Intertextuality and Representation in Biryani Brothers - Ikisvi Sadi
In this blog, I am going to analyze one of my favorite music videos in terms of how it represents the Pakistani Media Industry from the 80s and 90s, which also happens to be the golden period of the Pakistani Drama Industry, and then also hints on how the modern times in the 21st Century have changed while referencing media pieces of the past all the way through.
But first, please give the music video a watch; if you have ever gotten into watching old dramas and TV shows with your mom, you're gonna love the nostalgia!
The music video shows the artists watching TV as they feast on some Biryani. The basic concept of the video shows 2 girls (in the 21st Century) watching a TV tape by the Biriyani Brothers which takes a parodic look at the media industry from the 90s.
The key focus of the music video is not only on parody but also on how representation, in general, has changed since the 90s in the 21st Century in Pakistani media.
The music video firstly shows two singers dressed in Shalwar Kameez keeping the dressing similar to how actresses used to formally dress back in the 90s, especially on PTV where they had to keep the look consistent with the national dress. If we contrast this with the girls in the 21st Century, we can see that they are wearing simple loungewear and this highlights how the newer independent digital channels on platforms like YouTube no longer follow that formal national dress code and women can appear more casually on camera. However, this still does not apply as much to the mainstream media in Pakistan, but the emergence of new independent digital artists and channels on Instagram and YouTube has started to change this trend.
Another thing to note is the change in expressions. The singers on TV are dull throughout while the ones in the lounge show excitement and are playful. I'm not sure why this might be. Perhaps, this might have been done in shows back in the 90s to keep the women's image in line with the idea of a "saada aurat" (simple woman), or maybe to keep their characters less dominant than male actors (we'll touch on that later). But, I have not seen these dull roles in dramas like Tanhaiyyan that date back to the 90s, so I'm not sure. Do let me know your thoughts in the comments as to why this might be.
This representation stays consistent till the end as we can see how they have mimicked a '90s news desk here and the hostesses are dressed similar to the previous frame we discussed, and this is indeed how women on news channels dressed up back then.
They give a parodic touch to this conventional representation in the music video where they recreate a 90s' tea ad, showing a typical egoistic working man image of the husband while the wife seems to be a housewife. This parody conveys how TVCs back then used to paint the women in their ads as if their entire happiness depended on their husband, mother-in-law, or just others in general, calling out the patriarchal marketing themes from the 90s. They give a comedic touch to this by showing Biriyani Masala instead of Tea and making the other girl play the man by drawing a fake mustache.
On the contrary, they also hint toward the change in the 21st Century as they ordered the Biriyani to their home at the start of the music video, and neither of the girls had to make food or tea for both of them. Moreover, they have a guitar and a tabla set in their lounge, which connotes that the girls might be musicians, which signifies that both the girls work and both of them have a jolly attitude towards each other which debunks the idea that a working person has to be rude or egoistic.
Lastly, another thing I noticed was the change in control. Back in the 80s, people could only watch one channel with set timings. The popular 8 am dramas, and 9 am's Khabarnaama in the 90s. But in the 21st century, they show the girls using the remote to fast forward the tape, which highlights how with the passing of time, technology and its use has changed and people can now control what they watch.
Other than that, the music video is just a fun play with intertextuality as there are a lot of references to the 90s media here.
The only channel they show on their TV set, "BTV", is a satirical recreation of the PTV logo since PTV used to be the only channel people used to watch before other private channels emerged.
They also made a parody of the Gilette ad, which I'm sure a lot us have watched growing up.
There is also a parody of Waseem Akram's no smoking ad where he is shown to run faster and longer than others and when asked how, he replies with, "Mein cigarrette nahi peeta", but here one of the artists replace him and instead says, "Nahi mein biryani khaati hoon" staying consistent with the branding of the duo.
All in all, ikisvi sadi is a huge throwback to the 90s with multiple intertextual references that help The Biryani Brothers establish a humorous and nostalgic feel.
Also, do you eat your Biryani with ketchup or are you normal? And since we're on this, Biryani with aloo or without? Y'all better not disappoint.
Thanks for reading and a special shoutout to you if you made it till here!