2018 – What I liked in Movies & Music


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Hindi Film Music

Song: Ae Watan

Film: Raazi

Composer: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy

Lyrics: Gulzar, Iqbal

Singer: Sunidhi Chauhan

Gulzar pens a song about the love for one’s nation, without the jingoistic overtures that are common for songs of this genre. The simple composition, which is resonant of a typical puja/aarti tune in the mukhada, is rousing, calming, and tugs at your heart; all at the same time. Combined with Sunidhi’s strong evocative vocals, this song brings a lump in my throat every single time she sings “main jahaan rahoon, jahaan mein yaad rahe tu” . Notice how one word is used with two meanings: the first jahaan is for “any place” and the second one is “the world”. So the translation goes something like this – “I may be in any place in this world, I will keep you in my memory”. The whole crux of this line lies in the fact that a single word “jahaan” in Hindi/Urdu is used for two distinct meanings. What elevates the song further is the use of Iqbal’s couplet “lab pe aati hai dua banke tamanna meri, zindagi shamma ki soorat ho khudaya meri” at the beginning and the end of the song. Iqbal was a Pakistani poet (who also wrote the popular, “Saare jahaan se accha Hindostan humaara”). Having these words written by a Pakistani poet, to bookend this song, is a masterstroke. India and Pakistan are easily interchangeable and even inconsequential in this song. It is all about the pure emotion of love for your country, while not hating the other.

Song: Dilbaro

Film: Raazi

Composer: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy

Lyrics: Gulzar

Singers: Harshdeep Kaur, Vibha Saraf, Shankar Mahadevan

A father saying goodbye to his daughter on her wedding day – this situation has been a setting for a sing since Hindi movies have been made. How does one do something new with this premise? Well, you have Gulzar pen the words. Harshdeep Kaur & Shankar Mahadevan hit all the right emotional notes in this song which is more about a father saying goodbye to his daughter as she goes on her mission to spy for her country under the garb of getting married into a family from the enemy nation. (What’s even more special is that Gulzar writes these lines for a song situation for his daughter’s movie.)

Song: Hafiz Hafiz

Film: Laila Majnu

Composer: Niladri Kumar

Lyrics: Irshad Kamil

Singer: Mohit Chauhan

The entire album of this small movie got buried under other heavy-weight and heavily marketed productions of the year. But, this is the only album that gave me the satisfaction of listening to a well-rounded collection of songs. The poetry, the compositions, and the singing, all hit the right spots. I have not seen the movie, but just listening to the songs transported me to it’s universe of mad & irrational LOVE.

In Hafiz Hafiz, Mohit Chauhan sings his heart out to a thumping composition with soaring poetry. Sample these lines….they describe the madness that has enveloped Kaiz (aka majnu), the poster boy of mad irrational love!

koi fikar nahi, koi garaz nahi, bas ishq hua hai koi maraz nahi..

shor uthaa ghanghor uthaa phir Gaur huaa
har dard mitaa har fark mitaa main aur huaa
koi baat nayi, karamaat nayi, qaaynaat nayi
ik aag lagi kuchh khaak huaa
kuch paak huaa…

Song: Aahista

Film: Laila Majnu

Composer: Niladri Kumar

Lyrics: Irshad Kamil

Singers: Jonita Gandhi, Arijit Singh

Niladri Kumar’s delicate composition about the tentativeness of that early feeling of love/attraction for another person is sung with the right sense of unsureness by Jonita and Arijit. Irshad Kamil’s poetry is for the ages, he is one of the few lyricists of today who has made his mark among the greats of the golden years of Hindi film music. It’s unfair to compare today’s writers to the likes of Sahir, Gulzar, Shailendra, Majrooh, or Neeraj. Unfair, because the demands of today’s film songs don’t quite require them to write meaningful lyrics. However, that’s an easy cop out because the great poets of that era wrote with integrity even for the most mundane movies or situations. Irshad Kamil is one such exception among today’s mediocre lyricists.

Song: Sarphiri si

Film: Laila Majnu

Composer: Niladri Kumar

Lyrics: Irshad Kamil

Singers: Shreya Ghoshal, Babul Supriyo

Why don’t we hear more of Babul Supriyo (the last I heard him was in Zara gunguna le chalo from Laaga chunari mein daag)? He has a simple, smooth, warm voice that reminds me of singers like Rafi or more recently Sonu Nigam. Shreya opens the song in her inimitable sweet voice, but it’s when Babul Supriyo joins her with “chalon baaton mein baaton gholein, aao thodasa khud ko kholein”, the song truly becomes a lovely conversation between two people in love but still grappling with their emotions!

Song: Chaav laaga

Film: Sui Dhaaga

Composer: Anu Malik

Lyrics: Varun Grover

Singers: Papon, Ronkini Gupta

Oh, the joys of listening to a pure melody! Anu Malik and Varun Grover did that with Moh moh ke dhaage in Sharat Katariya’s previous directorial venture Dum Laga ke Haisha. I loved that song and I loved this one as well. The similarities aren’t only in the melody or the people behind the song (save for one: Ronkini Gupta replaces Monali Thakur in this one), but also the emotions depicted onscreen by the lead pair. In both songs, the married couple are discovering each other through the motions of life. I love the simple shudh Hindi words (moh, chaav, sheet, taap, etc.) that Varun uses in his poetry! There is an innocence and earthiness to these words, which works wonderfully in the milieu of the characters in both the films.

Song: Binte Dil

Film: Padmaavat

Composer: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Lyrics: A.M.Turaz

Singer: Arijit Singh

Arijit sounds the same in 9 out of the 10 songs that come his way (an observation, not a judgment), but then in the 10th song, he sounds like a different singer altogether. Binte Dil is that 10th song! How much of his tremulous wailing is auto-tune and how much is his original vocal prowess, I would never know. But, I choose to ignore this and just soak into the pathetic desperation of this song.


Eighth Grade: Bo Burnham writes and directs this sensitive movie about the travesties of an adolescent girl coping with her surroundings which are constantly questioning and judging her. Just like every other girl or boy that lives in today’s digitally connected but emotionally disconnected world. While I couldn’t identify with her predicament, I could empathize with her, and her father, played by Elsie Fisher and Josh Hamilton respectively.

Roma: There are movies that have the power to make you feel something unique the first time you watch them. It’s not a feeling of merely loving a movie, but a feeling of being swept away by its tremendous beauty combined with a quiet euphoria that strangely wants you to stay absolutely still lest this feeling escapes you. Roma is one such movie for me.  It falls in the category of movies where I am jealous of anyone who would watch it for the first time! Alfonso Cuaron shoots Roma in gorgeous black and white and uses a number of complicated tracking shots (his signature) to tell an observational, semi- biographical story. A film that is about the serving class and the served class, could romanticize the prior and judge the latter; but Cuaron’s gaze remains unwaveringly observational. It is this observational quality of the film that made a number of scenes pack an emotional wallop leaving me breathless. Roma is cinema at its purest.

Black Panther: I am not a fan of the Marvel comics superhero movies. There is nothing I have against them, it’s just a matter of taste. But, Black Panther I loved! Because it told the story of racial injustice and a what-if scenario in a fantastic Hindi Masala movie fashion. This was like a Manmohan Desai, Raj Kapoor, Subhash Ghai movie done with better VFX and a massive budget!

A Quiet Place: On paper this must have looked so darn ridiculous. A horror/thriller movie where nobody talks (almost) and probably has all of 2 pages of dialog (even that’s a stretch)! But, John Krasinski’s directorial debut is a satisfying watch. It has no repeat value (for me), but it was a hell of a ride while it lasted and that’s not something many horror movies do for me.

BlacKkKlansman: Spike Lee’s movie about a black cop infiltrating a gang of white supremacists scared me. Scared me not in a scary movie way, but in a way which made me uneasy and angry and upset and afraid. It used historical events to shed light on the the current state of the country I live in. And if art isn’t showing us the mirror every once in a while, then what will?

First Man: I love stories of space, and travel, and space travel! This claustrophobic and sometimes annoyingly quiet movie about Neil Armstrong’s landing on the moon made me appreciate everything that goes in space exploration even more. Armstrong was the first man to step on the surface of the moon, but there was an army of humans who worked to make this happen.While the movie glosses over most of these humans (the movie is called First Man after all), it still managed to get me as close to an experience of what it must have been like for these humans as is possible through the cinematic medium.

Raazi: Aside from the overly simplistic spying tricks, this movie worked for me. Two reasons: Alia Bhatt’s stellar performance and Meghana Gulzar’s understated direction which never allows itself to slip into patriotic jingoism, but staunchly tells a human story about everyone involved in the conflict between nations.  And in such stories, there are no winners!

Andha dhun: A delicious film noir by Sriram Raghavan that is reminiscent of his Johnny Gaddar. Everyday people doing not so everyday things leading to murder and hilarity. Andha Dhun has all of these elements, and also pays homage to Hindi films and music of yesteryears which people of a certain vintage will appreciate. I chewed it all up and smacked my lips right until the can was kicked down the street!

Pari: Anushka Sharma as a producer has put her money on three risky projects so far and for that, I respect her. I have really liked all of her productions so far – NH-10, Phillauri, and this year’s Pari. When A list actors like her bankroll such projects with conviction, everyone wins. I am really looking forward to what she produces next.

Bhavesh Joshi Superhero: This was the most interesting movie of the year. Interesting because it subverted the genre of what a superhero movie is. It made us the common people – the collective us – a superhero. I may be in the minority to say that I liked Harshvardhan Kapoor in this film. He was perfectly cast as the anti superhero superhero. The movie has a kick-ass background score, a consistent color palette, and some incredibly well staged action scenes.

