Monday, July 28, 2014

Satrangi Re — The Seven Stages of Love

Dil Se has been on my list of movies that I had wanted to watch for the longest time. I have seen it only in parts when it came on TV sometimes. This week, I finally got some time to watch it. I have seen only about an hour of the movie and I am already floored by its sheer beauty. I have always believed Dil Se to be A.R. Rahman's finest work. His music is spellbinding. Farah Khan's scintillating choreography and Santosh Sivan's spectacular cinematography are some of the best ever that I have seen in a Hindi film. However, this post is not on the film, but on one song from the film — Satrangi Re. I, generally, don't keep songs on my cellphone but it is one of the very few songs that I have kept in my phone for the last four-five years. The lilting music and the lyrics are thoughtful, having that characteristic Rahman-esque feeling. Just like the movie, I had seen the song only in parts. However, since yesterday, I cannot stop watching and thinking about the song. The video is gorgeous. When I actually realized the depth of the song, I was spellbound by the fact that how can anyone make something as beautiful and poetic like this. So, today, I try to deconstruct the meaning of Satrangi Re

The word satrangi means something that has seven colors, and it is, generally, used to describe a rainbow. In the song, we actually see the seven colors of the rainbow — violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red — popularly known by the term — VIBGYOR. The song is filmed on two lovers, in which a boy (Shah Rukh Khan) is singing and expressing his love for a girl (Manisha Koirala). He calls her satrangi and we, actually, see her in all the seven colors of the rainbow. Not only is this a literal depiction of the colors produced by the dispersion of light by a prism, but also of an underlying symbolism alluding to the seven stages of love. Earlier this year, Dedh Ishqiya's trailer talked about these seven stages. In Arabic literature, love is supposed to have seven stages. The seven stages are namely hub (attraction), uns (infatuation), ishq (love), akidat (trust/reverence), ibadat (worship), junoon (madness) followed by maut (death). Satrangi Re, in some way or the other, whether though lyrics or the choreography, gloriously portrays these stages of love and charms us along.

The song begins and we see that both the lovers are dressed in black. The lyrics say,

Koi noor hai tu, kyun door hai tu,
Jab paas hai tu, ehsaas hai tu,
Koi khwaab hai ya parchhayi hai, satrangi re

It is as if some kind of light is attracting him to her. He wants to go near her and is wondering why is she far away from him. At some point, he is near to her and at the other point, he is far away from her. When she is near, it appears that she is a thought, a dream, and a shadow. The shadow is represented by the black color of her dress, and an enigmatic quality of hers is pulling him toward her. This is the first stage of love — hub

Then, when he sees her in reality, she is far away from him. The distance between them is shown by the presence of water between them. She is wearing white and is as pure as the snow flakes on her head. When he was dreaming, both of them were dressed in black, but now, she is away from him and she is dressed in white, and he is dressed in black. To reach her, he has to cross this path and undertake a journey, as if moving from darkness (black) to light (white). 

Then, he says,
Aankhon ne kuch aise chhua,
Halka halka uns hua

He is infatuated by the touch of her eyes. His heart feels that infatuation. This is the second stage of love — uns. 


Then, the lover sings,
Tere jism ki aach ko chhoote hi, mere saans sulagne lagte hain,
Mujhe ishq dilaase deta hai, mere dard bilakhne lagte hain

He says that as soon as he touches her body, his breath is ignited. His pain makes him cry, but his love for her consoles him. The fire in the tree behind them represents the fire that is burning inside him. This is the third stage of love — ishq — as is evident in the lyrics. 


Then, he says,
Chhooti hai mujhe sargoshi se, 
Aankhon mein ghuli khamoshi se

He says he is enchanted by her fragrance. He is enthralled by the silence of her eyes. He is showing reverence and admiration, symbolized by the lighting of the lamps in the monastery. He looks at her with deep reverence in his eyes. She is his aarzoo. This is the fourth stage of love — akidat.


After that, he begins to start worshiping her. 

Main farsh pe sajde karta hoon, 
Kuch hosh mein, kuch behoshi se

He kneels down on the floor, and bows in front of her, sometimes consciously and sometimes, unconsciously and, thus, he has reached the fifth stage of love  ibadat.


Now, he has become united with her, and they are joined to each other. Their passion is depicted by the red color.
After they become one, they dance in the water. She has now become the water of his life, symbolized by her blue- and indigo-colored dress. He cannot live without her if she goes away from him, even for a few moments. He feels helpless when she goes away.

He, then says,
Teri raahon mein uljha, uljha hun
Teri baahon mein uljha, uljha,
Suljhane de hosh mujhe, 
Teri chaahon mein uljha hun

Slowly, and slowly, he is getting more and more entangled in her love. He wants to go back to his senses but he is bound by her love. He simply cannot untie himself, even if he tries, as depicted by the rope-dress of hers and the net that he is trapped inside.

After that, he says,
Mera jeena junoon, mera marna junoon,
Ab iske siwa nahi koi sukoon

He is unable to free himself from her love and it has become an obsession for him. His life is an obsession, like the deep violet of her dress, and his life will be like this until he dies. Nothing brings peace to him except her love. He has entered the sixth stage of love — junoon.


