Rockstar (2011) Lyrics and Translation: Kun Faaya Kun


While I devote this post to one song in particular, I hope we can discuss other songs from the soundtrack in the comments section, as well.

As I start writing this post, I have yet to listen to the soundtrack to the upcoming film Rockstar (releasing 11/11/11) in its entirety, but if I have ever enjoyed a soundtrack enough after consuming only a small sample of tracks to conclude that I'd recommend it highly, this has to be it.

A question this leads to is whether this has as much to do with the state of the Hindi film music overall, as it does with the greatness of A. R. Rahman. (Rahman is, as any objective comparison of the last 10, maybe 15 years of Hindi film soundtracks would indicate, simply way ahead of his peers in Hindi cinema.) Like most things, it's probably a combination of both. But I digress. Rather than dwell on the question, aren't we just better off enjoying the talent Rahman is blessed with? What's wrong with just appreciating divinity at work? (Assuming we believe in some divine force.)



Appreciation of divinity at work and its universality is the essence of a 'qawwali' (this Wikipedia entry has notes on the style of poetry/song/music), and Rahman has long established himself as a leader in infusing Hindi film music with the spirit of his qawwalis. He tends to meet conventions of the song, retaining the structure of a proper qawwali, while adding the unmistakable quality of his songs -- growth over time, and the innovation in music we have long associated with only his style. Kun Faaya Kun is only the latest such example of his fine work in the genre, no doubt inspired by his faith. (This is a good place to link to the Tehelka Piece, "The Mystic Master", initially shared in this Delhi-6 post.) Here is a promo of good length:




I'd be kidding if I termed this as merely another Rahman qawwali. Truth is, this has as much depth as any qawwali that's been released for a very long time, regardless of whether for a Hindi film. The source of the depth? We'll have to wait to know if it's the film as much, but we already know it's at least the lyrics, the subject of this post. To those who e-mailed me requesting a translation to this song: I hope this post adds to your listening pleasure (at the very least). :)



Among the several references to the Arabic 'Kun Faaya Kun' (Kun pronounced 'koon', rhyming with 'soon') in the Quran, is this, from Ya-Seen (Chapter 36, Verse 82):

Verily, when He intends a thing, His command is, “Be,” and it is!



Now, I'll gladly ignore that the title, 'Kun Faaya Kun', is repeatedly mispronounced throughout the song. It's a song in Hindustani or Urdu, depending on how one wants to consume it. While the scripts to at least two of these are similar, the vast difference lies in practice of how the same letters of the alphabet are pronounced. That's just the way it is.

Like any work of art, this song will mean different things to different people. This specific qawwali adds more layers of complexity to its comprehension given the forces involved, which include:

  • The Self (body, soul, and shadow)
  • The Addressed (by the self, when not the self)
  • Allah (or God)
  • Muhammad, God's Messenger
  • Nizamuddin Auliya, a renowned saint (Wikipedia entry here; predecessors include Moinuddin Chishti, invoked in another popular Rahman qawwali, 'Khwaaja Mere Khwaaja' in the film Jodhaa Akbar (2008))

The layers of complexity mentioned above are added with the several overlaying dialogues within the lyrics. Who says what to whom (recursion included)? What to make of the hints at existentialism? I'll leave that to your interpretation. (The punctuation in my translation offers some idea of what mine is.) We won't know the context in the film until its release, anyway. I must say that it's more complex than it initially seems even to those familiar with the core themes of the chapter(s) from the Quran these lyrics are adapted from (there are several more, a true analysis of which would belong in a more formal dissertation).

Here are the lyrics and my translation (click to enlarge):

Click to Enlarge

The complexity is hardly restricted to the lyrics or the theme. How about some fabulous, fun, soul-stirring interludes involving the guitar? Guitar in a qawwali, you ask? Absolutely! The hallmarks of a Rahmanized qawwali are all present, all working in harmony. Does that Ranbir Kapoor entranced gaze skyward remind anyone of Hrithik Roshan in the Rahman qawwali in Jodhaa Akbar, one finger upward and seeking divine help, the other pointing downward to transfer that help to his subjects?

By now, I've listened to the soundtrack in its entirety. It's trademark Rahman, and one can only imagine singer Mohit Chauhan smiling his way through the album. My only hope is the movie it's for does it some justice. It surely has an excellent ecosystem of music to work with.


