12 Bajay by Atif Aslam.

Earlier in December, Pakistani singer Atif Aslam took a break from belting out Hindi film songs for Bollywood films and delivered a seven-minute-twenty two-seconds rock song titled “12 Bajay”. The video has been directed by Zeeshan Parwez, and comprises documentary footage of Aslam performing live and recording the song in the studio in Los Angeles, as well as animation and other visual effects.

In the description section of the song’s YouTube video, Aslam said that “12 Bajay” was borne “purely out of my love for music.” He added that he did not care about “the numbers and the views [of online videos] and all the pressure that comes with it” and just went ahead.

Speaking to Dawn newspaper, Parwez said that with this song, Aslam wanted to go back to his rock roots which in turn reflected the nature of the video. The video, described by Parwez as a “visual diary that would show a bit of that process and what a rockstar has to go through on a daily basis,” is an impressionistic take on the kind of lifestyle a singing sensation of Aslam’s stature leads between multiple concerts, recordings, and a few savoured moments of solitude.

Indeed, “12 Bajay” does eschew the populist trappings of the kind of Bollywood music Aslam has found himself associated with since he became big in India. The 35-year-old singer’s career in Bollywood began immediately after the success of his debut album Jal Pari in Pakistan,

So far, he has produced hits like “Pehli Nazar Mein” (Race, 2008), “Tera Hone Laga Hoon” (Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, 2009) and “Jeena Jeena” (Badlapur, 2015). His song “Dil Diya Gallan” for the 2017 film Tiger Zinda Hai is still among the top 25 songs in the all-genre iTunes chart in India.

Many listeners have pointed to the similarity of the new song with Aslam’s earlier work in albums like Jal Pari. “12 Bajay” starts off with Aslam crooning in a mellow pitch before raising it as he characteristically does, after which he surprises us with passages of falsetto towards the end of the song. Aslam has composed the song and written the lyrics as well.