Archive for August, 2008

Its my birthday! Birthdays are usually rough on me: I always get a little gloomy and moody, one, because getting older isn’t fun, and two, and probably the bigger reason, because they get over so fast and you know it and you can’t stop it and then its all gone for another year. Yep, I sound like a kid (I swear I’m not one, though ;)). Regardless of all of that, I’m glad to have another eventful year behind me and I’m excited about the year ahead, which starts in full swing next Sunday. I’ve had a great birthday so far (its been two hours) and I have great hopes for the whole day and the entire week and the whole year! With everyone’s love and blessings and best wishes, it’ll be a wonderful, exciting, enriching, surprising, beautiful year, and I’ll come back from my adventures a better, stronger, wiser, and ‘older’ person 🙂

Thanks to everyone whose already called/texted/sent cards, and thanks in advance to everyone who will wish me today! I love you all and I’m grateful to have you, and appreciate your thoughtful wishes!


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Whoa…people are sure interested in Avengi Ja Nahin…the blog hit a record number of posts since I made my post on its lyrics! Great! 🙂 I’m beginning to consider adding some ads to help my broke, penniless pockets a bit. Especially since the other night I dreamt I’d reached HK safe and sound and happy and then realized I had absolutely no money. That’s not technically possible, but it was a weird and scary dream.

Anyway, coming to the topic…a couple of people reached this blog by searching for the translated lyrics for A.R. Rahman’s Hawa Sun Hawa (I always find those search terms interesting), and I thought for once I’d maybe go with that. I don’t like the lyrics that much (they are quite romantic and mushy and steeped in love and yearning, but I usually dig the simple but deep kinds, and not too much of the dramatic, metaphorical type), but I know what its like to search for the meaning behind a lovely song. And as I wrote here, this song is definitely lovely, a Rahman masterpiece and I adore its music. I just hesitate to translate Hindi/Urdu songs myself mainly because so much is often lost in translation with these languages. You can’t convey the same feel when you translate, regardless of how much you try to avoid losing its touch. But still, without further ado, here are translated lyrics. Feel free to use these anywhere, but it’d be good to credit moi.

Please note that no gender is specified for the most part in the song, so I’ve just inserted she or he based on if its Sonu or Alka singing. I’ve tried not to translate literally so its not too awkward, but also tried to keep as much of the original meaning as possible.

Hawa Sun Hawa, Ada. Composed by Rahman. Sung by Sonu Niigam and Alka Yagnik.

[Woh Kaun Hain/Woh Kahan Hai/Jise Dhoondhti Hain Nigahen/Woh Kaun Hai]

(Who is that/Where is she/The one my eyes are searching for/Who is that)

CHORUS: Hawa Sun Hawa/Usse Chooke Aa/Usse Chooke Aaja Zara/Kahan Hai Woh Itna Bata… (2)

(Wind, listen, wind/Go, touch that person/Just touch that person/Tell me where she is… )

STANZA ONE: Kaun Hai Yaad Jo Har Pal Aaye/Yaad Woh Aaye To Aake Na Jaaye, (2)

(Who is it that I think of in every moment/And when I do, I can’t stop,)

Raaz Yeh Dil Ab Kisko Bataaye/Saamne Hai Woh, Nazar Na Aaye…

(Who should my heart tell this secret to?/She is right before me, yet I can’t see her…)

Mujhko Kiski Aahaton Hai Chuya/Kaun Hai Woh Ey Hawa Tu Yeh Bata

(Whose movements have just touched me?/Who is this, can you tell me, Oh Wind?)

CHORUS: Hawa Sun Hawa….

STANZA TWO: Meri Sadaayen Tujhko Bulaye/Saamne Aaja/Oh Aaja Re Aaja Re… (2)

(My voice* calls out to you/Come before me/Come, come…)

*I don’t know if this is the best way to interpret sadaayen here, which essentially means evocation.*

Mere Yeh Baahen Tujhko Pukaaren/Aaja Re Aaja Re Aa

(My arms call out to you/Come, come, come…

CHORUS: Hawa Sun Hawa…

[Woh Kaun Hai, Woh Kahan Hai]

((Who is that/Where is she)

STANZA TWO: Tujhse Miloongi Toh Tujhse Kahoongi/Tere Bina Main Reh Na Sakoongi (2)

(When I meet you, I will tell you/I won’t be able live without you)

Chodo Udasi/Kyun Aankhen Nam Hai/Gaur Se Dekho To/Nazdeek Hum Hai

(Leave this sadness/Why are your eyes wet/If you ook carefully/You will find me near you)

Mujhko Kiski Aahaton Hai Chuya/Kaun Hai Woh Ey Hawa Tu Yeh Bata

(Whose movements have just touched me?/Who is this, can you tell me, Oh Wind?)

