Dil Se has been on my list of movies that I had wanted to watch for the longest time. I have seen it only in parts when it came on TV sometimes. This week, I finally got some time to watch it. I have seen only about an hour of the movie and I am already floored by its sheer beauty. I have always believed Dil Se to be A.R. Rahman's finest work. His music is spellbinding. Farah Khan's scintillating choreography and Santosh Sivan's spectacular cinematography are some of the best ever that I have seen in a Hindi film. However, this post in not on the film, but on one song from the film — Satrangi Re. I, generally, don't keep songs on my cellphone but it is one of the very few songs that I have kept in my phone for the last four-five years. The lilting music and the lyrics are thoughtful, having that characteristic Rahman-esque feeling. Just like the movie, I had seen the song only in parts. However, since yesterday, I cannot stop watching and thinking about the song. The video is gorgeous. The exuberant picturization of the song brings a sense of tranquility, something that I find exceedingly rare these days. When I actually realized the depth of the song, I was spellbound by the fact that how can anyone make something so beautiful and poetic like this. So, today, I try to deconstruct the meaning of Satrangi Re.
The word satrangi means something that has seven colors, and it is, generally, used to describe a rainbow. In the song, we actually see the seven colors of the rainbow — violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red — popularly known by the term — VIBGYOR. The song is filmed on two lovers, in which a boy (Shah Rukh Khan) is singing and expressing his love for a girl (Manisha Koirala). He calls her satrangi and we, actually, see her in all the seven colors of the rainbow. Not only is this a literal depiction of the colors produced by the dispersion of light by a prism, but also of an underlying symbolism alluding to the seven stages of love. Earlier this year, Dedh Ishqiya's trailer talked about these seven stages. In Arabic literature, love is supposed to have seven stages. The seven stages are namely hub (attraction), uns (infatuation), ishq (love), akidat (trust/reverence), ibadat (worship), junoon (madness) followed by maut (death). Satrangi Re, in some way or the other, whether though lyrics or the choreography, gloriously portrays these stages of love and charms us along.
The song begins and we see that both the lovers are dressed in black. The lyrics say,
Koi noor hai tu, kyun door hai tu,
Jab paas hai tu, ehsaas hai tu,
Koi khwaab hai ya parchhayi hai, satrangi re
It is as if some kind of light is attracting him to her. He wants to go near her and is wondering why is she far away from him. At some point, he is near to her and at an other point, he is far away from her. When she is near, it appears that she is a thought, a dream, and a shadow. The shadow is represented by the the black color of her dress, and an enigmatic quality of hers is pulling him toward her. This is the first stage of love — hub.
Then, when he sees her in reality, she is far away from him. The distance between them is shown by the presence of water between them. She is wearing white and is as pure as the snow flakes on her head. When he was dreaming, both of them were dressed in black, but now, she is away from him and she is dressed in white, and he is dressed in black. To reach her, he has to cross this path and undertake a journey, as if moving from darkness (black) to light (white).
Then, he says,
Aankhon ne kuch aise chhua,
Halka halka uns hua
He is infatuated by the touch of her eyes. His heart feels that infatuation. This is the second stage of love — uns.
Then, the lover sings,
Tere jism ki aach ko chhoote hi, mere saans sulagne lagte hain,
Mujhe ishq dilaase deta hai, mere dard bilakhne lagte hain
He says that as soon as he touches her body, his breath is ignited. His pain makes him cry, but his love for her consoles him. The fire in the tree behind them represents the fire that is burning inside him. This is the third stage of love — ishq — as is evident in the lyrics.
Then, he says,
Chhooti hai mujhe sargoshi se,
Aankhon mein ghuli khamoshi se
He says he is enchanted by her fragrance. He is enthralled by the silence of her eyes. He is showing a reverence and admiration, symbolized by the lighting of the lamps in the monastery. He looks at her with a deep reverence in his eyes. She is his aarzoo. This is the fourth stage of love — akidat.
After that, he begins to start worshiping her.
Main farsh pe sajde karta hoon,
Kuch hosh mein, kuch behoshi se
Now, he has become united with her, and they are joined to each other. Their passion is depicted by the red color.
After they become one, they dance in the water. She has now become the water of his life, symbolized by her blue- and indigo-colored dress. He cannot live without her if she goes away from him, even for a few moments. He feels helpless when she goes away.
He, then says,
Teri raahon mein uljha, uljha hun
Teri baahon mein uljha, uljha,
Suljhane de hosh mujhe,
Teri chaahon mein uljha hun
Slowly, and slowly, he is getting more and more entangled in her love. He wants to go back to his senses but he is bound by her love. He simply cannot untie himself, even if he tries, as depicted by the rope-dress of hers and the net that he is trapped inside.
After that, he says,
Mera jeena junoon, mera marna junoon,
Ab iske siwa nahi koi sukoon
He is unable to free himself from her love and it has become an obsession for him. His life is an obsession, like the deep violet of her dress, and his life will be like this till he dies. Nothing brings peace to him except her love. He has entered the sixth stage of love — junoon.
Finally, he says,
Mujhe maut ki god mein sone de,
Teri rooh mein jism dubone de
He wants to sleep in the lap of death. He wants to immerse his body in her soul. He has finally reached the seventh stage of love — maut. Also, worth observing is that now, he is wearing pristine white, like her, as compared to the black that he wore in the beginning. He has crossed that pond of water (as was depicted earlier) and transcended the barriers to reach her. He has undertaken all the steps of his journey and all that he wishes for now is death in her arms, so that he can be in peace. Perhaps, both of them have attained some salvation, and have reached some cosmic redemption, and that is why a white heavenly aura around them starts shining. He has finally attained his death, and his spiritual voyage encompassing the stages of love has reached its destination — his lover.
As beautiful as a song can be. Also, particularly note that we see all the colors of the rainbow in her dresses, apart from black and white, again referring to those stages.
Seriously, can there be a song more beautiful than this one? Before I am accused of being over-analytical and hagiographic about the song, I found out that Mani Ratnam, in fact, in an interview has said that this was his intention. He had given directions to Rahman that he wants to make a song based on the seven stages of love. And, as I always say, there is so much more to our movies, and I wish people are able to see the brilliance of our cinema. I want to keep learning and continue to be a life-long student of this charming, poetic cinema that guides me, motivates me, and soothes me. Hindi Movies Forever.