06 Oct, 2021

Popular stand-up comedian, artist and ‘occasional lawyer’ Hassaan Bin Shaheen and Arhum Sameed star in this new single that took social media (ahem, Instagram) by storm recently. Arhum Sameed is an up-and-coming producer who is slowly, but surely, carving out a place for himself in Pakistan’s small but budding electronic dance music scene.

Other popular Instagrammers and bloggers kept reposting clips of the song into their online stories and posts, raving about how amazing it was. In the absence of music channels on television and very limited options on radio, that’s one way to spread the word.

Naturally, expectations were very high as one clicked on the links to the song, now available on both YouTube and Spotify. Were expectations met adequately? Not exactly. 'Jo Tu Chahay' is a very well-produced, fun single. Ground breaking? Hardly. Memorable? No. The kind of song I would listen to if it just came on the radio? Sure. Would I intentionally add it to my playlist? …. No.

In the dance track 'Jo Tu Chahay', Hassaan Bin Shaheen and Arhum Sameed tell you, predictably, to just follow your heart

A few words on the low-budget, simply shot, well-edited video, since it communicates the overall ‘vibe’ of the song very well: Edited to provide the shot-on-film, stop-motion feel, the video starts with a shot of a minibus. We go inside and the passengers are dressed in formal wear with our main duo, Hassaan Bin Shaheen and Arhum Sameed, at the very back.

The video also has appearances by Ali Abdullah, JD, Safwan Subzwari, Marium JK, Maria Jafri, Mehar Khursheed, Meher Jaffri, LA. MIMI and the rap artist Taha G. Hassaan Bin Shaheen takes Arhum Sameed’s headphone to listen to what is playing. Blank screen. Then the scene predictably opens into a party on the bus. The end. That is the whole video.

Unsurprisingly, given the video, 'Jo Tu Chahay' is a dance number. The song has been composed, produced, mixed and mastered by Arhum Sameed. The lyrics have been written by Hassaan Bin Shaheen.

Arhum Sameed’s soothing, deep baritone voice opens the song. The lyrics are simple — 'Jo Tu Chahay' is about letting go of your worries and living life with not a care in the world and doing what you want to do.

Hassaan Bin Shaheen reinforces that with his little rap segment. While he’s done really well, it still comes across as if singing is new for him, at least in this song.

He sings: “Bana deyn apni raahein/ Mushkil se hum agaah hain/ Par dil mein hosla hai/ Humara faisla hai/ Zamana kahay jo bhi/ Jo hona woh hona hai” [We’ll carve out our own path/ We’re aware of the difficulties/ But we have courage/ It’s our decision/ Despite what the world says/ What’s going to happen will happen]

Are Hassaan Bin Shaheen and Arhum Sameed the next big social media stars, along with the likes of Shamoon Ismail, Abdullah Siddiqui, Hassan Raheem or Maanu? No. But they have potential. They just need to work a little harder.

Originally published in Dawn, ICON, October 3rd, 2021