Manto: Nandita Das brought Manto back from the dead. Not that he was forgotten, but this film made more people take note of who he was and what he stood for. In the times we live today, when the voice of artists and the press is under a systemic threat, Manto’s life is an inspirational and a very relevant tale. Thank you Nandita for the reminder!



Gulzar Kuch Khoye hue Nagme – 24


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Song: Yaaram

Film: Ek thi Daayan (2013)

Composer: Vishal Bhardwaj

Singers: Sunidhi Chauhan, Clinton Cerejo

The norm for poetry about love and relationships is usually about the grand gestures the lovers do for each other. These subliminal odes to love are laden with the sentiments of “we will be together forever”, “love you to the moon and back”, “will do anything for your love”, and the associated emotions. Rarely, does one get the flavor of love and intimacy through everyday mundane actions that those in love do for each other. Gulzar’s forte has been weaving these mundane actions into an expression of love, that feels (to me) more grounded and accessible, and thus imparts a lot more intimacy than the grandiose declarations of love. He has done this in other poems – “Ek hi khwaab” from Kinara being a shining example of this.

Kinara came out in 1977 and Ek thi Daayan in 2013 – 36 years apart. But the undercurrent of the sentiments in both the songs are similar. It’s the declaration of love in the small intimate moments between two people. Both songs drip with familiarity and a livedin-ness that the two lovers feel for each other.

Hum cheez hain bade kaam ki, Yaaram
Humein kaam pe rakh lo kabhi, Yaaram
Hum cheez hain bade kaam ki, Yaaram

Ho suraj se pehle jagayenge
Aur akhbaar ki sab surkhiyaan hum gungunayenge
Pesh karenge garm chai phir
Koi khabar aayi na pasand toh, end badal denge

Ho munh khuli jamhaai pe
Hum bajaayein chutkiyaan
Dhoop na tum ko lage
Khol denge chhatariyaan
Peechhe peechhe din bhar
Ghar daftar mein le ke chalenge hum

Tumhaari filein, tumhaari diary
Gaadi ki chaabiyan, tumhaari enakein
Tumhaara laptop, tumhaari cap, phone
Aur apna dil, kanwaara dil
Pyaar mein haara bechara dil
Aur apna dil, kanwara dil
Pyaar mein haara, bechara dil…

There is nothing deep or eternal in these lines and yet the casualness of it all creates a whole picture of what this person wants to do for his/her love. I especially love the lines ” munh khuli jamhaai pe, hum bajaaayein chutkiyaan“. The act of snapping fingers at an open yawning mouth is a small, yet intensely intimate gesture, that some folks of the subcontinent do. You do this only to someone who you are comfortably close with. These words give an immediate sensory feeling, for an action which has fallen out of fashion in current times. But, this is how Gulzar transcends generations – he uses such old fashioned gestures side by side with contemporary gestures : “tumhaara laptop, tumhaari cap, phone“.  Old or young, these little acts of everyday life is what binds those in love.

Yeh kehne mein kuch risk hai, Yaaram!
Naaraz naa ho, ishq hai. Yaaram!

Ho raat savere, shaam ya dopehari
Band aankhon me le ke tumhe ungha karenge hum
Takiye chaadar mehake rehte hain
Jo tum gaye
Tumhari khushboo soongha karenge hum
O.. zulf mein phansi hui khol denge baaliyaan
Kaan khinch jaaye agar
Kha lein meethi gaaliyaan
Chunte chale pairon ke nishaan
Ki unn par aur na paanv pade

Tumhari dhadkanein, tumhari dil sune
Tumhari saans sune, lagi kampkapi
Naa gajre bune, juhi mogra toh kabhi dil
Humaara dil, pyar mein haara bechara dil
Humara dil, humara dil
Pyaar mein haara
Bechara dil…

In the above lines, there is an undercurrent of sensuality, of the after effects of the act of intimacy. “takiye chaadar mehakte rehte hain, jo tum gaye, tumhari khushboo soongha karenge hum” … (After you have left, I will keep smelling your fragrance that you left on the blankets and the pillows).

Followed by this:

“zulf mein phansi hui khol denge baaliyaan
Kaan khinch jaaye agar
Kha lein meethi gaaliyaan”

(I will untangle the earring that has gotten entangled in your hair. And if I accidentally pull on your earlobe, I will happily endure your sweet complaints).

Translating these lines was ruining them enough, so I will not elaborate any more on the above.

Sunidhi Chauhan and Clinton Cerejo sing these lines with incredible tenderness. It must have been a herculean challenge to weave these prose-like lines in a composition, but in Vishal, Gulzar’s words have found a modern day R D Burman (who composed the Ek hi khwaab song of Kinara and many other Gulzar poems that defy the standards of Hindi song lyrics that follow a meter and rhythm in their words).

And lastly, it is important to remind oneself that Gulzar is 84 years old. Read that again, EIGHTY FOUR! It is clear that he wears a heart and a soul of a young romantic.

The Best of 2017


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The yearly round-up of the music, movies and shows that I enjoyed. I haven’t watched many of the much acclaimed movies or shows, so this list is drawn from whatever I could watch/listen.


Get Out: Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is a novel take on the racial attitudes in today’s America. Its 9 years since, America elected its first Black President, which created a false “we are beyond racism” facade. Get Out shatters this myth by cleverly mixing horror and comedy. The result is an extremely unnerving experience. I am not white, and yet I could feel how uncomfortable a white person may have felt watching “Get Out”. I only wish someone (me?) remakes this in Hindi in the Brahmin/Dalit context.

Dunkirk: Christopher Nolan’s recreation of the landmark event of World War II, was one of the best “going to the cinemas” experiences for me (I watched it on an IMAX screen). There were many who didn’t quite get the narrative technique of the movie, and I can understand the confusion and the disorientation. Depicting one event from multiple points of views, is not a new technique (all such movies have Kurosawa’s Rashomon to thank), Nolan adds a dimension of uneven lengths of time for the main plot point of the evacuation of a group of soldiers stranded on the beach at Dunkirk. In one chapter we see events that lead to the evacuation over varying lengths of time – a week (from the POV of the soldiers on the beach), a day (the fisherman who come to the rescue) and just for an hour (an air force pilot who joins the mission via air) – all leading to the same end result. To me this time warped narrative, combined with a phenomenal background score, and sweeping visuals, made for an immersive experience like none other. But most importantly, amidst all the cinematic spectacle, Nolan never loses the “human-ness” of the tragedy that war is; and that’s where Dunkirk excels – it challenges your brain while squeezing your heart.

Lady Bird: Greta Gerwig made a lasting impression on me the first time I saw her in Greenberg. There was a quirky yet honest energy about her that wasn’t forced; it seemed to emanate out of every pore of her skin. After many small roles in indie films and eventually writing and playing the lead in Frances Ha and Mistress America, she makes a smashing directorial debut with Lady Bird. Dare I say, a near perfect coming-of-age film which seems like its drawn from her own life experiences.

Columbus: The best looking movie of the year. There is a lush, languorous beauty to every frame in this movie. The way the camera captures the modern architecture of Columbus, Indiana is hypnotic. This is the only movie that I have watched more than once this year, and I am sure to watch it again and again. It has all the elements that appeal to my design, cinematic, and emotional sensibilities.

Okja: This heart-warming film by the ever innovative Bong Joon-ho takes a swipe at large agro/food corporations like Monsanto and the state of modern food supply systems. Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhall play the bad guys with a crackling, manic, hysterical energy. But the real stars of the movie are the little girl (Ahn Seo-hyun) and her adorable CGI pig.

The Post: I am a sucker for movies about news and journalism (Spotlight, All the President’s Men, etc.). So when I saw the preview of The Post in the fall, with three major and well-respected artists teaming up for the first time – Meryl Streep, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks; I was ecstatic. The movie covers the tremulous few months of the time when The Washington Post decided to publish the classified Pentagon Papers by directly challenging the Government. The Post does an immensely entertaining job of a movie whose subject is about the freedom of press and its role as an unbiased-unwavering watchdog. Needless to say, this movie cannot be any more timely. The United States (and other democracies) finds itself at a juncture where the media is consistently being regarded as “fake” and “irreverent”. The Washington Post has also been at the receiving end of a lot of hostility from the current Government. And yet, the newspaper and its people continue to demonstrate exceptional integrity and courage in their work. I can only imagine how it must be for journalists around the world – it must require a great deal of added patience, courage and doggedness to merely do their job. Its movies like The Post that remind us, the consumers of news, the importance of a fair and free press. It reminds us to support ethical journalism and fight for it. The day the press is shut up, is the day democracy dies – just like The Washington Post’s tagline says: “Democracy Dies in Darkness”.

Trapped: Rajkumar Rao’s transformation from a meek urban young man (ironically named Shaurya -strength in the movie) to a primal survival oriented “human” is riveting. Aside from Rao’s performance, the movie does a more than adequate job of making  us look inward and evaluate what “traps” us.

Anarkali of Aarah: The concept of “consent” was introduced quite powerfully in the 2015 hit “Pink“. While that film had a male protagonist who fights for the female victims, Anarkali of Aarah makes the victim drive the point home. Swara Bhasker delivers an impactful performance: her physicality, her diction, her clothes, her swagger – are spot on. She made me root for Anarkali through her ordeal and when she delivers her revenge in the end, I was thumping my chest and raising my fist in a cathartic jubilation. Swara’s absolutely ballsy performance towers over all other performances this year (male or female).

