Agar Tum Saath Ho and Gender Roles in Hindi Songs

There are multiple reasons that lead to the song Agar Tum Saath Ho striking a chord with the public. It is a rich and melodious composition by A.R. Rahman, it seen as the return of Alka Yagnik into mainstream Hindi film songs and the song also marks a critical plot point in the movie (Tamasha). Sensitive performances (especially by Deepika Padukone) give this song another dimension and make it extremely difficult for emotional viewers like myself to hold their tears back. Infact for me, this song sequence is an outstanding highlight of an otherwise average film. But there is more to this song. Let us take a closer look at the lyrics. The woman sings:

Pal bhar thehar jao,

Dil yeh sambhal jaaye,

Kaise tumhe roka karoon? 

Meri taraf aata,

Har gham phisal jaaye,

Ankhon me tumko bharoon.

Bin bole baatien tumse karoon,

Agar tum saath ho.

which roughly translates to:

Just wait for few moments; let my heart settle down. How do I stop you from leaving? Let me fill you in my eyes. If you are with me all my sorrows slip away. If you are with me I can talk to you without saying much.

She further adds:

Behti rehti nehar nadiyaan si,

Teri duniya mein .

Meri duniya hai,

Teri chahaton mein .

Mai dhal jaati hoon,

Teri aadaton mein,

Agar tum saath ho.

which translates to:

Your world is filled with rivers and streams; My world is set only where your interests lie. If you are with me, your habits become mine.

While the man keeps repeating:

Teri nazaron mein hai tere sapne,

Tere sapno mein hai naarazi.

Mujhe lagta hai ke baatien dil ki,

Hoti lafzon ki dhokebaazi .

Tum saath ho ya na ho,

Kya fark hai?

Bedard thi, zindagi bedard hai,

Agar tum saath ho.

which basically means:

Your eyes are filled with their own dreams and I can see anger in those dreams. All these talks of love are nothing but deceptive words. What difference does it make if you are with me? My life was merciless and will be merciless even if you are with me.

t1

We can see that the woman is expressing her love and her desire to stay with the man but the man is turning her down. This is a refreshing concept to see in a Hindi film song.

Back in the day, we had enough songs where women used to express love and romance as unabashedly as the men. Lag Jaa Gale, Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi Shikhwa, Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya? etc  are some such examples. However, somewhere and somehow we lost the plot. Most songs started conveying through their lyrics and/or picturization that the burden of expressing love falls only on the guy’s shoulders. He had to ‘impress the girl’. Scenes where a guy follows the girl to impress her while the girl either shows arrogance or blushes  became a popular concept so much so that a lot of songs are based on this concept even today.

Take for example, Mai Koi Aisa Geet Gaaon (Yes Boss). Yes, it is a cute song with a catchy tune and Shah Rukh Khan is rather charming here but the problem arises when bulk of songs being produced are based on a similar concept. It gives a wrong idea about gender roles when it comes to romance. Palat Tera Hero Idhar Hai is a recent example. Clearly nothing much has changed except that the lyrics have become ridiculous.

I have heard opinions that call the girl (in Agar Tum Saath Ho) weak and submissive because she says “Mai dhal jaati hoon teri aadaton mein”. The question is when we can accept the guy expressing Tu dil tu hi jaan meri (you’re my heart and my life) in Samjhawaan as romance without passing a judgement on the character then what troubles us when a girl is expressing love with similar intensity? Years of guy-impresses-girl based songs have lead to a rather funny images of a girl in love. She is either classified as ‘Door khadi sharmaaye‘ type or as the haughty who is difficult to please or worst as a ‘bold’ item girl dancing to misogynistic lyrics. We have stopped expecting girls on the celluloid to express deeper emotions when in love.

We produce enough musically and lyrically appealing romantic songs but why is it that in most of these songs the girl merely seems to be replying to a guy’s proposal and more importantly why do we not see girls being turned down by guys more often when girls in reality get a crush and get their hearts broken as often a guy.  It is not that we haven’t had such songs at all, but they are few in number and here’s to hoping for more songs (which are not item numbers) where we can see a girl trying to impress a guy or getting rejected by a guy!