Finally, he says, 
Mujhe maut ki god mein sone de,
Teri rooh mein jism dubone de

He wants to sleep in the lap of death. He wants to immerse his body in her soul. He has finally reached the seventh stage of love — maut. Also, worth observing is that now, he is wearing pristine white, like her, as compared to the black that he wore in the beginning. He has crossed that pond of water (as was depicted earlier) and transcended the barriers to reach her. He has undertaken all the steps of his journey and all that he wishes for now is death in her arms so that he can be in peace. Perhaps, both of them have attained some salvation, and have reached some cosmic redemption, and that is why a white heavenly aura around them starts shining. He has finally attained his death, and his spiritual voyage encompassing the stages of love has reached its destination — his lover.

As beautiful as a song can be. Also, particularly note that we see all the colors of the rainbow in her dresses, apart from black and white, again referring to those stages.

Seriously, can there be a song more beautiful than this one? Before I am accused of being over-analytical and hagiographic about the song, I found out that Mani Ratnam, in fact, in an interview has said that this was his intention. He had given directions to Rahman that he wants to make a song based on the seven stages of love. And, as I always say, there is so much more to our movies, and I wish people are able to see the brilliance of our cinema. Hindi Movies Forever. 


  1. Just Superb!
    Excellently words and pictures carving of the wonderful song. People can hardly perceive such a depth of such creations. I loved your work too. Thanks.

  2. Awesome description, but a mention of the greatest ever poet Gulzar would have been fair. These kind of lyrics can only be penned down by Gulzar, and the trio of Mani Sir - Gulzar Saab - Rahman Saab is incredible. Creation like Dil Se happens once in a bluemoon

    1. Yes definitely. In most cases when Tamil songs are dubbed to Hindi version, majority of them struggled due to poor lyrics. But Gulzar gave new definition to Rahman songs in Bollywood. His work for Dil Se is incredible. Next to Gulzar is Javed Akhtar whose work for Lagaan needs special appreciation.

  3. Thank you for your analysis. It's mind-blowing. I am thoroughly inspired.

    Keep sharing.

  4. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. This is such an beautiful piece of art!

  5. It took me 5 minutes to cherrypick words to describe your analysis. I can go on using quotidian and inanimate words to praise this piece of writing but none would bring out its beauty!
    THIS is how a song is conceptualised, picturized, presented and immortalised. It is sad that today we've seen a nosedive in terms of screenplay and music since then,keeping aside a few movies which reinstate our faith in Bollywood from time to time.

    Thanks for penning this piece :)

  6. Thank you, Nidhal. But I feel we can always find some gems even in today's films as well, or in most unexpected places. Like this song :)

  7. Wow! What a post! Nice Description! Hats off Man!
    No doubt this song is one of the best Song!
    Yeah it is true " A.R. Rahman's finest work. His music is spellbinding. Farah Khan's scintillating choreography and Santosh Sivan's spectacular cinematography are some "

  8. Nice analysis. But, 'Gulzar's name' is conspicuous by its absence in your post. I think you deliberately decided not to mention his name. Anyway!!!

  9. Such a beautiful explanation .. Thank you for writing... And sharing your understanding.

  10. Excellent piece. Your article really captured the beauty of the work.

  11. Your post is lovely beyond explanation. Only a few writers have the ability to analyse the songs this way

  12. One of those rare songs in bollywood where the lyrics,choreography,costumes and background music are built around the context of the song.

  13. Absolutely brilliant observation. I am completely haunted and mesmerised by the song and the thought behind the lyrics and the picturization.

  14. salute to you for interpreting the song so beautifully and bringing it to limelight again. i simply love this song for its sheer beauty and expression. i am speechless for you, the way you have defined each detail so meticulously.

  15. Such A awesome deep analysis of beautiful song, seven stages of love nicely portyed by bollywood maestro.

  16. This is so beautiful. Thank you for this.

  17. I have to say that you simply expressed in words everything I ever felt about this song. Been listening to it for the past 10 years! This is the first time I came across a detailed analysis of this Amazing song! I truly appreciate your post and love the way you described this masterpiece! Lots of love from Morocco!

    1. Thanks, Soukaina. Wishing you all the best wishes.


  18. This is brilliant analysis! Maniratnam, AR rahman and Gulzar are geniuses.

  19. I have watched this song many times feeling it has something to do with Fanaa and the lyrics go in that direction too. This song has a Rumi/Sufi feeling to itself.
    I was actually trying to find the Raag on which this song is based hoping I would get some hints that way. I would like to add that the music is most likely inspired by Arabian music and since the Arabs ruled Spain for a long time there is slight flamenco effect here and there too.
    Truly a gem. I suppose this is what happens when every member of the crew work together.

  20. Simply superb!!
    Thank u so much for this 😊

  21. Thank you for taking time and patience to write an amazing piece..

  22. Thank you so much for writing this.


Post a comment