Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dil to Bachcha Hai Ji

For me, the most delightful moment in the new movie Ishqiya is the scene that goes with the melodious Dil To Bachcha Hai Ji – crudely “The heart is a child after all”. That translation doesn’t do the song justice but it does convey something elemental: we may age but we can be occasionally possessed of a carefree happiness that makes us young again.

Khalujan, the character that Naseruddin Shah plays, is in his late forties, or early fifties – it’s a testament to the actor’s versatility that in Firaaq he plays, and looks, a much older man. He is old in Ishqiya too; his beard is mostly gray. But as soon as he meets Krishna (Vidya Balan), the beautiful, alluring widow some twenty years his junior, he colors his beard black. And with the knowledge that he is falling in love, a kind of babyish joy suffuses his face.

Dil To Bachcha Hai Ji plays when Khalujan is standing in a crowded bus. A woman seated by the window looks at him adoringly; the man next to her notices this and offers Khalujan his seat. Khalujan, flattered by the woman’s glances – and she too, like Krishna, is young – refuses politely, but the woman continues look at him. He finally relents and takes the seat. Later, asleep, he leans his head unknowingly against the woman’s shoulder, and dreams of Krishna with contentment, the lilting melody of the song in the background. He is woken suddenly by the laughter of the other women in the bus and smiles sheepishly -- they are laughing at him. “Is umar mein ab khaogey dhoke” – the song goes at one point (“disappointments await you at this age” in my unsubtle translation).

It’s a brilliant scene in which Khalujan’s charm, joy and vulnerability all come together.

The song is Vishal Bharadwaj’s composition, and is sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan; the sublime lyrics are Gulzar’s. The tune plays in the style of old Hindi songs, but to accompaniment of Latin beats and strumming; there's an Arabic interlude as well. It’s an exquisite blend – take a listen.

An earlier post about a song in a very different kind of movie, Om Shanti Om.

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