Here is the song as it appears in the movie. As I have already stated, I really like the lyrics, performances and camera work in this sequence.

Advertisements
Agar Tum Saath Ho and Gender Roles in Hindi Songs

Firaaq

f1

Firaaq is a heart wrenching movie set one month after the Gujarat carnage of 2002. It captures the repercussions of the riots for people across different religious and economic boundaries. The film, as it asserts, is a work of fiction based on a thousand true stories. It is co-written and directed by Nandita Das. I have admired Nandita for her portrayal of strong and meaningful characters in Fire, Earth, I am and Bawandar but  it is her directorial venture Firaaq , that affected me the most.

Being politically correct is the last thing that this movie is concerned about. It does not shy away from pointing towards the participation of the state in the riots but at the same time  isn’t  about the blame-game. It quite simply states the facts and captures the aftermath. One of the distinctive and most impressive feature is that there is hardly any violence depicted in the movie, yet there is a lingering sense of fear. In the opening scene we see a graveyard where a truck drops off a load of bodies in front of the diggers, who cry helplessly as they bury them. This scene sets the tone for the rest of the movie. At one point a character says “Inssan, Insaan ko maar raha hai iss baat ka gham hai” and this is exactly what you feel throughout the movie.  The movie does not end on a hopeful note and does not want us to feel as if everything is going to be okay in the world again. Sadly, the movie finds its relevance even today.

The film cuts through different narratives and consists of a highly eminent ensemble cast. The gist of different story-lines is given below:

Arati and Sanjay (Deepti Naval and Paresh Rawal): Arati lives in the guilt of having denied shelter to a Muslim lady who came knocking at her door. Her guilt only increases on hearing about the slaughter of Muslim women through news channels. Ironically, her brother-in-law was involved in gang-raping of a Muslim woman and robbing stores and her husband is trying to prevent his arrest. I found this to be the most chilling story-line. We see Sanjay complaining about how media never adequately reports about Hindu deaths and defending his brother’s action by stating how can you dishonour someone who has no honour. He also asks his brother if he enjoyed “the taste of the fruit”.  Deepti Naval’s performance is my personal favourite in this film. She single handedly depicts the guilt of a large section of the society for being the silent spectator.

f2

Muneera and Hanif (Shahana Goswami and Nawazuddin Siddiqui):  Muneera and Hanif return to their home from their hiding only to find it ransacked and burnt. Hanif sets out to take revenge along with his friends while Muneera struggles to trust her friend Jyoti’s innocence.  The Muneera-Jyoti story line is extremely well written and played out very well by Shahana Goswami.

Khan Saab and His Servant(Naseeruddin Shah and Raghubir Yadav):  Khan saab is an elderly music teacher who is an optimist and is almost in denial of the gravitas of the current state of affairs while his servant keeps informing him about the mishaps.  Khaan saab realizes the magnitude of hatred perpetuated only when he comes to know about the overnight destruction of Wali Gujarati’s shrine. He accepts defeat to his servant and says  “sirf saath suron me itni kaabiliyat khaan ki aisi nafrat ka saamna kar sake

Anuradha Desai and Sameer Shaikh (Tisca Chopra and Sanjay Suri): Anuradha and Sameer are an inter-religious couple who decide to move out of Ahmedabad for a peaceful living. During a conversation with their friends Sameer opens up about the insecurities that he has to live with due to his religion and his anger at not being able to proudly proclaim his religion in public. I personally feel that this sub plot had a lot of potential but it couldn’t be tapped mostly due to weak dialogues.

Lastly there is the little kid Moshin who is orphaned during the riots and witnesses violence as his character cuts across the sub plots. In the end, we see Moshin stare  at us deeply after being robbed of his childhood innocence.

f3

Despite its few short comings Firaaq is an honest film that manages to hold a mirror to the impact of the carnage. It forces us to question the actions of our fellow citizens and deliberate about the times that we live in and the society that we are leaving behind for the future generations. The film consists of some exceptional performances and manages to trigger all the emotions that it aimed to.  As we debate about tolerance even today this movie reminds us about the most heinous acts carried out due to intolerance in the past.

This movie is freely available on Youtube!

Firaaq