Decoding The Song #1
Satrangi Re – Dil Se..
Dil se was Mani Ratnam’s final part of the trilogy depicting the broken nation and terrorism. It was a love story of an All India-Radio jockey, Amar (Shahrukh Khan) and a repressed voice of a terrorist out for vengeance, Meghna/Moina (Manisha Koirala). An intense, moving plot woven with an eloquent narrative, powerful performances, fine work of the music director A.R. Rahman and Santosh Sivan’s spectacular cinematography, the movie is a visual delight.
The movie is said to be laced around the seven shades of love that finds its mention in Arabic Literature and they are defined as,
1 Hub (Attraction)
2 Uns (Infatuation)
3 Ishq (Love)
4 Aqidat (Reverence)
5 Ibaadat (Worship)
6 Junoon (Obsession)
7 Maut (Death)
Interestingly, one of the songs of the movie too gives a propinquity to the above mentioned theme. The song, ‘Satrangi Re’ is a marvelous feat of Rahman, singer Sonu Nigam and the lyricist Gulzar. The song is set against the arid and desolate backdrop of Ladakh.
The word ‘Satrangi’ means something that is made of seven colours, like a rainbow or ‘VIBGYOR’. In the song we see the female protagonist, Meghna for whom the song is dedicated donning the seven different colours in almost a reverse order while the male protagonist, Amar has worn only black salwaar kameez , until the extreme last segment where both are adorned in white.
As the song begins, we are taken through a narrow lane to the female protagonist, Meghna in a cryptic manner, that along with the queer female consonance gives the feeling of a labyrinth of eeriness and the pending disaster that awaits. The second shot of the sequence is interestingly 24 seconds long , the camera is moving in a lane and in the same shot it turns around , as if suddenly had changed a plan. The shot reminds of the fateful meeting of Amar and Meghna in the movie, how he met her ‘by chance’. We are introduced to Meghna donning an enigmatic black look and dancing mystically. In the same scene we are introduced to the first stage of love, i.e., Hub or Attraction.
In the next section we see Meghna in white dress in a very sublime like snowy backdrop saying Ghalib’s verses,
“ Ishq par zor nahin hai yeh woh aatish Ghalib
Jo lagaye na lage, aur bujhaaye na bane”
The meaning of these lines is that one cannot have a control over love, it can’t be conquered. It is like a firework, can neither be kindled not extinguished as per our desires.
This particular segment is very significant as Meghna and Amar are shown at a distance, separated by a lake in between. While Meghna looks like a seraphic image in white, Amar still is in black, yearning for her from the distance as if reaching her is his raison d’etre. In this particular shot, one notices the semblance of Meghna to a mirage.
We are introduced to the second stage of love, i.e., Uns or Infatuation , as mentioned in the lyrics as well , ‘Aankhon ne kuch aise chhuya , halka halka uns huya’. Amar is still wearing black while Meghna is wearing brownish red. The earth element is also highlighted in this section.
The immediate next section introduces us to the third stage, Ishq or Love through the fire element and we see Meghna clad in yellowish-orange sari. The lyrics are, ‘Mujhe Ishq Dilaase deta hai’.
We are shown fourth and fifth stage of love and they are, Aqidat (Reverence) and Ibaadat (Worship). We see Meghna in green, the holy colour of Islam .This segment is very crucial as its the only scene shot in the night and is shot indoor in a monastery to adorn the two stages. Apart from this scene only two but the most crucial scenes of Amar-Meghna were shot in night , their first meeting and their final scene in Ladakh after which she left him.
Then we see them amidst water on a little piece of land sharing same cloth piece of red colour probably depicting the union of their bodies.
Next, we are introduced to the water element shot in the lake and we see Meghna in blue-indigo costume and Amar in the same black attire. The end of this segment is very influential as she leaves him almost lifeless as if she is the elixir he needs to survive. The act of Meghna deserting him coldly, draws resemblance to the narrative of the movie, how she would always run away from him leaving him dejected every time they met.
In the next section we see the only prop used in the entire song, i.e. , net. Meghna too is wearing a mesh like costume. The prop is significantly used, we see Meghna trapped in the mesh and Amar crawls to her and becomes the part of the mesh, just like the narrative of the movie. Next we find Meghna to be on the loose but that’s not the case as she is still tied to the trapped Amar who is embracing her.
At this moment of the movie, the next two stages are rather prophesied.
In the next stage, i.e. , Junoon or Obsession , we see Amar wailing and Meghna whirling around him. Later, Meghna too becomes the part of the wailing . The lyrics are, ‘Mera jeena junoon , mera marna junoon.’ Final element , wind is introduced and Meghna is wearing Violet , the first colour of the VIBGYOR.
Finally, in the last section Amar has crossed the distance lying between them and both are wearing white significantly against the sublime white backdrop highlighting that probably both have attained salvation through the final stage , i.e. , Maut or death. The lyrics are, ‘Mujhe maut ki god mein sone de’. The sequence ends with the dancing figures of Amar and Meghna striking the posture of Michelangelo’s Pietà, with Meghna as the Virgin Mary and Amar as the martyred Christ. The death in the song marks contrast with their death in the movie that takes place due to the bomb explosion. In the Michelangelo’s sculpture , amidst the great sadness and grief too there is calmness and acceptance , also the wounds on Jesus’s body from being nailed to the cross are made very small. He looks almost as if he has fallen asleep , not been the victim of a violent execution. In the song sequence too , Unlike the climax of the movie , the death looks less painful. As a matter of fact, the death gives the sense of tranquility as if uniting himself with Meghna was his ultimate goal and he has attained it. The lyrics enhance the significance of the visuality , ‘Mujhe maut ki god mein sone de , apne jism mien rooh dubone de.’
Comparing this particular dream sequence with other sequences, one thing that got highlighted is the fact that here the protagonist doesn’t imagine his love interest reciprocating his feelings but instead treating him coldly. He thinks of fire, mesh, ruined places and other elements that highlight the morbidity. There is a sense of destructiveness in their love. Amar doesn’t hope for a content, favourable future with Meghna and with his masochistic traits he is keen to get destroyed in his lover. He doesn’t yearn to spend his life with Meghna , blissfuly. Rather he wants to die with Meghna. Why is he rejecting the idea of ‘life’? Why is Amar so obsessed to destroy himself? Does it hint to idea of the disaster that the union of a ‘responsible’ citizen and a terrorist brings? Knowing that he cannot lead a normal, happy life with a terrorist, does he foretell his future? What is very interesting here is the fact that till here in the movie, Amar doesn’t know Meghna is a terrorist. Mise-en-abyme, that this song is called of Dil Se, is it the song prophesying their culmination? Probably yes. Maybe in the conscience of the couple it was clear that the result of their union would be catastrophic. In the sequence we see, Instead of usual backdrops like banal flowery gardens, lush green field, the sequence designs space for the couple in the arid , lifeless dessert of Ladakh. Except for the two lovers everything is barren.
The song, Satrangi Re offers the mise-en-abyme of the movie, it is not just a visual delight or the harmony providing the tranquil experience but is layered with the deep analytical connotations for us to unfold.