17 February 2007

with love from bollywood

dil kya kare : adnan sami
click here or on the image below to listen

This was supposed to be a Valentine post. The last month has been both hectic and nerve-wracking. I had a fascinating business trip to India to report on the business of Bollywood, which sort of explains why I'm putting these two songs up. You probably know that the Indian film industry is the largest in the world, producing over a thousand films a year, or thrice as much as Hollywood. But did you also know that it used to be funded in large part by the underworld? That changed in 2001 when the government officially recognized film-making as an industry, which meant financial institutions could now lend to film-makers. Also, Bollywood actually refers only to the Hindi-language film industry, which is based in Mumbai (formerly Bombay, hence Bollywood). Hindi films make up just a fourth of the total output; the rest are in the couple dozen other languages in India, but largely Tamil and Malayalam, spoken in the south. Anyway, it probably is true that most Indian films stick to the formula of boy meets girl, are pulled apart, but end up happily together – with often outlandish song-and-dance numbers in posh MTV-like sets or against Alpine mountains (yes, some of them do film in Switzerland in lieu of Kashmir, an area of conflict between India and Pakistan). And because music from films is so pervasive in India, the two industries are hard to separate. But before I bore you with any more details, let's get on with the songs, and the movie they're from.

salaam-e-ishq : various artists
click here or on the image below to listen

These two songs come from the film Salaam-e-Ishq, or Tribute to Love, a minor hit in spite of the number of A-list Bollywood actors in the cast. I was told that part of the reason is it veers away from the formula described above, following instead the lives of six couples intersecting in the end. (Critics liken it to Love, Actually, which I haven't seen in full.) I saw it in Mumbai (without subtitles, but the plot was easy to follow) and I thought it was way too long at 3h 45m, and some of the story lines were simply not compelling enough. (I especially liked the couple living in London where the middle-aged husband falls for a much younger dance instructor, the Delhi man who can't commit to marrying his girlfriend, and the British girl who goes to Udaipur to stop her boyfriend's arranged marriage with an Indian girl.) But I think it's pretty much universally agreed that the soundtrack is outstanding. I love these two songs the most: Dil Kya Kare because it's tender and sweet, and the seven-minute title track which is a dance tune that still has a largely traditional sound. I'm posting the lyrics to Dil Kya Kare below, because I asked what it's about in a travel forum, and someone was kind enough to translate it for me. Below is his translation, which I have liberally amended in some parts.

We're back to regular programming after this post.

Dil Kya Kare
(What's the Heart to Do?)

In the slow searing night
I burn in the rain
I drown in memories
What's the heart to do?
I am lost in myself
There is something I wish to say
But something else escapes my mouth
I endure this strange pain
What's the heart to do?

Through a meeting of the eyes
Through an exchange of words
Someone has taken
Someone has given
Salutations to love

Everyday it feels as though I'm missing something
I do not know what it is I wish for
I am alone in the crowd
What's the heart to do?

I have forgotten the day, the month, the year
I sweat in January
I am not comfortable in any place
If I sit I forget to get up

I head for the door but I keep walking about
Restlessness has set in
I laugh while I cry
Someone moves about in my memory
Whether I am asleep or awake
Why do I lose my way?
Why do I hum endlessly?

I set out in tattered jeans
Unaware whether I'm wearing a shirt
Or if a button is undone
The heartbeat plays all kinds of tunes
What's the heart to do?

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