Ms. Marvel, the new series from Disney Plus, is making all the right moves. Starring Pakistani-Canadian actor Iman Vellani in the titular role of Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel, the series is winning over people’s hearts and minds. The episodes are being showcased in Pakistani cinemas – for one thing. But, beyond that, a superhero series that keeps brown culture in mind, and ropes in Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy from Pakistan as one of the directors, is another reason to cheer it on.
The South Asian flavour is not restricted to the Academy-Award winning director from Pakistan. Actors Fawad Khan and Nimra Bucha also appear in the series. But the biggest surprise is the music department and what a brilliant surprise it truly is.
At least two Coke Studio 14 songs, such as ‘Peechay Hutt’ by Hasan Raheem, Talal Qureshi and Justin Bibis and ‘Pasoori’ by Ali Sethi and Shae Gill, are a part of the OST, along with an Eva B song called ‘Rozi’. Within the episodes, there are other moments that pay ode to Pakistani music. But those wondering about other names attached to the music department can be overjoyed as Janoobi Khargosh is part of the OST as well.
Apart from Swet Shop Boys who feature in past episodes, a Janoobi Khargosh song, the cult favourite from the group called ‘Cpt. Space’ is going to appear in one of the episodes.
Waleed Ahmed, who helms Janoobi Khargosh, confirmed the news to Instep and noted how this selection felt “amazing and very unexpected.”
Part of the reason is also the fact that while Coke Studio 14 songs are as mainstream as it gets, Janoobi Khargosh has a following, but it’s not close to a platform like Coke Studio.
“Well, being approached directly by Marvel Studios for the song came as a big surprise,” Waleed told Instep, “It’s a great feeling to know that it’s not because of the numbers. We can learn a thing or two from it because there’s some really amazing music being produced here in Pakistan that needs to be explored.”
If you’re not familiar (still?) with Janoobi Khargosh, head over to their artist page on any of the major streaming sites and find their work, including albums such as Survivors (2019), Billi Khamba Aur Urantashtari (2014), and the synth pop drenched EP from 2018 called Cpt. Space that contains five songs.
As for Coke Studio 14’s music that has been picked up by Ms. Marvel, producer and curator of the music series, Zulfiqar Jabbar Khan (Xulfi), while talking to Arab News noted how Ms. Marvel and Coke Studio 14 is about representation and awareness about what Pakistan is on a global scale. “Through art, we tell our identity to people,” he said. “We offer something extremely interesting and exciting to the world; the way we are and the kind of music we have.”
If MCU (Disney’s parent company) made record numbers and won critics over by how Black Panther represented African culture and the African-American experience, Ms. Marvel has done a good job in its representation of brown culture. The series is centered on the experience of a teenager called Kamala Khan who adores superheroes such as Brie Larson’s character (Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel) in Captain Marvel. But somewhere in that adulation of other superheroes, Kamala Khan becomes a superhero after getting powers herself. What the addition of Janoobi Khargosh says is that Marvel Studios is not only interested in songs with high numbers necessarily. And, like everything else in the series, this was also a good call as the series will take Janoobi Khargosh to multiple territories and introduce their music to many at large.–Ms. Marvel poster by Shehzil Malik, 'Cpt. Space artwork by Umer Ahmed
Natasha Noorani on how Coke Studio 14 paved the way for ‘Faltu Pyar’
asan Raheem, Natasha Noorani and Talal Qureshi’s ‘Faltu Pyar’ is an ambitious effort when it comes to the visual experience. But what makes the song so cool is how addictive it is and makes a space inside your head.
What all three artists also have in common, apart from ‘Faltu Pyar’, is their respective roles in Coke Studio 14. Hasan and Talal Qureshi (joined by Justin Bibis), dropped the colossal electronic banger, ‘Peechay Hutt’.
Meanwhile, Natasha Noorani, who is an intriguing artist and an ethnomusicologist joined a handful of musical experts as part of a think tank created within the music series.
According to one member of the think tank, it played a significant role in the curation process including artists who were ultimately selected. Though Xulfi was the executive producer and curator, he did get suggestions from the think tank.
In its 14th year, expectations from the music series were higher than any other platform. In some ways it has become a rite of passage for musicians.
Talking about her experience as Coke Studio 14 think tank member and how it paved way for ‘Faltu Pyar’, Natasha Noorani noted that her role was being in a curatorial position in Coke Studio 14. “It was about identifying artists that work and make sense together,” she observed, “which upcoming artist has the most potential in term of voice and original songwriting.”
She recounted how it led to the early days of ‘Faltu Pyar’. “The thing with ‘Faltu Pyar’ is that Hasan, Talal and I found ourselves in the same room and decided to work on some music together. We wrote many songs out of which ‘Faltu Pyar’ is just one. It happened organically. We were just sharing music; Hasan started playing the guitar, Talal just added that crazy beat, Hasan wrote his verses and I wrote the chorus. I think Talal and Hasan really pushed me to experiment and it paid off so it was a beautiful moment of mutual collaboration.”
Working with Talal Qureshi (with whom Natasha has collaborated before), according to the artist, was an “easy-breezy experience.”
“He will take the bare bones of an idea and just elevate it and that’s one of the strongest parts of the song. I think that the chemistry that Hasan and I were able to write into our lyrics and the jovial nature with which we were able to shoot the music video wasn’t premeditated. It was a wonderful collaboration all around and I hope people get that sense from the song and the music video.” – Photo by Anoosh Zeerik