Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe—Song of A New Generation

Sixteen years ago, on this day, Farhan Akhtar's Dil Chahta Hai was released. Over the last sixteen years, I have watched and rewatched this film, and every time I watch it, I still get excited like crazy. It is one of those films that instilled in me the love of the films. From Deepa's persistence to Sid's compassion to Shalini's grace, the film has taught me a lot about relationships. I have written the maximum number of posts on this film in the last ten years of this blog, and still, learn something new from it. It is one of those films that I feel like I own it, and no one else can like it as if it is my toy.  As they say in the film, there are some relationships that have no name. Kuch rishtey hote hai jinka koi naam nahi hota. It is that kind of relationship that I have with the film. I wanted to write something on one of my favorite songs from the film. 
Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe is the first song that appears in the film. The setting is the graduation party of Akash, Sameer and Sid at a nightclub. Before the song begins, Akash cracks some of his typical Akash-esque jokes and then he dismisses the idea of having a career by saying, "Who cares where the hell we land up!"  He believes that they should all just celebrate the present moment. Thereafter, the song begins. Sung wonderfully by Shankar Mahadevan, Shaan, and KK, the song helps us understand the personalities and the worldview of the people in the film. The lyrics say that they do not care if someone calls them crazy. If the world fights, let it fight, and they won’t bother much. They do not have any reverence even for relationships. If a relationship breaks, let it break, they say. The signature dance step of the song is the one where all of them jump with their arms wide open, giving an impression that they want to reach the stars in the sky as they sing, "Sitare bhi hum tod lenge, hamein hai yakeen.

Our culture usually extols others' happiness over our own; however, the people in song tell us to think about yourself first, and in a way, be selfish. They sing that they belong to a new world, so why should their style be old. Befittingly, the same can be said about the film as well. Dil Chahta Hai was a game-changing film that brought in a completely new style to the language of cinema. It was the first film of a new director. It, thus, behooves well when they sing, “Hum hai naye, andaaz kyun ho purana.” The film’s andaaz was something that the Hindi film industry had never seen before. The song also has a few psychedelic choreographic sequences in blue-and-flouorescent color with techno music beats, again, giving the impression that this generation thinks its own mind, and about itself.

There is a particular stanza in the song where the lines sung by the three of them fit perfectly with their character. Sid, the dreamer and the thinker, sings, "Sapnon ka jo des hai, haan hum vahin hain pale." We have grown up in the land of dreams. Sameer, who wears his heart on his sleeve, sings, "Thode se dil phenk hai, thode se hai mann chale." We are a bit of heart-throwers and also a little shy. Akash, who mesmerizes with his charm wherever he goes, sings, "Jahan bhi gaye apna jaadu dikhaate rahe." Wherever we went, we spread our magic. Akash had said a similar line to Sameer earlier in the film, "Uncle Sam ye Akash ka jadu hai, kabhi fail nahi hota." 
Aamir Khan’s first acting appearance was in a 1984 film called Holi. However, his first role as a lead actor was in Mansoor’s Khan Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. The film, released in 1988, was a tragic love story inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The film became a major box office hit. The first scene of Aamir in the film is the one where he sings the iconic Papa Kehte Hain song during his college farewell. Based on the hopes and the aspiration of youth, the song became a college anthem giving India a new superstar who would go down to become one of India’s finest actors. Thirteen years later in 2001, it is noteworthy that Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe, again starring Aamir, became an anthem of the youth. Both the songs are picturized at the time of college graduation. In Papa Kehte Hain, Aamir’s character Raj sings, “Papa kehte hain bada naam karega, beta hamara aisa kaam karega..Koi engineer ka kaam karega, business mein koi apna naam karega.” He sings that his father tells him that his son will earn success. He does not know what his final destination will be but most likely, he and his friends would go on to become engineers and businessmen. On the other hand, in Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe, Akash does not care whatever anyone says, in contrast to a certain reverence for what his father had said in 'Papa Kehte Hain'. He has no regard for traditional vocations, such as engineers and businessmen, and says, "Who cares where the hell we land up!" He even jokes on finding jobs where he tells them he is going to sing a song on hundred ways to find a job. Naukri milne ke sau tareeke. In a scene later with Shalini, when the two of them go to watch an emotional film, Akash also mocks films based on Shakespearean tragedies.  
Indian economy was liberalized in 1991, and the changes it spawned began to bore fruit after a few years. The youth who were earlier limited to becoming an engineer, a businessman, or a doctor, started to broaden their horizons. India changed drastically from 1988 to 2001. The economy started growing faster; people started getting richer; a new wave had come even in films. It is fascinating that films become a tool to document that change. From Papa Kehte Hai to Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe, somewhere we changed, perhaps, for the better. 

In Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Aamir’s first wife Reena Dutta made a special appearance in Papa Kehte Hain. By 2001, Aamir’s relationship with Reena was not going too well and seemed to have hit the rocks. He met Kiran Rao on the sets of Lagaan in 2001 and married her in 2002. Call it a case of cosmic coincidence that in Dil Chahta Hai, Aamir’s second wife Kiran Rao also makes a cameo. In one of the Goa scenes, Kiran Rao appears on the screen with Deepa (Samantha Tremayne).  
I love everything about the songthe excellent choreography by Farah Khan (one of Farah's best works), the foot-tapping music of Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy, and the meaningful lyrics of Javed Akhtar. Also, Akshaye Khanna, who is not known to be a great dancer, matches his steps skilfully with the other two. And, not to forget those super cool shiny leather pants that the three of them wear and that too in a nightclub. I wish I could carry them off like the way they did. Maybe someday I will, after all, they tell us, "Jab saaz hai, aawaaz hai, phir kis liye hichkichaana.

Other Reading:
1. Dil Chahta Hai—Of The Subtext Of Fear—Link
2. Dil Chahta Hai—Of Life Like A Ship—Link
3. Dil Chahta Hai and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le JayengeLink
4. Dil Chahta Hai: The Love Continues—Link
5. Of Deepa from Dil Chahta HaiLink

Dialogue of the Day:
"Jab saaz hai, aawaaz hai, phir kis liye hichkichana,
Oh, gaayenge hum apne dilon ka taraana.
Dil Chahta Hai

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