7 Khoon Maaf (2011): Music Review, Lyrics and Translation to Yeshu, and the Great Soundtrack Giveaway

A contest is now open for all my readers in India, although everyone elsewhere is encouraged to participate. Up for grabs are several CDs of the soundtrack to the upcoming film 7 Khoon Maaf (Seven Murders Forgiven), complete with some fabulous album artwork. For contest eligibility requirements, please read on and through the section at the bottom of this post, right after my review.

All you need to do to enter is comment on this post and answer the following question: Which is your favorite soundtrack with lyrics by Gulzar? A list of his works is available at this Wikipedia link. Comments must be received by February 9 at 1:30 p.m. Indian Standard Time!

It dominates any discussion on new soundtracks, and while it's too early to draw conclusions on where this Vishal Bhardwaj offering stands in terms of its lasting appeal and appropriateness to the film it's in, there's no question the lyrics (Gulzar) to it are among the most hopeful we've come across since the last collaborative effort between Bhardwaj and Gulzar, that to Ishqiya (2010). The soundtrack to the upcoming multi-starrer 7 Khoon Maaf -- based on Ruskin Bond's short story, "Susanna's Seven Husbands” -- is a mixed bag of sorts. There isn't one genre of song that stands out as dominant, but trademark Gulzarisms (okay, can I please coin the term already?) are well on display throughout, and make for an irresistible soundtrack.

I’ll get to the song that’s the subject of this post, but first, a few comments on the rest, with snippets from the lyrics.

Darling,” which appears twice with slightly modified lyrics and tempo, features two of the darlingest vocalists for the kind of song it is. Usha Uthup (brilliant, here) and Rekha Bhardwaj serve up a duet in what reminds me of the kind of song I’ve heard live during weekend house parties in Bombay and Goa. “Darling, let me lock eyes with you; Stop me not, let me love you,” go the base lines. “I’m a mere slave, let me dress the princess,” says she in one version. “Darling, let the slave acquire *some* control over her heart,” in the other.

Bekaraan” (Boundless) is a beautifully worded love song, and it’s where Bhardwaj’s instrumental arrangements shine through. Respect as a product of love is its central theme – “My eyes bow before you” – and that really is the best kind of love, isn’t it? “Tell time to let me caress your fleeting glances.” As it refers to the boundlessness of the character, it also hints vociferously at being out of control and having a strong desire to retain some of it. It also indirectly alludes to the income demographics of the characters, which are sure to play some part in the film.

The heart starts to attain significant prominence with “O Mama”. “My heart only thinks with the heart now; My heart often scratches my head now.” For whom, we ask? “A cat-eyed meow-type chick!K.K., as reliable as he has quietly been for some years now in Bollywood rock, the perfect choice to sing this.

Awara”( Wanderer) has Master Saleem pulling off some extremely heavy classical vocals that are atypical of film sound. “The branches don’t meet, the roots don’t hold. What a purposeless season, (like) a dry leaf.” The song offers the first hint of serious angst.

Suresh Wadekar sings a beautiful love song that has the ambiance of a Jack Johnson track, seemingly blending casually into the background of any romantic setting, that of a lunch or dinner date, say, with glass separating a couple from the ocean. (Excuse the ridiculousness of these settings, I’m just documenting what my initial impressions are for each of these songs – I could well be way off. But can't you hear the silverware striking glass in the background here? It's perfect for that setting! :D) “Tere Liye” (For you) is subtle but splendid. “For you, I have (wedding) carriages full of sweet moments in my words.” Am I a poet then? Regardless, “I” am well written!

Dil Dil Hai” (The Heart is a Heart) by Suraj Jagan would fit right into Kaminey (2009) or even Dil Se from Dil Se (1996), both with songs written by Gulzar. “Deserving a hundred heavens, it (the heart) is shore to the drowning. The most ignorant of the foolish, the most intelligent of intellectuals.

