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He whose head is in the shadow of love will have heaven beneath his feet
March 17, 2009 7:31 AM   Subscribe

Chaiyya Chaiyya - ("[walk] in the shadow"). The smash Bollywood hit from the movie "Dil Se". for ceege

Composed by A R Rachman - sung by Sukhwinder Singh - named one of the ten best songs in a poll by the BBC.
posted by Burhanistan (57 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Only 1 spot beneath Cher's "Believe". Good thing Black Eyed Peas haven't released anything recently or it's coveted spot would be at risk.

I remember taking a Bollywood course in college and my professor flipping her shit for this song. Frankly, I don't get it, I'd prefer the soundtrack to Pather Panchali any day.
posted by cloeburner at 7:39 AM on March 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


ahem...its.

Oh and by the way, sorry, that came across as harsh, it was more a criticism of the poll than Chaiyya Chaiyya.
posted by cloeburner at 7:42 AM on March 17, 2009


cloeburner: thanks for linking that. I've not seen Pather Panchali but will rectify that in good time.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:43 AM on March 17, 2009


I liked the bit with the people dancing on top of a train traveling through beautiful scenery.
posted by asok at 7:52 AM on March 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


asok's right. That's the best part!
posted by cgc373 at 7:53 AM on March 17, 2009


Inside Man.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 8:01 AM on March 17, 2009


I think of the Bollywood vogue as swing dancing for the Aughties: more a media creation than a real-life phenomenon, and destined for a quick welcome demise.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:01 AM on March 17, 2009


I have been playing too much Broken Picture Telephone (user noisesmith), and while reading the various metaphors in the subtitles, I visualized crude mouse-drawings of literal interpretations of them. I like to think it improved the experience ("When you walk in the shadow of love, heaven is below your feet" == big yellow dude in the shadow of a huge red valentines heart stepping on the heads of christmas tree angels).
posted by idiopath at 8:04 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have no idea why Lee used this song to open "Inside Man". It has nothing to do with a clever bank heist. It's an undeniably infectious way to generate sympathy for whatever it is being played over, but come on, Spike. It's just another weird flourish from a so-called auteur who should really be spending more time trying to get more human performances out of his actors.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:06 AM on March 17, 2009


I think of the Bollywood vogue as swing dancing for the Aughties

Who said anything about vogue? This is from 1998.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:07 AM on March 17, 2009


Here's the same video in the tamil version. I'm also partial to this song from same movie: Nenjinile, Nenjinile.
posted by dhruva at 8:10 AM on March 17, 2009


Man, i love that song. I think I first heard it on, um, the soundtrack to The Guru.

(Hey, at least it wasn't this one)
posted by Artw at 8:15 AM on March 17, 2009


(Hmm. IMDB says I'm on crack. So I've no idea how that song found it's way into our lives. Anyhow, the video is lovely)
posted by Artw at 8:33 AM on March 17, 2009


Burhanistan: "Who said anything about vogue? This is from 1998."

And of course Bollywood has been a huge industry much longer than that. But in my recollection, it didn't really become hipster bait until Ghost World (2001). And it didn't go mainstream until Danny Boyle struck gold there.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:37 AM on March 17, 2009


Ok, but this is just a song, man.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:42 AM on March 17, 2009


Speak for your own country.
posted by Artw at 8:42 AM on March 17, 2009


Who said anything about vogue?

I think it definitely has come into some sort of vogue.

I remember guys at the indian spice shops hiring out pirated VHS videos to me & they could never get over the fact that a whitey was actually watching Bollywood. I'd have to endure the same conversation every single time:

"are you understanding hindi?"
"a few words, maybe. but you hardly need to speak the language to work out what's going on"
"amazing! and why are you liking bollywood filmis?" (etc etc)

For my part, I was incredulous that right in the middle of studenty hipsterville, there wasn't a massive & obvious appetite for Bollywood - the stories are all more or less identical & easy to follow, the musical numbers are great, the item girls pass muster, the heroes' hairdos & sartorial style would make Michael Bolton green with envy, and they have kitsch & schmaltz by the truckload - what's there for a hipster not to like?

