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Raat Ki Rani: Embracing Beautiful Night Hangouts with Arooj Aftab

Raat Ki Rani: Embracing Beautiful Night Hangouts with Arooj Aftab

Renowned Pakistani singer-songwriter Arooj Aftab has unveiled the lead single from her highly anticipated album Night Reign, slated for release on May 31. The track, titled Raat Ki Rani, made its debut on Thursday, accompanied by a captivating music video directed by Hollywood actor Tessa Thompson, marking her directorial debut.

In a recent interview with Vogue India, Aftab shared insights into the creative process behind the album and the collaboration with Thompson. Reflecting on her journey after winning a Grammy, the 39-year-old described writing new songs while on tour, often finding inspiration during late-night sessions.

“There was a lot of writing new songs in hotel rooms, shows at night, rehearsals at night, thinking at night, being jet-lagged, staying up at night,” Aftab said, hinting at the thematic underpinning of her upcoming album. “It made me realize that under the umbrella of the dark, you can heal, you can trust, you can build again.”

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Raat Ki Rani serves as a poignant exploration of fleeting desires and evocative memories, drawing on Aftab’s personal experiences growing up in South Asia. The song, accompanied by a mesmerizing black and white music video, captures the essence of summer evenings infused with the scent of night-blooming jasmine.

A chance encounter with Thompson’s father and musician Marc Anthony Thompson at a benefit concert led her to meet the Thor actor. “They’re a really close-knit family, they’re all genuine, brilliant and talented. They are people with a heart, you know? And so are we,” Aftab remarked on getting to know the Thompson family while making Raat Ki Rani. “These are the kind of people who have such a pure energy when you meet them that it stays with you.”

Shortly after, Aftab found herself crossing paths with Thompson amid their respective ventures in London. While the Mohabbat crooner took the stage for a performance, the American actor was engrossed in filming on location. When Aftab extended an invitation to Thompson to feature in her debut music video, the Creed starlet offered to helm the director’s chair instead.

“I was like, ‘That’s a f***ing great idea,’” Aftab recalled her excitement. “The song talks about one of those moments when somebody is so alluring and has such a magnetic vibe that you just enjoy that. Nothing else needs to be done.” Eager to bring this dreamy sequence to life, Aftab enthusiastically embraced the opportunity. The outcome is a stunning video predominantly rendered in black and white, skillfully encapsulating the intoxicating rush of being swept off one’s feet and the bittersweet melancholy of fleeting connections.

“That’s what Raat Ki Rani is about; going with your parents to their friends’ homes as kids and having these beautiful night hangouts,” the composer offered. “There’s no pursuit or objective. It’s about a different type of desire that doesn’t get written about a lot… when that’s the extent of it and we’re going to return to our own homes.”

Despite the language barrier—Aftab sings in Urdu, unfamiliar to Thompson—the actor-director grasped the essence of the song effortlessly. “She didn’t need a lot of explanation. She was like ‘I get it’. She could tell the vibe just by listening to the music. It’s so important for people to know how to listen to music properly,” Aftab mused.

Thompson’s directorial vision brought Aftab’s lyrical narrative to life, crafting a visually captivating storyline centered around the allure of the night. Filmed during a brief window of opportunity amidst busy schedules, the music video captures the essence of Raat Ki Rani with elegance and sophistication.

Singing praises of Thompson’s directorial genius, Aftab said, “She was really gentle but also a great leader. She knows her vision.” She further noted that despite it being the actor’s first time in the director’s chair, Thompson exuded a natural talent and ease. “As much as the music builds a world, Tessa built a world visually around it and that’s what Raat Ki Rani deserved. It’s so cinematic. She didn’t do anything corny and just lifted the song.”