Sunday, July 18, 2010

Do Kadam – A Sublime Journey

Zindagi, haath mila; saath chal, saath me aa;
Umr-bhar saath rahi

Life, take this hand; come, come along with me;
We will walk together forever

And a gentle synth base guitar lick in the background picks up volume lifting
you up as if you were in a helicopter taking off from earth.

Do kadam aur, sahi, do kadam aur, sahi II

two more steps, all right, two more steps II

…and a happily persistent string section leads the protagonist, (given the
movie’s context, an artist: a writer), in a casual two step walk, guiding him
down a sun lit path towards a golden land as the music bathes you in brilliant
bright light.

Koi suraj ki dagar, koi sone ka nagar
Chaand ke rath pe chale, jahan tehre yeh nazar

Some sunlit path, some golden city
Walk in the path of the moon, where, this gaze would freeze

And the synth lead guitar applies a slight break along the way followed by a
wonderful panoramic scan of the scenes, which beautifully sets up the next

Dhoop Daryaon mein hain, phir safar paon mein hain
Dil ka awara diya, doosre gaon mein hain
Aaon, chale hum wahin
Do kadam aur, sahi IV

There’s sunlight in the rivers, there’s journey in your legs
This wandering heart’s lamp is in a different village
Come, let us go there
Take two more steps, all right IV

Just listen to the magic created by the tangent chord that is touched just for
‘doosre gaon’ before returning immediately to the base. And the same persistent
string section, almost turning around toward his follower from time to time,
gesturing with his hands to make haste, never stops saying come on, two more
steps! All right? Now as they get closer to this mysteriously beautiful place,
the grand Timpani starts to roar from a distance and the majestic horns can be
heard trumpeting its glory. Leading up to the next narrative, the walk’s
momentum picks up with a lively conga layering over the soft cymbals.

Khwaab dalte hain jahan, dil pighalte hain jahan
Aaon chalte hain wahin, woh zameen door nahin
Dosti hogi wahan, roshni hogi wahan
Us ujaale ke liye, jal chuke laakhon diye
Ek hum aur, sahi
Do kadam aur, sahi

Where dreams are fulfilled, where hearts melt
Come, let us go there, that land is not too far
Friendship will be there, light will be there
to light this place, many lamps have been burnt
We might as well be one of them
Two more steps, all right

After this narrative, the string section returns with the conga drums, but the
background synth sounds fade out almost to a nightly silence, quite
appropriately setting up the mood for the next verse.

Kisiki awaaz hai? Sun. Yeh naya saaz hai, sun
Koun rehta hain sada? chalke dekhen to zara
Raah viraan, sahi, raath sumsaan, sahi
Har ghadi saath rahe, kitne gham saath sahe
Thor ghum aur, sahi
Do kadam aur, sahi

Who’s voice is calling us? Listen. This is a new melody, listen
Who goes on forever? Come, let’s go see
The path is lonely, agreed. The night is silent, agreed.
We have been together all along, we have suffered so much
Just a little more suffering, all right
Two more steps, all right

Do Kadam – A Sublime Journey and A Sorrow that Lingers
Dasun Abeysekera
Mon, 18 Feb 2008

"If a music artist wants to blossom into a full-fledged person, it's not enough
if he knows only classical music; nor is it enough if he is well-versed only in
raagas and techniques. Instead, he should be a knowledgeable person interested
in life and philosophy. In his personal life there should be, at least in some
corner of his heart, a tinge of lingering sorrow."

When I first read this profound quote by ARR, it sparked, deep inside of me,
something very sincere and beautiful; these words may have been that little
pinch the sleeping artist within me, who I had forgotten due to the constant
pursuit of survival instincts and was consciously trying to restrain by
offering traditional societal expectations as excuses, needed to rub his eyes
and wake up! I had a natural interest in life and philosophy; it was as if
these subjects were written into my genes, and I was always grateful to my
parents and to my Buddhist upbringing for inculcating that sense of
understanding and intuitive wisdom so early on in my life which made my life a
little easier and more balanced during the typically turbulent teen-ages,
though it often seemed to outsiders a very difficult and restrained one. It is
this same intuitive sense of balance and understanding, now I realize, that
drew me to the naturally symmetrical music of my life’s early heroes - ARR and
Yanni - at the age of 13 and made me appreciate and grow with their exquisite
music. But, until the moment of reading this quote, I had not made the
connection between these natural interests of mine and the awe-inspiring and
divine profession of the true artist. What is lacking within this dormant
artist that keeps him from getting out of his cozy bed? What is this tinge of
lingering sorrow that ARR has in a corner of his heart? What sorrow could lie
in the heart of this man, who, to me, embodies all that is beautiful, happy,
and heavenly? Is it this sorrow that I lack?