I think it's about time that it's starting to get the attention it deserves from whiteys, just so long as it *isn't* just a shallow passing fad, like swing dancing.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:42 AM on March 17, 2009


It's A.R.Rahman (Raeh maan). I don't know what's worse - hearing/seeing Rachman at the Oscars or here on the Blue.

Not to be a total grouse, I think Rahman's best work is still Roja.
posted by Gyan at 8:52 AM on March 17, 2009


The "ح " is a hard "ha" (rahman is Arabic for "merciful). It's often written with a ch to denote that.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:55 AM on March 17, 2009


But is A R Rahman ever transliterated into English in any other way than Rahman?

*transliteral Rahmanist*
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:00 AM on March 17, 2009


I think of the Bollywood vogue as swing dancing for the Aughties


I'm sorry that you have to view everything through the prism of deciding what may or may not be hipsterism. That sounds like an extraordinarily unpleasant way to live.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 9:03 AM on March 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese: "I'm sorry that you have to view everything through the prism of deciding what may or may not be hipsterism. That sounds like an extraordinarily unpleasant way to live."

Note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:08 AM on March 17, 2009


I suppose it is always written "Rahman". I crossed a wire because I do know several "Rachmans".
posted by Burhanistan at 9:09 AM on March 17, 2009


I'd mark the rise of interest in Bollywood with Bombay the Hard Way, which remixed work of the Shah brothers. At least, that's where I first heard it. Then there's Tunak Tunak Tun, which made its way through college dorms a few years later. Bend it like Beckham reached more people, introducing more Indian culture (of sorts) to the non-Indian masses in 2002.

There's a lot more to Bollywood than there was to swing-dancing, probably because Bollywood isn't a genre of music and dress (with some associated films), it's the informal term popularly used for the (Mumbai-based Hindi language) film industry in India.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:10 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Joe Beese, shut up and learn a dance move and be happy on top of a train. Or fall off the train and get your limbs and/or head severed by the carriage wheels. Whatever.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:10 AM on March 17, 2009


I miss the days when Americans weren't crazy about Bollywood. Good god. My coworkers all seem to think I know how to do the dances and need to show them like their aerobics instructor or whatever does. They probably think I'm lying when I'm telling them I don't know how to dance like that. For God's sake!
posted by anniecat at 9:15 AM on March 17, 2009


Nope, his best song is Vellai Pookal, which opens Kannathil Muthamittal, which is Mani Ratnam best film. I should watch that film again.
posted by chunking express at 9:16 AM on March 17, 2009


Also Joe Beese, why you gots to be a dick all the time? Doesn't that shtick get tired?
posted by chunking express at 9:17 AM on March 17, 2009


chunking express: "
Also Joe Beese, why you gots to be a dick all the time? Doesn't that shtick get tired?
"

See above.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:19 AM on March 17, 2009


Or fall off the train and get your limbs and/or head severed by the carriage wheels.

I heard something like this actually happened in the video shoot. Is that accurate?
posted by ikahime at 9:20 AM on March 17, 2009


Doesn't that shtick get tired?

It is endless kalpas old. Just as in the Ramayana, the demon must prevail for a while, in order for the Dharma to eventually be restored. This is entirely within the natural order of things, and probably the main recurring theme of most Bollywood films.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:23 AM on March 17, 2009


So, MeTa.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:26 AM on March 17, 2009


My Favorite Rahman.
posted by firstdrop at 9:31 AM on March 17, 2009


I first heard the song in Inside Man, so thanks Spike! Doesn't fit with the bank robbery, sure, but it's still a sweet song.
posted by graventy at 9:33 AM on March 17, 2009


I think of the Bollywood vogue as swing dancing for the Aughties: more a media creation than a real-life phenomenon, and destined for a quick welcome demise.

I'm going to focus on this comment, then, okay?

So, what does this even mean? "More media creation than real-life phenomenon"?

Of course Bollywood is a media creation - it is media. Quick demise? India's had a healthy film industry since the early Other Aughties - the 1900s, that is - and it's grown considerably since then. Millions upon millions of people love it, watch it, act or otherwise work in it. Its popularity has grown beyond the boundaries of the Indian subcontinent thanks to the Indian diaspora and the internet.

