Heems – “MANTO”

After returning from a nearly decade-long hiatus in January, Himanshu ‘Heems’ Suri announces his second album of 2024, VEENA LP, set for release on August 23rd via his own label Veena Sounds. Alongside the announcement, Heems shares the Sid Vashi-produced lead single “MANTO,” which features Vijay Iyer and arrives alongside a stark Nardeep Khurmi-directed video. Khurmi is an award-winning writer and director perhaps best known for his debut feature Land of Gold, which is how Heems was introduced to his work. The music video features the women in Heems’ family; elderly aunts who are the last generation of survivors of Partition, his mother, his sister, and his 2 little nieces.



“These two inspirations, these parts of me creatively, Joseph Cornell’s The Aviary and Guru Dutt’s Mr. and Mrs. 55 were released the same 1955. This wasn’t that long after 1947’s Partition. So along with S.H. Manto and Amrita Pritam, all these thoughts were going around in my head,” Heems shares.

In addition to its heartfelt storytelling, the video sees Heems wearing clothes by Stoffa, a New York City-based brand co-founded by Indian designer Agyesh Madan. Speaking on the crossover of music and fashion in the music video, Heems shares, “Getting fit for Stoffa was better than therapy. When two creative people spend enough time together, they figure out a way to turn that into work, so work feels less like work. The idea of the outer borough flaneur came about with Agyesh’s eye for design looking at Guru Dutt’s clothes.”

VEENA LP is a confessional confronting trauma in many forms – generational, familial, and complex. The track “MANTO” digs deep into the bloody partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 with the same brutal honesty as the writer it’s named after. “I ask my dad why my grandma’s so quiet, I ask my mom why my grandma’s not smiling, I ask my therapist why I’m always wilding,” he raps on “MANTO,” over wrenching drama-keys from his self-proclaimed mentor and frequent collaborator Vijay Iyer.

“Inter- and trans-generational trauma is something that is starting to be spoken about more in psychiatry,” adds Sid Vashi, the producer of “MANTO” and the rest of the VEENA LP, who also holds a background in psychiatry. “The way Hima discusses it on Manto is so visceral and I think it really highlights the emotional impact of historical traumas that can sometimes be overlooked in theoretical discussions.”