Aug 18 2016

Gulzar: 10 quirky dance numbers by the poet

by   Shriram Iyengar

One of Gulzar's greatest traits is the ability to assimilate changing cultures, across generational boundaries and churn out snazzier, quirkier lyrics. Nowhere is this more apparent than in his fantastic dance songs. On his 81st birthday, we take a look at some spectacular dance numbers in the millenium, written by one of Hindi cinema's finest poets, Gulzar. 

1 Banda ye bindaas (Aks, 2001) 

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's directorial debut, Aks, was a dark, obscure thriller with some bravura performances by Amitabh Bachchan and Manoj Bajpayee. Though the audience never warmed up to the film, this song written by Gulzar and sung by KK made it to the top of the charts. With its typical Mumbaiyya lingo, the song is an example of the poet's adaptability. 

2 Chaiyya Chaiyya (Dil Se, 1998 )

'Chaiyya Chaiyya' changed the way dance numbers were percieved. Mani Ratnam's gritty film on terrorism in Kashmir took a beautiful tangent through the railways in Ooty with this number. It brought together the fabulous team of Gulzar and AR Rahman for the first time. The song would go on to shake up a stagnant Hindi film music scene in the new millenium. 

3 Kajra re (Bunty Aur Babli, 2005) 

If the previous song embodied Gulzar's ability to mix traditional Urdu with contemporary visuals, this was a step further. 'Kajra re' set fire to airwaves and won Gulzar the Filmfare for Best Lyricist. With his innate blend of Hinglish and Urdu, the lyricist delivered one of the finest dance songs at the tender age of 70. He left no 'personal se sawaal' or doubts in the minds of younger lyricists trying to challenge him.

4  Beedi jalayile (Omkara, 2006) 

For Omkara, Gulzar took up the pen for another close collaborator, Vishal Bhardwaj. Younger music directors seem to infuse the veteran lyricist with their own energy. In this song, the poet delivered a song full of mischief, sensuality and picturised on Bipasha Basu, with a tinge of classy lechery. His ability to use local lingo that fits in with the theme of the entire film, not just the song, is exemplified in this number. 

5 Barso re (Guru, 2007)

Known to work with the usual suspects, the lyricist teamed up again with AR Rahman and Mani Ratnam for Guru. This track had listeners tapping to the beat of raindrops. Rahman's music builds a magical ambience for Gulzar's words that beautifully bring out the romanticism associated with the Indian rainy season. No wonder they like working with each other.

6 Dhan te nan (Kaminey, 2009) 

When Vishal Bhardwaj and Gulzar came together again for Kaminey in 2009, they delivered another sensational dance number. The lyrics, music, dance and even scenes from the song were a throwback to the disco songs that were a constant feature of the 70s. Considering Bhardwaj is a fan of RD Burman and Gulzar a former collaborator, this was the perfect tribute to the Boss. 

7 Darling (7 Khoon Maaf, 2011) 

Regardless of his works with other music directors and filmmakers, the veteran poet seems to save his best for his protege, Vishal Bhardwaj. In this dark tale of a serial killer beauty, Gulzar's audacious 'Darling' is the standout track. The verses, with their fine blend of English and Urdu, make for a delightful combination. Its seductive and playful tone is only enhanced by the full-bodied voice of Usha Uthup. 

8 Jiya re (Jab Tak Hai Jaan, 2012) 

Not that Gulzar has a thing for the darker side. As a poet, his ability to combine the playful with deep, almost spiritual philosophy sets him apart. For Yash Chopra's last directorial venture, he penned this peppy track filmed on Anushka Sharma. Typical of his style, the lyricist crafted words that provide an innate rhythm that matches AR Rahman's tempo.

9 Oye boy oye boy Charlie (Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, 2013)

As he has grown older, the lyricist has turned towards the absurd with greater enthusiasm. In this absurdist drama by his protege, Gulzar wrote a song that could also moonlight as a limerick. Free of any poetic constraints and incredibly funny, this one is a great party number. 

10 Kill Dil (Kill Dil, 2014) 

If you thought Gulzar didn't do over-the-top, you might have missed the soundtrack for Kill Dil. Combining with the trio of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, the title track of Shaad Ali's Kill Dil is something to savour. The whacky lyrics fit right in with the absolute awesomeness of Govinda and Ranveer Singh.