The angst continues

and ends with the kind of song that, as a stand-alone piece of art, is simply marvelous, no matter that it’s oh so full of despair! A prayer for death, perhaps fitting in a film with ‘seven murders’ in its title. The kind of prayer that's disliked by the deities, yet of no less significance than, say, the self-discovery and self-regulation that would help avoid putting one in a situation of such despair to begin with. (But perhaps I’m getting ahead of things here, crediting the self with more control than we have in actuality.)

"Yeshu" by Rekha Bhardwaj has many bests of the album. Arguably the best vocals. Excellent lyrics. Most definitely the best musical score, with changes in tone and pitch at exactly the right points in time. A quick search of the term Yeshu reveals the historical significance of the word, some of it controversial. Most agree it refers to Jesus Christ. For the purposes of this translation, then, let’s use the word 'Savior'. You can see the song could just as well be addressed to any deity of a school of religious thought that advocates for belief in an afterlife. Here are the lyrics and my translation:

Click to enlarge
I've used the marketing term 'peak of inflated expectations' before to describe the hype cycle of an upcoming film. Vishal Bhardwaj is known for quality, complete cinema, and the expectations are no different here, especially given the star-studded cast with major acting chops. The soundtrack fulfills the brand promise, and if there is one quality that stands out this time besides the lyrics, it’s that it is exceptionally well cast, with the right tones and voices accompanying the songs. This one’s a keeper for its completeness, and for the credibility it tries to restore to an industry with flailing lyrical aspirations.

Excellent lyrics, fine music, perfect casting. Be sure to check it out.

Official film website: www.7khoonmaaf.com


(Please read this section carefully)

A big thank you to Sony Music India for sponsoring this contest. Hope you avail of the chance to win one of these 7 Khoon Maaf CDs. Again, there are several copies of the soundtrack to give away, so have at it!

How to Enter
Again, all you need to do to enter is comment on this post and answer the following question: Which is your favorite soundtrack with lyrics by Gulzar? A list of his works is available at this Wikipedia link. Feel free to discuss why it is your favorite, and any of your favorite Gulzarisms!

Eligibility Requirements
To qualify to win a prize, you must:
  1. Submit your entry by Tuesday, February 9, at 1:30 p.m. Indian Standard Time.
  2. Reside in India. Per distributor's rules, contest is open to Indian residents only -- in your comment, please specifically note that you live in India. (I hope those of you outside India participate in the discussions, though. I trust we're always down to comment on Gulzar's songs!)
  3. "Like" the Sony Music India page on Facebook at facebook.com/sonymusicindia
  4. Be willing to e-mail me your name and mailing address in the event you are selected as a winner. I will then forward your mailing information to the distributors, who will mail you your prize. Please also see notes on winning and privacy below.

  1. Winners will be selected judgmentally by me.
  2. Winners will be announced on Thursday, February 10, in the comments section of this post, in the post above as well, and via a link in the sidebar. Please visit this blog on February 9 to check if you are a winner.
  3. If you provide your e-mail address or blog/Twitter link in your comment, I shall contact you directly.
  4. If you do not provide any contact information, and do not respond to a request (via announcement at this blog noted in #3 above) to e-mail me your information by Friday, February 10, at 1:30 p.m. Indian Standard Time, your prize will be forfeited to another contestant. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Please feel free to link to this post and re-tweet if on Twitter.

Good luck, everyone! Let's see how many Gulzarisms we end up with in this discussion!

Notes on Privacy
  • I am in no way affiliated with Sony Music India or any Sony Corporation subsidiary or affiliate, or with the film 7 Khoon Maaf and any media partners.
  • Should you choose to provide your e-mail address in the comments section for purposes of this contest, it will be available to the public domain.
  • If you are selected as a winner and e-mail me your name and address (a requirement to receive your prize), I shall, upon forwarding your information to the distributor, delete your information from my mailbox.
  • As the blog’s disclaimer in the sidebar suggests, your participation in any activity or communication here, or at sites linked to from here, is entirely voluntary, and absolves me and this blog of any liabilities related to resulting damages, no matter how material.


JessicaSisk (via Twitter) said...

I think looking around the 7 Khoon Maaf website may have spoiled some of the story for me. :(

theBollywoodFan said...