[Woh Kaun Hain/Woh Kahan Hai/Jise Dhoondhti Hain Nigahen…]

(Who is that/Where is she/The one my eyes are searching for…)

See what I mean (if you share my tastes)? Nothing that spectacular, and not very impressive on the lyrical front at all. But I guess that’s where the magic of the musician and the singers comes in. Rahman makes it sound like a legendary ode, and gives these weak words a grandeur, and Sonu and Alka infuse the song with so much feeling and love and emotion that the listener is left mesmerized, in a way (even if you can’t understand the lyrics, or so others have said). Anyway, I hope the people searching for the translation the other day come back to find this, and find it helpful!

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Lyrically, Avengi Ja Nahin has several songs that seem singularly female-sympathetic, an attitude that is refreshing in a young male singer, and important in our generation. While the first album had songs that chose a woman as their heroine, like the girl wandering around the country searching for answers and finding more questions in Jugni, or Ishtihaar, a song which describes an advertisement for a lost woman, a lost love, this second album is more feminist in its approach. I’m not sure how purposeful that is; perhaps as a woman I read too much into them. But whatever the reason behind it, I find that especially attractive in his lyrics, because I can relate to them more and understand them more.

Avengi Ja Nahin discusses more about love than Rabbi did, and is more ‘direct’ in a way. By that I mean this: in the first album, the songs discussed love but with a certain tragic quality (like the lost woman in Ishtihaar or the story of Heer-Ranjha, or even the sudden change in the lovely Tere Bin where the hero makes a significant realization about the woman who left (‘giving up’ or losing love). In this new album, the love songs are more direct, more open, and more flirtatious in a sense, as the lyrics proclaim confidence in the hero’s love and lust. Therein lies an irony that confuses me about Rabbi’s lyrics. The woman in his love songs (self-written or chosen) is always leaving, or teasing, or out of his reach while the words claim the pain and loss he has felt from her. Yet, other songs are on her side, proclaiming her beauty, her strength, or even giving her encouragement. Why the difference between his love stories and social narrations?

The title song, Avengi Ja Nahin (Will you come or not), is not my favorite by any means, but it has good music. Its almost a straight talk kind of song, where the lover demands his beloved if she will come or not, if she will return his love or not, or will she just leave him with empty promises?(A new article leads me to reconsider my thoughts on this song: Must go back and reanalyze.) Challa is confusing to me, and I’m waiting for more clarification on its lyrics in which the challa (ring) becomes different things that hold meaning (there was an original version sung by Gurdas Mann, which I must also check out). Maen Bolia (I said), is one of the songs I mean when I talk about a confident love…it is a defiant, bold proclamation from a lover that says that he knows she loves him, she has the fever, and she will come to him. Another love song is dedicated to the mysterious girl from Karachi, who is beyond his reach, who he can never have because of many obstacles, yet who he knows yearns for him too.

That’s it for the love songs, and while they are all quite good and Challa is gorgeous in its music, none of them caught me with as much force as the simple Tere Bin did from Rabbi. The others songs are my real favorites, and not just because of their larger meanings and greater symbolism, but because their lyrics are simple and the music is just right, complementing each word. This is kind of a talent that Rabbi has that ends up bringing the most out of the lyrics (thus creating the sensation by his working of a 16th century poem, Bulla).

Bilqis, or Jinhen Naaz Nahin, will stand out for everyone who is a fan of Rabbi’s social commentary. It is a narrative that is based on the shocking true story of Bilqis Bano, the woman who was gangraped in the 2002 Gujarat riots and lost 14 members of her family (and still awaits justice from the courts in India, and goes on to describe other incidents of innocents wronged by the society we live in. And Rabbi demands through their voices that the people who have such pride in India, who like to boast and claim all is well in this nation and there is only growth and no problems, who are so nationalistic and jump at any criticism: where were you? Where were you and where are you when such horrendous crimes against humanity take place?

