6 Jun 2013

Javed Akhtar & War Movies (Part I)

jung toh chandd roz hotee hai
zindagi barson talak rotee hai 
(a war lasts for a few days 
life weeps for a lifetime)  

So go the balm-like lines to Anu Malik music at the fag end of the otherwise jingoistic 1997 release Border. The song Mere Dushman, Mere Bhai (My enemy, My brother) won singer Hariharan and lyricist Javed Akhtar the 1998 National Film Award. The movie was the first of the Anu Malik-Javed Akhtar-JP Dutta collaborations.

Dutta dealt with war again in the 2003 multi-starrer LOC Kargil. That we have only one warring neighbour didn't help Dutta if he was looking for variety. The director's tried and tested approach also threatened to make the music redundant. Just how many times can you have soldiers singing songs at the border in all abandon with the surety that the enemy never attacks mid-song?

Yet singularly, solely concerned with the audio, we have to say that Border was a very good soundtrack, it can certainly be counted among Anu Malik's finest works.Though the musical treatment follows the Hindi film template norms, the effort is sincere. (If someone were to accuse Malik of plagiarism, he can always shoot back with, "Hey, but I made the songs for Border!")

Sandeshe Aate Hai highlighted the exchange of letters between the soldiers and his family members, the ten minutes running time is no deterrent here. The language is deliberately of the everyday - nostalgia rants the air as the letters are read. The last paragraph has the soldiers hailing their heart-felt replies back to their loved ones with a final refrain of Main Wapas Aaunga...(I will be back).      

Hamein Jab Se Mohabaat Ho Gayi Hai is an extended love duet with lyrics that adds luster to the Indian village setting. There are beautiful references to the setting sun, a still, silent river, the paths that run between fields and the lingering of love. Ae Jaatein Huve Lamhon makes poetry out of a wedding night, as the groom yearns to absorb every bit of the bride, as he has to leave in the morning to attend his duties as a soldier.

But the most sombre and ever-reaching of the soundtrack is Mere Dushman, Mere Bhai. Akhtar writes sincere lines that make their point, asks the right questions:  

Hum apne apne kheto mein, 
ghehu ki jagah, chawal ki jagah, 
yeh bondooke kyun bote hai? 
Jab dono hi ki galiyon mein 
kuch bhooke bachhe rote hai 
kuch bhooke bacche rote hai..         
(Why do we sow guns instead
of rice and maize in our fields?
when in the lanes of both countries,
some hungry children cry...)               

(To be contd.)                    

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