lyrical notes

2015 yearender: And the award for best lyrics go to …

The gems among the clunkers included ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ and ‘Margarita With A Straw.’

Poetry, once the mainstay of Hindi film music, has been traded for the hook word, the rap section, alliterative refrains, nonsense lyrics, and trite Hinglish phrases around love.

A few songs flickered in the darkness across the movies of 2015. These were tracks in which the lyricists sought to define the film’s essence, the music soared, and faith in poetry’s near-trifling existence was restored.

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Moh Moh Ke Dhaage, ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ Lyricist Varun Grover writes, “Hai rom rom iktaara jo baadalon mein se guzre” (Every particle of my body is a musical instrument that strings through the clouds). Singers Papon and Monali Thakur, who each sing a version, begin this particular line on a lower note, gradually pitching into a higher octave with embellishments, upon which the song reaches a shehnai and later a flute finish. Their singing gives resonance to the words and its transcendent meaning. The lyrics have other gems, comparing the ill-matched couple to day and night that needs to meld like dusk and the heart to a letterbox filled with billets-doux. Composer Anu Malik’s song arrives at a juncture when the odd couple who have had an arranged marriage is trying to adjust with one other.

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Choone Chali Aasman, ‘Margarita With A Straw’ Prasoon Joshi writes, “Samundar ke seene se uth ke leher choone chali aasman”(From the heart of the sea a wave crests to reach for the sky). Rachel Verghese sings in an adrenaline- rushing voice for composer Mike McCleary, displaying the strength with which the film’s central character Laila (Kalki Koechlin) sets out on a road to self-discovery. A line, “Paer ke angoothe se paani chhua hai, thanda sa jaadu mujh pe hua hai ”(I have touched the rain water with my big toe, my body tingles with a magical feeling) tells us everything we need to know about the wheelchair-bound doughty heroine.

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Carbon Copy, ‘Drishyam’ Trust Gulzar to cross-examine life irreverently: “Kya re zindagi kya hai tu?” (What are you, life?) and address the conundrum that has vexed us all. In doing so in a colloquial style, he also provides us with an equally puzzling answer, “Teri carbon copy hoon main” (I am your carbon copy). The song has a smooth rhythm on the guitar and Meghna Gulzar suffuses the track with even more charm when she whistles through the song alongside singer Ash King. This is composer Vishal Bhardwaj’s Adele-style hello to the classic Ae Zindagi Gale Laga Le (Sadma, 1983). Carbon Copy fits the mood of Drishyam, in which the characters are constantly grappling with their own vulnerabilities, exemplified in the lyric, “Arre agle mod pe milna tu”(Meet me at the next crossroad).

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Kattey, ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’ Singer-songwriter Hard Kaur's lyrics sound prosaic: “Some girls sell their souls for a cameo role but I’m that type of chick that ya can’t ignore.” But when her edgy rap is juxtaposed with traditional lyrics sung by Rajasthani folk artist Bhanvari Devi, in which she says that she has seen all the Indian gods, each of whom now resides in her heart, a synthesis of poetry slam is achieved. Composer Ram Sampath experiments with various clashing sounds, mixing the guitar with the violin and harmonium and the powerful vocals of the singers to produce a track that encapsulates the angst, triumphs and febrile passion with which the film flows.

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Agar Tum Saath Ho, ‘Tamasha’ Easily the year’s most soulful love song. Lyricist Irshad Kamil writes it the old-fashioned way. The two leads are having a conversation through a song that plays in the background and echoes their thoughts. Alka Yagnik sings for the female character, “Bin bole baatein tumse karoon gar tum saath ho” (I will talk to you without words if you stay). Arijit Singh sings for the male character, reacting, “Tum saath ho ya na ho, kya farq hai, bedard thi zindagi, bedard hai ”(Whether we are together or not, it doesn’t change anything, life is merciless and will remain so). Yagnik sings with a searing intensity calling out to the lover, and Singh snubs gently all affection till the two disagreeing voices reach an “Agar tum saath ho” (What if we are together?) crescendo and the song ends with her plea, “Har gham phisal jaaye”(All woe will slip away). Composer AR Rahman creates a sombre mood piece that is at the heart of Tamasha’s core conflict: the incontrovertibility of love.

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Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.

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During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.