Lahore (Muhammad Yasir)

Coke Studio Season 15 comes to a close with the release of its eleventh and final song, “Mehman,” featuring the powerful vocals of the celebrated Zebunnisa (Zeb) Bangash, the prodigious Noorima Rehan alongside the uniquely talented Nizam ud Din Torwali.

“Mehman,” which translates to “guest,” is a multi-artist collaboration that speaks to the idea of hospitality, not just on Earth but also from a higher, more divine plane. The song speaks to those seeking answers and guidance from the sublime and its abundant wisdom.

Curated by Xulfi with Music Produced by Abdullah Siddiqui and Xulfi, directed by Awais Gohar with art direction from Hashim Ali, the music video for “Mehman” takes viewers on a visual journey through a world as lush and pristine as the Garden of Eden, juxtaposed with moss-covered stone ruins.

Nizam ud Din Torwali, hailing from Taip Se Ban, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, opens Mehman’s first segment in Torwali, an ancient language unique to his community, of an estimated one hundred and fifty thousand people. His tone is uncommonly captivating as his heartfelt verse serenades the turquoise sky.

Zeb Bangash, as a kind and connected spirit, responds to Nizam ud Din Torwali’s pleas with gentle yet firm wisdom. Her words, “Tera ehsas hai, teri yaad nahin | Iss ghata ki tarah mehman hoon | Tera samaan nahin(I feel you, even as memory fades | Like this breeze, I am but a visitor | Not your burden), offer reassurance and guidance, reminding him and indeed all lost listeners, to follow their true North; reminding all that the world is merely a reflection of the stars above.

Noorima Rehan’s verses follow, to bridge and connect Nizam ud Din Torwali’s and Zeb Bangash; “Beete hoye ansuon ki yaaryaan samo ke | Ajab kahanyon ki mein humrah”, (Embracing the friendship that outlives the tears | I join a fellowship of travelers carrying tall tales.)

As the song progresses, Zeb Bangash’s soothing vocals, harmonized with Xulfi’s composition, offer a message of hope. “Chahaton ke bhi rastay kayi | Chun lo koi,” (The paths to Love are numerous | Choose any which one), she sings, reminding listeners that the paths to love are numerous and it is up to us to choose which to take.

The song ends as beast and bird symbolically return to Eden – an eternal spring that awaits those who travel life’s path without regret or reservation.