Dil kabootar khana hai

In the early 2000s, there was a rash of films that were either made by film-makers of India origin living in other parts of the world, or by Indian film-makers about the Indian diaspora, and clearly targeted at that audience. Even if they were in Hindi, they were not quite Bollywood films, and in fact they varyingly paid homage to or outright ridiculed popular Hindi cinema tropes within their story. Inevitably, some of them attempted to incorporate the traditional bundle of songs that are part of any Hindi film into the proceedings, in subtle and sometimes less subtle ways. Dil kabootar khana hai, from Deepa Mehta’s 2002 Canadian production Bollywood/Hollywood is one such song that stands out in memory.

Not being a traditional Hindi movie, and from what I gather, never having seen the film, the soundtrack here consisted of songs played more in the background than as a specific event on screen, although Dil kabootar khana hai is played in part as part of a cross-dressing dance sequence in the film, which you can see in the YouTube video under the alternative links. The film makers did use this song extensively while the film was being promoted on TV, for which they created a musical trailer of sorts with visual snippets from the film edited to the music. This is how I remember the song and so that’s the video you find embedded below. To listen to the full song, I suggest the audio only version also linked at the bottom.

The film was a fairly typical romantic comedy with Indian hijinks added in for good measure. Most of these films centred around the generation gap between the Indians that moved to foreign lands and their children who now rightfully didn’t quite think of themselves as Indian any more. Bollywood/Hollywood appears to tread similar ground. From the clips on show, Rahul Khanna behaves sufficiently flustered at the prospect of having his marriage arranged for him by his mother, and Lisa Ray is appropriately up-beat and theatrical as the stand-in potential bride, who inevitably begins to become more than a stand-in

Sonu Nigam‘s voice brings a nice energy to it, in no small part helped by the complex frivolities of the music composed by Sandeep Chowta. It makes for an energetic song that fits the frantic mood the movie seems to have been going for. The song is also made memorable by its humorous lyrics portraying young courtship. Verses like:

Raat ko jugnu jalte hai
Milke masti karte hai
Neye-naye fashion mein sajke
Daali-daali phirte hain


Fireflies burn in the night
Meet and make mischief free
Wearing new fashions bright
They flit from tree to tree

… have a light-hearted sense of fun to them that makes Dil kabootar khana hai one of the few songs that came out of this branch of Indian cinema which will be remembered, hummed and probably danced to for a long time to come.

Alternative links:

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