November 08, 2011

One More, for the Poet

This is going to be a long post. But I cannot help it. For the first time I’m writing a second post on the music of a film. And I had to, for the wonderful lyrics of ‘Rockstar’, because they are the latest elements to enrich the already beautiful world of mine. So let’s begin with a few lines from the album:

तुम लोगों की इस दुनिया में हर कदम पे है इंसान ग़लत...
मैं सही समझ के जो भी करूँ, तुम कहते हो ग़लत....
मैं ग़लत हूँ तो फिर कौन सही?
मर्ज़ी से जीने की भी मैं क्या तुम सब को अर्जी दूँ?
मतलब कि तुम सब का मुझपे मुझ से भी ज्यादा हक़ है?

With these words begins ‘Saadda Haq’ – a song that truly incorporates the essence of Rock music in a Hindi film song, perhaps for the first time. The words that follow always instigate and provogue a relatively calm person like me. I wonder what it can do to the restless bundles of youthful energy out there, for whom it might become the latest anthem. Here it continues…

इन कतारों में, या उधारों में, तुम मेरे जीने की आदत का क्यूँ घोंट रहे दम,
बेसलीका मैं, उस गली का मैं, ना जिस में हया, ना जिस में शरम...
मन बोले – रस्में जीने का हर्जाना, दुनिया दुश्मन, सब बेगाना, इन्हें आग लगाना,
मन बोले, मन बोले – मन से जीना या मर जाना.....

Still no set pattern, no obvious rhyme scheme, but so much of powerful poetry, and so true to the genre. And the best is to come…

ओ इको-फ्रेंडली, नेचर के रक्षक, मैं भी हूँ नेचर...
रेवाजों से, समाजों से क्यूँ तू काटे मुझे, क्यूँ बाँटे मुझे इस तरह?
क्यूँ सच का सबक सिखाए, जब सच सुन भी ना पाए?
सच कोई बोले तो तू नियम-क़ानून बताए!
तेरा डर, तेरा प्यार, तेरी वाह – तू ही रख!

Of course we have to credit the music director for composing such a popular song out of these lines, and the singer for expressing it so powerfully in his voice, but I find it amazing how Irshad Kamil, the brilliant lyricist of our time, has managed to express the inherent angst of a Rock number using a language that is not naturally capable of doing that. Writing something that is simple yet powerful, youthfully rebellious yet not unreasonable or ridiculous, popular yet profound – all of this in Hindi language for a film song is extremely difficult. It’s not a surprise that we do not have many such songs in our film history.

‘Rockstar’ has a strong voice in its songs. The above-mentioned song expresses a rebellion, loudly, uninhibitedly. And the following song uses the same character in a different situation, a passion-filled moment:

मेरी बेबसी का बयान है, बस चल रहा न इस घडी,
रस हसरत का निचोड़ दूँ, कस बाहों में आ तोड़ दूँ,
चाहूँ क्या जानूँ न, छीन लूँ, छोड़ दूँ, इस लम्हे क्या कर जाऊं?
इस लम्हे क्या कर दूँ मैं जो मुझे चैन मिले, आराम मिले?...
तुझे पहली बार मैं मिलता हूँ हर दफा...

And then, ironically, there is this song about the inability to express….

जो भी मैं कहना चाहूँ बर्बाद करें अलफ़ाज़ मेरे,
ओ या या, या या या, या या या......
कभी मुझे लगे कि जैसे सारा ही ये जहाँ है जादू, जो है भी और नहीं भी है,
ये फिजा, हवा, घटा, बहारें – मुझे करें इशारे ये,
कैसे कहूँ कहानी मैं इनकी?
जो भी मैं कहना चाहूँ बर्बाद करें अलफ़ाज़ मेरे,
ओ या या, या या या, या या या......

Whether it is the confused flight of a wanderer (रंग-बिरंगे वहमों में मैं उड़ता फिरूँ....) or the blessed togetherness of lovers (तुम हो पास मेरे, साथ मेरे तुम हो यूँ, जितना महसूस करूँ तुमको उतना ही पा भी लूँ...) the poet appears to have felt each of these different emotions and has expressed himself in the intimately personal way only poets can. There are also, a couple of fun songs, especially impressive being an adaptation of ‘Sleepy John’ – a folk legend of Czech culture. In this song the play of sounds is amazing and infectious – I wish to memorize it and keep singing aloud. And then, like almost all Rahman albums of these times, we have a voice of the Sufis….

रंगरेजा रंग मेरा तन मेरा मन, ले ले रंगाई चाहे तन चाहे मन....
सजरा सवेरा मेरे तन बरसे, कजरा अँधेरा तेरी जलती लौ,
कतरा मिला जो तेरे दर पर से, ओ मौला.....

जब कहीं पे कुछ नहीं भी नहीं था, वही था, वही था, वही था, वही था.....

हो मुझपे करम सरकार तेरा, अर्ज़ तुझे – कर दे मुझे मुझ से ही रिहा,
अब मुझे भी हो दीदार मेरा, कर दे मुझे मुझ से ही रिहा....

Hindi cinema is fast losing its glorious tradition of songs, and good ones have become so much rarer. But when an album like this comes, it suddenly changes our personal worlds – our homes start ‘sounding’ different. These songs carry in themselves the proud tradition of Hindi poetry and film lyrics, and supported with great modern music and a purposeful voice, they start breathing like lovable beings. Receiving them begins essentially with our initial superficial reaction to the music, and this time too, like many Rahman creations, it was full of confusion and dissatisfaction. But then the songs start growing, and finally one day you pay slightly more attention to the words – the day when the unsung poet rises – and his expression completes the experience. I am confident that the director, Imtiaz Ali, has had a big role to play in the success of this album. And it is immensely satisfying to see the super-talented Mohit Chauhan rising up to the opportunity to literally be the ‘voice’ of the album and confirming himself as one of the finest singers today. The music of ‘Rockstar’ has been a wonderful experience. I only hope the movie does not turn out to be ordinary – because that will spoil the pure experience of listening to its songs. A year ago I was in love with the music of ‘Guzaarish’ and after watching the movie I have hardly ever played those songs. I didn’t do it intentionally. Guess a not-so-good movie is still powerful enough to spoil things. Hoping ‘Rockstar’ is not one of them.


  1. Sir,
    I think after Love aaj kal, Imtiaz might have learnt some lessons. This time he should have got something exceptional in his cup of tea. well, things are seems like turning towards great experience and please do not spoil the pre realese excitement by mentioning Guzaarish here. you have forgot to put some words, the most rebellious words, after .... ........तू ही रख.

  2. It feels really good that Hindi cinema is having lyrics writer like Irshaad, Gr8 Work.
    Hope movie will do justice to the songs and to the fame of all the persons associated with it.

  3. Sir,what is the meaning of "rangreja" and "kun faya kun".

  4. "Rangreja" is derived from "Rangrez" that means "painter" or "dyer"... Here it is used to address 'God' or some divine being.

    "Kun Faya Kun" literally means "Be! And it is!" As in the song "jab kahin pe kuchh nahin bhi nahin tha, wahi tha, wahi tha". That means, when nothing existed, not even nothingness, He (God) existed. He then said 'Be!' and thus the Universe was created.

  5. doesnt "sadda haq" have similar vibe as "main khuda" from paanch..???

  6. exactly my thoughts (about the music and poetry in all the 3 posts), though couldn't have expressed so well like you managed to.
    but sadly, watching the movie left much to be desired. i didn't realize what or how much i expected out of it till i actually finished watching it...