A Death in the Gunj: This atmospheric film which left me in a beautiful sad mood, which, very few movies manage to accomplish. Konkona Sen Sharma’s directorial debut is sure-footed. While everyone in this ensemble cast delivered lived-in performances, Vikrant Massey’s Shutu got my heart.

Newton: Rajkumar Rao gave three stellar performances in three very different movies this year. This story about a principled polling booth officer who “believes” in the spirit of the law and democracy is a very timely film. While the movie is about one person and his fight to do right by the law for less than a hundred voters in a remote village in Central India, we can see how this is a theme that resonates across the entire democratic world. A world which finds itself in a place where the very concept of Democracy is under an existential threat. I oscillate between feeling despondent and rebellious for the state of democracy in my birth nation and my adopted nation. In these two extreme states of mind, this movie made me ponder: “Am I Newton, or am I not-Newton?”. The answer may lie somewhere in between.

Secret Superstar: An underdog’s journey to triumph isn’t a new premise and in that regard Secret Superstar breaks no new ground . What won me over were pitch-perfect performances by Zaira Waseem and Meher Vij. Both deliver the kind of performances which have you eating from their palms : when they are happy – you beam with them, when they are sad – you weep, when they are scared – you cower. These two performers made me go through a gamut of emotions on their cue. I don’t exaggerate when I say, I wept quite a bit while watching this little film. The simplistic machinations of the movie may not stand the test of time, but I was so bloody emotional while watching this movie, and for that alone, I am willing to forgive the manipulative script.

Hindi Music:

Quite an average year for Hindi film music 2017 was. Pritam’s stellar soundtrack for the nonsensical “Jab Harry Met Sejal” was the only saving grace. My personal favorites : Safar, Ghar, Jeeve Soneya, and Parinda. Irshad Kamil’s lyrics cover a gamut of emotions, just like his previous outings with Imtiaz Ali.


The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: This show about a rich Upper West Side housewife trying her luck at stand-up comedy in the 1950’s New York City, is an exhilarating and raucous ride. The entire star cast led by Rachel Brosnahan give energetic performances while mouthing volumes of extremely funny/witty dialog.

Mindhunter: Slow-burn is trademark David Fincher, and Mindhunter is no exception. If Mrs. Maisel draws you into the world of its characters in the first minute of the show, Mindhunter takes over an episode to merely orient you in the twisted world of serial killers and the FBI agents who go about studying them. But if you stick around long enough, this is a rewarding show.

Saturday Night Live: This year has been an absolute horror show as regards to the new American Administration. SNL brought in the right amount of satire and sanity to deal with the insanity of the real world. When the reality is stranger and scarier than fiction, SNL’s comedy came to the rescue.  The writers and actors not only made reality bearable, but also shone a light of hope, and took a stand. The sketches and characters that stood out : Melissa McCarthy’s Sean Spicer, Scarlett Johansson’s Complicit, Kate Mckinnon’s Jeff Sessions, Alec Baldwin’s Trump, and last but not the least Kate Mckinnon’s rendition of “Hallelujah” on the Saturday after the election results. (although that happened in 2016, it reverberated throughout 2017).

Last Week Tonight: John Oliver filled the void left by Jon Stewart to an extent (confession: Jon Stewart is my biggest man-crush) with his sharp, intelligent, hilarious, and educational take on many subjects that us commoners don’t pay attention to: mega churches, coal, flood insurance, gerrymandering, etc. One may say, that just making a satirical show about these issues won’t help resolve them. But in a world of information overload, where we move from one issue to another at an alarming alacrity, its shows like these that makes say 1000 of us to pay attention and say about 5 of those 1000 do something about them, well then, that’s 5 more than zero.

Occupied: This taut Norwegian thriller about Russia occupying Norway due to Norway’s decision of ending all of its oil drilling operations cannot be more topical. It works on multiple levels : it touches upon issues of Global Warming, Russian hegemony, and the effects of capitalistic greed. And it does all this without making it a preachy affair.

Master of None: Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe have written a show that is truly a mile-marker of the times we live in. It weaves contemporary subjects without jeopardizing the “entertainment” factor: Loneliness in an ever connected world, workplace harassment, religion and youth, dating in the flaky tinder world,  race and culture, etc. 5 decades from now, the humans of those times will surely reach back to this show to understand the human condition of this decade.

Lessons from 2017

  • “Facts” can be fabricated.
  • “Truth” cannot be, but there are powers at work in fabricating it.
  • You can never know the entire truth about anyone.
  • This is especially true for those who are closest to us.
  • “Be a man” is a toxic phrase.
  • Liberals have destroyed Liberalism.
  • There is no point in reasoning with idiots (will just have to wait for them to die naturally).
  • Legal immigrants in the United States also oppose immigrants/immigration.
  • The beauty of an unadorned straight line is timeless.
  • “If only” is powerless.
  • Expectation(s) lead to disappointment(s). (not a new lesson from 2017, but I find it important to repeat it to myself).
  • The poor are never a consideration, even when they are.
  • Noble thoughts on their own are vacuous.
  • Death and shitting are great equalizers.
  • I was right about Greta Gerwig.
  • I was wrong about Louis CK.
  • Hard, patient, tedious, diligent work is rarer than the Black Rhinoceros.
  • Instant gratification is really just that.
  • Washington, DC feels like home.
  • India feels distant.
  • I can now identify a true liberal among a sea of pseudo-liberals.
  • Racism is not going anywhere, I have learned to accept it and work with it.
  • My mother is more open to the ‘different’ than I gave her credit for.
  • Indira Gandhi was worse than Narendra Modi (so far).
  • I love rye whisky.
  • I don’t like cookies.
  • Shashi Kapoor.
  • I may not be good at cooking, but I feel good doing it.
  • I am older, but I don’t feel old and I am not apologetic (to myself) about this feeling anymore.
  • Money and stuff bought with money still don’t motivate me.
  • Keep doing what you feel is right, no matter the outcome.
  • Unconditional love is the ultimate panacea.


Mitad del Mundo


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_mg_9320_32012095281_oIt was December 2016. I was in the Ecuadorean Andes staying at a mountain lodge at about 10,500 feet (3200 meters) above sea level, and only a few degrees from 0 latitude (the Equator). The mountain air was clean, lean, and crisp. The world had just witnessed an absolute lunatic win the most powerful seat in the world. I was still reeling from that shock (like millions of people) and desperately wanted to clean out my head in the hope of getting a grip on reality. How was I going to do that? I had no idea!

The plan was to leave behind the world of my daily life and lose myself in the lofty mountains and valleys in the middle of the world. The lodge I was staying at, happened to be just the right place for this. It was surrounded on all sides by mountains and lush valleys. I could wake up and choose one of the many trails that went by the lodge and venture into any valley or mountain I wished for. The possibilities were many, and I was ready to surrender myself to the Andes. I had disconnected myself from the news, social media, emails, and other such usual trappings. Not out of choice, but just because of the non-availability of the ubiquitous wi-fi. It was just what I needed. So the ritual was set – every morning, wake up before sunrise and after breakfast, go about exploring the trails, return by sundown, with a full heart, a brain just slightly emptier than the previous day, and two failing legs. After a shower and a quick nap in the cabin, head to the communal dining area in the main hut of the lodge. Other fellow travelers would join, pleasantries would be exchanged, each of us would tell their tale of the day’s adventures over glasses of wine and the cozy warmth of the wood fired stove. Delicious hot food would arrive and everyone would eat to their heart’s content. After a satisfying meal, all of us would retire to their respective huts. Wake up at the crack of dawn (the rooster at the lodge was punctual to a fault) and repeat it all over again. It was all a little too blissful.

One such evening, after I had come back from a grueling hike I was hanging out in the main hut with two Canadian girls and a French hiker. The main door creaked open and in walked an elderly white couple. The gentleman (lets call him C) was dressed in a white shirt tucked in khakis with a hiking jacket, hiking shoes and a baseball cap. The lady (I am going to address her as B) was dressed in hiking pants and a simple blouse with an elegant string of pearls around her neck. They seemed like they were in their late seventies or early eighties. They had kind faces and a general pleasant air about them. Everyone exchanged smiles and we made room for them at the dinner table. Hearing their accent, it was evident they were Americans (I found out later in the evening they lived in Detroit, Michigan). Edmundo (the manager of the lodge) announced that food would be served in about 10 minutes. All of us settled at the communal dining table. B and C enquired about all of us, the usual, where we were from, what brought us to Ecuador, etc. As it turns out, there were 4 Americans at the table, 2 Canadians, 1 French, 1 Venezuelan, and 2 Swiss nationals. Naturally, the non-Americans unleashed the dreaded questions – “What the hell happened in the United States? How DID he win? (Which should be read as – How could Americans be so stupid?)”  

Before any of the Americans at the table could speak, C said in his gentle manner “I have a request, I would greatly appreciate if we do not talk politics at the dinner table. Thank you.” His manner was polite and it was impossible to counter his request. Everyone respected his wish and the conversation drifted to other topics: from the conditions in Venezuela, to the Galapagos, and the activities that each of us had planned for the following day. After dinner and a game of bananagram we retired for the night.

