Songwriting is a delicate craft, one that requires taking a deep dive into the self that unearths a spectrum of emotions and memories. Zahra Paracha’s debut solo track “Tum Kaafi Ho” came out ten months ago, after working on “Lahore Music Meet (LMM)”, “Biryani Brothers”, “Sikandar Ka Mandar”, and “Dolce & Ghabraana”.
The Zahra we see through the looking glass of her latest song “Bekhudi” is accompanied by an entirely female-led production for the music video which depicts her as a child. When asked what “Bekhudi” means, she explains it as “losing one’s self in love”. In her observation, trauma and love elicit a similar intensity of emotion, resulting in the loss of self. The song is her journey in breaking the negative patterns of cyclically revisiting painful memories. When discussing the music video, she said, “It is a compassionate ode to my younger self who started this song after an unfortunate situation, writing a paragraph in my notebook.”
Her child version is an analogy of her inner emotional state. The songwriting in itself has been a healing process for Zahra; a way to recover. “‘Bekhudi’ is about finding closure and resolution after a difficult relationship and taking control of your environment; starting with removing conflict from your life. It acknowledges that it isn’t the people that are toxic but the circumstances that dismantle a relationship between two people. Once that toxicity resolves itself, those people return to the relationship with an open heart.”
The emotional narrative of the song is built on the chorus, which was the first step of creating the song. Zahra reached out to Mannu for help with writing the verses and worked on it with Haniya a few months ago. She adds, “The song wouldn’t be what it is without these guys tapping into my head, letting out all the emotions.”
“Bekhudi” now has a sizable production crew and cast working together on this music video. Zahra contacted director Mahnoor Mahar and shared the song with Sadia Khatri who immediately adopted the project. Saadia not only wrote the story and screenplay but also produced the music video. We follow a younger version of Zahra, casually shopping for groceries as she makes her way through friendly mom-and-pop stores with only female employees.
There is a vulnerability in the verses, carried with fun hip hop beats and powerful brass sections that provide a sense of time travel and pure euphoria. Saadia and Mahnoor recognized that the song was addressing the inner child and conceptualized introspective dreamy sequences around Zahra’s younger self as she headed towards a transformation into adulthood.
A semblance of happiness is seen with Zahra peacefully looking towards the sunset, perched on higher ground above the city. There are waves of emotions coming across throughout the song; the lows express childlike anger towards feeling betrayed by past relationships and the highs are being able to process those experiences with gratitude and compassion.
Having grown up in Karachi, the music video marks her return to her hometown. In our discussion about the music video, she expressed that it captures the spirit of self-acceptance that is emphasized at the end as a bittersweet realization where removing blame from the process can pave a way to move forward in life.
With a reclamation of her autonomy and shift in perspective, she has started to accept things as they are. Even though there is a desire to return to the way things were before, the lyrics keep coming back to a hopeful resolution. The choir section opens the floodgates of dance and joy into the song that swiftly carries the listener into a place of clarity and peace. The song captures a beautiful moment of Zahra rising out of an emotional storm with the stride of perseverance.
The production team includes Mariam Iqbal Desai as cinematographer and Bushra Saleem who created the artwork for the song. Through this one song, Zahra feels she had found a supportive creative tribe of women, who went above and beyond for her. She shared, “The women who came together for this music video, my friends, and others kind enough to respond to a casting call gave me their time.” They had planned an intimate screening for “Bekhudi” at Cinema 73 on 21st February in Karachi. The gathering was a celebration of friends, family, and supporters of Zahra’s music.
There is a renewed sense of confidence and passion in her voice throughout our conversation. It has been an empowering experience for her, and she recounts her accomplishments, “not only was I able to create this song but also find the right people to tell my story. They captured the real me without needing any direction, it felt like they understood me.” The gratitude with which she talks about her community helped her counter any self-doubt. She allowed others to support her, which she sees as self-growth and as a positive change from her previous outlook on life.
Her music is a compassionate and empathetic aid to those suffering from emotional loss, hurt, and pain. Her songs uplift and soothe her listeners. We deeply relate to the musical resonance and meaning behind the story of “Bekhudi” which originates from an introverted place inside Zahra. She opens her heart, allowing us to join her on her quest for calm happiness. Currently, Zahra is working on her EP, with Haniya Aslam, Mehreen Jabbar, Ali Hamza, and the Karachi band Towers.
Listen to her song on Spotify.
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