Music videos serve not only as a way of promoting one’s music but also visually showcase an artist’s storytelling, either in full-length or the more recently adopted thirty-second reel format. Looking back at 2023, the year has been jam-packed with a slew of incredible music releases from Indian artists accompanied by stunning visual elements.
In this list, we break down some of the hidden details, captivating shot transitions, Easter eggs, and visible nuggets in music videos you may have skimmed over on first viewing. We have slowed down, re-watched on loop, and even magnified these music videos frame-by-frame to find the hidden gems artists and their directors have snuck in.
In addition to spotlighting the music, we aim to recognize the efforts of all the directors and crew who meticulously thread together these visual spectacles.
Hanumankind ft. Parimal Shais — ‘Go To Sleep’
Hanumankind, the alias of rapper Sooraj Cherukat, teamed up with music producer Parimal Shais to serve up a scorching hip-hop single ‘Go To Sleep’ in January of this year. Directed by Bijoy Shetty, the music video is an homage to Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel ‘Fight Club’ as well as the David Fincher film starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton.
The video gives several nods to the movie via frame transitions, set locations, and on-point clothing attire. In the opening shot, the book is seen on the bedside table as Hanumankind (HMK) imbibes the insomniac, unnamed narrator, Tyler Durden. Amidst a frenzied fight scene, the lyrics echo – ‘It’s a burden when you live with Tyler Durden / He keep knocking on your window, so you find yourself observing / Even when you want to rest, ’cause rest assured, he be determined.’ When HMK is seen waking up in the metro car, the lady behind him is seen reading The Godfather novel.
Sulphursky, the synth-wave/synth-rock project of guitarist and music composer Siddharth Chopra, premiered the music video for ‘Ascend’ in March of this year. The nearly five-minute video is an elegant visual production showcasing a neo-noir/futuristic world. Among the many visual nods in the video, here are three that we decided to pull up.
The female animated character ‘Naira’ is seen seated beside a vinyl record playing the Sulphursky album, which was released in 2022. Next, we get a glimpse at a stack of novels – one of the texts on display is evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins’s 2006 book ‘The God Delusion,’ a work of non-fiction that argues that science is our primary source of hope, optimism, and inspiration in life. A total of three cars are seen in the music video, through which Chopra pays homage to his friend Angad aka Kaso (to whom the album is dedicated) via the yellow car’s rear license plate, which reads “KASO.”
Aarya – ‘Peace Lily’
Singer-songwriter Arya presented the world with an enchanting love memo, ‘Peace Lilly,’ captured with a romantic three-arc music video. Around two minutes in, the female character is sitting in a coffee shop, reading Prakash Iyer’s ‘The Habit of Winning,’ a catalog of inspiring accounts of self-belief, perseverance and leadership. After slowing the video down, the character is seen reading the ‘Don’t Change Your Rabbit’ chapter, which suggests that if you fail, adjust your techniques and strategies but not shift from your goals. In the video, Arya is seen hashing out the lyrics of the song too.
Perp x Varun- ‘Easy Come Easy Go’
Urmilla Sivdas, best known as Perp, and Varun Agnihotri aka Varun released their third collaborative composition ‘Easy Come, Easy Go,’ after their previous musical exploits, ‘Best Friend‘ (2022) and ‘Weatherman‘ (2023). The music video is neatly filmed, edited, and produced as a continuous one-shot take within the confines of a household with director Shivang Monga at the helm.
In a cleverly snuck-in callback, around the minute-and-a-half mark, as Varun returns home, the clock points to 6 PM (cue Dolly Parton’s 9 To 5), and if you slow down the music video, you can see Varun’s earlier release ‘Waiting On You‘ playing on the television screen.
A L R-‘Under The Sheets’
Jakarta-based Indian singer-songwriter A L R aka Abhilash released a piano-doused reprised version of his 2019 single ‘Under The Sheets’ earlier this year. The music video places A L R in a white-walled room alongside Yuki Aprilia and features a small library of books and a poster of The Beatles when they performed an improvised show from a rooftop in London.