There's always that risk, but they can't have divulged too much, or at least one can hope. :) Have you seen Kaminey (2009)?

JessicaSisk (via Twitter) said...

Well a couple were confirmations of suspicions, one was a spoiler. I saw Kaminey, enjoyed it but I'm rly excited 4 this.

Arjavi said...

My favorite Gulzar lyrics are in "Dil Se"! I am not in India warna I would love to have the CD, am liking the music to 7KM a lot!

theBollywoodFan said...

Jess: Me too, me too! Hope it lives up to the hype.

Arjavi: Dil Se would have to be in my Gulzar top-3, if not top-most. Splendid choice! Since you are a film music aficionado, let me ask you this: which song from 7 Khoon Maaf is your favorite?

Since you use the acronym '7KM', I wonder if the producers and marketers for the film have thought about sponsoring some sort of a 7KM run/walk, perhaps base it around a charitable cause. :D

Thank you for your comment! Do stop by again.

dunkdaft said...

Thats is the toughest question you have asked. Gulzar saab's each work complements the other. Works of him ranging from films to non films and the books. But as we are talking about Bollywood here, I would stay in that limit. And as I am more in the films that are released as I grown up, Omkara is undoubtedly tops my list of his work. [gosh, only I know hot I pushed back No smoking, Yahaan, Saathiya, Filhaal & Blue Umbrella for this spot :), see I am so shallow to overlook his fabulous works from 70/80s but thats just me]

Because of such a vast variety of tracks in a single soundtrack and add Vishal's stupendous score- its a gem. From the darkest song I've ever heard 'Naina' [Bin badal barsaaven saawan, sawan bin barsaatan, naina banjar kar denge] to the most mushy one-'O saathi re' [kabhi kabhi yun karna, main daantu aur tum darna, ubal pade aankhon se, meethe paani ka jharna <3]. Add some 'Namak' and light up 'Beedi' that are the iconic seductions bollywood had never heard. The earthy 'Omkara' that praise our desi Caporegime. And takes you to different world with perheps the only song that works as an opposite of lullaby 'Jaag Ja ri'. Goosebumps everytime I hear it. [Kirnon ka sona, auns ke moti, moti o saa mogra, tera bichhauna bhar bhar ke daalon, gulmohar ka tokra] And lastly 'Lakkad jal kar' [barf pighal ke paani hoi jay re, badal ban udd jay, pirh jiya ki aisi baithi na pighle na jay].

Very thankful we are to God because we are living in Gulzar-yug. Suprising how he keeps up himself with the times. No one else can write a desi club song [kajrare] to hard rock [o mama] to unusual yet loveable love songs [ajnabi shehar hai..jaan-e-mann]. Respect.

Talking about #7km, [that is already a trending word on twitter :) ], you already know what my take is. Don't know why but Yeshu somehow failed to capture my attention as it should [cause I 'believe' in Yeshu]. and think that it may be its integration will work for me. As always, superb translation [and the translation of each song's bits too]. Thank you WordMaster. :) Really looking forward to the movie, and your views on it, too.

and hey, whats your favorite Gulzarism?

Off Note : was just listening to 'Amruta Pritam recited by Gulzar'. Bliss.

kalindi said...

That's a tough question, coz Gulzar has given all unforgettable lyrics...and all of them are in my favourite list..
But one track which I always want to listen in any mood is "Dil dhoondhta hai fir wohi fursat ke raat din-movie MAUSAM"...
And the other one is "Ae zindagi yeh lamha filhal jee lene de-movie FILHAL"...

яノςんム said...

Picking one song With Gulzaar sa'ab's lyrics will be injustice to the man himself. I am sure when you ask the man himself, he wouldn't pick one too.

I haven't been into shayri stuff, whatever I know about urdu is all thanks to Gulzaar saab.

if i start listing them down,
Humne dekhi hai in aankhon ki mehekti khushboo, haath se choo kar inhe rishteon ka ilzaam na do and tum pukaar lo, tumhara intezaar hai from khaamoshi movie.

