A Potpourri of Percussion

By Sonya Rehman

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Out with their latest video, ‘Dhamaal’, Overload, quite simply, makes culture look cool. And their music – which is an amalgamation of Central Asian beats – sandwiches traditional and contemporary into an aurally palatable, psychedelic-lounge-drum-fest. ‘Dhamaal’ is no different, and the video which accompanies it, directed by Bilal Lashari, seems to match the song’s ‘energy’ rather well.

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And to produce a music video which stands as a song’s visual pillar (especially when the song is an instrumental one) really isn’t an easy feat to pull off. The visuals have to move in exactly the same cadence as the song – one goof-up and hello dullsville.

Moreover, with Overload’s genre of music, which is sort of like Eastern-classical music’s jazzed-up cousin, videos can seem far more challenging to plan out.

For example, picture this: Pappu’s eyes shimmer with hints of esotericism as his hands neatly slice at the dhol in quick succession – and on his dark fingers, rings gleam as trickles of sweat shine from his forehead and make their way slipping downwards, clinging onto his greasy curls.

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And then he begins to spin. Beating the dhol and swaying, Pappu spins like a man caught between an arcane fire and bliss.
This was a scene I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Scores of us were at LUMS, many moons ago on a terrifically windy summer night, and right then whilst watching Pappu, I knew, that all those present – felt that their hearts were little dhols reverberating in similar succession to the tempo of Pappu and Joora’s dhol beats. The Sain’s performances accompanied by Farhad’s drumming – that ran like a solid lifeline amidst Sheraz and Hassan’s keyboards and (mean) percussions – had to be the most vigorous of live performances that I had seen in years.

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So how does a director capture a band like Overload’s energy? What visuals complement melodic energies of songs which are intangible and fleeting?

Viewing Lashari’s video on a local ‘freshly baked’ show, and I was surprised.
With shots of Pappu’s feet thumping into dry earth as he swings – his dhol strapped onto his neck and gliding with him as it shouts: ‘dhumak dhumak dhumak’. Shots of Farhad kicking up a frenzy on his drum-set amidst a backdrop of the Karachi Steel Mills, Sheraz standing in his white suit as he gazes sublimely into the sea whilst playing his keyboard, scenes of Hassan flanked by an array of traditional drums as he picks and plays each….as the day’s fog hangs in the sky, unflinching.

Slurry and fast-paced shots of golden, brown and white horses running, their manes slapping the wind, aerial shots of a sleeping city, the frothy Karachi sea as it laps up onto a caramel shore, and a dervaish hopping, dancing in the milieu of a historical building…that’s Dhamaal’s video for you.

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Shot in both Karachi and Lahore’s inner city, the music video was a collaboration between the band and Mobilink, and thankfully, the cellular company has managed to give the video a comfortable ‘breathing space’ by not being too overbearing vis-à-vis its placement in it.

With the young Lashari who is relatively new to the Pakistani music video ‘director’s map’ and the local music scene in general, his work so far seems fairly diverse and creatively intriguing. You’ve just got to hand it to him, ‘Dhamaal’ is a gorgeous potpourri of beats and Bilal’s conceptualization of it just adds to Overload’s classic, hybrid feel.

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