Remember Karate Kid, the film about a bullied boy who is taught how to defend himself by an old martial arts master? That’s the image you get when you watch Bumbu Sauce’s new song My Punjabi Love For You. In this case, however, the protagonist is a young woman who fights against a useless husband, a gangster landlord and corrupt policemen.
The four member Islamabad-based rock band launched their new song video at Café 76, in an open air set-up on April 17. Guest celebrities included Saqib Malik, Mohib Mirza, Kiran Aman, Anoushey Ashraf and Faizan Haq. Though the band members were nowhere in sight due to a personal tragic event, the director of the video, Adnan Malik and the star of the video, Aaminah Sheikh were at the venue to represent the launch. Malik also launched his production house Adnan Malik Productions (AMP) on the same day.
“I am really excited about this. It’s not a traditional video — it’s a hybrid piece,” said Malik. “I hope it touches on the gender inequality issue in Pakistan.”
The video shows a struggling young woman in a rural set-up, married to a good-for-nothing husband, who is at the mercy of his gangster landlord. After being mentally and physically harassed, she lands up in a shrine searching for answers. There, she meets a martial arts master who teaches her karate. After her training, she becomes fearless and is armed with a new wardrobe and attitude. She even has a motorbike!
While the song itself is not catchy, it has elements of ethnic pop which Pakistani hardcore rock music fans will love. The video depicts a non-traditional Punjabi love story, in which the woman takes charge instead of the man.
Malik’s take on the video is a reminder of Anurag Kashyapa’s Dev D — an alternate narrative to Bollywood’s quintessential love triangle Devdas. Malik attempts to break the stereotype of the bichari village girl by equipping her with the ability to use martial arts. Aaminah is almost like a Pakistani female superhero, who rises from darkness of mental and physical oppression, and trains with a gandassa in green fields to avenge the wrath of a male-dominant society.
In the video, award-winning actor Aaminah, is the demure and docile housewife who rebels against male dominance.
“We are so inspired by western cinema and kung fu culture but to embody it in a video like this was never done before,” said Aaminah, who was brilliant in her role. “The aurat raj concept was like a dream come true. It was worth all the efforts.” She added that Malik’s way of telling a story is “unique”, which “pumps up the energy in you”.
The down-and-dirty landlord played by actor Adnan Jaffer in the video was not a character to rave about. With his tongue sliding out in most scenes, Jaffer just seemed awkward and out of character with his expressions and oversized shiny, satin kurtas. “I was told to unleash the monster inside,” said Jaffer.
“I heard the song about two years ago. I thought the grungy male voice and punk-Punjabi touch could be a fun action-based video,” said Malik, the director. “I love the Pakistani film Aurat Raj, with Waheed Murad and Rani in reversed roles.” Malik said he wanted to display something visually interesting and hired a martial arts trainer for Aaminah.
“In some sections of Pakistan, women are weak and their lives are controlled by men,” said Malik. “I wanted to create a character that was strong.”
Talking about the song, guitarist Master Jee Bumbu said, “It’s a twist on the traditional Punjabi folk song. Here, there is a woman who fights for freedom.” He adds that the woman is re-claiming power. “It is a polar opposite of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Aankhien Uddik Diyan. This is the first song that we all [the band] wrote together.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2013.
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