Natasha Noorani's 'Chhorro' infuses a much-needed womanly vibe to Pakistan's male-dominated music scene

Published 04 Jun, 2021 10:49am

The song is about that moment in a relationship where one partner feels taken for granted, almost ignored.

“I’ve been singing my whole life,” says Natasha Noorani. But Natasha broke out into the mainstream music scene in Pakistani with her debut on Velo Sound Station only last year, with the hit original single, 'Baby Baby'.

Although she’s very well known among Pakistan’s music circles as one of the co-directors of one of Pakistan’s most important music festivals, Lahore Music Meet, as a former manager of Pakistani pop-rock duo Strings and — for those keeping a keen eye on the underground music scene — as one half of the retro-pop outfit Biryani Brothers, as a musician, up until that moment, she hadn’t quite been able to make a mark on mainstream audiences.

While still basking in the runaway success that 'Baby Baby' was and her newfound attention, after years of struggling as an underground artist, she spoke about how her focus from that moment on would be on finishing the singles for her upcoming album, Ronaq [Bright].

Well, that time has come. The singer-songwriter-festival director-manager and ethnomusicologist has just released the first single from her album and it’s called 'Chhorro' [Let me go]. And it’s a delicate, ultra-feminine, coquettish-with-a-hint-of-solemnity, little work-of-wonder song that infuses a much-needed womanly vibe that’s sorely missing from the larger, largely male-dominated music scene.

Natasha Noorani’s first single from her upcoming album, 'Chhorro', infuses a much-needed womanly vibe sorely missing from the largely male-dominated music scene

'Chhorro' is an electropop number that somehow fuses the deep, dark, sombreness of Natasha’s previously released independent numbers, but in an almost light, playful way that makes it palatable and digestible for a larger audience. This song is geared towards mass appeal. While, at the time of writing this review, it had only been a day since the song has been out, I really hope it makes its mark.

The song is about that moment in a relationship where one partner feels taken for granted, almost ignored. In 'Chhorro' the protagonist is crying out to be heard, to be seen, but it’s the inner voice of a woman who will not speak her hurt or needs out loud, but instead is waiting for her partner to notice. There’s a widening gap in this relationship that both pains her and makes her fearful, yet she’s grasping on the want that her partner start courting her again.

The very singalong-able chorus goes: “Chhorro/ Chhorro yeh haath mera/ Chhorro/ Chhorro yeh haath/ Main aag mein kharri hui/ Aag mein youn bheeg chuki hoon dekho zarra”

[Let me go/ Let go of my hand/ Let me go/ Let go of this hand/ I’m standing in fire/ I’m drenched in fire, look at me]

Natasha’s rich, warm-toned voice is perfectly suited for Chhorro. It’s not the kind of song where she gets to show off the extremes of her vocal skills, but there is a definite measured control in her singing. It is off-set nicely (but never overpowered) by the layered electronic retro-pop that rises to a wall-of-sound feeling during the chorus.

And for good reason. “My mother used to kind of teach me how to sing,” Natasha had said to me when I spoke to her after 'Baby Baby' came out. “My siblings are all very into music and musical in general. It’s been a musical environment to grow up in, in that sense.”

I’ve lost count of the number of lockdowns or curfews we’ve been subjected to in these pandemic times. It will take a while for the world to go back to… when we were free to move and interact without worry. What do you do stuck at home? Judging by the numbers, most people turn to movies and music. They provide a much-needed respite from our otherwise seemingly precarious existence.

Listening to 'Chhorro' on my headphones gave me that sense of… being suspended, getting lost in the music, separating myself from my present reality and just being entertained for a while. Seeing how important art is in these times, surely music will save the world someday.

Originally published in Dawn, ICON, May 30th, 2021

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