Anyone who has been following the Pakistani music scene in the last three years knows, Saakin. Saakin is an emerging Islamabad based band formed by Ali Hamdani, Ibrahim Akram, Varqa Fareed, Parham Faraid and Usman Shakeel. Since their first music video release saaqi-e-bawafa- a kalam by Sufi saint shams Tabriz in 2018, it has effectively carved its niche across borders.
Saakin is just three singles old and has already created a lot of buzz amid melody devotees with their distinct style. Their composition essentially incorporates classic eastern melodies and reverberating arrangements. One of the distinct features that make saakin stand out from the others is their music videos, which keep the viewers on their feet. The band’s conceptualisation and collaboration with artists across the globe have made them a notable hit. Saakin is earning it’s place alongside the very few artists who believe art can heal people and fill their void of meaninglessness that the modern world is constantly creating.
After a long gap of almost a year, the band returns with its new single intebah, the attention. The song projects itself as a wakeup call when we are (deliberately) heading towards a dystopian world. It is co-written by Nimrah Gilaani, who previously collaborated with the band on zindagi-tamasha. intebah becomes even more significant for its spectacular animations illustrated by very talented Ali Arshad, which navigates the audience into the director Mikaail Ahmed’s inquisitive mind. While watching the video, one might constantly feel a sense of having watched it before, in bits and pieces in real life.
The clip does not offer anything new but, instead, as the title suggests, draws viewers’ attention to the larger picture by joining the reality’s perplexed jigsaws. It gives an experience of watching a postmodern Orwellian story come to life. The band have collaborated with two other international artists, Amir Bresler, who plays drums and Ismail lumanovski, who intricately played the clarinet for this project.
Intebah opens with a graphical of all six band members walking uphill with their instruments next to a rubble of fallen skyscrapers under a calm, cloudy sky. The band is standing up on a cliff facing a colossal wall guarded by a giant statue of a falcon. In between, them lies burning refugee camps from where the smoke rises. As the vocals progress, scenes from the other side of the wall appear. People are possessed and deceived by an idea drawn as a banana. The spinning banana on the large screens signifies the idea of freedom and mortal sovereignty. Slogans of “War is peace”, “freedom is slavery”, “ignorance is strength” are upon billboards. Metaphors from George Orwell’s novel 1984 portrays the rotten nation-states. Flying nukes hover above the heads of these controlled bodies. Those who speak to the power or raise their voice against this imperial hypnotism becomes the TV news or die. Pictures of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Edward Snowden pops up on different screens to reference history. While all the affairs on this side of the wall invariably monitored and surveillance by Big Brother.
In the following few scenes, we are engaged to the middle ground of these two geographies, the burning camps. It paints how philanthropy has become a contest for liberal markets and capitalists giants to put on a show by exploiting war victims for peddling their policies.
There is a line in the song,
Jo bane hain khuda, Unke takte bhi ulat jayenge
The lesser gods will be dethroned.
The visuals of the world leaders like Trump, Xi Jinping, MBS hints at how world governments expedite each other for this empire to exist. Critical real-life events around the world inspire the fable in the video in the last five years.
In one frame, the girl from the camp is standing alone against the big brother, who is the face of this oppressive empire. Only she in the entire world carries the heart and tears to do so.
In the climax, the band joins the girl from the camp. It is then of my favourite lines from the song plays in the background.
Shor o ghul hai iss jalti basti mei, par saakin hai sab ki awaaz
noise is defeaning in this burning town and yet the voices are silent
intebah is an ode to individuals who are not completely consumed by the hex; they are the ones who can fight the system. Those who are bruised, burnt and oppressed have the potential to bring this corrupt system down, which has sucked the experience out of human beings and turned them into material zombies. It appeals to build networks and collaborate across borders and ideas, and come together as one to build a future, for the future is the only domain for struggle. The song breaths a new spirit and gives poetic hope in a politically tensed and technologically damaged world.
The song’s composition is like a psalm of a revolution that provides an agency of awareness. The track is mixed and mastered by Varqa Faraid & Shamsher Rana; their arrangement ascends very organically to the climax and then stays on that robust intensity to suffice the development. It is commendable to see Saakin experimenting with such subjects and variety by keeping their band’s style undamaged. A ‘political’ song in the Urdu language, produced with such calibre and creativity, is sporadic to see these days (if not misrepresented or romanticised otherwise)
Intebah was released on 3rd March 2021 on youtube.