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Premiere: Watch Ankur Sabharwal and Mrinal Bahukhandi’s Time-Traveling Tribute to Cinema History in ‘Better Man’ Video

The affable vintage visual for the New Delhi singer-songwriter’s funky track references early motion pictures of the 1920s

Anurag Tagat May 28, 2021

New Delhi artist Ankur Sabhwarwal in a still from the music video for "Better Man." Photo: Mrinal Bahukhandi

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According to filmmaker and photographer Mrinal Bahukhandi, the music video for New Delhi artist Ankur Sabharwal’s “Better Man” is from the year 1921.

That’s because it was created using all the techniques of what is now considered vintage video, while also conceptually being a visual homage to some of the earliest moving pictures, including Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon and Charlie Chaplin movies. Bahukhandi says the idea for shooting footage a la Méliès and other early film innovators came when he acquired a Nikon F5, which he terms as a “time machine that enabled this flight of fancy.” Shooting at eight frames per second, the film director then found a viable project when Sabharwal (a friend) sent him the audio for the funk-inflected upbeat rock track from his 2020 EP The Ride. Sabharwal says, “We were discussing the video for the title song, ‘The Ride,’ when we got talking about another video. Mrinal himself picked ‘Better Man’ and told me the concept he had in mind. I totally went with his vision.”

A GIF from ‘Better Man’ music video

As much as the music video is a strikingly accurate creation of film from the 1920s, it’s helped by Sabharwal’s acting as well. Taking on the role of several protagonists – from mimes to astronauts to the devil – the singer-songwriter says theater has been a big part of his life. “However, I was a bit hesitant as Mrinal wanted to use mime as the theatrical medium. I haven’t really studied or learnt miming so I was not sure if I will be able to do justice to it. I’m quite happy with the way it turned out and it also helped that Mrinal knew exactly what he wanted from me,” Sabharwal says.

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Instead of polishing up any blemishes in production and post-production, Bahukhandi says he and his crew had a “deliberate intent to take advantage of the fragility of the film process.” He adds, “We worked with careful caution through the steps so that all the dust, speckles, bubbles, blotches, scratches, transition flashes, wobbles etc. visible in the video were naturally created, on purpose.” Check out the behind the scenes action of making the music video.

The music video for “Better Man” is the second visual offering from The Ride, following the title track’s clip releasing in February. Sabharwal says more songs, readied during the lockdown, are waiting to be recorded and released. “I’m probably looking at releasing a couple of singles towards the middle of 2021 and then another EP or maybe even an album towards the latter part of the year,” he adds.

Watch the video for “Better Man” below.

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