The Evening Has Fled

(A post by @techrsr)

The effect that some songs have on an audience cannot be measured instantly. Despite the music in hundreds of songs being littered with compelling performances, skill and thoughtful accompaniment, the words generally drive the message home harder, however good the music itself may be. Some themes are easy to write songs on, more than others, and Indian film music has often adopted the romance clichés, although there are examples abound where metaphors that hide some inward longing are decanted to extract the most thoughtful poetry. I am certain that Lukka Chuppi from A R Rahman’s Rang De Basanti falls into this category of music, with evocative words on common themes. The song depicts that most fundamental love we’re all given to – the love of those best of creatures, mothers.

Everything about the frivolity in Lukka Chuppi hides beneath the surface a deep, heartfelt longing and this is made apparent in the euphemisms that the song holds plentifully – and what lovely euphemisms they are! The song is hide-and-seek of a musically and emotionally subtle kind, not in the least for the words by Prasoon Joshi, but also for the music. This duet is surely one of Rahman’s most fluid pieces, dare I say, among all his tracks. The soundscape and the instrumental ensemble are varied – acoustic guitars with warm tones that fill your ears at the very beginning followed by that lovely, childish, playful melody played on the keyboard at the very start, like a musical hide-and-seek. Lata Mangeshkar’s familiar voice concomitantly introduces us to the evening that the song represents – a mother seeks out her child, worried and tired.

A touch of flanging here adds a dash of the ethereal to Rahman’s shout from afar, as if from the deep blue sky. The son’s response is cryptic but gives way the whole truth and despair in time, like some ingenuous acrostic that barely masks raw emotion behind it. One paradox of this mother’s love seems to be that the agent that can create could not protect. The subtlety with which this is indicated in “Meri patang ho befikar udd rahi hai maa / Dor koi loote nahin beech se kaate na” (“My kite flies here flawlessly / With none to steal my string or cut it mercilessly”) doesn’t leave you for long after you listen to the song. Like many of us who console and offer condolences to others’ losses by saying that the deceased are in some better place, Lukka Chuppi brings the sledgehammer down slowly. A lost and confused individual with Lata’s voice welcomes the night, as the evening fades without a hint of a moon to replace the sunshine of moments past. The son’s response now – which seems more a promise than anything, is of a happier place, alluding to the stories of childhood and the paradises therein. The line “Lage bin tere mujhko akela”, completes this picture of sorrow in a rather unexpected place, considering the context of the song.

The instruments represent a diverse landscape – a tabla livens up the middle section of the song and a bass guitar makes its entrance. If the rest of the song drenched you in its music, the brisk sargam at the end featuring Rahman’s and Lata’s voices gently pushes you into the flow further, even as the words don’t leave you long after the song is complete. Somewhere, strains of a harmonium find their way here into this musically rich landscape, even as a flute there plays along with Lata’s voice.

At the end of this musical hide and seek, the evening has, literally and figuratively, fled. 



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