By Sonya Rehman
‘Laree chuti’ a song from the 2007 released Bollywood flick, ‘Ek chalis ki last local’, is the band CALL’s latest Indian ‘venture’.
Directed by Sanjay Khanduri and starring Neha Dhupia, the film is a comic thriller which takes place at a local train station. Written and composed by Xulfi of CALL, the song, ‘Laree chuti’ (meaning ‘missing the train’) was made almost instantaneously as Xulfi (contacted by the director) recovered from a serious back operation while in physiotherapy.
The film’s video for the track however, manages to strip the song down to a pointless, yo-yo-ditzy-pop number. Featuring the lead actors and a bunch of dancers, the video somehow comes across as limp – failing to match the tempo/mood of the song. Also, it must be mentioned that a symbol (featured in the background of the set) seemed extremely odd and out of place as it made one wonder what it had to do with the movie, much less the song.
But even though the ‘Laree chuti’ video has been doing some serious runs on major Indian music channels, CALL decided to come out with its own version of the video. Simple and performance-based, it isn’t poles apart from the previous video as one would have thought. However, it shows the band performing, Xulfi singing, and clips of the Indian original interspersed throughout the video. CALL’s version makes it more ‘digestible’ and perhaps because you get to see the actual vocalist rather than a half-baked actor mouthing the lyrics and hopping around the set like a deranged ape-man.
CALL also intends to make their debut internationally via their second album which is due to be out any month this summer. “For our second album, the kind of songs we’re making is more ‘accessible’. ‘Laree chuti’ was different because the market in India is international. Currently in Pakistan we only have a budding music scene, so if we can break into the Indian market with our second album and then from there into the international, we’d achieve our aim. We need to cut through them [the international audience] intensely…by the same depth of lyrics yet, with an international sound”, Xulfi says as he sits hunched over. He speaks rapidly, yet articulately breaking off eye contact every now and then as he moves his hands for a greater, more animated emphasis.
But apart from their recent ‘pop’ number how would CALL’s signature rock sound be greeted across the border? “You see rock music in India is hardcore but it’s sung in English”, Junaid pronounces calmly, sitting back in his chair and explaining why this was the main reason as to why it can’t be ‘identified with’ on a mass scale. “The lyrical content of their music, either film or otherwise, is stagnant too”, Xulfi says taking the lead from Junaid. Fair enough, but stagnant or not, it still sells…however as of late, there’s been quite a demand for our local artistes vis-à-vis musical collaborations, album deals and so on in India…maybe their audiences really do need something different now. Perhaps fishing in Pakistan’s music talent pool gives formulaic film music the edge that has long been the signature of Pakistani pop and rock.
“Kya hua jo laree chootee/Jeevan ki gaadi lutti/Zindagi ek pal mein saali/Yun palat gayi humaari” (What happened that we missed the train/ the caravan of life was looted/ this damn life of ours/ has overturned in a flash).
The lyrics are street smart and simple, but there is angst in them, a reflection on the chaos that is the essence of life. It may not be Ghalib, but these simple words resonate with reason in the mind of anyone who listens.
With regard to the band’s second album (which is due out in the summer of 2007) it carries a more “organic touch to it”, as stated by Xulfi. For instance, the band has redone songs such as ‘Shayed’ and ‘Subh bhula key’ – the latter which include instruments such as violins, tablas and acoustic guitars. The depth of the song is not lost, Xulfi stresses, “it still gives me that particular chill and has the same impact as the original versions”.
Will CALL be able to pull off sounding earthy and yet being able to make an impact strong enough both locally and internationally?
It all remains to be seen but in Pakistan, the audience is definitely banking on them.
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