Sunday, October 25, 2015

Agar Tum Saath Ho — Of Not Letting Go

In J.K. Rowling’s magnificent Harry Potter series, there is a charm called Expecto Patronum. The charm is used to fend off the happiness-sucking dementors, and one must muster the happiest memory they can think of, else the charm does not work. The happier the memory, the better the charm will work. Agar Tum Saath Ho from Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha casts a magical spell, but it is a reverse patronus. It will remind of a time of a devastating heartbreak, of a time of a wretched state, and of a time of a numbing hopelessness. The song has been filmed on Tara (Deepika Padukone) and Ved (Ranbir Kapoor), and the first fifteen seconds of the song are enough to bring back that flood of painful memories. Memories that one thought were purged, but in reality, they were buried somewhere deep in a small corner of the heart. 


Tara and Ved are at a conflicting point in their relationship. As seen in the trailer, Ved thinks he is a different person than the Ved Tara met in Corsica, while Tara thinks he is the old Ved. She is holding on to Ved as steadfastly as she can. She does not want to leave him. She cannot let go of him. But he wants to free himself. It is hard to be unmoved by that lachrymose hug she gives him. The hug will be etched in memory for long. Tara is pleading with him to stay with her. His love comforts her. It makes her forget every sorrow that she has in life. She will fill him in eyes; she talks to him without speaking. She molds herself in his habits, if he is with her. She is thinking of her loneliness, that her sorrows will come back since their relationship is ending, and perhaps, that sends her into paroxysms of wretchedness and she won’t let him go, and would hold him as tightly as she can.


The song is a testimony of the age old battle between the heart and the mind. Tara, dressed in dark red hues—hues that represent the color of the heart—is driven by her heart. Ved, dressed in lighter beige hues—hues that represent the color of the brain—is driven by his brain. Ved means a source of knowledge that resides in the brain. In a sublime moment, Tara and Ved put their head on the table. She slowly caresses his head, as if trying to nudge his brain to fall in love with her. She mothers his brain (quite reminiscent of Veera in the lullaby Sooha Saaha from Highway). Agar tum saath ho. But the brain is stubborn and adamant, and storms out. It is not ready to listen. It is practical. Bedard thi zindagi, bedard hai. Life was merciless; it is merciless, even if he stays with her. It does not make a difference. But, as it happens most of the time, if not always, the heart wins the battle. Perhaps, that is why Ved wears a red bandana over his head in the last few moments, of the same red color dress that Tara wore earlier, as if to signify that the heart has conquered over his brain. He has come around. Bedard thi zindagi, but maybe it will not be bedard if she is with him.


The hug is a repeating trope in Imtiaz Ali’s oeuvre. There is a scene in Highway, in which Veera (Alia Bhatt) gives a tight hug to Mahabir (Randeep Hooda) after she narrates him the story of her sexual abuse. She does not say anything to him and only holds him in her arms. The progressively tighter hug comforts her from her inner demons. In Rockstar, with fresh mehendi drawn on her hands, Heer (Narghis Fakhri) asks Jordan (Ranbir Kapoor) to give her a tight hug. No reason. In Love Aaj Kal, Meera (Deepika Padukone) and Jai (Saif Ali Khan) decide to not meet any longer with one last hug and one last kiss because the tum vaali feeling will never go away if they are together. In Jab We Met, the relation of Geet (Kareena Kapoor) and Aditya (Shahid Kapoor) officially starts when Geet goes and hugs him at Ratlam. The hug plays a crucial part in the film’s climax where she sends a message to Anshuman that she is no longer in love with him, perhaps, she never was. In a romantic film, a hug is of course a common element, but this leitmotif in his body of work holds a special contextual meaning. Though I was reminded of the time in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani when Bunny (Ranbir Kapoor) won’t let go of Naina (Deepika Padukone). “Mat ja Naina, yeh yahan acha lag raha hai, 5 minutes, please 5 second”, while here Tara won’t let go of Ved. 








The brighter parts of the song also tell an interesting story. At one point, Tara and Ved put their faces in the crystal clear water of the lake. The water is as pure as the emotion of love, and the act of dipping their faces in the water, is like they have been baptized in this virgin love. They have immersed themselves in the holy waters of this pristine emotion. Being dressed in ‘spotless’ white, they have tasted this ‘unblemished’ love.