The next morning, I decided to take a tour of a cheese factory established by some Swiss missionaries in the seventies in a nearby village. It was a 30 minutes ride from the lodge. About an hour’s drive away from the factory is a cloud forest and that seemed like just the kind of place I would want to spend an afternoon in. From the cloud forest the plan was to hike back to the lodge before sundown. After breakfast, as I was waiting for my ride, I saw B and C slowly walking towards me. They mentioned that they intend to also join me on the tour of the cheese factory and the cloud forest. I was happy to have company and off we went in the pick up truck, them riding with the driver and me in the open area of the truck in the back. At the factory, B and C relied on me to translate everything the cheese makers were talking about the history of the factory and the process of making the cheese. It was a challenge, but I think I managed to convey the gist of whatever I could understand with my elementary knowledge of Spanish. After tasting some cheeses (in all honesty, I didn’t quite like any), we headed for the nearby cloud forest in the pick up truck. The plan was to take a short walk in the forest while learning about the various plant species. While walking in the forest, I was accosting C since the trail was quite moist and slippery and he seemed to need some support on steep or slippery surfaces. On our walk C narrated to me stories from his past travels. I learned that him and B were well-traveled – Croatia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Burma, Lebanon, etc. I could figure out that he had a genuine appreciation of the cultures and people of various places. Never for once was there even a hint of prejudice or malice in his stories. After walking for a while, B and C said that they would like to go back to the lodge in the truck. I bid them off and promised to see them at the dinner table that night. Off I went into another valley to further empty my brain out.

At dinner that night, C was sitting right next to me. He inquired about my hike. B was sitting across from me and casually asked me where I lived in the United States. I said, DC. To which C asked  “Where in DC?”. 

I said, “In a neighborhood called Capitol Hill.” 

He said, “Oh really! Where on Capitol Hill?” 

By now, I wasn’t sure where this was going, but proceeded anyway to describe the geography of the neighborhood in the context of some major landmarks of the city, like the US Capitol. After a bit of that, I narrowed in on the few blocks of Capitol Hill where I reside. 

“By the Northeast side of Lincoln Park on Constitution Ave”.  I said.

B said with a hint of excitement “Oh, we used to live right there on 11th and East Capitol Streets”. 

I was surprised and blurted out “Really? For how long?” 

C replied “Almost 40 years.” 

That hit me like an Alpaca had kicked me in my chest. I felt like a complete idiot for explaining them the geography of Capitol Hill, about 90 seconds ago. I wanted to be invisible. By now, the rest of our fellow travelers had stopped talking among themselves and were listening on to our conversation. 

After swallowing my shame with a swig of some delicious Argentinian Malbec, I said “Wow, 40 years! You have lived in DC for 40 years, that’s my entire life span. What were you doing there?” 

Both of them fell silent for a few seconds. I immediately realized I had asked a question that wasn’t something they were willing to answer. But now it was out there, and the rest of the diners were also looking at them in anticipation of an answer. This is now the second time in a matter of seconds that I felt like a complete moron. More Malbec to dull the shame. 

B broke the awkward silence and said, “C dear, I don’t think you can hide it anymore.” 

To that C, smiled and looked up at all of us and said, “I am a recently retired Senator of the United States. A lifelong Democrat, and yes this the reason I wanted to stay away from all the talk about politics. But looks like the cat is out of the bag. So bring it on.” 

With that he asked Edmundo (the inn keeper) to replenish the wine on the table, as if anticipating that I may ask for more such questions which will require me to gulp down my over-eagerness in knowing other’s people’s business. It was going to be a long night. Everyone’s faces had lit up. A thousand questions were churning through our collective brains, 950 of which were in my brain alone. I did not know where to begin. 

Very naively (in hindsight now), I felt like I could get all the answers to all that had happened in the last few weeks from C. Before I could begin my line of questioning, C started to talk (thankfully, since I would have most certainly made a fool of myself, thus scoring a hat-trick, which, isn’t unusual for me). C talked about the months leading up to the elections, about his role in her campaign in Michigan (his home state). He talked about the Democratic primaries, the general mood during the primaries and then after her nomination was sealed. Of course, he divulged as much as he could without being unnecessarily salacious. There was a great amount of dignity in his speech, he never bad-mouthed anyone. We were all listening intently while sipping on the wine (Argentina had made way to Chile by now). 

After about 30 minutes C stopped, and there was an eerie silence in the dining room, save for the crackling sound of the burning wood from the fireplace. Needless to say, C didn’t have answers to any of my questions, but only his perspective on things. It was not enough for my greedy heart, not that night. 

So I asked C, “Mr. Senator, what do you tell fools like me? What should we do now?”. 

C looked at me and in his calm and assured voice said, “Know how the Government works, know what it does, know all that is good that is at risk and then fight for it. Dig deep, find what you believe in, and stand up for those things, talk to your representatives in the Government about them. Make them accountable. Find out what’s happening in your community. You don’t always have to fight the President for every issue, look out for the vulnerable in your neighborhood, the elderly, the homeless, the refugees. Be useful to them. You should do this regardless of who is in the office, there is no time like now for fighting for the good and right. And most importantly, do not let the outcomes define your actions. “ 

There, that was enough, enough for my heart that night and every night since that night. My brain had emptied out of the chaos and was a lot more clearer. What C said wasn’t new. I knew it all along, but just needed to be reminded. And that night, there in the middle (mitad) of (del) the world (mundo), with the two hemispheres on either side of me, I felt like my brain had emptied out of the hopelessness and filled with a new vigor.

The Music of Trains


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Indian Railways are the arteries of the nation. They not only move a behemoth of its peoples, but also reflect a slice of life of the diversity of this land. Other modes of transports do not nearly compare to the romanticism and the experiences of a long distance train journey. I have a plethora of bitter sweet memories of traveling by trains in India, right from childhood until as recently as this month. Albeit, the number of train journeys I undertake now have greatly diminished, but even today every time I board a train, a certain thrill and excitement grips me. What I love about trains is the democratic nature of travel – you could be anyone in your stationary life, but once you are in a compartment with other travelers, all passengers live a “common” life for the duration of the journey. You could say the same about buses and planes, but where trains (especially the second class Indian trains), offer a freedom of movement and  interaction with other passengers that cannot be replicated on buses and planes. You share meals, you share stories, you sleep in close quarters to each other, you become a temporary family/society/community. I am not exaggerating when I say that you can literally find all of life’s emotions and experiences if you travel enough on Indian trains. I have had my fair share of experiences on the many journeys I have embarked on over the years. My romanticism primarily stems from these experiences, the sights and sounds of India you experience while watching the landscape unfold as the train rattles on. So, it is no surprise that Hindi films and their music has found a connection with trains. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was ubiquitous to find songs filmed in a train compartment in many movies. As air travel became more and more accessible, somehow songs shot in, or on trains became a rarity. This did not automatically translate into more songs being shot on air planes. The romanticism and the music that trains naturally provide is lost on air travel. This blog post is a compilation of songs that feature train travel. This is not an exhaustive list by any means. The reasons I chose these songs is based on a few criteria (aside from the obvious one that the song has to feature trains), each song meets at least one (if not all) of these:

  • the song is of high quality: composition/singing/lyrics OR
  • the song portrays a distinct emotion/feeling/situation OR
  • the cinematography or other film making techniques are unique OR
  • the actors on whom these are shot give a stellar performance OR
  • the song evokes cherished memories for me

The key to the index is:

Year of the film/Song Title/Title of the film/Singer(s)/Composer(s)/Lyricist


1942/Toofan Mail/Jawab/Kanan Devi/Unknown/Unknown

Unofficial claim, but this is probably the first Hindi film song about trains. Sung by and picturized on Kanan Devi who was an immensely popular singer/actress in the 30s and 40s. The simple (yet philosophical) lyrics of the song draws parallels of a train journey to life. “Koi kaheen ka tikat kataata, ik aata toh ik hai jaata; sabhi musafir bichhad jayenge pal bhar ka hai khel“. Such simplicity to explain life as an ephemeral train journey. Another trivia about the title of this song, Toofan Mail. “Mail” was a designation given to certain trains which carried passengers and also “post” from one city to another. Trains carry post to this day, but the term “Mail” in the name of a train has fallen out of fashion. While there is no written record of an actual train by the name of “Toofan Mail”, there however was a train called “Toofan Express”. Somewhere the idea of “Toofan Mail” took hold during the pre-independence era and this song immortalized that term. Films and film songs not only are a means of entertainment, but can also be looked at as documentation of a bygone era and this song is a proof of that.

1943/Hum chale vatan ki aur/Kashinath/Asit Saran/Pankaj Mullick/Pandit Bhushan

Such an upbeat composition from Pankaj Mullick, full of optimism and anticipation. Another reason I find this song, unique is that it is one unbroken shot (referred to as a “tracking shot”). You have to imagine, this is 1943, there weren’t moving dollies or multiple cameras, and films had to largely rely on a single (mostly) fixed camera. The director and cinematographer here are using the light they have on the set – a fan blowing on the actor to give an impression of a moving train combined with an occasional shadow from a tree or a building that we do not see. You can see the inside of the compartment, the luggage storage and the windows on the other side. The actor moves from the window to the door of the compartment and back and the camera follows him. Beautiful effects with limited means.

1950/Dhak dhak karti chali/Dilruba/Geeta Dutt/Gyan Dutt/D N Madhok

The song itself is quite ordinary, but the shot taking and the situation is unique. The song opens with that classic shot of a fast approaching train from the front and the camera pans as the train zooms past it, followed by the beautiful dance of the rail tracks that we all usually see from moving trains. The camera then gets inside the compartment (which is clearly a studio set) and we see a tabla player, a harmonium player and the feet of a woman tapping to the rat-a-tat rhythm of the train. The rest of the song is full of extended shots of a dancer entertaining a rich man (a client? a husband? a lover?) to a steady Tabla beat that is imitating the sounds of a train. She has a whole troupe of musicians with her and the train compartment becomes an intimate performance theater for the man in the suit. The song intercuts with stock footage of outdoor scenes of white fluffy clouds strewn across the vast Indian plains.

