Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

Friday Song (& Dance Sequence): Chaiyya Chaiyya

Back in 2006, noted director Spike Lee brought forward a really fine cast in one of the better heist flicks of recent years, Inside Man. I’m not here to review that very entertaining film, however. Nope, I’m posting this to highlight the song the filmmakers chose to accompany their first-rate title sequence in the film (you can view the initial movie sequence here). Lee even included a re-mixed version of the same song for the closing credits.

If you’ve seen the film, then you heard the abridged version of an Indian song that became very popular in that southern Asian country (and the U.K.) back in 1998. The tune, in fact, blossomed from yet another earlier film and soundtrack. I’m sure, like others who’ve seen it, the enticing melody, vocals, and rhythms of the track, Chaiyya Chaiyya, composed by A.R. Rahman, written by Gulzar, and sung by Sukhwinder Singh and Sapna Awasthi, drew me to the music.

Even though I understand none of the language, its singing is simply splendid.

It should be said, though, I am far from an authority on film or song. I just comment on the things that I’ve seen or heard over the years, which peak my interest. I am an absolute neophyte when it comes to Indian cinema –generically, and sometimes dismissively, termed as Bollywood. To learn anything about it, I rely upon those who know what they’re talking about. In this case, I depended upon the blogger known as Filmigirl.

Her lesson series, Bollywood For Beginners, shouldn’t be missed if you want to start exploring the rich film content available from this region. Not long after enjoying Inside Man, I sought out for more info about the song, and later obtained the soundtrack CD. As Wikipedia noted…

“Chaiyya Chaiyya (Hindi: छैंय्या छैंय्या, ‘[walk] in shade’) is a Hindi song in the Hindi film Dil Se directed by Mani Ratnam.”

Still, a couple of things amazed me as I explored on. First, as popular as the song was, Dil Se the film was considered a box office failure in its home market, though it was a hit overseas in the U.K. Second, as good as the title sequence for Inside Man was with this in place, the actual song and dance sequence from Dil Se blew it away as a delivery mechanism for the track, in my opinion.

As noted in the comments the lead actor is actually dancing with Malaika Arora in the sequence..

If that’s difficult to believe, watch the clip below. It’s energetically sexy and creatively jaw-dropping in its staging. Keep in mind, the music and choreography in play (with credit to Farah Khan) was achieved in four and a half days of shooting…on a moving train…with hardly one safety harness seen on the lead actors, Shah Rukh Khan and Manisha Koirala.

It really was a wonderful cinematic sequence. I hope you enjoy.

CSI: Miami and the too quickly cancelled Smith television series also used the same track in single episodes; Andrew Lloyd Webber included the song for his musical Bombay Dreams, as well.

 Am I being too obvious by saying Malaika’s hips really sing to me? I hope my wife isn’t reading this…

17 Responses to “Friday Song (& Dance Sequence): Chaiyya Chaiyya”

  1. The Sci-Fi Fanatic

    Okay my friend, like JKM, you and I continue to share similar interests and some, like your coverage of this song, truly hits the proverbial nail on the head.

    I downloaded this track on iTunes some time ago. Loved it. It really is one of my favorites as “world music” goes. So, right there with you.

    And, I noticed it is not a “Friday Forgotten Song” perhaps because many have never heard it at all, but it’s a great track.

    A few additional comments. I loved Inside Man. Great movie. And Spike Lee truly annoys me as a personality. I’m not much of a fan, but I do love Do The Right Thing and Inside Man. You’ve inspired me to go back and visit the latter film.

    Finally, Bollywood- I’m unquestionably in the “dismissive” crowd. There’s a plethora of films coming out of Bollywood and to be honest some of them look really amusing. I should be more open to seeing them. Quicktime Trailers is always advertising for those films. I’m like, argggh another Bollywood trailer. The creative people involved in cinema there are really quite prolific. It’s great to see actually.

    Take care

    • le0pard13

      Yeah, no ‘forgotten‘ for this Friday song. I didn’t consciously think about, but I guess I draw a line for that category based upon when I became a parent. If a song was popular before my children were born, well… ;-).

      I, too, definitely get a kick out of our similar interests in the popular arts, my friend. I understand your thoughts about Spike Lee, as well. He’s a gifted filmmaker, but he can be a lightning rod for controversy. The two films you mention are also favorites of mine, along with Malcolm X and two of his documentaries: If God Is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise and 4 Little Girls.

      Along with our own movies, I’ve been into Japanese and Chinese film since the 70s. Now, Indian cinema has sparked by curiosity. We’ll see where it takes me. Thanks so much for your comment, SFF.

  2. Novroz

    Gyahahaha…I laugh so laud seeing your post (before I start reading it), it’s because this song is currently a smash hit in my country because a policeman was doing a lipsync of this song >

    He is now an instant celebrity.

    After reading your post: I really like Inside Man, one of the best bank robbery movie in my opinion. Unfortunately I couldn’t share the same enthusiasm toward Bollywood movies.

