ISHQKINARA- Director Meher Jaffri shares her notes with us
I wanted the video to be a fun; whimsical and fantastical take on the ‘illusion of love’ and the idea of ‘losing yourself in love’ that the song speaks of in more poetic, almost spiritual way. Hence, the concept of musical theatre, all very flamboyant and fantastical in its form – the theatre itself, the ultimate show or illusion of reality. I wanted to go further and deconstruct the concept of the theatre, that is, to reveal the mechanics and the machinery behind the grand illusion (some meta- theatre, if you will), in order illustrate our playful take on the message: we are ultimately our own heroes! From this was born the three worlds of the music video, all of which have Zoe taking up different roles:
1. On-Stage Drama: The first part of is the actual drama in the ‘play-world’ that’s happening on- stage. I wanted to pay homage to the genesis of film and video as the form of storytelling as we know it, going back to vaudeville theatre and silent cinema with it’s exaggerated and unapologetically melodramatic style that just makes for good entertainment. The play begins with the classic “girl meets boy’ story, but leaves conventionality as we progress, bringing us to a more empowered take on the ‘damsel in distress’ story.
- Girl meets boy, boy courts girl and they fall in love.
- Girl dreamily waits for her lover, and gets distressed when he doesn’t show up to her tower (a throwback to ol’ Romes and Jules). A trickster takes advantage of her vulnerability and throws her into a trance.
- This trance segues into a dream sequence where the girl encounters and engages with the boy through a ‘mirror sequence’ – a trippy choreographed dance sequence foreshadowing the break from illusion.
- Back in the ‘real world’, our heroine embarks on a journey through strange and mysterious lands to find her hero, unknowingly falling into the trap of the trickster villain.
- He lures her into his den and with the help of his minions, ends up capturing her. The ensuing drama shows our heroine as the damsel in distress – but all goes awry when the fantasy world of the play begins to collide with the ‘real world’ backstage – our ‘hero’ has missed his cue, having fallen into a drunk stupor backstage and in a quick second our actress take charge of the situation, like a boss, takes the role of the hero, defeats the villain and and saves the scene, the play and the day!2. Backstage reality: I wanted to show actors behind their ‘on-stage characters’ and the madness that ensues behind the scenes of any play (and film). Backstage we have actors in a frenzy, getting ready, getting psyched, getting drunk, revealing personas that may be very different from the illusion they’re putting up on stage. Things are often going wrong backstage, makeshift solutions are being thought of on the spot and the drama happening backstage is often times most exciting of all.
3. Audience: The fantasy is not complete without the audience who come to submit themselves to the illusion. This is a playful take on our willingness to get lost in the illusion of stories, theatre, and in the case of the song, love. The audience submits itself to the play world as the lights go down, are engrossed in the action on-stage, laugh at the comedy, get caught up in the suspense and are thrilled at the heroine’s triumph. Of course, no piece of meta-theatre is complete without it’s meta-jokes, so we gave Zoe some triple role action within the audience:
Zoe as herself – Zoe plays herself, coming to the theatre to watch a play. Some inside jokes include the fact that she has come with Sunil, the real life actor who plays the character of the villain in the play; and she sits next to a supposed stranger Kashif, the actor who plays the hero onstage. She also interacts with the Fanboy and the Aunty who are noisy patrons of the arts. Zoe as the Fanboy – this little twerp is an excited fellow, fully engrossed and heartily enjoying the play when he notices Zoe Viccaji in the crowd near him! He can’t contain his joy as he disrupts his friends’ attentions around him to tell them of this celebrity sighting. His cooler friends can’t sush him up as he begs them to pass along his Zoe Viccaji artwork covered backpack to get her autograph on. They must comply and he is overjoyed when she waves at him and he gets that coveted autograph. Zoe as the Aunty – No play-watching experience is complete in Pakistan without that Aunty who bamboozles her way into the performance late, scarfing down heaps of snacks, who’s phone never stops ringing and who promptly falls asleep, snoring her way through the show. She’s generally a bit of a nuisance for her fellow audience members.
4. Epilogue: There is bonus epilogue after the credits that show Zoe as a sweeper, clearing up the mess left after the show (with its sets and props looking ridiculous out of context) and telling us (and the Aunty who sleeps well past the curtain call) that the show is over! Above all we wanted to have fun with the video and while the more discerning eye might appreciate the meta-theatrical take on illusion, as well as the finer details hidden in different scenes (drawing people back to multiple viewings hopefully) – the more basic viewer will be heavily entertained with the grandiosity of the sets, colours, dancing and drama; and the slapstick humour onstage and of Zoe in her hilarious alter-egos offstage.
x Meher Jaffri