There was a time when the Pakistani music industry was revolving around the romantic songs featuring love stories mostly. However, in the past few years, the industry has gone under a great paradigm shift.
Music, a striking medium allows artists to connect with the listeners on taboo topics such as child abuse, sexual assault, women and minority rights etc. The songs and social issues make a great duet to create an emotional and long-lasting impact on society.
From Salena Gomez to Devi Lovato, Chance the Rapper to BTS, many celebrities have gone a few extra miles to raise a movement through their tracks.
Even in Pakistan, a number of artists have stood up with their initiatives to bring the social change. After a recent MeToo hashtag movement, “Mein Bhe” video was launched. It has lined up a number of renowned TV personalities to motivate the common people to raise voice against sexual harassment.
Another heart touching addition in Pakistani music is a recent song, JeevanDaan directed by Shiraz Malik, written and composed by Shuja Haider. It’s a potential work against child abuse, gender inequality, and ungiven women’s rights.
In an interview, he revealed that Zainab’s case inspired him to use his music to bring out his thoughts about such a sensitive issue.
“It was sometimes back when I saw Zainab’s case. Also, I recently had an interview with Samina Peerzada on her show where she asked me few questions related to the incident about how I felt and I actually wanted to come up with something like this as an answer”
Zainab’s rape and subsequent murder, an 8 year old resident of Kasur city, raised a massive social media movement in January 2018. There have many other child rape cases, but this particular one is responsible for starting a debate on child abuse in the country, showing the state’s failure to protect the children.
Saba Qamar, the actress of Baaghi is the main lead of the video. Her well acclaimed work on women-centric projects and her outstanding acting skills had persuaded Shuja to cast her is his video. As he mentioned once that when it comes to working on women’s dignity, Saba has done a great job. The need to protect children and women from discrimination and abuse is the video’s message, which Saba delivered effectively.
On her Instagram post, Saba talked about this project saying
“By far, the most creatively satisfying experiences I had. Thanks to the extremely talented @Shaazzman. I have met very few people in my career who can get the most out of an artist while maintaining a friendly and courteous attitude”
Moreover, not just the lyrics, but the video itself is directed in a way to communicate a strong message. From costumes to expression, moves to color selection, every detail is for a purpose.
It takes the viewers on a journey of pain and frustration experienced by the oppressed ladies and children. The “Intense” facial expressions give a taste of the trauma these victims face.
The child artists have done justice to their parts of touching the hearts. The Kasur Child Abuse Scandal took the country in shock when The Nation broke the story in 2015. More than 300 children of various age groups were being exploited, molested, raped, and harassed from a time span of 2006 to 2014. The appearance of a male child artist in the video targets the perception of the public that only girls need protection. However, the recent abuse cases in Pakistan show the boys are the victims of this brutality as well.
The effort paid by the costume selection department is also worth noting. Artists wore black as a symbol of grief over the society. The choice of masculine attire for Saba is intended to portrait the woman as firm and strong, not feminine and weak. The use of no girlish makeup, swaying hair, sexy pouts and accessories further helps to convey a different narration of women in our society.
In a scene, a Red Dupatta is thrown towards a young girl, highlighting the deeply prevailed forced child marriages. As per statistics of the World Bank, each year, 21% of girls become the victim of underage marriages in Pakistan. Debt settlement, transfer of money, exchange of girls (Vaani) on the sanctions of Panchayat or Jirga are the main motives behind this unjust act of betraying women’s rights. The director beautifully conveys the message in just a single scene.
The actress has played a great role with her expressions and body movement. She is shown struggling with a blind strip in a shot. This throws light on how a woman in our society is forced to not have her own vision. The male dominant society expects her to blindly follow his men (father, brother, husband, and subsequently the son) in all aspects of her life.
Saba throws the strip, in the end, to prompt the young girls to know it may be difficult, but not impossible to stand up for their basic human rights.
The lyrics “I am not a dead flame, I am the water that consumes it” leaves no stone unturned to move not only female, but male listeners as well. Towards the ending, a girl pushes the hands coming to harass her, another girl throws the Red Dupatta forcefully to signify a big no to child marriage. The message conveyed to all girls is
“It may be a harder step to resist the unjust (harassment, child abuse, sexual assault, child marriages), but it is not impossible”
The video ends with Saba being happily lying with the background lyrics
“I made it through you. I am the boundary, you crossed it”
It was a great tribute to the young victims, the country has lost in last few decades. The detailing has made sure that every viewer takes a stance and stand up for the ongoing oppression and inequality in the society.