[Photo Source: YouTube/Screenshot]
By Ishani Nath
NAFS—the 10-person band created by Oscar-winning musician, A. R. Rahman—is creating quite a splash with their latest video: a catchy cover of “Ghanan Ghanan” from “Lagaan.”
The video begins in a dried out desert with the musical group in their trademark white face paint and florescent costumes. The one standout is Arjun Chandy, the group’s musical director, arranger, and conductor, who appears in his classic monochromatic checkerboard makeup and black top hat. According to Rahman’s site, Chandy, an Indo-American from Dallas, was specially commissioned to make NAFS into “a world class act,” and spent more than a year and a half training the hand-selected group of young musicians.
As the beat picks up, the video cuts to silhouettes singing in (technicolor) rain, in what looks like a modern-day “Flashdance.” The video continues to cut back and forth from drought to rain, blending two different visuals, as it mixes Western beats with Indian rhythms to create a completely new experience for audiences.
Unlike the original version from “Lagaan,” NAFS’ version of this new-age rain dance seems to do the trick, prompting dark clouds to roll in as the group finishes their last, perfectly harmonized note.
NAFS—named after the Urdu and Arabic word for “free will to make your own choice”—has showcased their unique vocal stylings both online and recently, in-person at the 2015 GiMA Awards.
Their sound is described as an “acapella feel with a throbbing vocal rhythm and live bass,” inspired by musical groups like The Blue Man Group, Yomoto, and Manhattan Transfer.
According to Rahman’s official site, “[NAFS] is an initiative to promote Indian talent internationally through original and creative acts.”
Though Rahman started building buzz about the band in January 2015, their first official music video, “Tauba Tauba,” didn’t hit the web until August—and received just short of 600,000 views. Both “Tauba Tauba” and the latest cover of “Ghanan Ghanan” are described as a visual treat for audiences, indicating that the producers are aiming to win over the ears, eyes, and hearts of audiences with this new band.
Though their latest video is a twist on a Bollywood favorite, and one of Rahman’s classics, the group promises to do a mix of Indian music, Western songs, covers and some original compositions.
NAFS’ cover of “Ghanan Ghanan,” which was posted on YouTube on January 20, already has more than 132,000 views—and counting.