1954/Aao bachchon tumhe dikhaye/Jagriti/Kavi Pradeep/Hemant Kumar/Kavi Pradeep

This song was a staple for the Republic Day and Independence Day celebrations. You could hear it on Doordarshan, Aakashwani, and on the loudspeakers in most schools. As soon as I hear this song even today, it brings back memories of those early childhood days when the airwaves were filled with this and other patriotic songs. Kavi Pradeep was well-known for his passionate nationalistic poetry. He got into trouble with one of his first hits from the 1943 movie Kismet – “Door hato aye duniyawalo Hindustan humaara hai“. This song drew the ire of the ruling British government, causing Kavi Pradeep to go into hiding. Post independence he penned many memorable songs, the most popular being “Aye mere watan ke logo“. Aao bachchon is a showcase of a song that describes the beauty and the legends of “Hindustan”, it is a song full of pride for the poet’s homeland.

1954/Dekh tere sansaar ki haalat/Nastik/Kavi Pradeep/C Ramchandra/Kavi Pradeep

If Aao bachchon shows Kavi Pradeep’s adulation for his homeland, this song shows his disappointment in it. I do not mean to say with surety that he was personally disillusioned by the world around him. The song may just be a demand from the film-maker for a certain situation in the movie. The song is shot on Ajit (who later found fame as a bad guy in many movies) and is sung by Kavi Pradeep himself and composed beautifully by C Ramchandra. C Ramchandra is usually not mentioned in the same breath as the other composers of that era (like Naushad or S D Burman), but he was one of the most versatile composers of the 50s. This is the same man who composed the rollicking Shola jo bhadke from Albela and the previously mentioned Aye mere watan ke logonDekh there sansar ki haalat is composed to a Bhajan like tune, but the words are anything but devotional, in fact it derides religions and the ills of religious strife.

Raam ke bhakt raheem ke bande, rachte aaj fareb ke fande;
Kitane yeh makkar yeh andhe; dekh liye inake bhi dhande;
Inhi ki kaali kartooton se hua yeh mulq masaan; kitana badal gaya insaan.

A constant theme you may see in the songs shot in trains is that the mood of the song and that of the actors pervades everyone in the compartment. For example, in this song, the entire compartment is morose. They seem to be infected by the same emotions that the song and the lead actors are conveying. I find this interesting, because the chances of this happening in real life are slim to none, but the film makers took the cinematic liberty to shoot train songs in this fashion and really it does not feel forced. Somehow, this seems believable that everyone in that compartment partakes in whatever emotions the song is trying to convey through the lead actors.

1954/Gaya Andhera/Subah ka Taara/Lata Mangeshkar, Talat Mehmood/C Ramchandra/Noor Lucknowi

Another beautiful melody by C Ramchandra sung tenderly by Talat and Lata. The overall emotion is of a hopeful love and a bright future for the couple singing the song. There is something very pure about the song and the expressions of the lead actors, especially the heroine, played by Jayshree, one of the wives of the great director,  V Shantaram.

1958/Hai Apana Dil toh Awara/Solwa Saal/Hemant Kumar/S D Burman/Majrooh Sultanpuri

A lilting melody by the great Sachin Dev Burman shot on Dev Anand and the ethereal Waheeda Rehman. This song is quite popular even today, just google it and you will see hundreds of cover versions. Hemant Kumar is usually not associated as the playback voice for Dev Anand, but here his voice and Dev’s flirtatious expressions work very well. The use of mouth organ (which was played by SD’s son Rahul Dev Burman) in the interludes gives it an extempore like quality.  Majrooh’s words are simple but \profound in expressing the travesties of romantic souls, of those who fall in love like they catch a cold and yet, are unlucky in finding lasting love. More on the great Majrooh Sultanpuri, later.

“hua jo kabhi raazi, toh mila nahi qaazi; jahaan pe lagi baazi, wahin pe haara, zamaane bhar ka nakaara, na jaane kis pe aayega…”

1960/Apani toh har aah ek toofan hai/Kala Bazaar/Mohammed Rafi/S D Burman/Shailendra



The 50s and 60s are considered the golden era of Hindi film music. This song is yet another example of the all round creativity in song compositions, lyrics, and the way the song is filmed in the general context of the movie. Shailendra’s lyrics are perfect for the situation where Dev Anand is clearly addressing Waheeda who is on the upper berth but could also be construed to be addressing God.

apani toh har aah ek toofan hai, uparwaala jaana kar bhi anjaan hai”  The word “uparwaala” is used in its masculine form but that’s how God is typically addressed in Hindi, so the word conveys two meanings quite beautifully (for him his God is Waheeda, while the fellow passengers become convinced that he is addressing the actual God). SD’s quiet tune uses the rhythmic strumming of guitar to the rhythm of the moving train punctuated by the sounds of the train’s whistle. Mohammed Rafi sings it like a devotional song but adds a dash of naughtiness. Of course Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman enact it all on the screen so delicately that you can’t help but smile all along. This song (like many others from this era) is a wonderful example of all departments working together to create the overall impact of the song.

1960/Jaane wale sipahi se poocho/Usne Kaha tha/Manna Dey/Makhdoom/Shailendra

Trains move more people in India than any other mass transit medium. It is no surprise then that during wartimes, soldiers also use trains to report to their fronts from all over the country. Post-independence, India has fought (and continues to) a number of wars with its neighbors. Especially in the 60s, the young nation saw its defenses and its unity put to test. Hindi films resonated the wartime sentiments that were sweeping the nation at that time. This song is about soldiers leaving their loved ones behind to answer to the call of duty. The mood of this song is not that of nationalism, but the devastation that war leaves in its wake. Makhdoom’s poetry is gut-wrenching and Salil Chowdhary’s composition evokes an environment of doom (the wailing chorus is so apt):

कौन दुखिया है जो गा रही है
भूखे बच्चो को बहला रही है
लाश जलने की बू अ रही है
ज़िन्दगी है की चिल्ला रही है….जाने वाले सिपाही से पूछो
वो कहा जा रहा है

1961/Jiya o Jiya/Jab Pyaar Kisise Hota Hai/Mohammed Rafi/Shankar-Jaikishen/Hasrat Jaipuri

An energetic and playful song sung with incredible gusto by Rafi. Dev is on top of a car singing to the heroine, Asha Parekh who is riding the train. This format has been used numerous times in later years (Mere sapnon ki rani from Aradhana, for example). The song was a rage in it’s time and one can see why Dev Anand was such a successful romantic icon of his days.

1962/Cheel cheel chillake/Half Ticket/Kishore Kumar/Salil Chowdhary/Shailendra

Kishore Kumar at his uninhibited bufoonery best! He is wearing a skull cap and a boy scout outfit with round rim glasses. The rest of the folks in the train are from different walks of the society, men in suits, vendors, children, a team of musicians, young women, a money-lender, policemen, etc. Shailendra’s poetry outwardly reads like a nursery rhyme full of absurdism, but he brings social issues in one of the verses:

गोल मोल गोल मोटे लाला शौक़ीन, 

तोंद में छुपाये हैं चिराग ए आलादीन;  

तीन को हमेशा करते आये साढ़े तीन ; 

ज़रा नाप ज़रा टोल इसे लूट उसे छीन.. अरे वाह वाह वाह ….

1962/Na bhavra na koi gul/Aarti/Mohammed Rafi, Asha Bhosale/Roshan/Majrooh Sultanpuri

When every major composer of the golden era had a song set in a train, why should Roshan be an exception. Aarti has a stellar soundtrack (my personal favorite is the Lata number: Kabhi toh milegi, kahi toh milegi, baharon ki manzil).  This youthful Asha-Rafi duet is picturized not on the lead pair of Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari but the side-kicks, Rajendra Nath and an unidentified actress. I love the general casual mood of the song, further accentuated by the performers eating moong-falli from paper cones. Trivia: Roshan is the father of actor/director Rakesh Roshan, composer Rajesh Roshan and grandfather of Hrithik Roshan. Rajendra Nath’s sister, Krishna was married to Raj Kapoor ,making her the grandmother of Kareena, Karishma and Ranbeer Kapoor.

1964/Ek matwala aaj chala/Aap ki Parchayiyaan/Mohammed Rafi/Madan Mohan/Raha Mehdi Ali Khan

Madan Mohan is usually celebrated today for his haunting melodies sung by Lata (lag ja gale, has found a new life all of sudden). It is refreshing to hear his other not so serious compositions, like this forgotten song picturized on a young and handsome Dharmendra. Once again, note the religious diversity of the people in the train compartment.

1969/Mere Sapnon ki Rani/Aaradhana/Kishore Kumar/S D Burman/Anand Bakshi

Well, who doesn’t know this song? A truly iconic song for a number of reasons: Rajesh Khanna established himself as a Super Star with Aradhana and ruled the Hindi films for most of the 70s. SD’s favorite male singer was Rafi, but by the time Aradhana happened, even he had caved in to the youthful voice of Kishore Kumar. The soundtrack and the film was a blockbuster in 1969. It was the last year of the 60s, which is now regarded as the Golden era of Hindi Hindi film music. From the 70s, westernized sound became a mainstay and Hindi film music was never the same again.

1970/Koi na jaane ram/Maa aur Mamta/Manna Dey/Laxmikant-Pyarelal/Anand Bakshi

The first time Laxmikant-Pyarelal feature on this list. The mood of the song is sadness and one of my favorite actresses, Nutan does a fine job of channeling this sadness. Her grace is the only reason for this song to have made it to the list.

