Meri Kahani Album Review
The upside and downside
A lot can be said about a musician who has managed to bowl out everyone and is
still standing strong at the crease. The magician bowler in this case is Atif
Aslam, who has managed to make himself the biggest artist of our times. And now
he's back, with a new album, Meri Kahani, that he himself has claimed, is the
This album has come after Atif has made it in India, sung for Bollywood which
led him to pick up his first-ever Filmfare nomination. In the last three years,
Atif managed to team up with Indian composers and released Doorie, which made
him an even bigger icon and made his mark in and across the border, which is as
successful as it gets.
One example is the fact that he has sung on the upcoming Bollywood film Race,
which features some of Indian cinema's biggest actors such as Anil Kapoor, Saif
Ali Khan, Akshaye Khanna as well as babes Katrina Kaif, Bipasha Basu and Sameera
Amidst all this success there has also been criticism, for selling himself short
to Bollywood, going totally over-the-top filmi with Doorie and not making an
effort with his image as far as videos go.
But all that is perhaps in the past. To his word, Atif has indeed changed gears
and has made a visible effort in surprising listeners, vis-à-vis the music,
lyrics and vocals.
In Meri Kahani he has teamed up with some of most exciting musicians of our
times such as Farhad Humayoun, Sheraz Siddiqui, Mahmood Rehman of Overload as
well as guitarist and producer Sarmad Ghafoor and has attempted an album that is
definitely different than his previous works. It is a milestone compared to
But does it surpass the magic of Jalpari is the big question...
Inside the story
Meri Kahani is an album that sees Atif Aslam in a composition mode. He has
composed most of the songs himself while some he has co-written with his brother
and manager Shahbaz Aslam. The bulk of lyrics have also been penned by Atif
along with Shahbaz, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Sarmad Ghafoor and Shah Hussain.
The debut single off the album, 'Meri Kahani' may not be the album's shining
moment but it is a start as one unravels the sound behind the album. That said,
this particular tune and its video is not too impressive. Even though it is
sharp in terms of sound, it sees Atif downplay his vocals. Atif has vocals that
shine out. One could identify that voice anywhere. But not on the tune that is 'Meri
Kahani'. The full throttle of Atif Aslam's voice does not ever come through on
this tune. And that remains the biggest disappointment. You have to listen very
hard to decipher the words and while that mystery element is fun in some musical
cases, here it isn't. Plus the video is also another dud that is a cut between
'Ehsaas' and 'Hum Kis Galli Ja Rahein Hai'.
But the single is just a teaser. The real distinct ditties are really inside.
And this is an album split between hard rocking numbers, soft pop ditties with
ballads here and there.
The mood, like the music varies. It is fiery and optimistic at times,
introspective and heartbreaking at others, showcasing the varying emotions of
the icon himself. And that really is one reason why it is a commendable effort.
Meri Kahani is personal reflection and that is the exciting bit.
From the blistering and meaty, 'Yaaro' which is a confident nod to friendship as
Atif sings, "Kitni hai khusiyaan/Kitney gham/Milkey raheingay sada/Hongay na
yaaro kabi juday" to the aggressive and socially-conscious, 'Hungami Halaat'
where the music like a riding rollercoaster and full credit to Mahmood Rehman
for some solid guitaring. Lyrically, this is a well-thought out song. As Atif
sings, "Kab tak samaiton ga/Kab talak behlaon ga/ Dil ki mein jout ko/Kaisay
Jalaon ga/Kis ka hai saath yahan/kaun zakham bharey/Yeh josh hai rawan/Tum jo
ger sung/Chaley hangami halaat" - it is a fine angst-ridden number. Of course
had Atif been aiming for a higher pitch, the impact of the tune would've been
Then there is the relatively softer and sober, 'Chor Gayai' which leaked on the
internet as a rough cut with the title, 'Chupke Se Aaye' and is simply superb.
In some ways it is reminiscent of the softness of 'Kuch Iss Tarah' but a lot
more mature. As Atif sings, "Kyun chor gayai woh rassetin/Kabhi saath chaley
thay jin pey" - it remains the most melodic song on the album without a doubt
and in many ways, is a signature Atif Aslam tune. Brilliant.
'Joug' with its tipsy mood and mysterious air where deciphering words is a task
but its softness, qualifies as a worthy listen. As Atif croons, "Hum sab jhoom
lay" - you end up intrigued wondering where the song goes next. And that is a
really beauty, the unpredictable nature of the song.
A duet comes through with 'Kaun Tha (Kapkapi)' and this is perhaps the slowest
song on the album and has a really morbid feel to it even though the melody is a
tad weak. The female vocalist whose name is given as S.K.J has a honey sweet
voice and Atif has downplayed his own vocals but that factor is one that I am
not fond of at all.
Another ballad-like number is 'Mann Hota Hai' where the beginning of the lone
piano teamed up with Atif Aslam stuns with its morbid character as Atif croons,
"Khabon sey khilanay ko mann hota hai/Kisi ki na pey ro du tau/Khiloney tuut
jayein/Koi mujhe sey poochey/Khun rota hai/Mann Hota hai", it works as a moody
Introspection gives way to 'Kinara' where Atif has gone demure in his singing as
he says, "Pal ka yeh jeevan hai/Kaisey yahan jeena sikhon/Dhundla say eh manzar
hai/Sehmi si khamoshi hai/Yeh meri zindagi bus ek khwab hai" - it is a lyrical
Continuing the soft trend is 'Humrahi' but it neither shows off Atif's vocals
too well and neither does this have a melody that sticks to you. On the other
hand, while 'Mai Nee' is musically an interesting number even as it struggles
with the melody and consequently struggles in grabbing one.
The big verdict
Compared to Doorie, Meri Kahani is a mature step up. It is sharp in sound,
guitaring by Mahmood Rehman and Sarmad Ghafoor in most places is excellent. And
as far as sound goes, this is an album filled with rock ditties and spread well
throughout. Even the soft songs are musically interesting as well as distinct.
As a songwriter Atif has grown up and that reflects throughout.
The one and the only problem is the vocals. It is as if is deliberately trying
to downplay his voice, which is a factor that plagues this album throughout and
doesn't work. In other words, he sounds suppressed. Atif has been criticized for
being off-key in the past and perhaps that has led to this strange fact. But
even so, one ends up missing the voice that was present on the average Doorie
and the fun-loving debut Jalpari and the sheer power and impact that came
Atif's voice is his biggest asset and one doesn't feel the full-throttle, which
is a huge disappointment. The impact of even good songs like 'Hangami Halaat', 'Yaaro',
'Chor Gayai' among others, hence is diminished tremendously and that just
And ironically enough, the man who replaced Atif in Jal and since then has
struggled, namely Farhan Butt, has done the exact opposite in Jal's new record,
Boondh. Where Atif sounds restrained, Farhan has never been more exciting, loud
Meri Kahani is patchy in places, partially because melodies are weak in some
places and the voice at others. However, Atif has taken a crack in trying out a
different, somewhat beefier sound. And as a result, Meri Kahani has some solid
rock elements in it. Meri Kahani is proof that Atif is a talented artist. And
just for making a conscious effort, this album should be heard.
By Maheen Sabeeh