Red… For Hadia

SO we enter the abstract domain. Hadia, the inspiration behind this activity has herself asked me to write on “Red”.  This is what I feared. For me, anything that isn’t particular to the tee becomes nauseatingly close to psychoanalysis. And that scares me to pieces.

Yet, these are some disjointed thoughts that I associate the colour to.

*****

Mohabbatein was an all-round snooze fest. And as in every desert there blooms a cactus, yours truly took away a key message from the movie. Red Flower = Love, and Yellow Flower = Friendship. This of course was a part of the ever elusive Rose Day celebration in the cool college. And then the college I studied in had its own Rose Day celebrations. The only red roses I received that year were in a bouquet from a girl *cue confusion*. To her I remain eternally grateful for opening my eyes.

On a side note, I justified to myself that one offers red hibiscus to Ganesh idols because it’s “love”.

*****

I owned a red salwar kameez once which was just as gaudy as it was loud. It was bought for a school annual day event where the women were all “wives”. Of course the red was to be synonymous with married women. And that dress I wore whenever I felt like dressing up as Indian. I did the whole shebang with a bindi, and earrings etc. This phase went on till I realised the dress was suitable only in the context of “Ye Desh Hain Veer Jawaano Ka.” The only red I’ve worn since are a sporadic kurta here and there. Associations with choodha-wearing brides make me too conscious.

*****

I had an allergic reaction last year to who knows what. My face was swollen and was the shade of tomatoes. I ended up in the Emergency Room and then the ICU. But when I looked myself in the mirror, I realised this is what it must look like when an author says “he/she turned a brighter shade of red with embarrassment.” For me embarrassment is felt in the stomach, seldom shows up on my face.

*****

I remember my mother crying when I first started my period. I was 10, maybe 11. And she cried when she shared the “news” with her mother, then with her best friend and finally just cried every time she mentioned it to anyone. I didn’t get it then as to why she was crying if specks of blood showing up every month were normal, as she explained. A year later, the cramps began. Now, I cry every month yearning for the first decade of my life when I wasn’t bending double over my stomach.

*****

Marilyn Monroe looked like she had it all when she wore red lipstick. I think it was one of the late-night movies I sneaked a glance at oblivious to my parents. And then I noticed almost all of the “English film women” wore red lipsticks. At a discussion with peers (fellow preteens), I think one friend said it looked better on screen while another said it looked better on their skin tone than Indian actresses’. I bought my first red lipstick last year after a hijra woman I was interpreting for told me it would make my eyes stand out. Boy was she right.

*****

Priya Wal looked so damn cool in her red highlights in Remix, that Anwesha was my ultimate idol when I was in school. I wanted flaming red hair. Till I discovered naturally red hair. I realised I could never have those, or carry it off as confidently. The last time I was envious of the same was when I saw a senior colleague who carries off the red curls with better panache than Katrina Kaif in Fitoor. In my head, whenever I rebel, I have red highlights.

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Day 5: Khalbali Hain Khalbali

Movie: Rang De Basanti (2006)
Song: Khalbali
Music Director: A.R.Rahman
Lyrics: Prasoon Joshi
Singers: A.R.Rahman, Mohammad Aslam and Nacim
Actors (in the song): Aamir Khan, Siddharth, Sharman Joshi, Soha Ali Khan, Alice Patten, Kunal Kapoor.

From one all-time favourite to the other, one Khan to the other, this song is one that I can never get tired of listening to on loop! In fact that is what I am doing now.

Khalbali literally means hullabaloo or a bustle causing things to off the track they were meant to. Rang De Basanti (RDB) is one movie I remember walking out of the theatre with goosebumps on my body and seething with the injustice of the ending. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way considering the reaction of the Indian populace to the movie and the political catalyst it eventually became for social movements.

This song and others (not the only one on my list, I’m sure), suit the movie so seamlessly that you may remember the songs and not the picturisation at all. They’re a part of the narrative and set the mood. For me, Khalbali does that brilliantly.

Take for instance the opening sequence of Siddharth smoking in a pensive mood (it’s always a pleasure to watch him) and then funny dance moves of Aamir Khan that all of a sudden metamorphose into a swanky step with Alice Patten and then a kiss (I don’t even remember seeing this!). Then the movie’s main plot of the juxtaposing between the past and present that is merges with the dialogues in the background and the mesmerising voice of Rahman.

I have no idea honestly of what is the one thing that makes this song tick. The music, the singing, the lyrics by Joshi, the actors, the tone it sets for the events of the movie, a mix of hope, romance and youthful spirit set together in a old tank/lake on a lazy afternoon, diving into water, graffiti painting – it’s just one free flowing river of a poetry.

I don’t think I can pinpoint my favourite verses or a anything I don’t like about it. It uplifts and makes me smile at the same time on how much this song/movie appeals to me even today almost a decade later! Especially the casual manner in which they say “hum lapakte saaye hain, hum sulagne aaye hain, ghar bataake aaye hain…” Especially the last part that signifies that we’ve no care, and we’ve informed those at home that don’t worry, I will do this. Oooof!

Still to keep traditions up, my favourite lines:

(starts after the dialogue “hum unke jazbeh tod nahi sake”)

Ziddi ziddi ziddi ziddi jazbaah (or is it ye zubaan?),
ziddi ziddi ziddi armaan,
ziddi hain toofan,
ziddi hum bhi yahaan.

Honestly, listen and enjoy the music without the video first!

Watch the video here: