We’re not against Pakistani artists, but their government: Arko

By Bryan Durham - February 26, 2019

Arko on the music’s industry’s show of solidarity at a time when “the national situation is far more important than smaller things like art and culture”

We’re not against Pakistani artists, but their government: Arko

Singer-composer Arko has a lot to say shukriya for. He’s had a good year, he tied the knot late last year, his singles are being well-received and his latest single is called exactly that: Shukriya.

However, Baarishein, a song composed by Arko for Atif Aslam was unceremoniously dropped from YouTube one day after its release because of the outrage following a deadly terrorist attack took place in the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir, orchestrated by the terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed. It left at least 40 CRPF troopers dead, whereupon several Indian artists and the industry in general showed solidarity with our troops by replacing Pakistani artists in upcoming projects. Also, political outfits and film bodies announced a complete ban against Pakistani artists working in Indian films.

Naturally, we were curious to know what Arko felt about that decision. We reached out to him and here’s how that conversation went…

Political outfits and artist bodies have announced diktats banning artists from Pakistan? You composed a song called Baarishein for Atif Aslam. Your reaction to it being dropped from YouTube thanks to political pressure?

At the moment, the national situation is far more important than smaller things like art and culture. The nation is mourning. We are not standing against certain artists or a person in particular, we’re standing against the Pakistani government for sheltering terror outfits which is why, this is our symbol of solidarity; this taking down songs of Pakistani artists. It’s symbolic of us standing with our nation.

You’re quite the rolling stone, though. You have also put out Shukriya, a track written, sung and composed by you and starring you…

Shukriya has been a very special song for me right from the time I wrote it about a year back, like Nazm Nazm or Saathi Re. It has been written, sung and composed by me, it is completely my baby. Without any restrictions or external situations or anyone’s inputs. It’s out on Zee Music Company.

Who is Shokhsanam and how did you narrow down on the artist?

We auditioned a number of actresses and models in Uzbekistan. It was my director Prawaal Raman’s (of Darna Mana Hai, Main Aur Charles, Darna Zaroori Hai, Oculus, 404 fame) call. It was Prawaal’s decision to shoot at this hill station called Chimgan, which could pass off for a European village. Coming back to your question, we went with his decisions and I feel Sanam looks really cute and innocent in the video.

What was the idea behind the song’s video?

It is a soft, breezy, lounge-ish romantic song about a couple coming together very initially in the early days of their marriage or initial days of their togetherness, the beautiful period of a relaionship where you’re thankful for each other’s company and thankful to God and that’s the emotion of the song. That was the basic idea of it. Prawaal gave us a brief that we are just looking for moments that seem natural when two people are in love or have just been married and how would it be when they are very comfortable in each other’s company.

Why approach Prawaal Raman for the video?

Prawaal has been a friend of mine for a long time, he directed my first single (for Sony Music) called Aainda that featured Riteish Deshmukh and an Italian actress called Madalina Bellariu. Prawaal and I have been friends since. It’s been two years and I find Prawaal to be a person who has a different perspective than mine because he is a filmmaker, because my songs don’t require glossy videos with a song-dance routine. They’re more about natural moments. I have complete faith in Prawaal’s ability as a film maker and a technician to understand the feeling of the song and bring it out on the screen.

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