One of Pakistan’s supremely talented singers, Ali Sethi has garnered appreciation from both national and international audience for his singing prowess. Ali recently released a new track Dil Lagaayein which is similar to his previous tracks for one reason; the music video is metaphorical and open to various interpretations. Something Haute got in touch him to dig in the details about the song.
The song features Kamil Chima — producer of critically acclaimed Laal Kabootar — and model Rehmat Ajmal who are seen going through a journey and experiencing multiple emotions. In an exclusive conversation, Ali spilled the beans about what inspired him to create this ballad.
“I sent the song to my filmmaker friend Umar Riaz, who heard it and said he wanted to write a script. Next thing I knew he had created this ambiguous triangle between three people, two boys and one girl. That’s how the video was conceived. I supplied some of the textures, such as the dinner party in a fashionable Lahori drawing room,” Ali said.
The entire music video is played through the protagonist’s perspective and when asked about this decision Ali shared that it was the director’s idea to tell the story from one person’s perspective which “could work as a stand-in for the lay viewer/listener. I think it’s a beautiful device.”
Not only this song but his previous songs have also been metaphorical; Chan Kithan and Chandni Raat are some of his recent works which have been interpreted in various ways by the audience and critics. So, we asked if making videos which are figurative in nature is a deliberate decision?
“A lot of my lyrics are metaphorical in nature, so I think having a metaphorical video — or at least a video that lends itself to multiple interpretations — is appropriate. It’s a lot of fun for sure!” he added.
The video begins with a man in an ICU and as he is the protagonist, we see his narrative being played in flashback. It remains hidden who the person is, however, the story revolves around his relationship with his friends with whom he is seen spending time with. We see two parallels being played simultaneously; one is of their childhood and the other of the present time. The protagonist seems conflicted between the two relationships and though it seems like he is struggling to hide his real identity which appears to be queer, the video is open to several connotations. We were curious to know what the singer’s thought process was while he wrote this song.
“I’m a bit of a commitment-phobe myself. I like navigating situations until the very last minute, scouring them for every bit of stimulus or creative potential. A lot of time is lost like that, but a lot of perspective is gained. I wanted to write a song about that state of mind — the agony and ecstasy of indecision,” he said.
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Dil Lagaayein also stands out for its music which evokes nostalgia and is strongly reminiscent of the 60s and 7os music and this is because Ali is deeply fond of that era’s music.
“I’m very drawn to the music of the 60s and 70s when instruments were still played by hand, and there was a poetic quality to lyrics. I find a certain kind of “theatrical” Bollywood music (RD Burman, OP Nayyar) very charming. Those were some of the references for me and Noah Georgeson, who produced the music. But I also wanted the music to evoke a circus or merry-go-round. I think the swinging violins do that rather well,” he concluded.
Watch the video and tell us what is your interpretation of the song?