Bilqis (Jinhen Naaz Hai), Rabbi Shergill

Paghri Sambhal Jatta is a re-interpretation of a popular inspirational song for the Sikh youth, and I wouldn’t be able to say much and as well as is written here on The Langar Hall which I found very interesting. http://thelangarhall.com/archives/352

Return to Unity, Rabbi’s first full English song, I’m still chewing and pondering over, so thoughts on that will come at a later time. Tu Avin Bandra (You should come to Bandra) is a love song of sorts to Bandra, a part of busy, bustling Mumbai. I like the song for its music, its slow, laid back quality, and the almost smiling voice with which Rabbi sings “tainu idhar accha lagega (you’ll like it here).” Its a very different song, and it creates an image of a hustling, bustling, complicated Bandra, one that I’m sure I’d appreciate more if I had spent any time there. The song, for some reason, makes me think of a big city on a wet, rainy day. I really couldn’t tell you why, but its a nice image and makes me happy.

Tu Avin Bandra, Rabbi Shergill

Now to my hands down favorite: Ballo, a simply lovely, amazing piece giving empathy and encouragement to a woman. It is beautiful because it seems to know, to have a very eerie sense of what it is really like to have the pain only a woman can have. It could be directed to a mother, a sister, a daughter, a wife, a distressed lover. Rabbi’s soothing voice begins the song with words that acknowledge pain without being arrogant or patronizing.

Ballo, Rabbi Shergill

Main janda, tainu aaj/Peer hundi/Dil tere uthdi ek/Cheez

(I know today you/have pain/in your heart rises/a pang)

And goes on to further accept the fact that this is difficult, that the time, the events, the circumstances, are akin to storms, raging across your word. The next two stanzas describe the betrayal and struggle a woman feels when one she treasured, loved, showered affection on, is the one that causes her this pain, this suffocation, this trauma (and Rabbi maintains the gentle tone of, “yes I know its hard”).

Main Janda Aunde/Din ‘ch tufan kei/Kuch Sujda Na/Uddi ey reit

(I know in the day/arrive many storms/you can think nothing/and there’s just sand)

Rakhdi ti jisne tu/Saambh Saambh/Ghut ghut seene naal/La

Kal jo si sohna/Sagna da haar tera/Ajj ban gia/Gall da o faah

(What you guarded/with great care/against your bosom/very close

What was yesterday/a lucky necklace/is today a noose/around the neck)

The chorus stanza comes next and is simply uplifting, and the music changes, complementing the tone, as it becomes encouraging, telling Ballo that all of this is karma, and this too will pass, as long she faces it with dignity and strength.

Ni Ballo/Ni Ballo/Gham khada/Ey tan lekha si/Karma da/Vekh lai jar lai/Ihnu khirhe mathhey/Beetaga sama/Hovange/Katthey

(O Ballo/O Ballo/Why this sadness/This is just cause/And effect/See it, feel it/Raise your chin/This time will pass/We shall be/Together)

The next stanzas couple stanzas hold the most meaning for me, and are quite powerful yet simple. Again, I am amazed by just the depth and feel, and how does one convey so much in such few words? And exactly what is needed to be said and heard?

Main janda dabbian tu/Kai yadan/Jo suttian na gaian/taithon

O aundian ne kandhan tapp/jadon meetein tun akhan/jadon laven foki mattan/maithon

(I know you buried/many memories/that you couldn’t/throw away

They come climbing walls/when you close your eyes/or when you listen to my/empty advices)

See what I mean? I may be getting too excited in my love for this song, but I personally have the impression that for a lot of women, this song is almost like what Killing Me Softly describes (for those who are fans of that song). In a song being played, you hear and feel like your own emotions have been stripped open. Except Ballo is not just empathic but aims to say “Its okay, and you can’t let this bring you down.” Yes, it is a struggle, and yes, it is a constant fight within you. As the next stanzas describe, you constantly judge yourself, debate yourself, accuse and sentence yourself. You try to find your faults one day, and another day blame the one who hurt you; one day you attack yourself and blame it all on your own doings, another day its not you…and yet, there is never a resolution, it is never over.

Kardi ein nitt tu/Mukadma/Kardi ein tikhian/Jirha

Kade akhein dokhi/Kade kar devein bari/Par hovey na/Koi faisla

(Everyday you/Litigate/Everyday a sharp/Debate

Sometimes its guilty/Sometimes its innocent/But never a/Resolution)

Again, the chorus comes in, and tells Ballo to lift her chin up and face the time, because this will pass.

And the last stanzas are both empowering and desolate. Rabbi ends with words that leave you both saddened, and also strangely stronger.