Naam gum jaayega, chehra ye badal jaayega.. meri aawaz hi pehchaan hai, gar yaad rahe toh.. from Kinara

also, I absolutely admire the 'tere bina zindagi se koi shikwa toh nahi.. from Aandhi. esp the line tum jo keh do toh, aaj ki raat chand doobega nahi, raat ko rok lo... bliss.

tujhse naaraz nahi zindagi, mera kuch saaman, yaara seeli seeli among aother favorites.

Love his work for maachis. chunni le ke soti thi kamaal lagti thi..
and paani paani re..

chayi chappa chayi from hututu

dil se re..
jhin min jheeni from maqbool.

and one of the favorit-est of the whole country- jungle jungle baat chali hai pata chala hai, chaddi pehen ke phool khila hai!

I remember Javed Akhtar in one one episode of Indian idol saying that he envies Gulzaar sa'ab for penning down beedi song. he said why couldn't I think of that song. :D

I can keep writing down. but I have to stop here.

*bows to Gulzaar sa'ab!

theBollywoodFan said...

Darshit! Have you read any of Gulzar's books? I need to see more of the films he's made. Those are all great, huh, look at something like Yahaan or Saathiya, simply brilliant!

I really like the snippets of the Omkara soundtrack you've reviewed here, perfect! And sublime indeed. I don't think I truly appreciated 'Beedi' until I saw and heard Sunidhi Chauhan perform it live. That was something else. Yes, we're truly blessed to him as a leading lyricist of our time. It's tough to even imagine Bollywood without him now. :|

Thank you for your kind words, yaar. Glad you liked the translation, it's just always fun to toy around with these words, I tell you. So tantalizing, and every time, I come away with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for how beautiful and versatile (and complex!) the language can be! Translating is easy, composing them is the tough part! :)

I hope I get to see 7KM in theaters. We'll see, there's lots going on this month.

As for my favorite Gulzarism...I think it's a tie between "Mastam Mastam" from Yuvvraaj and "Chaiyya Chaiyya" -- they're simply unreal (and so much fun, na?). I really like the bit in Chaiyya with, "taaweez bana ke pehnun ise aayat ki tarha mil jaaye kahin". Divine, no matter how one looks at it!

Cheers bhai! And thank you for your RTs in helping get the word out to the Indian audience, truly appreciate it. :)

PS: Thanks, as always, for the wonderful music recommendations. I'll see if I get to 'Rangrez', perhaps translate bits on Twitter with a hashtag? Would that work?

theBollywoodFan said...

Kalindi: Welcome to the blog! Thanks so much for your visit and comment. Yes, it is a tough question, and I'm indebted to you now for having recommended songs I don't believe I've listened to before. Shall do so and report back! And shall be contacting you soon. Thank you again, and do visit again!

theBollywoodFan said...

Richa: Thank you for your visit and comment. Welcome to the blog!

"Injustice to the man," is right. I wonder which works Gulzar thinks are his best. He must have favorites, though, no?

That's interesting. I'd reckon there are many of us who have been able to stay in touch with Urdu poetry primarily because Hindi film songs facilitate this.

Beautiful references, I almost want to make a playlist of the many lovely songs you've mentioned! Ditto to the Jungle Book song. :D

Had no clue about Javed Akhtar saying that about Beedi. He's got to be way up there, but still, not on par I think. None on par with Gulzar.

Shall be contacting you soon. Do visit again!

kalindi said...

Heyy thanks so much... :) :) will keep on enjoying your blogs and do keep updating the blog... :) :)

theBollywoodFan said...

Darshit, Kalindi, and Richa: Thank you very much again for your entries and e-mails! Your CDs will be shipped to you very soon!

Rashmi said...

I seem to have missed the contest, but that's okay! I have to add my two cents in anyway because we're talking about Gulzaar, and ugh, how amazing is he?

My pick would be Saathiya. :)

My blog

Marjaani said...

'lakdi ki kathi', my first association with Tilism-e-Gulzar! Was in 1st standard, when performed on this number. That performance won me a trophy & since that moment, am a worshiper of Gulzar Saab! For this birth and beyond. :)

dunkdaft said...

