Thugs, Ants and Aluminum Foil

By Sonya Rehman

Simply put, Ali Azmat’s latest music video from his album ‘Klashnifolk’ has to be the coolest thing since Praline ice cream.

Directed by Zeshaan Parwez, ‘Gallan’ is one heck of a tripped out video – but in a good, fun and bizarre way of course.

Featuring Ali Azmat being accosted by three thugs namely; Omran Shafique of ‘Mauj’, Gumby and well-known bassist Mannu, things teeter far off the edge when the three hooligans transmute into a gigantic…get this, ANT!

“Oye kya scene hay”, the ant asks Azmat nonchalantly, its eyes slightly menacing. And with a cigarette dangling out of its mouth, its large (and oddly freaky) paper cut eyes staring at Azmat, the big black ant begins chasing its prey (Azmat), who – while singing – puts on the most hilariously terrified expressions while singing and running for his dear life.

But that’s not all, upon reaching a little lodge – where Azmat seeks refuge, he tells his friends – Omran, Gumby and Mannu – all lounging on a couch, to look outside the window.

When they do, all slightly bamboozled, they notice the ant – which by now has reached the lodge and is breaking its way in.

Now, if you think THAT’S trippy, read on because the moment the black ant breaks into the lodge, and knocks over the front door – Azmat gives his friends a ‘let’s kick some a**’ expression, clasps his eyes shut – and Power Ranger style, the four friends morph into a….GIANT GREEN ANT!

The comic-book ‘fight scene’ towards the end of the video which ensues is hilarious as it depicts a green ant walloping the living daylights out of the black ant.

In a nutshell, Parwez’s final product is retro, campy and a whole lot of fun. So how long did the entire video-making process take? “Four months”, Parwez answers, “I took my time on this video”.

Interestingly, a certain percentage of the video – I’m informed while speaking with the director – is primarily worked out of paper animation.

“We shot the video at Ali’s studio on a chroma set screen, and then later, printed over one thousand images from the video stills. I think they were about one thousand and six hundred stills in totality. Then what we did was, we scanned each print back onto the computer and developed the video from the prints.”

Parwez – along with his team – also developed miniature sets of buildings for the street scenes, in addition to the construction of two plasticine and aluminum foil ant models. The ant models were then developed using ‘Stop Motion’ (a thoroughly interesting and somewhat imprecise technique animators use to give still objects movement).

And voila – Parwez’s awesomely over-the-top storyboard gave ‘Gallan’, Azmat’s fast-paced and edgy rock/pop ditty, a bizzarely enjoyable tweak vis-à-vis the video.

“With music videos”, Parwez states, “I always feel that they should either be performance-based or should be based on a storyline which goes from point A to point B. I avoid mainstream stories…and make stuff that can be derived from the weird”.

And the weird is always so much more interesting. “But the arty”, Parwez enunciates, “sometimes can become pretentious as well.”

No doubt about it. But concerning the video for ‘Gallan’, the director wanted to bring to light a theme which was totally out of the box – something similar to what Parwez did with Ali Azmat’s ‘Teri Parchaiyan’, in which a young boy goes in search of his parents – in a deserted, eerie and ‘end of the world’ type of scenario.

“When you see the three thugs with their angry faces standing on a hill, you wouldn’t expect them to form as an ant and then speak Punjabi”, says Parwez with a laugh.

So true, because the video truly works on an entertaining ‘shock and awe’ strategy, where it’ll flip, twist and turn around into an aluminum foil ant when you least expect it!

Images, Dawn

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