I also really liked the way how the flare of a light has been used in the song. We see glowing rainbows coated around the incandescent lamps at the place where they meet. In addition, there are periodic flashes of a few microseconds of dispersed light when Ved is travelling around the streets, lined with reddish pinkish light. There is something addictive about the song, and I can’t seem to get enough of it. It reminds me of a time that I don’t want to remember, a time I thought I was in love, but I don’t think it was really love. But there are some memories of that time, and it seems to have wiped the dust off those sepia-tinted memories.
Rainbow

At one point, Tara and Ved are sitting on a hill with a drink in the hand, looking over the city. They are silent, and as Imtiaz Ali has shown us often before that love is a relationship in which one converses through shared silences, we see that here once again in the deep silence of Tara and Ved. Bin bole baatein tumse karun.



Song Credits:
Music: A R Rahman
Lyrics: Irshad Kamil
Singers: Alka Yagnik and Arijit Singh

Other reviews of Imtiaz Ali's films:
1. RockstarLink
2. Love Aaj KalLink
3. Jab We MeetLink
4. HighwayLink
5. TamashaLink

Themes of the romance between Raj Kapoor-Nargis have also been observed (here and here).

Dialogue of the Day:
Pal bhar thahar jaao,
Dil ye sambhal jaaye,
Kaise tumhe roka karun,
Meri taraf aata har gham phisal jaaye,
Aankhon mein tum ko bharun,
Bin bole baatein tumse karun,
'gar tum saath ho,
Agar tum saath ho.
 Agar Tum Saath Ho, Tamasha

P.S. What is the special meaning of writing agar as 'gar?

35 comments:

  1. I have not seen the video for the song but I've heard it over and over and over again. Every time there will be one line that will hit me and take me someplace else. It stirs powerful emotions.

    Mujhe lagta hai ki baatein dil ki, hoti lafzon ki dhokhebaazi...

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  2. Yes, same here. It is a haunting, haunting song. And, watch the video soon :)

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  3. I don't want to actually - I think I will wait for the big screen release :)

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  4. Kusuma - Haha, that is the best comment ever here :)

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  5. Mate, a huge fan of your writing. I might have missed it but what's the special reason of pronouncing it as 'gar instead of Agar? I've thought of several theories but I'd like to first listen yours. My guess is that it is something deep!!

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  6. Hello, Vinay,

    Will love to hear yours, too, but a friend told me this explanation. Quoting her:

    "Well, it ws after reading ur blog only that i realised ...yesss, its "...'gar" used in first place n then in the next line she uses "agar"... i always thought that it hs just to do with the rhythm of the song as i hve been through some old songs where 'gar is used...
    I really dont know whether u hv interpreted the significance of the two or not yet... Bt now after going through ur blog.. out of curiousity i asked some1 for the difference between the two...
    Got this b'ful answer...
    " agar is a condition... its like 'if n then'... while 'gar is meant for desire, a wish some1 hs... 'gar doesn't hold 'if n then' ... its boundless of such conditions..."

    N really this answer of that some1 gave me a clear interpretation of those lines...
    She sings...'bin bolein baatein tumse karoon... 'gar tum saath ho'
    Here 'gar is accompanied with the line bin bole baatein tumse karoon...that she wants/wishes/desires him to accompany her for the word-less talks...
    Next she uses agar as a condition... if u will be with me... then only all this wud be possible...
    Perhaps this time agar tum saath ho is for all the lines... as a whole of the stanza...

    And in the male part we can only hear the use of agar... may be bcoz its not his wish, rather a condition... even if u r with me...then too life wud remain what it is likey to be..."bedard" what we cud hear in the song... "

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  7. Hey Pankaj,sorry for the late reply, got caught up. Anyways, this explanation was beautiful!! Makes my theories sound absurd at best!! Also, if you'd like to read some of my stuff, lemme know!!! Once again, thanks for this wonderful insight!!

