Song: Thok de killi
Movie: Raavan (2010)
Composer: A R Rahman
Singers: Sukhwinder Singh, Am’nico
Songs on social issues are few and far between in commercial Hindi movies, and those with poetry that stirs the right kind of pathos are even rarer. Gulzar has written songs on a number of social issues from his early days – Haalchaal theek thaak hai from Mere Apne about the state of the youth in post independence India, Ghapala hai from Hu Tu Tu on the rampant corruption in Indian governance, Fatak from Kaminey on AIDS awareness. In this song from Mani Ratnam’s Raavan, be brings forth the angst of the people involved in the Naxalite movement – their marginalization by the Government (Dilli), and their overall pathetic state in a country that treats them as backwards and disposable (पिछड़े पिछड़े कहके हमको खूब उड़ाए खिल्ली दिल्ली..).
In all of the songs listed above, Gulzar writes from the point of view of those directly impacted by the issues, and not from the point of view of an observer of the cause and effect of the issues. By doing this, it’s as if he uses the voice of the victims of these issues (be it the unemployed youth in the Mere Apne song or in this song’s case, the Naxalites). He also uses humor in describing the pathetic situation of the victims, and since the voice is first person, it never becomes a mockery of the situation, instead brings out a sad, yet celebratory acceptance of the facts.
While there is much violence in the choice of his words: Thok de killi (to hammer a nail), ghooma de danda ( to swing a thick wooden stick, usually to beat someone), there is that very Gulzar-esque sad humor in lines such as:
“केला वो खाते है हमको फेंके छिलका छिलका – they eat the bananas and throw the peels at us (for us to eat)”
While the above elicits a smile in agreement from us, he gracefully switches to utter despair in:
ठोक दे किल्ली, ठोक दे किल्ली