Kahani Mohabbat Ki: Video Review

Song: "Kahani Mohabbat Ki"
Artist: Strings
Director: Umar Anwar

Since the release of their latest album "Dhaani" in 2003, Faisal Kapadia and Bilal Maqsood have established themselves as the leaders of our pop scene. With an appearance on the Spiderman 2 soundtrack, and after receiving multiple award nominations and bagging most of these accolades, the Strings are one of the most popular bands of the region, and "Dhaani" has been a major force behind this success. The set has spawned many hits for the band, and they have just released the sixth video from the album.

The new offering, "Kahani Mohabbat Ki," is a mellow song about lost love and all the yearning that comes with it. Penned by Anwar Maqsood, "Kahani Mohabbat Ki" is both lyrically and vocally one of the more powerful songs on "Dhaani" and it comes as quite a surprise that the duo would wait this long to release its video. "Kahani Mohabbat Ki" showcases what the band does best - rich mid–tempo vocals blended with that typical Strings–ish guitar–flute fusion.

And with the video, the track gets the Umar Anwar treatment, and that can only mean something good. The brains behind the clips of Jal's "Aadat" and EP's "Waqt," this relatively new entrant in the music-video-direction arena has become well known for his deep, offbeat ideas, and he continues to uphold this reputation with "Kahani MOhabbat Ki" by delving into the rather risky area of murky feelings, the result of which can either be very effective or very insipid. Fortunately, in this case, it falls right on target.

Very different from the previous Strings' videos, "Kahani Mohabbat Ki" is rooted in emotion, and all that can be felt better than it can be explained. It portrays the feeling of loss, of loneliness, and of waiting... perhaps even waiting for something when one knows deep down inside that it ain't coming.

The video shows a lonesome maiden who sits all forlorn outside a railway station, waiting for someone's arrival. But he doesn't show up. Under the shining sun or falling rain, she just sits there, oblivious to reality, thinking of all that used to be. Then the loneliness sets in, and that's when the tears begin to fall. With the rain pouring, she reminisces with a picture and some old tickets in hand, and cries hysterically. She walks away in the end, but will be back the following day; she's just stuck in that furrow, clinging on to the past, and never getting on with life. She'll sit there and wait for him to come, through he never will.

The lead character is the main element in propelling the feel of the video, and forms the fulcrum of the clip, even so that the band takes a backseat while this character takes centre stage. Played by ace actress Iffat Umar, whose resume also includes an appearance in Junoon's "Yaar Bina," this role is the backbone of the whole video, with the entire concept revolving around her. Iffat shines in the portrayal of a person who is lost in her own world, distant from reality, and everything fits perfectly with the visuals.

The second important element in the video development is the ambience. From the rain and the fallen leaves to the very generous helping of orange hues, depicting an autumn-like feel, it all complements the lyrical content quite well. The ambience umbrellas the central role, and it all gels up to envelope the feel of the song. Surely nothing could've stirred up emotion better.

Everything from the rain scenes to the Strings performing in an alleyway-type-place is very nicely executed. But the video isn't just good because of what it is, but also because of what it isn't - it isn't a rip off of a foreign clip, it isn't inspired by a musical, it isn't a paperback-novel storyline, and it certainly isn't an attempt at following the crowd. And originality always scores high, at least in my books.

Fresh off directing the new video for "Hai Koi Hum Jaisa," this is the second Strings video that Umar has worked on, and the Strings–Umar Anwar collaboration seems to be going great guns. The short-film feel of "Kahani Mohabbat Ki," perhaps one of the most touching clips to hit the screen in the recent past, makes it all the more dynamic. With no elaborate costumes and without intricate tangled up characters, it's actually the simplicity of the video that makes it all the more effective. High on murky sentiments, perhaps even to the extent of entering the depressing category, the point behind the video was to evoke emotions, and that's exactly what it manages to do. Kudos to Umar Anwar for yet another subtle piece of work.

Sameen Amer
May, 2005
The News International, Pakistan