him 20 days to compose the OST. “Producing qawwali is difficult because you need to have a grip on classical music and the qawwal [singer] as well,” Bagga adds.
“Zinda Bhaag’s music is quintessentially Pakistani — from the musicians to the singers,” says the music director.
Apart from Rahat, the film’s music also features voices such as Abrarul Haq, Arif Lohar and Saleema Jawwad. Lohar and Jawwad have sung a song on love and death while Bagga has contributed his vocals to two tracks, an upbeat dance-bhangra number and a romantic ballad. Famed novelist Mohammed Hanif has also written a song, which is satirical and aimed at the hypocrisy of the elite class. It’s been sung by Jabar Ali. Gaur and Nabi have also co-written a duet which is sung by Iqra Ali and Amanat Ali — the song is filmed as a dialogue between a girl and boy in a classic-film style.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2013.