• Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Atif Aslam’s ‘Zindagi’ reimagines Mehdi Hasan’s classic ghazal


Dec 31, 2023


To remake a song, especially one widely declared iconic, is a tricky choice. While many artists attempt to repackage the old with their personalised spin, few can endear long-time fans with their rendition of a memorable tune. Atif Aslam’s Zindagi is the latest track to test the potency of covers.

There is no doubting the intention behind Zindagi, a song conceived in part to pay a touching homage to the late Pakistani ghazal maestro, Mehdi Hasan. Atif teams up with multi-instrumentalist duo Leo Twins as they reimagine the classic ghazal into a modern Sufi-oriented electronic-driven folk-pop ballad. In terms of genre-bending experimentations, these labels alone profess a big undertaking.

Atif’s unmistakably smooth vocal delivery sets the song in a more sombre direction, taking influence from both the virtuosity of Mehdi’s repertoire and the modernity of electronic pop. The violins and piano create a gradient of timbres and textures that back tender articulations of unconditional love.

All of this organic orchestration is presented with a hint of contemporary aesthetic as programmed finger snaps and phased samples of synth and guitar provide another layer of rhythm and atmosphere to this cover. However, in some instances, the ghazal’s lyricism is overpowered by the song’s instrumentation. 

On the visual front, Rizwan Sherazi’s direction finds actor Saboor Ali playing a lost lover to Atif’s main guy. Slow motion shots of candid pillow fighting underscore the couple’s romantic history, the torn feathers frame Atif’s mournful gaze in a little too many scenes. Another familiar motif is a teary-eyed Saboor tearing up old letters.  

The music video spends the better time capturing the immediate grief of heartbreak. Perhaps, giving the audience some more cherished memories to reminisce with the former couple would have made their emotional torment more effective.

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