1974/Gaadi bula rahi hai/Dost/Kishore Kumar/Laxmikant-Pyarelal/Anand Bakshi

I have a distinct childhood memory of this song. Its 1981, I am about 6 years old, playing by a park near our house in Aurangabad and this song is playing on someone’s radio transistor. I am not sure why this memory has stayed with me, but I think it’s probably the sound of the train incorporated in the instrumentation of the song. Other than that, I don’t find anything great with this composition or the lyrics.

1974/Hum donon do premi/Ajnabee/Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar/R D Burman/Anand Bakshi

Dost and Ajnabee came out in the same year, 1974 and both had lyrics by Anand Bakshi. Both the songs incorporate the sounds of trains in their instrumentation, and yet both convey different moods. This song is laden with romantic abandon and freedom which might be an outcome of RDs use of a pahadi tune. I also like the picturization of this song on a goods train (as against a passenger train in most songs from this list). And lastly, Zeenat Aman’s cool candor further adds to this sense of freedom and rebellion.

1975/Bombay se Baroda tak/Rafoo Chakkar/Asha Bhosle, Usha Mangeshkar, Mahesh Kumar/Kalyanji-Anandji/Gulshan Bawra

What a sight it is to see Rishi Kapoor and Paintal in drag having a whale of time. They seem to be fully invested in the absurdist premise of the song. At one point Paintal starts singing in a male voice only to be reminded by Rishi in-song to switch back to the female (Usha Mangeshkar’s) voice. Rafoo Chakkar was a remake of the 1959 Marilyn Monroe hit Some Like it Hot and was also a huge hit in 1975.

1977/Dhanno ki aankhon mein/Kitaab/R D Burman/R D Burman/Gulzar

Up until now we had songs sung by and shot on the passengers of the trains. This is the first of the only two songs in this list which puts the spotlight on those who are driving the train. Not a surprise that this is from a movie written and directed by Gulzar, who has a penchant of not relegating the obviously overlooked people by the wayside. The first time I heard this song in my college days, I was dumbfounded by the audacity of everything about it – the singing, the unusual composition, and the lyrics. Who is this Dhanno? What does he mean by Raat ka Soorma and pray, what does one make of Chaand ka Chumma? Nothing made sense, and yet I found myself under a hypnotic spell of this song. Note that I had no visuals to aid me. When I finally saw the movie and aided with the visuals, the song took some meaning. The song is sung by a train driver who is calling out to his lover (Dhanno) as the train passes by her village. This is probably his usual route and we are given a tiny glimpse of his life as a “full” person and not just a side character in a movie. He also becomes a person, and shown to have relationships and stories like you and I. So, why wouldn’t he be singing a song in Hindi movies, even though he is not the central character in this story? You will find this trait of Gulzar humanizing the fringe that occupy our world without pointing a finger at the them in many of this films. He makes us take notice of all “persons” without patronizing us or exploiting them. The next time you are riding the train, it makes you think about the driver or the guard or that guy who came to clean your coach, about who they are leaving behind as they get along with their jobs of taking us to our destinations.

1979/Suniye Kahiye/Baton Baton Mein/Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosale/Rajesh Roshan/Amit Khanna

Rajesh Roshan (the son of Roshan) did not quite reach the heights that his father did, but managed to give an some decent melodious music in his career (he is now restricted to just composing for his director brother, Rakesh Roshan). I love the music of Baton Baton Mein, and especially love this song for the way Kishore and Asha have sung it, there is a soapy frothiness to their singing. While the entire song may not be set on a train, it still deserves a place on this list because the Bombay local trains form a major plot point in this lovely romantic comedy about the Anglo-Indian community of Bombay. The Bombay locals are a lifeline for the millions of her residents. They say, everything that could happen in life from giving birth to dying does happen on these locals. So it was only a matter of time that they featured in Hindi film songs. In this song, the lead couple are going through their dating rituals while commuting in the city. There is a strange lost innocence to everything that is shown in this song. I feel that place, that Bombay, that music, that uncomplicated way of living, has been lost. Of course, I am romanticizing the past, but then music has that power over me, so let me. (And how can I not mention two other things: 1) David – This actor embodies the patronly, jovial, progressive thinking elder who is always there to mediate between the young and the old generations in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’ & Basu Chatterjee films. All of us have craved for a David in our lives to make our parents understand our angst in our teenage years. 2) How delicately beautiful Tina Munim looks!)

We venture into the 80s now, and there is a sharp drop in the number of songs on trains from here on. The next three and half decades barely have 10 songs in all. That’s barely three songs for every 10 years. Not to mention, the quality of the music also drops drastically. However, they do have memories associated with them, since your truly had arrived on this planet by then.

1980/Logon ka dil agar/Man Pasand/Mohammed Rafi, Tina Munim/Rajesh Roshan/Amit Khanna

This song from an awful remake of My Fair Lady features only because for the first time we see an entire song shot on a local train in Bombay. And also, Mohammed Rafi’s voice as Dev Anand’s voice (Kishore Kumar had replaced him as Dev’s voice after Guide). Ravi had ceased to be a mainstay in playback singing by the 80s, so its good to hear him through an actor who together built a solid body of work in early years of their careers. (A coincidence that the last song of the 70s and the first of the 80s have three things in common – Rajesh Roshan, Amit Khanna and Tina Munim).

1980/Pal do pal ka saath hamaara/The Burning Train/Asha Bhosle, Mohammed Rafi/R D Burman/Sahir Ludhianvi

This is the first (and the only) song from the Qawwalli genre to feature on this list. Not only is the song shot in a train, but a large part of this so-bad-its-so-good movie is also shot in/on a train, which ends up burning (well, the title does give it away). Both Rafi and Asha are in full form right from the opening alaap. Everybody who was a somebody at that time, is in this movie (no really, look up the IMDB or Wikipedia entry for this film), Funnily enough, everyone’s playback is Rafi and Asha. Hey, they had to save the money somewhere on this mega-budget epic movie (which ended up losing a lot of money for its producers). The lyrics by Sahir are also in sync with the temporary aspect of a train journey and life itself.

1981/Hoga tumse pyaara kaun/Zamaane ko dikhana hai/Shailender Singh/R D Burman/Majrooh Sultanpuri

There it is, RD using the Pahadi tune again! This film was supposed to be the next blockbuster from the Nasir Hussain production house (who in the previous years had given phenomenally successful films like Yaadon ki Baraat and Hum Kisise Kam Nahi). Nasir Hussain retained RD as the composer, who for some unknown reason, decided to not have Kishore for any of the songs and instead had Shailender Singh be the lead singer for the entire album. This is the only claim to fame of this singer who for a brief period was known as the voice of Rishi Kapoor. The film failed miserably but its music endures among ardent RD fans. (Admittedly, its sub-par compared to Yaadon ki baraat or Hum Kisise Kam Nahi).

1982/Haathon ki chand lakeeron ka/Vidhaata/Suresh Wadkar, Anwar/Kalyanji-Anandji/Anand Bakshi

Another song shot on the drivers or the trains, in this case though they are the leads of this Subhash Ghai film. The 80s was all about finding a replacement for Rafi’s voice, Anwar was one such Rafi-light (Mohammed Aziz was another, who had a slightly longer run than Anwar). I love to watch this song, to see Dilip Kumar and Shammi Kapoor sharing screen space together. They do this filmy natural-ness that is rarely to be seen in today’s actors.

1984/Mujhe tum yaad karna/Mashaal/Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar/Hridaynath Mangeshkar/Javed Akhtar

So far, we have had songs on moving trains, this song is a departure. It’s set around stationary trains in a train yard. I have memories of Maharashtra Express (the train we would take to travel between my hometown and my college town) before pulling into Nagpur Station. It would slowly crawl through an area which is popularly referred to as “outer” where many coaches and locomotives are parked awaiting their turn to go someplace in this vast nation. Looking at them quietly sitting there, the whole logistical complexity of running a network like the Indian Railways would boggle me (it still does). This song, is like a little nod to that memory of those coaches and locomotives in the “outer”. On a trivia note, this movie was produced and directed by Yash Chopra based on a Marathi play called “Ashroonchi zaali fule”. It was his last social drama before he moved on to full on romantic films.

1994/Deewana dil deewana/Kabhi haan Kabhi naa/Amit Kumar, Udit Narayan/Jatin-Lalit/Majrooh Sultanpuri

The 90s arrive and with them bring a breed of new composers, actors, singers! But what remains the same are the lyricists. This youthful song is written by Majrooh Sultanpuri, who was about 75 years by 1994. Majrooh has been writing lyrics right from the 40s to the tail end of the 90s, a career that span almost 60 years. His contribution to Hindi film music is monumental. Just think for a while, Majrooh’s songs have been sung by K L Saigal and Udit Narayan, have been shot on Meena Kumari and Juhi Chawla, have been composed by Naushad and Anand-Milind. Show me another pop culture personality in the entire world whose contributions span (and left their mark) so many generations? Back to this song, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na was one of Shahrukh’s earliest films. Suchitra Krishnamoorty (who eventually married director Shekhar Kapoor) was the heroine. You can also spot Ashutosh Gowariker (the drummer in the video) who later directed Aamir Khan in Lagaan and then Shahrukh in Swades. This film also marked a beginning of a successful stint for Jatin-Lalit who churned out a number of hit soundtracks in the 90s.

