Lyrical Musings – Jab Tak Hai Jaan

Lyrical Musings is where music has twenty six notes, not just seven. Where you reflect on words that tug your heartstrings, not just rhythm that replicate your heartbeats. Where you wonder about the metre of the song, not just the duration of crescendo. Where you read up on the lyricist of the song, not just the composer.  Where you review lyrics, not just the music. Welcome aboard!

AR Rahman

CHALLA- Rabbi Shergill

The album of ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ opens with ‘Challa’, which means ‘a mad lover’ – a befitting word to sum up a film that centers around Samar (Thankfully, Shahrukh Khan isn’t called Raj this time), who is in search of love.

The song ‘Challa’ hides many a gems in its Punjabi verses. It hence becomes imperative to translate them, so as to relish them. Here’s a translation (trans-creation) of the song posted by Shahrukh Khan on Twitter:

Wanderer, mad with love,
what do you search for?
Asking people far and wide,
where the one does reside
You roam the streets, end to end,
You Laugh, You cry,
You urge every passerby,

Hiding the hurt in your smile,
That you belonging to all the world,
Yet no one is yours to hold,
The colours of the rainbow
Converge in her eye,
Her voice is as pure
as the Bulbul’s cry,

She walks in the fiery sun,
But shadows cover her,
Through every blackened cloud you try,
To found the furtive white moonlight,
You even heard a gentle lilt,
In the soundless stirring of the wind,
You tell all those looking on
That your lover lives close by

Your gaze deceives itself you say,
Never pausing along your way,
Her scent is wrapped around your soul,
You wear it knowing every day
The one you search for desperately,
will come to love you someday.

SAANS – Shreya Ghoshal, Mohit Chauhan

The song begins with the verse:
‘Saans mein teri,
saans mili toh,
mujhe saans aayi’

– An example of ‘Triveni’ – a metre of writing poetry invented by Gulzar. This style involves three lines in a single stanza, where the first two lines complement each other and the third line adds a new layer. Gulzar deftly goes at step further by restricting three words in each line and maintains this metre throughout.

The line, ‘Rooh ne choo li jism ki khushboo, tu jo paas aayi’ subtly defines the core philosophy of love in Sufism. The verse, ‘Raat teri baahon mein kate toh subah badi halki lagti hai’ reflects Gulzar’s maverick style of writing, which interestingly is justified by a line from this song, ‘Dil kab seedhi raah chala hai, raah mude toh, mud jaane do’.

ISHQ SHAVA – Raghav Mathur, Shilpa Rao

Never judge a book by its cover and never rate a song by its prelude. A silly sounding song like this hides a gem of a line – ‘Aaj ki raat kiski hai, kal ki raat teri na meri, chaand utha chal toss kare, chehra tera aur chaal meri’.

Now who could have thought of using moon as a coin to toss? Now if this wasn’t enough, one is sure to marvel at the line, ‘Baadalon pe paanv rakho kabhi, unme zameen nahi hoti, dil ki har dil pe had hogi, koi laqeer nahi hoti hai’. Awe-inspiring stuff, indeed!

HEER – Harshdeep Kaur

The lyrics of ‘Heer’ is inspired from the story of Heer-Ranjha and Mirza Sahibaan, which are one of the four tragic love stories of Punjab from the Mughal era, with the other two being Sassi Punnun and Sohni Mahiwal. Here’s a translation of the song painstakingly done on a blog (

Heer Heer na akho adiyo, Main te Sahibaan hoye,
Ghodi leke aaye le jaaye,  Ghodi leke aaye le jaaye,

Don’t call me Heer, my dear friends, I have become Sahibaan (in his love)
Wish he comes and take me away on a horse,

Le jaaye Mirza koi, Le jaaye Mirza koi,
(I wish) Mirza, take me away

Ohde je hi main te oh mere warga,
I am just like him, he is just like me

hansda ae sajra sawere warga,
When he smiles, dawn is adorned,

ankha bandh kar la te thande hanere warga
(as he) closes eyes, (it) feels like cold (soothing) darkness,

ohde je hi main te o Mirza mere warga
I am just like him, and Mirza is just like me

Naal naal tur na te vith rakhna
Walk together, don’t keep any distance,

hadd rakh lena wich dil rakhna,
Mark a boundary, keep my heart within it.

chhanve chhanve paawe assi teri parchhawe tur na
While walking, under your shadow, I will find my (shelter) shade.

ohde je hi main te o Mirza mere warga
I am just like him, and Mirza is just like me

The closing line of this song, ‘Ohde je hi main te O Mirza mere warga’ (I am just like him, and Mirza is just like me) resonates Kabir’s verse, ‘Ranjha ranjha kardi ve main Aape ranjha hoyi’ used by Gulzar in the movie, ‘Raavan’ composed by AR Rahman.

JIYA RE – Neeti Mohan, Rap: Sofia Ashraf

‘Pinjre se uda dil ka shikra’ croons Neeti Mohan, perhaps the first singer to use the word ‘Shikra’ in Hindi film song’s history. Shikra is a Punjabi word for accipiter (a bird of prey with short, rounded wings and a long tail, as Cooper‘s hawk) and is used here as a metaphor for a restless mind in search of a prey.

The song celebrates life with lines like, ‘Chhote chhote lamho ko teetli jaise pakdo to haathon mein rang reh jaata hai’, and here’s another one, ‘Halke halke pardo mein muskurana achha lagta hai, roshni jo deta ho to, tel jalana achha lagta hai’. The madness of this song’s lyrics is reminiscent of ‘Ghar jaayegi tar jaayegi’ of the movie, ‘Khushboo’ penned to perfection by the same wordsmith.


JAB TAK HAI JAAN – Javed Ali, Shakthisree Gopalan

A song replete with vivid memories of one’s beloved, the song ‘Jab tak hai jaan’ comes across as a typical ‘Title song’, with ‘done-to-death’ verses like ‘Teri aankhon ke sajde mein, rehna palko ke parde mein, jab tak hai jab tak hai jaan, teri bahon ki narmi mein, saanson ki garmi mein, jab tak hai jaan’. One finds solace in the closing verse, ‘Raatein jaagenge raaton mein, teri bemani baaton mein, jab tak hai jab tak hai jaan, kori kori shaamo mein, gungunaaye kaano mein, jab tak hai jab tak hai jaan’.


Well, before you accuse Gulzar for writing lines like ‘Teri aankhon ki namkeen mastiyaan, teri hasi ki beparwah gustakhiyaan’, I’d better enlighten you with a fact:  The poem, ‘Jab tak hai jaan’ hasn’t been written by Gulzar, but Aditya Chopra. Notice the way Rahman builds up the recitation, leading it to an electric guitar crescendo.

This track is a classic example of music’s triumph over words – a feat that only someone of AR Rahman’s caliber can achieve.  Wish he could have done that with other songs too, because ‘Gul-Czar’, with his nuanced writing, clearly overpowers ‘Rockstar Rahman’ in the album, ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’.


















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