I'm not understanding your comment, Joe Beese, and I'd be interested in a clarification of what you said.

but if you're busy over in MeTa, I understand.
posted by rtha at 9:41 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bollywood's not mainstream here in the US.

Slumdog Millionaire isn't Bollywood.

If it isn't A. 3 hours long or B. A musical, it's not really Bollywood, imo.

Which is why Bollywood's not mainstream here, people can't seem to adapt to unfamiliar genre formats. I would say even Anime isn't "mainstream" in a culturally affective sense. Bugs the shit out of me, I don't mind saying.

But since there's a Your Favorite Bollywood Item Song Sucks thread, I'll trot out my beloved Dard e Disco. (Yes, it is a bit of a Bollywood self-parody. See Om Shanti Om, it's awesome.)

Here's another. Bang Bang Bang!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:10 AM on March 17, 2009


Oh, if we're charting the west's cinematic co-opting of Bollywood inflections, between Bend It and Inside Man there was Bride and Prejudice.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:18 AM on March 17, 2009


There's a lot more to Bollywood than there was to swing-dancing

^This times one thousand, and I'm not even into Bollywood.
Some people are just incapable of differentiating between Fad and Paradigm Shift. There are a billion southern asians coming to the US and they are not putting on the ritz. Bollywood is about to start shading western pop culture to the extent that various japanese things do now, which is to say, quite a bit and permanently.

Plus I just added "Bollywood" to my firefox dictionary, so there's that.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:18 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cool version of the song, but it lacks the edge of the original.
posted by msalt at 1:46 PM on March 17, 2009


I still remember watching that movie with my roommate years ago in grad school. I don't speak Hindi, but my roommate spoke Urdu and offered running translation of the movie for me. Most ridiculous movie EVAR. But I was so impressed with this song (and its sister, Thaiya Thaiya) that I made my roommate track down the soundtrack. Never got him to translate the lyrics for me - thanks for the post!
posted by dilettanti at 1:57 PM on March 17, 2009


*notes the Bollywood riffing in Moulin Rouge, heads over to MeTa for a little schadenfreude*
posted by flotson at 2:45 PM on March 17, 2009


But I was so impressed with this song (and its sister, Thaiya Thaiya) that I made my roommate track down the soundtrack.

The sister song ("Thayya Thayya", I believe) is really one of my favorite songs for walking through NYC subway stations and riding the trains, and I have no idea why. I think I'll blame Inside Man and its use of the other version.
posted by Mikey-San at 2:52 PM on March 17, 2009


But in my recollection, it didn't really become hipster bait until Ghost World (2001). And it didn't go mainstream until Danny Boyle struck gold there.

Okay, I enjoyed Bollywood for a while, well before I saw Ghost World. In my opinion, the breakthrough movie isn't Slumdog Millionaire (although it's certainly the most popular at this point). Lagaan is an honest-to-goodness Bollywood movie featuring a couple of dance intervals, wet sari and all. It came out in 2001, so it may be that Ghost World and Lagaan were synergistic or something; whatever. In any case, perhaps because a good deal of it is in English and it offers very familiar themes and contexts for Western viewers, I think it was pretty popular. I enjoyed the heck out of it even though I find some more traditional Bollywood films harder to follow. Of course, I was listening to Bollywood music well before I watched a movie.

Here's the thing:

There are things that are cool. Making things yourself is cool. Diner food is cool. Bollywood films are cool. Warm knitted hats are cool. These things have pretty much always been cool.

All of a sudden, these people who call themselves hipsters start eating at diners, getting involved in DIY, watching Bollywood films, and wearing knitted hats. So now diner food is hip, DIY is hip, Bollywood is hip, and so on. But the thing is, even after hipsterism dies out, if it ever dies out, those things will continue to be cool. I will never be convincingly hip. Okay, these people are hip. Maybe they will always be hip, maybe not. But watching this movie made me feel incredibly, shamefully unhip.

And yet, I enjoy some of the things that hipsters do. Why? Is it because I'm affected and molded by hipster culture? Possibly. For certain, the hipster crowd's wealth and influence affect purchasing decisions by stores and companies so that "hip" things are now much easier to acquire. I'd like to think that the things I like are simply things that I like and it's just a coincidence that some of them are also enjoyed by hipsters.

The best I can do is enjoy things because I like them, and not because they are popular or because people like them. I have little to no control over whether something I wear, watch, eat, listen to, drink, or read is hip or not. I can tell you I certainly don't have any way of or interest in keeping up with that. I just wear what's comfortable, watch what's interesting, eat what tastes goods, listen to what pleases my ears, drink whatever I feel like and read absolute garbage.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:03 PM on March 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


As far as the poll: to be totally fair, the World Service's demographic probably affected the results. I would imagine a fair amount of the World Service's listenership is in the Middle East and South Asia.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:12 PM on March 17, 2009


Deathalicous: All of a sudden, these people who call themselves hipsters... They aren't hipsters, only ironic post-hipster conformists talk about being hipsters, the hipsters themselves talk about how much they hate hipsters and how hipsters suck and they are ruining the real scene etc. etc. Or something like that, the whole thing is very confusing, but be assured that most hipsters loathe the label, and use it to describe the other hipsters who are not their friends.
posted by idiopath at 3:15 PM on March 17, 2009


Ironically, Indian hipsters (kulhawallahs) probably affect a disdain for Bollywood: "I cannot stand mainstream filmis, yaar. Lately, I've been getting into Western cinema..."
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:34 PM on March 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I really can't stand bollywood films!
posted by dhruva at 6:04 PM on March 17, 2009


Oh, so are you telling me you actually enjoy all those boring movies without song & dance numbers?!??

Nobody could seriously like that shit. You're just trying too hard to be cool.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:27 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


My husband and I fell in love with this song after watching Inside Man. At our wedding during the dancing someone put it on and we proceeded to imitate the entire 6 minutes of dancing in a huge circle of our friends. After, a family friend (I'm Russian, and said friend went to high school with my parents) asked me if we practiced the dance, because our moves were so well rehearsed.

We didn't - watching the video 55 million times was enough. Still one of my favorite memories from the wedding and the unofficial dance song for it. (friends still remember it!)

Thank you for the memory.
posted by olya at 8:24 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, if we're charting the west's cinematic co-opting of Bollywood inflections, between Bend It and Inside Man there was Bride and Prejudice.

Two of your examples are by this obvious imperialist.

I love Bend It, and Chadha obviously lucked out with her casting there -- Keira Knightley is a fantastic actress (Atonement (!!!), and ironically Pride & Prejudice before that), and of course Parminder Nagra has gone on to a successful career as well. Bride & Prejudice has to be judged more as Bollywood homage than as Austen rip, but I think it succeeds on both counts. Mainly, it's so great to see a musical where people are actually ridiculously enjoying themselves. (I think we've forgotten how.)
posted by dhartung at 10:34 PM on March 17, 2009



Bollywood rocks.

And I think the best thing about this vid (Chaiyya Chaiyya) is the gaspingly beautiful scenery. That is what I remember most about India -- how surprised I was (this was not the India of American media coverage) -- I was just stunned in awe at so much natural beauty.

BTW, Deathalicious, my grandchildren's favorite film is "Lagaan" -- and they don't understand Hindi at all. The youngest can't even read the subtitles. Kids just know good stuff.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:00 AM on March 18, 2009


Lagaan is a phenomenal film. Indians kicking colonial ass in Cricket. What's not to love. Also, Radha Kaise Na Jale is a great song.
posted by chunking express at 6:37 AM on March 18, 2009


Damn it, the video I linked to isn't the whole song.
posted by chunking express at 6:40 AM on March 18, 2009


Freakonomics also had a Bollywood related post yesterday. The subject was good measure more nefarious than "Chaiyya Chaiyya" if you ask me.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:46 AM on March 18, 2009


Burhanistan: that hit the front page here already, actually. Yeah, it was disturbingly funny.
posted by idiopath at 8:31 AM on March 18, 2009


here
posted by Artw at 8:54 AM on March 18, 2009


Excellent HQ version with no pillarboxing in stereo here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jfit3lK_xHs&fmt=18

"Dil Se Re" is just about as good a video and song.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t08Q5R9uYl4&fmt=18
posted by Sir Mildred Pierce at 3:33 PM on March 19, 2009


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