Your thoughts on the song, and on the soundtrack? 


For further reading, here's an excellent Mumbai Mirror article on Director Imtiaz Ali and A. R. Rahman. (Thank you Dunkdaft for sharing!)

This YouTube link has the making of the song.

Official film websiterockstarthefilm.com

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Translating Kun Faaya Kun reminded me of this from from the book 'An Aetheist with (Mahatma) Gandhi' by Gora:

"I used to say 'God is Truth.' That did not completely satisfy me. So I said 'Truth is God.' He and His law are not different. God's law is God Himself. To interpret it man has to resort to intense prayer and merge himself in God. Each one will interpret the same in his or her own way. As for the relationship between man and God, man does not become man by virtue of having two hands. He becomes man by becoming a tabernacle of God."  -- M. K. Gandhi

It's a complete coincidence that we celebrate Gandhi Jayanti this weekend (October 2), and I figured this might be a good time to share these pictures taken by yours truly last year at the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat in India. Enlarge the photos and you might just find a few of Gandhi's other ideas of God. ;)






The God in me welcomes the God in you.

Peace.

16 comments:

dunkdaft said...

It was the very first viewing of the video, when it reminded me that superb moment of Jodha Akbar. But yes, Hrithik did it better ;) But the track is incomparable. Stands on its own. Love the sudden transition during 'mann ke mere yeh bharam..' line. Javed Ali has mastered this genre alongwith Rahman. And the guitar ! Gave me goosebumps when i first heard that fusion. Only Rahman can do this.

Talking about soundtrack, though Rock is not my fav genre. This OST is driving me crazy. But yes, Sadda Haqq doesn't come at top of my fav list. Phir se udd chala is. And Kun Faaya Kun. And Jo Bhi main. and.. and..

Ah.. btw, did u notice this is the same Irshad 'Pritam' Kamil ? ? Glad that Imtiaz insisted to take him. A welcome change indeed.

The Mighty Mango said...

That's simply... gorgeous. I'm really glad you translated this. I appreciate the song itself without understanding the words because I could feel what it was about even without understanding the words. But the actual words give me such a greater appreciation for it.

You don't mind if I link to this, do you? My weekly post for the newspaper is going to be about music this week and I'll probably talk about Rockstar's soundtrack a little.

Kanupriya said...

thanks so much for this awesome review / translation. :)

theBollywoodFan said...

Dunkdaft: I was curious to see if the soundtrack to Rockstar would remind me of the soundtracks to London Dreams or Rock On. Not even close, and you're right about attributing that to Rahman. This is beautiful.

Agreed about 'Phir Se Udd Chala' and surprisingly, even on 'Jo Bhi Main', which I didn't think highly of after seeing the trailer. Also, I am *really* enjoying 'Naadaan Parindey' a lot. Almost want to say that of 'Kateya Karun', almost wish the song would be more like it is in the last 30 seconds. And am I the only one who is reminded somewhat of Udit Narayan in 'Sheher Mein'?

I don't think it's sunk in entirely, though. I'll need a few more listens! Thanks again for sharing that article, 20 Rahman tracks is such a treat no matter what!

theBollywoodFan said...

The Mighty Mango: Glad you enjoyed this! I couldn't stop listening to the song while translating. The lyrics on their own just aren't the same without the music and the treatment.

Which other songs from this soundtrack do you like? And you'd be doing me a favor with a link, need you ask?

theBollywoodFan said...

Kanupriya: Thank you for your visit and comment! Appreciate it. :)

dunkdaft said...

Indeed. The way 'katiya karoo' concludes is lovely. Though i have doubt Rahman had plans of full song in that tune coz tht transition in tune is Trademark Rahman. And the 'ting ling ting ling' is like that because it is required to fill fun on the screen.

Oh, Naadan Parindey is really awesome. Though i'm intrigued at Mohit's part, maybe we need to see movie for that. (kaaga re kaaga re mori itni araz...). I did not find Udit's traces in Shehar main, though. U r talking abt the voice other than Mohit in it?

