Zeb & Haniya's 'Chup'
breaks new ground for Pakistani music
Zeb and Haniya have said "chup" (quiet) to all those
who thought contemporary Pakistani music has become a men's domain.
Their debut album 'Chup' is breaking new ground for Pakistani
music as the first album by a female duo to be released in recent
and Haniya have officially arrived, and that alone is a landmark
event. Pakistan has not seen the launch of two young talented women
in the music industry in a very, very long time - and these two
have made 2008 a year to remember for Pakistani music.
and Haniya (or as their full names go, Zebunissa Bangash and Haniya
Aslam) appeared on the Pakistani music scene a few years ago, when
a song called 'Chup' by the duo started spreading like wildfire on
the Internet. The song was then picked up by radio stations that began
playing it. The girls of the 'Chup' fame have just launched their
debut album, also titled Chup, which has been flying off the shelves
at Karachi's popular music stores. Zeb and Haniya have a cult following
and their fans have been waiting for their album ever since they downloaded
the song 'Chup'.
by Mekaal Hasan, Chup also features some of the best talent we have
in Pakistan today: Gumby, Shallum, Kamran Zafar, Mohammad Ahsan Papu,
Omran Shafique, Hamza Jafri, Sameer Ahmed and Sikandar Mufti; as well
as Norwegian musician Hildegunn Oiseth.
The album opens with the song 'Chup' and the vocals on this are a
treat to listen to. 'Chup' is this sweet, folksy song that packs a
jazzy punch because of the use of the trumpet, played by Hildegunn.
It has very simple lyrics yet the song is very endearing.
'Chup' is followed by 'Rona Chor Diya' which packs a far stronger
punch - the girls sound infinitely more passionate, the music is fiery
as is the chorus 'maine rona chor diya' (I've stopped crying). Take
a note of the lyrics 'paani barsa / yeh dil tarsa / par jab beeta
thoda arsa / maine rona chorr diya' (it rained / my heart pined /
but after a while / I stopped crying) and 'ab to bas mai hi khabar
hoon / gardish main hoon / rahguzar hoon / toofaan hoon main / tera
darr hoon' (Now, I'm the news / I'm revolving / I walk the path /
I'm a force of nature / I am your fear) - 'Rona Chor Diya' could very
well become the darker, twisted Pakistani version of post-breakup
anthems Gloria Gaynor's 'I will survive' and Meredith Brooks' 'B**ch'
The next track 'Kabhi Na Kabhi' has darker undertones - it evokes
images of old black and white films and would be perfect for an indie
Bitte' is by far one of the best songs on the album. This traditional
folk song is sung in Pashto and Dari and it brings home the charm
of great world music: that it strikes a chord to someone who can't
understand the language. Zeb and Haniya outdo themselves on this track,
and Hildegunn's use of the horn is fantastic. It draws to a whispery
close all too soon! With this song, Zeb and Haniya have proved that
Pakistani music can be produced in an avant-garde manner using regional
languages, and one hopes more musicians follow their example instead
of constantly warbling badly accented English songs.
next track 'Kahaan' is fairly forgettable and it highlights the only
issue I have with the album; that listening to it from start to finish
makes it feel slightly monotonous. Whereas, if you listen to the songs
individually they're all great listening. Perhaps the CD would make
for a better hear if the track listing was done in a better way.
Diye' has an absolutely beautiful guitar arrangement - kudos to Shallum,
Kamran, Haniya and Mekaal, and the song's vocals have more of a classical
flavor as opposed to the earlier tracks. 'Ahaan' is another track
to keep an ear out for - this alternative pop song will be a big hit
if Zeb and Haniya opt to make a video for it.
The ironic thing about the album is that while the lyrics are incredibly
simple and on paper would look like love songs, the way this album
has been pronounced doesn't make it feel like an album that is only
talking about love - Zeb and Haniya's vocals and the music arrangement
put an odd twist on the words.
'Seh Na Sakay' is another song with an old-world feel to it, like
'Kabhi Na Kabhi' which features early on in the album. The last two
songs on the album are 'Aitebar' and 'Ban Kay Touri Jogan'. 'Aitebar'
is an instant classic and here the vocals suddenly sound so much more
grown up - even seductive. The song's been complemented by a fantastic
video directed by Saqib Malik, who has showcased the concept fantastically
through dance. The video, shot in a gorgeous haveli, shows a couple
dancing to symbolize their relationship, until the girl closes the
door (literally!) on it. Zeb and Haniya look gorgeous as they stand
the sidelines and sing the song in the video. The line 'raat thee
teri to ab din hai mera' (if the night was yours, the day is mine)
jumps out - and the song finishes off with mélange of guitar
and drums, proving how much better live drums sound on an album.
'Ban Kay Touri Jogan' features Zeb on vocals and
is probably the most fast paced song on the album. Zeb holds her
own in the face of lyrics that one would usually hear from classical
music singers, and it is perhaps the most befitting end to this
After listening to the album multiple times, I'm left reaffirmed
with the fact that Zeb and Haniya can hold their own in the Pakistani
music industry. Chup showcases their talent at singing, guitar and
songwriting but more importantly, how to translate that talent into