Have read few books, say compilations of his poems [mostly in bookstore, only one i bought, which i gifted to dearest friend], believe me its a totally different experience.

Absolutely right there about the translations. Its a totally different thing how one 'translates' it v/s just the subtitles kind of translation.

Was thinking Yuvvraaj must be on your list. :) btw, about Rangrez-that track has blew me away. Each word is something new to me. [murshid, magrib, Sarwar , zaahid, mashriq, munsif.... ] Will be pleasure to read through tweets too.

Anindita said...

I know it's beyond the closing date, but because Gulzar is my favourite living poet, I just couldn't stop myself from commenting.

Which is your favorite soundtrack with lyrics by Gulzar?

"Haal chaal theek thaak hai" from Mere Apne. The soundtrack of 'Mere Apne', which also contains my second favourite Gulzar song "Roz akeli aye".

His romantic songs are legendary (and awesome) and among my favourites but this song (Haal chaal) is my most favourite because it's kaal-jayi. It's as true now as it was then, 30 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Like the others above me I arrived here after the closing date but just had to mention my favourite. It's without a doubt two songs from Maachis: Chod Aaye Hum Woh Galiyaan and Chappa Chappa Charkha Chale. I was just thinking about them the other day here and as much as I love so many other works by Gulzarji I think those two are always going to be my pick of the bunch. It helps that they have been sung so wonderfully and with such emotion too.


theBollywoodFan said...

Rashmi: Hello and welcome! Saathiya has a fantastic soundtrack, I think 'O Humdum Suniyo Re' has to be among my A. R. Rahman favorites as well. "Madham, geeli hansi sun ke saari pi li khushi!" Beautifully worded all over, how creative is the "bare-footed moon"? Great choice. Thank you for your visit and comment, and do drop in again.

theBollywoodFan said...

Marjaani: Woah! You performed to 'Lakdi Ki Kaathi'? Tell us more, please! Did you sing, or dance, or do both? Sounds like super fun! Thank you for your visit and comment, do come again.

Darshit: If you have any specific recommendations on Gulzar's books, please feel free to share. Yes, Yuvvraaj for sure. :) And yes, just let's talk about Rangrez one of these days.

theBollywoodFan said...

Anindita: "Favorite living poet" sounds great! Thank you so much for your comment. I'm embarrassed to not know of the songs you refer to, but really excited to check them out soon! Shall report back here, certainly. Thanks so much! Do stop by again. :)

theBollywoodFan said...

Nakhrewali! Well said here:

The former manages to transform my mood to positivity despite actually being about leaving the comforts of home and loved one's behind because the lyrics, singers and actors convey their affection and attachment in such a beautiful manner I almost feel I am there with them reminiscing.

I like Maachis for many reasons, not the least of which is Tabu! ;) And I agree completely on those songs -- they're sung beautifully and they're beautifully choreographed too!


avdi said...

I am too late for the contest, but just for sake of record, I love the lyrics to the song 'Dhanno ki aankhon me' best of all. The opening line is such a killer - Dhanno ki ankhon me raat ka surma, aur chand ka chumma. A typical gulzarism, the phrase pushes your mind to imagine the black night kissed with moonlight reminding a man of his beloved's kohl lined eyes. Another favorite line from the same song goes - Oh, Dhanno tujhe khwab me dekha hai, laila ki, heer ki kitab me dekha hai.

I see you in my dreams dhanno, in the books of laila and heer.

Wah Wah Gulzar.

theBollywoodFan said...

Wah wah Avdi! Thank you for sharing, that's some very heartwarming poetry indeed. Thank you for buying into the idea of a "Gulzarism"! :) I'll look forward to listening to the song some more.

The comments to this post have inspired me to check out some of Gulzar's books and movies. I have a long, long way to go!

dunkdaft (via Twitter) said...

Book recco.


alfaazi (via Twitter) said...

Hey, there's also this book version of his Mirza Ghalib tele-serial. Reads like a breeze. http://bit.ly/e9JjYt

theBollywoodFan said...

Thank you SO very much Darshit and alfaazi, these are great! Can't wait! :)