We live in an era of revolution; an era where the voice of change echoes louder than the yoke of tradition, banishing conformity and challenging conventional beliefs. This wave of reform is particularly notable in the field of art and music. The birth of distinct talent, Indie artists/collectives and homegrown labels have ushered the nation’s evolving music scene towards a renaissance of deeper sounds and thoughtful lyricism.
The Indian rap movement and subsequent shift in sound and lyrical composition can be attributed to various rap spearheads working in consonance with music producers, labels and directors that they share a collective vision with. The refreshing product of one such mutual endeavour is the music video for Prabh-deep’s single, Chitta. Currently trending on YouTube India’s top spots, the video is a result of the Punjabi rap prodigy’s flaming vocals playing in harmony with impactful visuals. Brought to life by ad film-maker and Inside Edge Season 2 director, Aakash Bhatia, and Associate Director & animator Debjyoti Saha, the video is a fine example of artful storytelling and modern satire.
The film’s narration follows the life and times of hip-hop star, Prabh and the wave of change he yearns to kindle in society. Besides being a crafty mockery of the ruling party’s immoral governance and despotic agenda, the video also casts light upon evils like biased journalism, media censorship, cancel culture and the circulation of fake news, that plague our social landscape. The flawlessness in the alignment of visuals and shots, with Prabh’s vocals, as well as the elements of humour and satire employed in the storytelling process are what set this music video apart.
Rich with countless symbolisms, the video boldly lampoons politicians, policemen and businessmen entangled in a perpetual power struggle. The title ‘Chitta’, in a literal sense, means cocaine. But in the context of the video, the word refers to a power trip that most people find themselves hooked onto. After all power like every other substance, intoxicates most, misguiding their vision and influencing their choices. In the director’s words, “The video is a search for better heroes”. This underlying theme is highlighted across several frames that document an aspiring artist aka Prabh’s clash with media, politicians and critics that question his potential.
Humorous yet thought-provoking symbolisms in the video can be found in abundance. The possible addition of a nanotech GPS in new notes issued by the Sarkar post demonetization as a means to keep the population under scrutiny is referenced to in the video. Another foxy illustration of the golden leash and ‘all-seeing eye’, bring out the broader theme of how everybody regardless of its stature has someone superior to answer to. While the police force and media are dogs doing the government’s dirty work, the nation’s leader is himself a puppet to the likes of corporate umbrellas, run by the country’s elite. While Prabh’s animated alter ego, manages to pull daring feats like outsmarting the government, inspiring the youth and evading the toxic strife for power, for the most part, the video concludes with him ultimately being hypnotized by power’s ‘All-corrupting gaze’.
The video holds out a mirror to society, allowing us to critique ourselves and question our own choices. This brainchild of Prabh, Aakash and Debhjyoti’s collective vision, narrates how no one today is truly free and while some chase wealth, most are obsessed with scaling the pyramid of power. The idea is to inspire introspection among the youth and to promote the birth of better heroes to inspire society.
In conversation with the director – Aakash Bhatia
For more inside information surrounding the team’s creative inspiration, Homegrown reached out to Loud Mouth Film co-founder, ad-film professional and the project’s Director, Aakash Bhatia.
Hidden symbolism and comic references to socio-political issues are peppered through the film. What’s their significance and what was your team’s creative vision behind the same?
The key idea behind the numerous symbolisms was to create a rewarding visual experience for viewers. The reason most visual metaphors and symbols are slightly abstract is that the team and I wanted to create a distinct viewing experience for every person watching it. Thanks to how numerous the symbolic elements are and the multiple layers that we’ve used to chain them into a storyboard, the hope is that people will have different interpretations, which in turn would spark conversations.
The team and I are of the opinion that by creating this labyrinth of symbols and expressions, viewers are actually compelled to ruminate and reflect upon the video and watch it multiple times, only to discover a new detail or hidden easter egg in some part of the video. Prabh himself was astonished to find certain intricate elements that he’d hadn’t observed in the preview. When you invest time into actually observing, deciphering and understanding the depth of various visual elements, the experience becomes rewarding for the audience. Hence hoping to create an intellectually/visually rewarding experience was the collective vision behind the project.
Any notable real-life factors that inspired the video’s direction?
Well, the song lyrics when directly translated talk about ‘cocaine addiction’. The current political scenario and how the government has become a complex hierarchy of power-hungry individuals, instead of functioning as a people-serving body, was a key theme we tried to explore. We wanted the video to be honest and relevant to today’s social issues, and the spread of fake news, government censorship of media freedom, have served as a source of creative inspiration.
The video has great depth to it as you stated, and while the symbolisms are slightly abstract what is the greater story/message the video is trying to convey? What makes this particular video differentiate from the string of hip-hop videos currently making social commentary?
Being honest, the video is more of a satire. Our idea wasn’t specifically to make social commentary or gain relevance in doing so. It was simply to create a film, where the audio-visual elements of the music video are inherently linked and viewers should feel the urge to watch the video every time they play the song. Hence our efforts were directed more towards illustrating every verse and rhyme from Prabh’s original song while adding abstract elements that people wouldn’t be able to enjoy only by listening to the music.
Like I said earlier, the greater story our video is trying to tell is subjective to every viewer. That is the very nature of our direction. However speaking personally, I’d say the video encourages the youth to root for better heroes, instead of today’s self-serving leaders. For someone else, however, the story might be about a popstar battling addiction and for another, it might be the glum tale of how the rich indirectly control everything.
I feel for any video to truly be relevant, it needs to be honest and stick to a larger vision that hopefully interests the audience. After all, in today’s age where people are constantly trying to out-woke each other, nothing you can ever make will please or appeal to every single person in society.
Tell us more about the process that went behind bringing the music video to life. How did this incredible collaboration between you, Debjyoti and Prabh come to be? What was your and the team’s personal experience behind creating this video?
Prabh and I have been friends and creative associates for quite some time. We share a great rapport and most importantly our creative vision regarding music and visuals is quite similar. The first conversation regarding a video of this sort took place almost a year back. It was only a couple months when lockdown started, that the vision began to materialize. Jyoti (Debjyoti) could only do justice to the visuals we had in mind. Hence, Chitta was born as a confluence of our collective vision.
Having heard the song, prior to release, I had a rough idea of what the music video would be like. Since COVID-19 had paralyzed people and businesses country-wide, we wanted to create the video as a treat to Prabh’s fans and music aficionados nation-wide. Plus the opportunity to work with our diverse team, comprising members from various countries was definitely a special one. Hence over a series of online-calls, video-conferences and spaced outshoots, we somehow managed to create what we had in mind.
This journey of giving a face to Prabh’s music has been very personal for me. It was an extremely rewarding experience being able to collaborate with great creators, an incredibly hard-working team and make the video happen, despite the ongoing pandemic. This endeavour, after all, was a learning curve even for my team and I. I personally believe that a director or artist must continue to evolve constantly and push their limits, in terms of what they can create.
A Loud Mouth Film, created in association with Azadi records, the music video for Chitta is definitely a modern storytelling masterpiece. The labyrinth of deep symbolisms, trippy visuals and hard-hitting lyrics make it an extremely riveting watch. We strongly recommend that you check it out.
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