When you slow down the music video, you can see Aprilia reading ‘The Adventures of Munks & Zo – Volume 1,’ penned by Abhilash and Apoorva., As the song nears its end, A L R is seen being handed ‘Munks & Zo Forever,’ volume two of this book series. The book is marked as ‘based on a true story’ and is plugged into the music video as an Easter egg for those closely acquainted with the artist.
Pratika x PrabhuNeigh- ‘Evolution of Thought’
Sibling duo hip-hop artist Pratika and producer PrabhuNeigh dropped ‘Evolution of Thought,’ a powerful rap meets rock track, welding in a stellar guitar solo as well. The audio is accompanied by an exceptional music video with themes of diverging from the norms, opening one’s mind, not following suit simply because, and maturing into open-minded and forward-thinking individuals
Crafted by the multitalented Chinmay Patkar, the animated music video leaves little to the imagination in tandem with the strong lyrics of the song. Among the many concepts of unlearning and unbinding captured in the video, around the thirty-second mark, a neat graphical depiction of how Indian society has an obsession with fair or lighter-skinned individuals appears, with a fair humanoid figure being favored while the darker ones are forsaken.
Ruhfikra – ‘Puri Tu’
Indian pop act Ruhfikra is one of the artists in the Indian music scene who has likely blazed the path for independent artists wishing to concoct music videos on a minimal budget. For his August release, ‘Pari Tu,’ the musician constructed a nearly three-minute animated film using AI tools entirely.
Through a promotional reel breakdown on social media, the artist shared that he used multiple apps to create his storyline, namely ChatGPT, Midjourney, and Runway AI. He further tackled using each app and eventually stitching the music video together. ‘Pari Tu’ has generated over a million views on YouTube thus far, with heaps of praise in the comments.
Vernon Noronha – ‘Shehron Se Duur’
Mumbai-based singer/songwriter Vernon Noronha debuted his first Hindi lyrical release, ‘Shehron Se Duur,’ in August of this year. The music video has an out-and-out feel-good vibe, showcasing three characters breaking away from their mundane routine.
Directed by Leron D’Souza, a small yet clever detail we noticed in this video is at the start, where the autorickshaw driver receives a WhatsApp message. The message is an audio recording of the song that is received at 10:06 AM. The cell phone displays 10:08 AM, which is ideally the time the working class has already commenced their day-to-day routine. A daytime auto driver and other office goers would have already completed a few hours of work by this hour too and would seek a time away from their monotonous schedule.
Project Malabaricus – ‘Mohabbat – Love With Pride’
Project Malabaricus, a hard rock/metal band fronted by versatile singer/composer Sithara Krishnakumar, fleshed out ‘Mohabbat – Love With Pride’ in June this year, a banging multilingual alternative rock offering featuring an emphatic vocal presentation. The single rips through pounding drums, ravaging bass plucks, and distorted guitar riffs.
Touted as “an anthem to love all without prejudice,” the music video for ‘Mohabbat- Love With Pride’ is assembled by design and production maestros Wonderwall Media Network, directed by Sumesh Lal, and with VFX courtesy of Arun Kailas. It showcases the band performing the song while swapping back and forth between real life and dazzling animated visuals akin to glitching, as seen in the Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse animated film series.
Dhruv Visvanath – ‘Alone’
New Delhi-based musician and producer Dhruv Visvanath’s music videos have always offered a treat for the eyes, together with his slap style of guitar playing. A peek at the videos for ‘Fly,’ ‘Gimme Love,’ ‘Writer,’ and ‘Wild’ will introduce you to the creative mind of the artist and the filmmakers he collaborates with. In all honestly, we can do a separate breakdown for each of those music videos.
We conclude this list by shedding light on ‘Alone,’ which sits in Dhruv’s latest EP ‘Dancing In The Dark.’ The video is recorded, edited, and subtitled by Visvanath himself and places the artist in an empty park. Multiple shots of Dhruvs are positioned in a single frame throughout the video, each performing different parts (vocals, ukulele, harmonies, etc.) of the song. The video is a callback to Dhruv’s 2015 hit single, ‘Rain,’ which is also filmed in the same manner.
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