1998/Chaiyya Chaiyaa/Dil Se/Sukhwinder Singh, Sapna Awasthi/A R Rahman/Gulzar

The one song that made A R Rahman establish himself in the Hindi Film-world. Don’t get me wrong, he was already popular in the non Tamil world, but Dil Se established him as a legitimate pan-Indian composer. I distinctly remember listening to the songs of Dil Se on a trip from Pune to Mahabaleshwar in peak monsoon. The lushness of the green of the Western Ghats in the monsoon is unparalleled. To me, Chaiyya Chaiyya forever is tied with my memory of being soaked to the bone while riding my friend’s Kawasaki Bajaj on the misty roads of Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani. Sukhwinder Singh and Sapna Awasthi bring a rustic earthiness to Rahman’s composition of Gulzar’s complex but beautiful poetry. A very young & fresh looking Shahrukh Khan does his energetic shtick while a nubile Malaika Arora (who was known for just this one song until Munni happened and then she was known just for that) contorts with a bunch of Rajasthani musicians on top of a train, that seems to be far away from Rajasthan. The whole picturization and the placement of the song in the film itself is quite gimmicky, but nonetheless, it remains an iconic “train” song, only because it’s shot on a train. I have always found Mani Ratnam’s placement of many of the songs in his films quite abrupt and regionally confusing (like the Rajasthani musicians in the Nilgiris). If it was another casual film-maker, say David Dhawan, not demeaning David, just saying that he doesn’t take his films so seriously, so as an audience, I give him a lot of leeway. But Mani’s films are supposed to be “artier” and yet his regional sensibilities just don’t hit the spot (I have received many a angry glares whenever I bring this up in a group). But, that’s for another post, lets get back to the trains.

2005/Dhadak dhadak/Bunty aur Babli/Udit Narayan, Sunidhi Chauhan/Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy/Gulzar

Not since “Gaadi bulaa rahi hai” we have a song in this list that directly talks about “trains”. Gulzar, of course is using trains here as a mere medium for Bunty and Babli, the lead pair of the film who hail from small towns of India, to achieve their big aspirations. The mood here is that of hope, ambition, and a can-do spirit. It’s a theme that is not far removed from reality. Thousands of Indians from small towns and villages migrate to large cities with their full hearts and empty pockets in search of their destinies.

2005/Kasto Mazaa/Parineeta/Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal/Shantanu Moitra/Swanand Kirkire

The oft-used pahadi tune makes an appearance again, this time its Shantanu Moitra doing the composing to Swanand Kirkire’s beautiful words. The tune is melodious in that old wordly way and weaves in the train sounds quite effortlessly. You can almost see Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman or Asha Parekh in this song. Vidya Balan does a fine job of evoking that demure quality of the yesteryear Hindi film heroine. I have fond memories with the soundtrack of Parineeta. We had just moved into our first house and we would play the soundtrack of Parineeta (and Hazaron Khwaishein Aisee) over and over again while unpacking boxes or arranging furniture and when Kasto Mazaa would come on, I would have an extra spring in my step.

2011/Mannu Bhaiyya/Tanu Weds Manu/Sunidhi Chauhan, Niladri, Ujjaini, Rakhi Chand/Krsna/Rajshekhar

This song gets the milieu of the middle class Indian wedding party traveling together on a train in the 3-tier sleeper. If you don’t know what the previous statement means, well, you won’t until you have lived it. The way Aanand Rai has shot this song (and his movies, which are set in small town India), it tells me he has lived this life. This life of growing up in second tier cities, with a plethora of relatives constantly in your business. For someone like me who has also lived a similar life in his early years, there is an intense feeling of familiarity with the world he creates in this song (and his movies).


That’s where this journey ends for now. As you can see, the list spans over half a century. It’s by no means an encyclopedia of all Hindi film songs about trains. If you think of any songs that deserve a mention, or want to share your memories associated with the songs listed above, I would love to hear about them.

Gulzar Kuch Khoye Hue Nagme – 23


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Song: Din jaa rahe hain

Film: Doosri Seeta (1974)

Composer: Rahul Dev Burman

Singer: Lata Mangeshkar

It’s not new news that Lata was capable of expressing every possible human emotion in her singing. This song from a forgotten film of 1974, is just another exhibit of the colossal vocal prowess of this woman. Gulzar’s poetry here is loaded with despair, of a complete hopeless existence:

Din jaa rahe hain ke raaton ke saaye, Apani saleebein aap hi uthaye..
(my) days are passing like the shadows of nights, each one of us has to bear our own crosses (burdens)..

For words filled with such despair, RD’s haunting tune has all the bearings of doom and gloom. The song has minimal instruments when Lata is singing (a mild strumming of the guitar can be heard in the background). Her singing and the tune have a quality of a woman wailing from the darkness of the depths of an empty well. During the interludes, RD uses the guitar and the flute quite wonderfully to further accentuate this effect. Note in the interlude right after the second antara. Notice how the guitar strumming follows the sharp but tapering sound of the flute. What we have here is the composer, the poet and the singer completely in-sync with the mood of the musical piece they are creating together.

Doosri Seeta was the directorial debut of one of RD’s lifelong friends, Gogi Anand. The only salable star of the film, was it’s heroine – Jaya Bhaduri (before she became Bachchan). Jaya had given a string of successful hits in the early 70s. Aside from her, there wasn’t much going for this film and it is quite evident that RD, who was a very successful hit-making composer by then, did this film purely for his friend. This film also is only the second outing of the now legendary combination of : sangeetkar hai Rahul Dev Burman aur bol hai Gulzar ke. In 1972, RD had composed music for Gulzar’s directorial venture – Parichay – which was their first of many collaborations (coincidentally, also starring Jaya Bhaduri).  Parichay was a successful film,  musically as well as at the box office. In 1975, RD and Gulzar teamed up once again for two other successful films – Aandhi and Khushboo (both directed by Gulzar). Doosri Seeta, lies in the middle of these more famous collaborations and was largely forgotten until, after RD’s untimely death in 1994. The songs from this film found a new life after RD’s fans started combing through his forgotten music. I have heard this and other such forgotten gems on FM radio stations in India, and they still hold the power to grab my rapt attention at the very first note.

दिन जा रहे हैं के रातों के साये
अपनी सलीबें आप ही उठाये

जब कोई डूबा रातों का तारा
कोई सवेरा वापस ना आया
वापस जो आये वीरान साये
दिन जा रहे हैं…

जीना तो कोई मुश्किल नहीं था
मगर डूबने को साहिल नहीं था
साहिल पे कोई अब तो बुलाये
दिन जा रहे हैं…

साँसों की डोरी टूटे ना टूटे
ज़रा ज़िन्दगी से दामन तो छूटे
कोई ज़िन्दगी के हाथ ना आये
दिन जा रहे हैं…

Walk in their shoes


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Warning: A rant of a post.

I have heard too many people (including some friends) say, or support those who say –  “Farmers & activists/organizations who fight for farmer’s rights should stop romanticizing agriculture and grow up to face the fact that it needs to be run as a ‘business’ just like every other profession/vocation is.”

Those who say this or support this, unsurprisingly have little or no first hand knowledge or experience in farming. They dole out this completely idiotic & unnecessary drivel of an opinion, from their cushy existence. Most of them have no clue of what it takes in today’s market driven economy to grow a decent crop – harvest it – sell it at a fair price – make some profit – and feed their families. Disclaimer – I have no direct experience in farming as well. All I know is from the folks who I know are farmers or are working with farmers. I know from them that this profession is at a tipping point due to unfair advantages given by governments to corporations, and the errant climate patterns. This knowledge is enough for me to bear  a humility of not barking my opinions on how farming should or should not be done.

After all, how many of us have to rely on predictable weather and rainfall for our paychecks? Do we have to fight with wildlife encroaching our work spaces? Do we have to buy expensive seeds/fertilizers for our power point presentations (only to find out that we have to buy them again for the next presentation)? Do we know what a “failed crop” really does to a farmer? Have we toiled the soil?

It’s so easy to chastise farming and farmers – they have been portrayed and played up as victims by the media  (and to a degree, albeit rightfully, by the farmers themselves). So it’s easy to shift the blame on the victims, instead of standing up against the policies that have failed the farmers repeatedly and systematically. Am I saying that all farmers are holier than thou? No, I am sure there are rogue ones, but that’s not the point. The point is, you are not a fucking farmer –  so stop thinking that you have the right to advice on what they should or shouldn’t do. Would you want a farmer to tell you how to do your job better? No, right? Well fuck that, s/he has no time to spare in giving you advice, s/he is preoccupied with way too many things – & remember one of his/her worries is directly related to what and how you feed yourself and your kids. So the next time, you think you can spare a word of wisdom to a farmer, try to be one, try to walk in their shoes for just one season and then you are qualified to share your precious thoughts. Until then, shut the fuck up. That’s all!

2016 – Musically Speaking!


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Time for the yearly list of my favorites in film music. They are listed in no particular order and are drawn from what I managed to get my hands on.


Mirzya is my favorite album of the year. The year was full of pedestrian music from the likes of Ankit Tiwari, Mithoon, Amaal Malik, Badshah, etc. It’s unable to tell one song from another – be it in composition or the vapid poetry. With Mirzya, Shankar Ehsaan and Loy redeemed the year with an album full of grandiose and daring compositions. Aided by Gulzar’s sublime poetry every song shines uniquely. Sounds that blend in Rajasthani folk with techno (Chakora, Hota hai), Hindustani Classical with Western symphony (Kaaga). The overall effect not only brings an auditory bliss but also paints a visual with its soundscapes. While I like all songs from the album, a few of my favorites are:

Doli re doli: Shankar Mahadevan spills his heart out in this take on the girl-leaving-her -father’s-abode genre song. Set to a New Orleans jazz/brass sound, the song tugs at my heartstrings. And then there is this poetry,  just makes my heart bleed dry:

बारा मास खिलायो बाबुल
सावन झूला झुलाओ बाबुल
नैना रैना काटी मैया
लोरी गान सुनाओ बाबुल
चौखट पार जो पैर धरे तो
तो मैं लेन-देन चुकाओ बाबुल ..