    • le0pard13

      Welcome, Novroz. So glad you dropped by. I watched that YouTube video this morning, in fact. It was blast and I enjoyed it (I can see why he’s now so popular). I very much appreciate your comment, my friend. Thanks.

  3. Herbster

    They, Bollywood, slay me. Such a kick to watch. This little ditty could have been better if the camera stayed with her charms and away from studly. Of course that’s just My opinion.

    What is up with Bollywood and train tops? What a hoot!

  4. le0pard13

    Yes, Shah Rukh Khan is good, but Manisha! I better stop there before you-know-who tosses something at my head. Thanks, Herb.

  5. Rachel

    I adore Inside Man and never felt it got the reception (or fans) it deserved. Maybe that was just in my corner of the world but I was always trying to get more people to watch it.

    That cop slays me! Too awesome!

    I am not dismissive of Bollywood but I am also not a fan. The style and stories do not usually appeal to me. Every once in a while one will catch my fancy but usually not.

    Speaking of movies…

    Are you looking forward to Meek’s Cutoff? Western film fan that you are…

    I watched Starman. I liked it alright but just coming off The Fog -which I liked so much – it didn’t stick with me quite as much. I think the final verdict for me on Carpenter is he will sometimes make a movie I quite like and sometimes make a movie I will forget when the credits roll. I realize this is sacrilege to many but I’ve survived (mostly unscathed) not thinking of Firefly as the Second Coming so I might be able to get away with one other pop culture faux pas. :)

    • le0pard13

      It’s good to find another fan of Inside Man. I picked up the Blu-ray Disc of the film (on sale) earlier this year and I’m looking forward to teeing it up soon. But, I also understand Indian film to not to every one’s taste (I never could get into Scandinavian films myself, even when Ingmar Bergman was at his height — there, I admitted it).

      It’s great to hear you got through your sampling of John Carpenter films. And every film of his has its fans and not. Funny thing, though. For some, repeat viewings have been known to change minds ;-).

      Thanks for the great comment, and the heads up on Meek’s Cutoff. That one completely flew under my radar.

    • le0pard13

      Yeah, I did see that one. I very much enjoy Firefly, but even I wouldn’t have thought Serenity would have made it to i09′s final match… and beat The Empire Strikes Back. My bracket skills were completely shredded in this, as were others by some of the comments posted on this one. Thanks, Rachel.

      • le0pard13

        See Joss Whedon’s thought on this?:

        Did you happen to keep up with the March Madness tournament on, in which readers voted “Serenity” the top fantasy film of all time, over “The Empire Strikes Back”?

        I have been alerted to this fact by certain of my friends. When I saw us going up against “Empire Strikes Back,” all I could think was, “Oh, they’re gonna hate it. They’re gonna hate us. They’re gonna call our fans names.” But while “Empire Strikes Back” is for me the more seminal film, “Serenity” at least has an ending. I don’t know when “The Matrix” got voted down – that’s my favorite. It is starting to be a double-edged sword. There’s no greater sadness than not still being on board that ship with that crew, in my career. All I can think is, maybe someday, someone at Universal will say, “Hey, we made money. Let’s do that again.” So I’m glad that it lives. But I also know that every time it gets in one of those polls, against beloved movies, we just get flamed. I feel sad, too.”

  6. Kevin (Col. Mortimer)

    Inside Man is a very underrated film, and I think nicely allowed Spike Lee to make some very astute political commentary (and with some subtly) within the confines of a heist thriller.

    It’s been a few years since I’ve seen the movie and forgot about the use of the Bollywood song. Thanks for the reminder, now off to dance with the Harem of women in my luxurious palatial mansion.

    • le0pard13

      Agreed. His commentary really raised the film beyond its thriller genre and made me admire it more. I, too, appreciated the unexpected use of that distinct song as a prelude to something different coming the audience’s way. Thanks very much, Kevin.

  7. rtm

    Agree w/ Kevin that Inside Man is very underrated. LOVE Clive’s understated performance, and Denzel is always watchable.

    As for Bollywood movies, even though people in my native country love ‘em, I’m not keen on those generally. But I gotta admit I adore Bride & Prejudice, which is a Bollywood-ized version of Pride & Prejudice, it’s just so much fun to watch.

  8. le0pard13

    Oh, yeah. Clive and Denzel playing off of each other in Inside Man was perfect. Thanks for the recommendation for Bride & Prejudice. I’ll definitely check it out. Thanks, rtm.

  9. sadiavt

    interesting article… and Dil Se was a great movie even if it was a box office failure in India. One correction though…

    Manisha Koirala was the lead actress in the film but was NOT in the dance video.. it’s a common occurance for Bollywood ‘item numbers’ such as this one to have an actress/dancer who is not otherwise a part of this film . In the Chaiya Chaiya dance number Shah Rukh Khan is dancing with Malaika Aurora (who was also a huge hit in the big item number for the 2010 movie, “Dabanng”) seen here:


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