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Jab Harry Met Sejal's Safar song: Soulful pop-rock song that brings out the journeyman in you

Doing away with the traditional song and dance format, director Imtiaz Ali, composer Pritam and lyricist Irshad Kamil join Shah Rukh Khan in the studio, but there is no Arijit Singh.

Mayur Lookhar

Romantic songs are charming, but journey songs are also very relatable. In 2004, Shah Rukh Khan was part of a memorable slice-of-life journey song, 'Yun Hi Chala Chal Rahi'. The Swades (2004) song was penned by Javed Akhtar and must rank amongst the best modern journey songs in Hindi cinema.

Fourteen years later, Shah Rukh Khan finds himself in another slice-of-life journey song. Aptly titled 'Safar', the Jab Harry Met Sejal  track is penned by Irshad Kamil with Pritam scoring the music and Arijit Singh singing the pop-rock track.

A speciality of the 'Safar' song that has been released today is that it does away with the traditional song-and-dance routine. It is like a Hollywood film OST (original sound track) that uses limited visuals from the film and focuses more on the band behind the number. So, director Imtiaz Ali, composer Pritam and lyricist Irshad Kamil join Khan in the studio. Only, there is no Arijit Singh. Instead we have Khan lip-synching to Singh's voice with a mike in hand. Well, maybe that’s how Hindi film songs are sold. But Arijit Singh is so good that he does not really need to face the camera.

Crystal-clear voices never go well with rock music. If the lyrics smack of despair, the voice needs to reflect that. There is both controlled grief and a sense of frustration in Singh’s voice. Perhaps there is restrained suffering in 'Safar'. The hurt, however, cries out when Singh says in a toxic tone, 'Jabse gaon se main shahar hua, itna kadva ho gaya ki zeher hua, main toh rozana na chahta tha ye hojana.' 

The vagaries of life leave us bruised, battered, and bitter. Such is life in metros. These emotions get reflected in Irshad Kamil’s lyrics. Every human being going through the vagaries of life will relate to this track. It brings out the journeyman in you.

However, Kamil provides real joy with his carefree attempt at dancing. When was the last time we saw a lyricist get submerged like this in his song? The joy on Kamil’s face cannot be described.

Kamil’s soulful lyrics ring through the delightful pop-rock tune by Pritam. Pop-rock does not feature regularly in Hindi film music, but 'Safar' reminds us of the magic a composer can create in this genre. Like Kamil, Pritam, too, finds himself facing the camera. The shoulder shoves he administers to Shah Rukh Khan are amusing. Pritam also added a few vocals to the song. Credit to Khan for being a good sport. Ali, Kamil, and Pritam let Khan have his finest hour in the studio, but come the critical moment, they all read the truth to him: Arijit Singh sings, Shah Rukh Khan lip-synchs. As Pritam says, "Sir, aap safar karo."

Without further ado then, let the 'Safar' begin.

Jab Harry Met Sejal is set to be released on 4 August. You can predict the film's box-office performance here.