Most of the times, it is difficult (if not downright impossible) to get a cover song right, especially one that is a folk tune. But if there is one artist who can take an old classic and convert it into something unique and modern, again and again, it has to be Ali Sethi. A case in point is Sethi’s most recent cover of ‘Chan Kithan’ for which he collaborated with Studio S and whose video arrived like a lucid dream on chaand raat last month. The video has picked up over 2.3 million views on Facebook since its debut several days ago. Though numbers don’t necessarily validate talent, in Sethi’s case, they go to show just how his star power is growing.
The music video, if you still haven’t seen it, is a modern-day reinterpretation of the Cinderella theme featuring an ensemble of stars and is co-directed by Sethi and Taimoor Salahuddin (who goes by the moniker Mooroo).
Though the star-studded video is certainly helping the song gain maximum attention, Sethi (and collaborating producer Saad Sultan) have managed to create a song that will last long after the music video stops running. And though melancholic, it is beautiful and yet another brilliant addition to Sethi’s growing repertoire of folk songs, both original and covers.
Speaking to Instep, Sethi said about the track: “In our rendition of the song we’ve added shades of electronica and indie-rock to the musical arrangement while retaining the traditional ethos of the song (as embodied in the dholak, harmonium and ‘been’ and I think we’ve created a new genre here - what I’d like to call ‘Punjabi Gothic’.”
Ali Sethi seems to be having a landmark year of sorts. He took the stage at the Lux Style Awards and owned it with flair. He was a panelist at a session titled ‘Imagination as Imagery’ during the second edition of Lahore literary festival in New York. He played some live shows across the country including one in Karachi that also featured Zeb Bangash, Sanam Marvi and Javed Bashir. And there’s more.
In the month of January this year, Sethi participated in an evening dedicated to Music, Poetry and the Arts called Misaq-e-Ishq (The Covenant of Love). Presented by The Lahore Biennale Foundation, the LUMS School of Education and the Harvard South Asia Institute, it was a music-and-poetry recital based “around the Sufi ideal of Love”.
Apart from Sethi, the event, held in Lahore, also featured Ali Asani (Professor of Indo-Muslim Religion and Cultures at Harvard University) and Lahore Biennale Artistic Director Rashid Rana while the conversation touched “upon the works of regional masters and Sufi visionaries Amir Khusrau, Shams Sabzwari, Bulleh Shah, and Shah Abdul Latif.”
Those who can’t wait for Sethi’s next single can, for the time being, head over to Patari where you can find a new version of the song ‘Mohabbat Karney Wala’ that is sung by Sethi and is featured on the soundtrack of an upcoming TV drama.
– Maheen Sabeeh