Do it street-style

This evergreen track from Bombay to Goa may have been picturised on Amitabh Bachchan 30 years ago but today,one can visualise the grooving dancer as well as suave corporates folding up their sleeves at a local nightclubs for a jig to this number.

Written by DIPTI NAGPAUL D’SOUZA | Published: July 11, 2009 2:29 am

Dekha na,haye re,Socha na,haye re,rakh di nishane

pe jaan.

This evergreen track from Bombay to Goa may have been picturised on Amitabh Bachchan 30 years ago but today,one can visualise the grooving dancer as well as suave corporates folding up their sleeves at a local nightclubs for a jig to this number. That’s the equalising power of music.

Taste in music is chiefly individual but every now and then a track manages to bridge this gap. A recent example would be Dhan Te Nan from Vishal Bhardwaj’s Kaminey. Irrespective of whether you log on to Facebook,walk into a store or ride in an auto-rickshaw,you’re likely to find patronage for it.

It derives from the background music commonly used for action sequences in the 1970s-80. Sukhwinder Singh,in his earthy vocals,jams with a very contemporary Vishal Dadlani to music composed by Bhardwaj himself.

The lyrics,street lingo,add to the charm and Singh insists that that’s where the key lies. “Dhan te nan says something to the audience. The words Aaja aaja dil nichode,raat ki matki todein,koi goodluck nikalein,aaj ghullak to phode— are a call to come out,shed your inhibitions and celebrate,and everyone likes to do that,” says the singer. “Such songs also become popular because of their simple music—they sound the same even when sung without an orchestra. Beedi jalai le from Omkara and Amitabh’s classic Khaike Paan

Banaraswala too strike the same chord,” he adds.

Bharadwaj says it was his fascination with the filmy dhan te nan sound that made him use it. “We’ve all grown up on dhan te nan. It’s very retro and a simple expression that I knew would appeal to everyone,” he explains.

For the audience,the oddity of the lyrics and the theme make it an anthem. Abha Ahuja,a research student,insists that she’s been hooked to the track since she first heard it: “Songs like Dhan Te Nan and Ghulam’s Apun bola mock the norms of making music,like Dev.D’s Emosanal Atyachar. It connects with the rebellious streak in all of us — be it a rickshaw driver,an urchin,a college student or a geek like me.”

The cult status that the Kaminey track has garnered up in a matter of two weeks is evident from the number of repeats it has on music channels and radio stations. Despite bearing resemblance to the popular Pulp Fiction theme,says Malini Agarwal,programme manager,Radio One,it’s being played once every few hours.

The video contributes equally to the success of the track. Filmed on Shahid Kapoor and Chandan Sanyal in a crowded,dimly-lit discotheque,the song is free-spirited in terms of dance moves.

Choreographer Ahmed Khan says: “When you have a good dancer like Shahid,it’s very tempting to stylise the moves. When Shahid first played the track,I could only think of retro Hindi movies,so we decided to give one signature step and let the 80 professional dancers,including Shahid and Chandan,dance as if nobody’s watching,” says Khan. It would be unfair to assume that the track’s popularity is limited to film buffs. It has an ardent admirer in renowned playwright Ramu Ramanathan.

“It sounds right out of an angry play—shot theatrically with basic beats and very real colours,” he says. “Each of us has had the dhan te nan moment. The song works because it’s stylish,catchy,funny,political but doesn’t pander too much to the lowest common denominator.”

Now that puts it all in perspective.

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