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  8. Vinay, I am always interested in reading about others' thoughts and views. Please share :)

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    1. Here's a link:http://vangelisspira.blogspot.in/2016/02/staggering-and-stumbling-lad-makes-his.html?m=1

      Lemme know your thoughts!! :)

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    2. Hey Pankaj the way you interprited the meaning is really very amazing and beautifully narrated. Yes one hears the song again and again but you are kind of genius to extract such exact meaning from it.Congrats to you and thanks for your explanation

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  9. Wow.
    Seriously.
    I never knew this song had such a deep meaning. Yes,I love the song.But this? It was beautiful!
    Keep up the good work!
    Just a doubt.Why does he say "Mujhe lgta h ki baatein dil ki hoti lafzon ki dhokebaazi"?

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  10. Hi Anushree,
    Thanks. Never thought about it in detail, but I felt it was the Ved's way to internalize that he does not love Tara, given that they broke off, and he wants to convince himself that he is ok.
    Might be different :)

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  11. Mind-blown. This is just amazing stuff you've interpreted! Never thought that the colors of their clothes meant anything until you mentioned it! Beautifully written. And the song itself is like that exhilarating moment which shakes up your entire world and all you want to do is wrap that moment around yourself because that's when you've felt most alive and vulnerable and loved and heartbroken all at once.

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  12. My goodness! This is totally amazing. Such interpretation was never thought of! At the end of the article i was sitting with my mouth wide open!! Very good job and i highly appreciate you. :)

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  13. you are a genius brother. this interpretation never came in my mind. Specially the one where ranbir wears red on his forehead to show heart overcomes the brain. Amazing talent

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    1. Thank you for your kind words :) Imtiaz Ali brings the best out in everyone :)

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  14. That is some analysis!
    I loved the red = heart and white = brain part!

    Thank you for writing this and explaining the hidden and philosophical meaning of the song as well as of several scenes from Imtiaz Ali's films.

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  15. Mr. Pankaj... Why I am seeing all this so late?? Why I found this review, your 'Tamsha' review so late!! You are a genius!! Every time I hear this song or I watch Tamasha, I feel something, something very deep.. but I couldn't express in words to somebody else or even to myself!! Salute the way you think, you explain, you write!! NEW INSPIRATION :)

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    1. Thank you, Abhijit, for your kind words :)

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  16. What a beautiful explanation of the song.

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  17. Dude, i'm speechless ... Serious #Respect!!

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    1. Thank you, Naimesh, for your kind words :)

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  18. This song is amazing.takes you to another galaxy,especially when you can relate to it which I can.That line..there is dreams in your eyes and because of that there is anger.i haven't watched the movie,but the clip I watched tells me that this girl kinda lives in her own world and her world is him.what she doesn't knkw is that she has changed him,to a level where he is dependent on her.because to him she is a goddess.she is perfect.and he is frustrated because he was a man of himself.i t doesn't matter if ur with me or not..if I'm with u which I want to be.but it's frustrating.because I no longer am a MAN with u.and when I'm not with u its obviously sorrowfull.the girl doesn't know that he loves her so much that he considers her a god.

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  19. This song is amazing.takes you to another galaxy,especially when you can relate to it which I can.That line..there is dreams in your eyes and because of that there is anger.i haven't watched the movie,but the clip I watched tells me that this girl kinda lives in her own world and her world is him.what she doesn't knkw is that she has changed him,to a level where he is dependent on her.because to him she is a goddess.she is perfect.and he is frustrated because he was a man of himself.i t doesn't matter if ur with me or not..if I'm with u which I want to be.but it's frustrating.because I no longer am a MAN with u.and when I'm not with u its obviously sorrowfull.the girl doesn't know that he loves her so much that he considers her a god.

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    1. What a beautiful interpretation, Jessica, without watching the movie. The movie tells exactly this. The girl does bring a change in him, and he is now frustrated because he had made peace with him self earlier, but now she has shown him a new side, a new side which he was trying to hide. He loves her dearly, but he is not telling her. Please watch the movie, and grace us with your beautiful interpretation of the movie as well :)

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  20. Ah, what do I say! Well, I am welling up in my eyes. I cannot say enough about Tamasha, ever, anyway, and now here's a write up that attempts at that, fails of course because you cannot succeed do what may, but tries so beautifully nevertheless.

    Here's what I felt after I watched it. Happy reading!

    http://sinjinisengupta.blogspot.in/2015/11/kya-tamasha-hai.html

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  21. wow! your interpretation and analysis of how Imtiaz Ali works is amazing..
    I would like to know more about how he shows similar trends in his films.

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