The catchy and one-of-a-kind anthem for women â€“ Maa Behn Ka Danda â€“ that went viral on YouTube last month is the brainchild of an all-female band with filmmaker Anam Abbas at the helm. The other half is guitarist Areeb Usmani along with input from many creative minds at Girls at Dhabas.
The song is unabashedly truthful and the punk-meets-grunge tune suits the video which portrays how the lives of women are consumed by patriarchal norms. Talking to Something Haute, Anam Abbas spoke about her journey from being a filmmaker to becoming a musician.
â€œPrior to the song, I came to Karachi to shoot for my own web series, Ladies Only. I got a chance to meet the amazing community of women at Girls at Dhabas and realized that I can work creatively with these people. For the last episode, I was looking for someone to do a cover of Nirvanaâ€™s Smells like Teen Spirit and thatâ€™s when I found Areeb Usmani who is a bright musician and amazing vocalist,â€ she said.
Areeb Usmani and Anam Abbas of Garam Anday Project
â€œI wanted to make music for a while but I have no training as such. Luckily, Areeb and I gelled musically and also in terms of how we see the world. We wanted to make music which is for women and by women, and also have a certain level of political awareness in it. We wanted the songs to be a mix of irreverence, humour, sarcasm and irony which is a part of Ladies Only as well and I wanted to continue it through our music,â€ Anam said.
On the other hand, guitarist Areeb Usmani â€“ who has lived a sheltered life in Saudi Arabia â€“ found her true calling here in Pakistan. â€œAnam has beautiful jazz vocals and she has a command over writing lyrics. I am more into the musical side of it and thatâ€™s how we work together,â€ Areeb shared.
Areeb thinks that as women we rarely get opportunities to express our agitation. â€œThe band provides an environment to vent out our anger and benefit from each otherâ€™s energy. In my own time, I write love songs but Anam has inspired me to write things which have more meaning,â€ Areeb said.
Produced by Haniya Aslam, Maa Behn Ka Danda (MKBD)Â is a collaborative effort which is attributed to the Garam Anday gang. â€œThe lyrics — like everything else — also came together when we band were scribbling all kinds of stupid things and thatâ€™s why we have credited it to everyone who contributed,â€ Anam added.
Currently the band has four songs in the making with Millenial Bahu as their next offering. â€œIt is an anti-ballad about rishta aunties and hopefully will come in spring 2019,â€ Anam said. Areeb, however, shared that Millenial Bahu is the kind of composition that needs to be played on a piano and currently they are looking for women who can play an instrument or are musically inclined.
Talking about the aim of their band, Anam revealed that all she wants is to embolden younger women. â€œMKBDÂ is an anthem and anthems are for people who already connect with a drive. We are not trying to convert people or telling them to become feminist. The song is meant to be cathartic. We wanted to break women out of the stereotypical shell of oppressed souls,â€ Anam said adding, â€œWe want to change the concept ‘a good woman is a dead woman’. As you can see in the second half of our video, our girl gang is running wild and having a blast. Thatâ€™s what we want to project that we can flip the table. We can also have behn chara [sisterhood].â€
The video also features a shot of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistanâ€™s Khadim Hussain Rizvi running on a TV set. Was she not alarmed to face any retaliation?
â€œI knew that the song is for a niche audience. I was aware that only few people are going to understand the message behind it. My work has always reflected my thoughts and I will not hesitate from doing so. I saw comments where someone suggested sending us to LOC,â€ she laughs and added, â€œMedia has also been supportive and the song has become a cult hit.â€
What feminism is for Anam Abbas? â€œWellâ€¦ I think itâ€™s a way of life which gives a perspective to view a lot of things. There have been many waves of feminism but to me itâ€™s not a theory or a buzz word as it is used in modern day. Feminism is something we exercise,â€ Anam said.
Watch the video if you haven’t seen it yet: