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Begum Jaan song: Oppression, disturbing visuals overpower 'O Re Kaharo'

The incessant oppression of Begum Jaan and company take the sheen off Kausar Munir's sombre track.

Mayur Lookhar

The world of the sex slave. Only those who live and breathe in it can comprehend the way Hindi cinema projects the world. The makers of Begum Jaan unveiled a new song, 'O Re Kaharo', today. The oppressive visuals in the song are quite disturbing, even depressing, and take the sheen off lyricist Kausar Munir's sombre track.

In an ideal world, such lyrics would be penned for a departing bride, but, sadly, the women in Begum Jaan are sex slaves. So that explains why we we see visuals of resentment, helplessness and despair, particularly from the character of Pallavi Sharda.

A shocking visual has Sharda’s character firing at Begum Jaan (Vidya Balan), following which one gentleman fires at Sharda. We also see Begum Jaan crying, possibly on realizing that she is pregnant or on receiving some tragic news in a letter.

Then we have Begum Jaan moaning at someone’s funeral, presumably one of her courtesans. Add to it the oppression by powerful men (Rajit Kapoor, Ashish Vidyarthi, and an evil-looking Chunky Pandey). The visuals are in complete contrast to the lyrics.

Yet, Begum Jaan and company fight back as we see the sex slaves wield guns. The ladies certainly aren't going to go down without a fight to save their brothel.

If one keeps the visuals aside, Kausar Munir has penned a sombre, heartfelt track. You could be forgiven for thinking the singer here is Richa Sharma, for Kalpana Patowary has a similarly powerful voice. She has sung a few Hindi film songs in the past, notably 'Gandi Baat' from the Shahid Kapoor-starrer R...Rajkumar (2013).

A popular singer in Assam, Patowary will now be known by Hindi audiences as the powerful voice behind the 'O Re Kaharo' track. The pain and despair of Begum Jaan and her womenfolk is amply reflected through her voice, and that is the best compliment a singer can get. Those who did not know of Patowary’s talent before will surely notice her now.

Altamash Faridi is also credited as a singer on the track, but we will have to wait for the extended version to hear his contribution.

The music by Anu Malik is subdued, though the music director uses the whiplash and bullet sounds to great effect, allowing the singer to dominate the track. And Patowary hasn’t let the composer down.

If one can handle the strong visuals, then 'O Re Kaharo' is a hard-hitting track. It may not be melodious, but then it isn’t meant to be. Watch the song for the sheer talent of Patowary. Begum Jaan is scheduled for release on 14 April.