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It seemed like a simple video editing trick, run the tape backwards and it will look like this guy is driving backward. Well, it's no trick. The more I watch this video, for JEFF the Brotherhood's song "Punishment," the more jaw-dropping it is to see Harpreet Pappu careening on the highways and unpaved side roads of Bathinda, Punjab in India at full speed — and backwards.
Director Jen Uman is often in visual partnership with the musical brothers Jake Orrall and Jamin Orral for their music videos. For this, she teamed up with her longtime friend Grant Davis and took their common interest in the subcultures of India as a starting point. Jen told me in an email that "we do a lot of digging to uncover extraordinary people living ordinary lives. When we learned about Harpreet Pappu and his 'Back Gear Driving Academy,' we immediately wanted to meet him."
Harpreet himself operates a seemingly run-of-the-mill driving school, but he also has pretty radical ideas. He's adamant about his students learning reverse driving, saying it's a skill that can save one's life. When someone is trying to kidnap you, for example, he says all you need to do is skillfully reverse your car and save yourself.
"The band gave us full support to shoot the video in Bathinda, Punjab where Harpreet is a local celebrity. Bathinda police behave as if his driving is business as usual even when he comes cruising down the road followed by some foreigner on the roof of a car filming him. They understood our concept of moving backwards being just as dynamic as any other form but staying true to the way we see what a car driving backwards sounds like. Our approach to making a music video relies more on the song itself and seeing through our ideas simply without leaning on flash or trend."
The result is unsettling for a bit — and then somewhat comforting, as we see amused onlookers wave and smile.
The song "Punishment" is from JEFF the Brotherhood's 2016 album ZONE.