Gulzar saab – Never stop writing, please!

Hota hai: The energetic singing by the Nooran sisters had me literally jumping out of my chair the first time I heard it. Sarangi, Dholki, & Ghungroo meet techno for an hypnotic effect.

Ek Nadi Thi: Opens with the Nooran sisters’ alaap, followed by Mohan Kannan’s voice which fills the room and then the a cappella joins them. The three sounds play with other deftly to create an effect of three rivers gushing into each other. The “nadi(river)” is a metaphor for Sahibaan who was torn because she wanted to hold on to her family and her love (which her family was against) at the same time: एक नदी थी दोनों किनारे थाम के बहती थी…

Aave re Hitchki: Shankar’s voice along with the chorus, guitar, and sarangi create an ecosystem of their own in this addictive melody. Gulzar’s poetry is a throwback to that now forgotten notion that a hiccup (hitchki) is an indicator that someone (someone beloved) is thinking of you! This song takes me to places and times I had forgotten (and that to me is the success of any art-form: transport me somewhere away from my current state).


Sairat zala ji:Chinmayi Sripada-Ajay, Attach baya ka:Shreya Ghoshal, Yad lagala:Ajay

These three songs of Sairat had me in raptures. Ajay-Atul have always shown a penchant to using Western Symphonies in their music in the past, but the way they have used them in Sairat is unprecedented – strings, woodwinds, brass, horns & percussion – all of them blend in seamlessly with the Marathi-ness of the lyrics and the base melodies. The soundtrack is an example of the “language” of music . Each track is tender and rousing at the same time. Also, the production design of this soundtrack is astounding: listen to the original tracks with decent headphones and I swear to Mozart, if you aren’t swept away in the interludes of “Sairat zala ji” or “Yad lagala”, you are dead inside, DEAD!

Fitoor/Amit Trivedi/Hone do Batiyaan: Zeb Bangash, Nandini Srikar/Swanand Kirkire

Two estranged lovers or two estranged nations, Swanand Kirkire’s poetry applies to both situations. Nandini and Zeb lend a conversational quality to this delicate melody – which is what Swanand’s words are all about: होने दो बातें होने दो बतियाँ. Amit blends Kashmiri/Pakistani/Afghani musical instruments like Saz, Santoor, Rubab to create an atmosphere relevant to the situation in the film (the song is filmed at a Indo-Pak unity concert).

Ikk kudi/Udta Punjab/Amit Trivedi/Shahid Mallya/Shiv Kumar Batalvi

Thanks to the makers of Udta Punjab to breathe new life into Shiv Kumar Batalvi‘s work and remind the youth of today about this forgotten poet. Ikk kudi has been one of his most recited/recorded poems and it worked beautifully in the narrative of Udta Punjab. Amit’s composition has tranquility and Shahid Mallya sings Batalvi’s beautiful words with great sadness and passion.

Channa Mereya/Ae dil hai Mushkil/Pritam/Arijit Singh/Amitabh Bhattacharya

Arijit Singh is everywhere! 9 out of 10 of his songs sound the same, the texture of his voice is the same and the lyrics are more or less the same. Not his fault, all popular singers have at one point in time made the most of their popularity (or the lack of it) by singing most anything that came their way – Lata, Rafi, Asha, Kishore from the golden era to Kumar Sanu, Alka Yagnik, Sonu Nigam, Udit Narayan in the more recent past. So kind of unfair to call him out, but it is so.

Once in a while, however comes a song that is not merely an Arijit song, but is elevated by beautiful words. In Channa Mereya, Amitabh Bhattacharya’s poetry towers over everything else. Amitabh, in a short span (he started with Aamir in 2008), has written an immensely diverse set of lyrics and has become a leading filmy poet of this decade (in my opinion of course).

Channa Mereya is about unrequited love – it reeks of the songs from yore – the kind that were once mouthed by the likes of Guru Dutt or Rajendra Kumar – full of self pity and the stabbing aches of a love that has slipped away.

अच्छा चलता हूँ, दुआओं में याद रखना
मेरे ज़िक्र का जुबां पे स्वाद रखना

दिल के संदूकों में मेरे अच्छे काम रखना
चिट्ठी तारों में भी मेरा तू सलाम रखना

अँधेरा तेरा मैंने ले लिया
मेरा उजला सितारा तेरे नाम किया, चन्ना मेरेया मेरेया

Pritam’s composition opens with a melancholic mood in the above lines and traverses into full on ecstatic pain mode in the end:

तेरे रुख से अपना रास्ता मोड़ के चला..
चन्दन हूँ मैं अपनी खुशबू छोड़ के चला..

मन की माया रख के तेरे तकिये तले
बैरागी का सूती चोला ओढ़ के चला…..चन्ना मेरेया मेरेया

Massive emosional ride this one!

Haanikaarak bapu/Dangal/Pritam/ Sarwar Khan & Sartaz Khan Barna/Amitabh Bhattacharya

In the same season that Amitabh writes Channa Mereya, he writes these words:

टॉफ़ी चूरन खेल खिलोने
कुलचे नान पराठा
केह गए हैं टाटा
जबसे बापू तूने डाटा
जिस उम्र में शोभा देते मस्ती सैर सपाटा

उस उम्र को नाप रहा है
क्यूँ घडी का कांटा!

तेल लेने गया रे बचपन
झड गयी रे फुलवारी
कर रहे हैं जाने कैसी
जंग की तैयारी
सोते जागते छूट रही है
आंसू की पिचकारी
फिर भी खुश ना हुआ मोगाम्बो
हम तेरे बलिहारी

तेरी नज़रों में क्या हम इतने नालायक हैं

रे तुझसे बेहतर तो अपनी  हिंदी फिल्मो के खलनायक हैं
बापू सेहत के लिए…तू तो हानिकारक है

If you have’t seen Dangal, these words may not make a whole lot of sense. But if you have, these words neatly summarize the predicament of the Phogat sisters. It would have taken miles of film-stock to explain their condition. (Ok, Nobody uses film anymore, but you get my point!) Amitabh gets  into a child’s head and uses words that are very much from a child’s world, and then adds the local flavor of Haryana by using the lingo of the region. The song combines wit (fir bhi khush na hua mogambo), innocence (churan, toffee, sair-sapata, paratha, etc.) and yet maintains a natural poetic meter. Pritam’s composition and the singers compliment Amitabh’s words to create an overall satisfactory listening/viewing experience. I find myself with a smile on my lips and my heart every time I listen to this one!

Gilehriyaan/Dangal/Pritam/Jonita Gandhi/Amitabh Bhattacharya

What a departure this song is from Hanikarak or Channa Mereya in which Amitabh tackles the feelings of an adolescent girl who is discovering the joys of being a normal/free girl.

रंग बदल बदल के क्यूँ चहक रहे हैं दिन दुपहरियां?….मैं जानू ना जानू ना जानू ना जानू ना
क्यूँ फुदक फुदक के धडकनों की चल रही गिलहरियाँ?….मैं जानू ना जानू ना जानू ना जानू ना

The song is shot on the older Geeta Phogat who is living away from her strict father’s watchful eye for the very first time. She is seeing the world around her in a whole different perspective. Amitabh’s choice of words are delightful  – gilehriyaan, maskara, teheniyaan, zayka, kechehriyaan – which demands Pritam’s composition to have a lilting inquisitiveness to it. Jonita Gandhi’s soft vocals complete the overall effect – you can sense Geeta’s freedom, longing, joy, skepticism, and effervescence. Maan gaye Amitabh!

Kho gaye hum kahaan/Baar Baar Dekho/Jasleen Royal/Jasleen Royal, Prateek Kuhad/Prateek Kuhad

Jasleen Royal owns this simple melody with her textured voice and a simple composition. I first noticed her voice in Preet from the under-rated Khoobsurat from 2014. Her voice has a feel of stark honesty to it – hard to explain what I mean by that, but it’s like she is singing (or rather humming) right next to you without any technical aids. In Hindi it can be explained as “Gaati nahi hai bus gungunaati hai“. In Kho gaye hum kahaan, it’s this gungunaane waali quality that won me over.


Mai ri Mai/Parched/Neeti Mohan, Harshdeep Kaur/Hitesh Sonik/Swanand Kirkire

Neeti Mohan, who rocked 2015 with her full-throated singing in Bombay Velvet is a different singer in this delicate composition by Hitesh Sonik. Harshdeep Kaur, also known for her vocal heft (Katiya karoon from Rockstar, Heer from Jab tak hai jaan, Nachde ne saare from Baar baar dekho), joins her with the same cadence. An interesting choice of singers by Hitesh Sonik (who is  Sunidhi Chauhan’s husband and an assistant/arranger for a number of Vishal Bharadwaj’s albums).

Safed Kameez

आज शाम बादल कुछ ऐसे खुले जैसे अचानक कपड़ोंसे भरी सन्दूक खुल जायेँ,

ऊन सी मोटी मोटी बूँदें सड़क को डुबोने लगी,

और तुम्हारी दी हुयी वह सफ़ेद कमीज कीचड से लथ पथ होने लगी ।