Tera maseeha/Bane das kivein koi/Duniya sabh bhulli firdi

Khud varke tainu folne painu/Khud painde tainu chalne paine/Navein akhar gharne paine

(Who tell me/Can be your messiah/When all are as lost

You’ll have to turn the pages yourself/You’ll have to journey yourself/Shape your own script)

It is the truth, and it is delivered like a soft blow at the end of a motivational speech. Ballo, there is indeed only you. Only you can control your life, pick up the pieces, create your world and your journey, clean up the messes and answer your own questions. We are all lost beings, and we cannot guide each other, and while we feel pain and hurt by each other, we are all on an equal footing, just trying to make our way and live our life.

Rabbi Shergill has a way with words, and is one of the finest lyricists on the Indian music scene now. Listen to his songs, explore his music, and interpret and research his lyrics, and each song will become an experience in itself.

Avengi Ja Nahin is available on Amazon, on ITunes, and via Yash Raj Films. For lots more information on Rabbi and to stay updated on his works, visit Rabbism. For the story behind the album, downloads, and complete lyrics and translations (and to sample the tracks), visit http://ajn.co.in.

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Avengi Ja Nahin, Rabbi Shergill

I’m a little late catching up to Rabbi’s latest work, unfortunately, though he has been on my list of favorite singers ever since Jugni, Tere Bin and Ishtihaar reached my ears and their words (translated lyrics, because Rabbi usually sings in pure Punjabi) reached my mind. I caught a video of the title MV from his new album, Avengi Ja Nahin, and honestly wasn’t drawn in and avoided it to prevent being disappointed, but recently I thought I’d atleast go back and check out the rest of the album. And I was very glad I did. Undoubtedly, Rabbi, the self-titled first album, will be my favorite, and in my opinion is the better one, for several reasons: Rabbi Shergill is fresh, passionate, strong, and in a very unique, independent spirit in Rabbi. Those were the songs that swept millions across the world, because you can sense his “I sing for myself” and “I am passionate about my music and nothing else” spirit in each of his songs. And, his sound of rock mixed with the sufi style was so new to the stale Indipop scene (which I’d all but given up, save for Kailash Kher), that Bulla Ki Jaana was literally a movement.

BUT…that doesn’t mean Avengi Ja Nahin isn’t a great album. Rabbi has stayed true to his soul and his passion and has created something quite wonderful. Italian maestro Mauro Pagani has produced the album, which was mostly recorded in Italy. Perhaps there is where my personal tastes are affected: I enjoyed Rabbi’s initial effort because it seemed to come purely within him; it was, after all, self-composed and self-written for the most part (or self-interpreted with wonderful results). While this one is too, there has to be some influence by the producer, and that has both its advantages and disadvantages. But it is always great when artists venture into different territories, especially when that means actually going across borders. Avengi Ja Nahin, as a result, is a very unique album. The lyrics are, as expected, quite great for the most part (still prefer the first, Rabbi, for the lyrical power, too, though). I’ll discuss those further later. The music, because of the international influence is rich in its diversity. A variety of instruments have been used, and creatively and expertly mixed. Ballo has a simple, constant beat in the background, placing emphasis on Rabbi’s strong vocals, and it matches the spirit of the song. Bilqis is strong, heavy on the guitars, and Rabbi seems to narrate the song, appropriately. Challa has a laidback, acoustic feel to it, like its playing on some boat with a lonely man rowing it. You can listen to the songs, get the translated lyrics and read more about the story on its official site: http://ajn.co.in/

Yash Raj Films, who are distributing the album, have a wonderful review: http://www.yashrajfilms.com/News/NewsDetails.aspx?NewsID=fc087a10-8206-4144-b14d-d06898d3bf8c

I think its great that Rabbi provided these lyrics, appreciating the fact that the majority of his fan following is not that well-versed in Punjabi. Also interesting and fun to read: the one-line comments added by him as a footnote to the lyrics. They provide a very personal insight into the creation of these songs. I’d also have liked to hear a bit more on what lies behind his composing, i.e., what drives him to choose the subjects of his songs and what are his inspirations as he writes?

Avengi Ja Nahin is another great offering by a singer, rocker, composer and lyricist whose passion for music is transparent, and who knows how to use his gifts to reach the people. I admire Rabbi for his bold lyrics, his honesty and depth, as much as I love his songs for their powerful beats, rhythms, and the energy in every tone.

PS: If you are a Rabbi fan also, then you will find hordes of information and discussion on the unofficial Rabbi blog, http://rabbism.blogspot.com.

(I forgot and was late publishing this first post. Thus, discussion on the lyrics follows soon in a separate post)

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