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† (which I delved into in another series 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, and 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…