I think 20tracks will make us glued in seats rather than watching 'i dont know how to express' Nargis Fakri. Sigh... They cud've take a better actress - or is it the other way? I think there is hardly much scope for girl in this 'Ranbir' movie?Indeed. The way 'katiya karoo' concludes is lovely. Though i have doubt Rahman had plans of full song in that tune coz tht transition in tune is Trademark Rahman. And the 'ting ling ting ling' is like that because it is required to fill fun on the screen.

Oh, Naadan Parindey is really awesome. Though i'm intrigued at Mohit's part, maybe we need to see movie for that. (kaaga re kaaga re mori itni araz...). I did not find Udit's traces in Shehar main, though. U r talking abt the voice other than Mohit in it?

I think 20tracks will make us glued in seats rather than watching 'i dont know how to express' Nargis Fakri. Sigh... They cud've take a better actress - or is it the other way? I think there is hardly much scope for girl in this 'Ranbir' movie?

The Mighty Mango said...

I thought I'd be nice about it and ask. "Never hurts to ask," hai naa? ;)

And Nadaan Parindey emerged as an early favorite. Also Phir Se Ud Chala and Sadda Haq (I love the guitar), although I'm pretty sure I don't dislike any of the songs.

But I wish I didn't feel so silly for discussing songs whose lyrics I don't even understand! :(

theBollywoodFan said...

Dunkdaft: It's so easy to forget that we ought not to separate these songs from their integration in the film, but how can we not be tempted to do so when the songs are so good! Get your point about Katiya Karun.

Yes, that's the voice that reminded me of Udit. I think more so since Udit was the voice of Sanjay Dutt in Rahman's soundtrack to the film Blue.

Not sure what to think of Nargis, but hey, at least it's not Sonam Kapoor. 0:)

theBollywoodFan said...

The Mighty Mango: Not silly at *all*, the king of all cliches for you: We all speak the same language, the language of music!!! ;)

PakhiPakhi said...

Jab Kahin pe kuch nahin bhi nahin thaa -

This bit is almost too profound to be translated. I n my opinion it means when existence could not even be imagined..

Thanks for the translation.

Nana said...

I'm reading your blog for the first time... Its nice to see the effort involved to bring the song more life.. And thank you for the English content... Well for the obvious ques?? Rockstar songs make want more and you end up playing them in a loop... Every time AR sets his standard high and yet again this is one of his best with Rockstar... and my personal favorites are sadda haq,nadaan parindey,jo bhi main come on every song is a masterpiece... And ur blog is one of its kind.. Kudos to you..

nerd001 said...

A very nice song indeed and equally beautiful lyrics translation. It gives much better understanding. Thank you.

The music without understanding much of the lyrics lyrics was awesome in itself and the meaning makes it just perfect. After Arziyan, Khwaja mere and Meherbaan, here comes Rahman again to immerse you in divinity. I am totally in love with the song.

About rest of the album, i think its one of the greatest. He creates a new benchmark every time. Nadaan Parindey is craaazy. Guitar in between or Drums in the start... the song is wonderful and the singing is just tooo good. Both the stanzas are in different tune which is a pleasure and so fresh.

Saadda Haq is a strong strong song. Like it :). Phir se Ud Chala is like a Mohit Chauhan's Song. It so much suits his kind of singing. Love the song.

Have to give other songs a listen :p

kal ho na ho said...

thank you soooo much for the translation.
no word to discribe what i feel when i listen to it..indeed it's my best 2011 song..

phir se ud chala was imaginative song..words,rhythm,AR Rahman tunes..unbelievable song..good to start your day with it :)

I like sheher mein also

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Yunus Perveez said...

WE spoke about it on twitter but thought I'd leave a comment too. I have been listening non stop to the track and is turning into a mild obsession.
Love everything about it and how cool is it that Mohit Chauhan's singing so many of the songs. Maybe they should start doing that more often, have one singner sing all the songs for a movie...( ok it might not work but could be an interesting experiment- Atif came closest to Prince i think)

I love the album and can almost imagine what the picturizatio of Sheher me would be...

Thanks for the translation, although I had most of it. I did wonder what they meant with rangreza...

Asim

Amar said...

The translation really sound great. I like the way you translated the second stanza:

Move forward
Cross the boundaries,
Come fill this void
in the home of your Belove.
It's hollow without you, come fill this void.

This is a nice song and I'm just wondering how this kind of song about religion came into the movie about Rockstar?