Dafatan

(A post by @techrsr which went missing during the move to WordPress, originally posted on June 23rd 2012)

Time seems to stand still, as a cavalcade of harmonies and this shrill, indescribably involved vocal melody pierce the ear. The brief silence that follows it is punctuated by an evocative arabesque of instruments, whence comes the confession: “My heart has fallen somewhere… suddenly”. Dafatan.

Free verse in Urdu-laden Hindi is rendered by Ash King, while a happy marriage of diverse instruments – a santoor, a jaltarang, violins, synthesizers and a bass guitar somewhere, provide the seemingly arbitrary soundscape for the vocalist’s initial outpouring, itself an unusual crossover between an uplifting Gospel melody and some Bollywood cliché. In one memorable interlude, Irish sounds abound in bagpipes, and lutes from some village in southern China and some synthesizer in A R Rahman’s studio too, and they all seem to yearn for your attention.

The meandering soundscape has this one constant background melody, as the other instruments wrap around it. They are all beautifully chaotic, as winds may deflect some hovering bird, or as waves may splash carelessly on feeble monuments of loose sand. They break into order from discord, as if to be destined to arbitrarily synchronize with the vocals by Chinmayee and Ash Singh. There – a mention of pearls and seashells – where the bass and the vocals conspire to describe some epiphany. There – a mention of ghazals and intoxication – a musical dopamine shot and a lyric that incites more than musicality; a lyric that suggests the infatuation of music itself.

As the lyric melds into an arbitrary synchrony with the soundscape of melodies and synth, it is revealed that the object of his affection is unaware – utterly ignorant – of this drama, and entirely oblivious to his little romance. Cruelly and carelessly, the sea seems to inundate the vocalist’s love and he conjectures if the sea herself sleeps, drowned and covered in her waves. An intoxication takes over, the kind that is ceaselessly interesting and yet tumultuous. As the song winds up, this treat to the senses that started with a confession, ends with a regret : “Tu, magar, hai bekhabar… hai bekhabar”.

Dil… gira kahin par… dafatan. In my opinion, this is the best song on A R Rahman’s exceptional album, Delhi 6.

 

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