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'Tajdar-e-Haram' song: John Abraham's bloody visage looms over this noisy recreation of the iconic qawwali

Composed by Sajid-Wajid, the latest song from Satyameva Jayate is a take on the famous qawwali 'Tajdar-e-Haram' by the late Sabri brothers. 

Shriram Iyengar

The third song of Milap Zaveri's Satyameva Jayate is a confluence of two very different themes and ideas. Composed by Sajid-Wajid, and sung by Wajid, the song is a take on the famous qawwali 'Tajdar-e-Haram' by the late Sabri brothers. While the original was a soft, vocal-heavy plea to God, the film version is a heavy, thumping composition that is overpowered by the violent visuals on screen. 

Satyameva Jayate has John Abraham playing a violent vigilante seeking to wreak vengeance on corrupt and immoral police officers. While the film is a complete action entertainer, the song sets the tone of John's character being the messiah to the weak and oppressed people in a corrupt city. As Manoj Bajpayee's officer (who is hunting John's character) says, "You are not the first criminal to imagine himself as a messiah." 

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The video follows the violent rampage of John's muscled behemoth, set to the backdrop of a Muharram procession. Disguised in the blood and frenzy of the procession, the vigilante takes action on a corrupt officer trying to molest a woman on the street. This is the setting into which Sajid-Wajid's 'Tajdar-e-Haram' begins to flow. 

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The composition veers away from the original, or attempted adaptaitons of the qawwali. While the film's video uses only the opening couplet, sandwiched between a few lyrical changes by Danish Sabri. However, the violent visuals of the song run opposite to the plea for mercy which makes for a jarring effect. In addition, the pacy percussion heavy composition takes some of the sheen away from the lines, leaving a dissatisfactory feeling for the listener. 

The heavy orchestration (preceded by a lot of action packed punchlines) leaves little scope for Wajid's voice to rise above the din. The singer does attempt to add some clarity to the lyrics, but it just doesn't cut through. 

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The original composition, by Sabri brothers, is a very minimalistic composition and relies on vocals. The song was written by Hafiz Shirazi. First sung in the 1970s, it remains one of the most iconic qawwalis that falls under the category of a naat (a tribute dedicated to the praise of the prophet Muhammed). The song has often been recreated, most recently by Atif Aslam in Coke Studio season 8, as a tribute to the Sabri brothers. 

For now, the original and the tribute by Atif Aslam, seem a better choice to the more action-packed version by Sajid-Wajid. 

Satyameva Jayate is directed by Milap Zaveri, and is set to be released on 15 August 2018. 

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