LAHORE - Harvard graduate Ali Sethi, who is a Lahore-born writer and also a singer trained in Hindustani classical music is all to set to launch his latest single “Mera mahi”.

After the success of his work on coke studio’s season 8, his music for the award-winning biopic “Manto”, and his breathing single “Kithay nainna jorin’’ last year, the soulful and multifaceted musician Ali Sethi has released his first song and video of the year “Mahi mera” a collaboration with folk artist Jamaldin, with a video directed by acclaimed international filmmaker Umar Riaz.

The lyrics of ‘Mahi mera’ expound the notion of “Hijr-o-malal’’, or yearning for one’s beloved; a theme of lament that is interpreted through the ecstatic beat of a dhol and a euphotic melody. Producer and arranger Saad Sultan ‘Laiyan laiyan’, ‘Kithay nain naa jorin’ has enhanced this dynamic with subtle layers of synth and guitar, encapsulating a distinctive new genre of progressive folk music. “Mahi mera” is Sethi’s latest Punjabi folksong, born of the story of Jamaldin, whom Sethi met in his ancestral village Shergarh.

Talking to the Nation Ali Sethi said he had first heard Jamal at a wedding three years ago in Shergarh, my maternal grandfather’s ancestral village. “I responded immediately to the lehek and soz in his voice- he is a very charismatic singer and I knew I had to record Jamal in studio and bring his music to a wider audience. Jamaldin was a farmer by day and an aspiring folk musician by night.

“I thought of Umar for the video because I wanted his eye-a curious but sympathetic eye. I wanted this video to enact the mood and temperature of the song without becoming sentimental or resorting to formulas of rural landscaping”.

“For Mahi mera, I didn’t want to have a glossy plot-based presentation of rural life. We wanted to get a real sense of the people and the place. I took a lot of cues from the music, from elemental aspects such as the dhol as a driving force and the classic sense of Punjabi exuberance intrinsic to the song; also a sense of searching for the mahi’ and how this search can generate euphoria from melancholy. It serves as a neat metaphor for the role of music in that community which creates true joy out of what is mostly a poverty-stricken place. That idea guided my application of filming techniques to our subject matter,’’ Umer Riaz explained.