Years passed as an uninterrupted supply of beautiful music and incredible
artistry from the maestro continued to subconsciously alter my spiritual state
of being for the better while I contently lived with my latent artist trying to
figure out what this sorrow is and how and where is it that he is going to find
it. Then, in early 2004, I bought an album I had anxiously awaited for quite
some time; it brought together India’s foremost painter – M.F. Hussein – in his
second directorial venture with India’s foremost composer – A.R. Rahman! I knew
I was going to get magic from this album well before its release! The music was
true to expectations, very colorfully crafted, and quite deftly and intricately
woven with ARR himself attempting to reach the abstract heights of an M.F.
Hussein painting in the two instrumental pieces; however, one song stood out
every time I listened to the entire album. It was something very special and
the sounds and emotions spoke to my heart directly; yes, this song was divine!
Do Kadam gave me so many goose-bumps each time I listened to it that I started
to skip all the other songs (except, perhaps, for Rang Hain) and play only that
over and over again; that is a high compliment given the quality of the entire
album! I did not understand the Hindi lyrics (by Rahat Indori) fully at first
except for a phrase here and there, though it was enough, I thought, to put
together a rough sketch of what the song was about. I was wrong! This song
could not be enjoyed in its fullest being by putting together its pieces in a
haphazard manner like I did. In fact, to this day, I find some deeper meaning
to the creativity in this song. As with any divinely inspired song, the first
few notes and sounds captured my attention: it was synthetic, it was mystical,
and it was vintage ARR! Enter the classy Sonu Nigam…

The silence of the first two lines is nicely contrasted with the conga beat
picking up the momentum again for the difficult final stretch where ‘the path
is lonely and the night is silent’ providing the additional impetus and
enthusiasm needed to carry on the remainder of the journey; but, the most
beautiful moment of the song comes during ‘kitne ghum saath sahe’ when a high
pitched synthetic harmonica lingers almost clinging by a thread to the artist’s
soul, as he reaches this worthy final destination; and now loud and clear, the
horns blow majestically, the timpani crash triumphantly, and a choir of angels
welcomes him to this mystical place of infinite grandeur, sublime beauty, and
immortality; and he knows that he has achieved every artist’s dream, and that
all his struggles are well worth the reward: he has created his own heaven in
his mind!

It took me, at the very least, a year to interpret all of this mind-blowing
creativity and truly come to grips with the deeper meaning of the song; but
after I had fully understood the lyrics and listened to the lingering harmonica
sound during ‘kitne ghum,’ I knew I found the answer to my question: what is
this lingering sorrow which ARR has in a corner of his heart that is essential
to being a great artist? To create such heavenly beauty, divine feelings, and
immortal masterpieces on earth, the true artist and the sincere creator has to
remain pure and warm at heart no matter how vicious and cold the rest of the
world may seem, he has to use in its fullest capacity his imaginative powers,
which he knows he is blessed with, but requires him to let go of himself and
find, and many-a-time, wait, for those moments of divine inspiration, knowing,
still, that after all that mental and physical energy is spent, there is no
guarantee that somebody would have seen, read, or heard his creation and had
been able to enter his heart, mind, and soul and become one with him; for that
is his divine duty: to create a spiritually beautiful heaven on earth so that
even a single person, searching for a higher spiritual state, or maybe, hoping
for a way out of some meaningless existence, or even just looking for a
momentary escape from a hard day’s pain, will see, hear, feel, and begin to
wonder, how is it possible? Where is this possible?