“The YouTube views of ‘Na Cher Malangaan Nu’ show that people are enjoying the song and I am very happy,” says Farhan Saeed

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By Maliha Rehman

People have definitely been talking about ‘Na Cher Malangaan Nu’. The single released on the third day of Eid-ul-Adha, featuring Farhan Saeed and Aima Baig in their first ever collaboration together, written and composed by Bilal Saeed and produced under the umbrella of Bilal Saeed’s record label One Two Records.

It’s also certainly being listened to, with YouTube views climbing beyond the 2 million benchmark within two days.

It’s a catchy melody, merging an urban techno sound with the desi Punjabi lyrics that are quintessential Bilal Saeed. Farhan Saeed’s soft, appealing timbre and Aima Baig’s distinctive, young voice merge well together. The YouTube views indicate that people are listening to the song again and again rather than just once.

It is the video, though, that they are talking about.

Some days prior to the single’s release, ‘Na Cher Malangaan Nu’s music video director Adnan Qazi took to Instagram to write a long note on how he had long felt a ‘love and passion’ for American singer Taylor Swift’s music videos and that ‘Na Cher…’ was his way of paying ‘tribute to Taylor & her videos’. He proceeded to thank Taylor and music video director Joseph Kahn for creating the video of Taylor’s song ‘Wildest Dreams’ which had been Adnan’s inspiration for ‘Na Cher…’.

The official video of ‘Na Cher…’ also acknowledged Taylor Swift and Joseph Kahn before the opening credits rolled in. But the video in many places seemed to cross the fine line between inspiration and being an outright copy. Social media has been having a field day pointing out the similarities and some days ago, Wildest Dreams’ director Joseph Kahn also noticed the video’s poster and responded on Twitter with a ‘Lol cool. Hi Pakistan’.

It’s a pity because beyond the video, the song itself is worth talking about. This is the first question that I pose to singer Farhan Saeed when I start talking to him about ‘Na Cher…’

Does it irritate him that people aren’t discussing the song itself as frequently as the video?

“The YouTube views indicate that they are enjoying the song, which is a complete original,” points out Farhan, “and that makes me very happy. Singers often start working within their comfort zones, collaborating most frequently with composers that they have worked with in the past. Bilal and I, however, hadn’t worked together before and I think that is what has made the song out of the box. Bilal doesn’t sing the way I do, I don’t compose songs like these and when we merged our individual sounds, we brought out something that was new.”

He continues, “All credit for this goes to Bilal. There are very few singers who decide to go beyond furthering their personal careers and highlight the work of others around them. The industry is rife with discontent and competition and we don’t usually like to see our peers grow. If you go to record your song at another musician’s studio, it is likely that the musician will approach the composer you have worked with and ask them to create songs for them. It’s sad because if we support each other, we can help build the Pakistani music industry and move it beyond the obstacles that it has been facing due to the coronavirus.”

‘Na Cher…’ is the first song under Bilal Saeed’s One Two Records that has featured singers other than Bilal. Bilal promises that there are ‘many more to come’.

Was it also Bilal’s idea for the song to be a duet between Farhan and Aima Baig?

“Bilal actually made me listen to a few melodies and this was the first one that I really liked. I suggested that it could be a duet and of course, we thought of Aima. She’s very talented and is one of the country’s top female vocalists,” says Farhan. “Also, Aima and I had often joked about singing a song together. She’s sung a solo for the soundtrack of my upcoming movie ‘Tich Button’. This was our chance to collaborate.”

We move on to talk about the video.

“For one, I did not know how alike our video was going to be to that of ‘Wildest Dreams’. Adnan told me that he was going to use the Taylor Swift video as an inspiration and he showed me snapshots from it as part of the mood-board. I assumed that he would be making changes. Personally, I hadn’t seen ‘Wildest Dreams’ till then.”

“And while there are some very stark similarities, there are other segments that are different from the Taylor Swift video. I think it would have been wrong had Adnan not acknowledged that he was inspired by Taylor Swift and Joseph Kahn but he thanks them right before the video begins. He also tagged them in the Instagram post that he uploaded.”

“In 2019, I remember an Indian artist, Salim Merchant Haareya, copied my song Roiyaan and I felt very angry because he had not acknowledged this. If, instead, he had created his song and stated that it was inspired from mine, I wouldn’t have minded.”

Does he now regret filming ‘Na Cher’s video, given that he would much rather have people talking about the song rather than the similarities to ‘Wildest Dreams’?

“I never have any regrets. Whatever I do, I own up to it,” Farhan asserts. “Will I do something like this in the future? Probably not!” he laughs.

Setting aside the talk of plagiarism, ‘Na Cher’s video is aesthetically very pleasing. Adnan Qazi, despite his penchant for paying ‘tribute’, has an artistic eye for lights, shadows and landscape. Did Farhan enjoy playing the glamorous hero, walking the red carpet in a tux and horse-riding- a far cry from the boy next door that he has lately been enacting in TV dramas?

“I loved it! I was doing all the things that I enjoyed,” he grins.

The singer goes on to say that he now plans to release at least one song every month. “I just feel very motivated and inspired right now,” he says.

 

Most of his singles have been very popular and yet, Farhan’s music releases have been quite infrequent in recent times. Was this because his acting projects were taking up all his time?

“Yes, I have been busy at times with acting,” says Farhan, “and when I am playing a character, it drains me out. I am exhausted. Friends have sometimes kindly suggested to me that I should sit and compose music while waiting in between scenes and it has made me want to thump them on the head!” he laughs again.

“I need to be at peace and in a certain frame of mind in order to work on new tunes. Right now, I am.”

Considering that his ballads have always been hits, can we expect slow, love songs from Farhan in the coming days?

“Yes, of course. And a lot more. I feel like music is perpetually on my mind these days. I am humming to myself constantly!”

Some of these high spirits may be due to the success of ‘Na Cher’. Sift beyond the debates surrounding the video and it’s the sort of melody that stays with you.

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“The YouTube views of ‘Na Cher Malangaan Nu’ show that people are enjoying the song and I am very happy,” says Farhan Saeed