When the film Tashan was released in early 2008, it had everything going for it. Produced by Yash Raj Films, who had been on a roll for quite a while at the time; Some of the biggest, most dependable stars available, Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan; An interesting plot; Music by Vishal-Shekhar, who were just coming off the success of their music for Om Shanti Om. In spite of all that, the film mostly proved to be a disappointment in everything but the music department. Almost all the songs in this film are memorable, but the utterly romantic Falak tak chal saath mere stands out the most.
Tashan was a fascinating film in pieces, which is to say that many pieces of it were fascinating and worthy of attention. The whole thing didn’t work well together but it was a good experiment, the likes of which you actually don’t see often these days, in comparison. Akshay Kumar had done some very popular work recently with a string of hits, Saif Ali Khan was doing some of the strongest work of his career, with a wide variety of roles, and Kareena Kapoor was as ubiquitous an on-screen presence as ever. The movie was a chance, a strange mix of gangster drama, romance, caper and action. The positive of this was that they were being a little experimental with the music too, which does still stand out from the norm.
Falak tak chal is a beautiful song that is quite the treat to watch. First time director Vijay Krishna Acharya does a great job in making this song look magical, with the help of the dependently bright and hyper-real cinematography of Ayananka Bose. The song moves from stark locations in Ladakh to the backwaters of Kerala, from the sands of Rajasthan to an entire small town set (one used by Yash Raj Films in several of their productions) made-up like an amusement park and decked in fairy-lights. That’s quite the visual journey and a joy, in the copious slow motion shots of the actors mouthing the lyrics in seemingly normal speed.
Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor are the main stars of the show, with Saif Ali Khan mostly acting as hood-ornament and keeping the premise of the plot going. It’s a romantic duet of epic proportions, supported well by the grand visuals and woven into the plot of two people who have a shared history going back to childhood. The actors do an admirable job at keeping to the pantomime of the song while also sticking to some of the characters they play. Though it must be said for the most part Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor are being the on-screen personas they are most popular for being and that works fine too. Special mention needs to be made of the choreography by Vaibhavi Merchant, whose relaxed style suits this perfectly, bringing a certain childish playfulness into the proceedings that fits what these two characters are supposed to be.
Vishal-Shekhar‘s music is quite exquisite, mixing touches of electronic jazz with a very Indian dholak. They also add in very synthesized sounds as additional percussion which really add a unique punch to a song which floats beautifully between spirited and slow, and silent and poetic. In an almost old-school way, the music sometimes goes near-silent while the voices fill the auditory landscape. This interplay of music and voice is pushed even further in the interplay between the two singers. This song is a duet in the best of ways, with Udit Narayan and Mahalaksmi Iyer singing interspersed and in unison. Their voices work very well together bringing a confident sweetness to it that few others but Udit Narayan can bring to the table.
Equal to the music are the sometimes strange and free-form lyrics of this song, which I was surprised to find out were the first outing by lyricist Kausar Munir. This is the first song she penned and the only song in this film by her. She has gone on to write many more popular songs since, but I think this one really is something special, with beautifully intertwined exchanges between the two voices. The abstract lyricism of it really can’t be translated very well, but here is a passable representation:
Dheka nahin mein ne pehle kabhi yeh nazara,
Badla hua sa lage mujhko aalam yeh sara
Suraj ko huyi hai hararat, raaton ko kare shararat
Baitha hai khidaki pe teri.
Is baat pe chand bhi bigda, kathra kathra woh pigla,
Bhar aaya aankho mein meri.
Toh suraj bhuja doon, tujhe mein saja doon
Savera ho tujh se hi kal.
I have never seen this sight before,
All of existence looks transformed for sure.
The fevered Sun gets up to mischief at night,
Sits at your window for a dazzling sight.
This upset the Moon, it melted a shred,
Welled up in my eyes instead.
Then let me quench the Sun, to adorn you let me strive,
With you, may tomorrow’s morning arrive.
Falak tak chal saath mere is a strange and beautiful song, one that always produces a feeling of epic scale and space in my mind. Part of an unusual and playful film from a new director, it works with the help of veteran singers, talented musicians and surprise discoveries in new word-smiths. The visuals don’t hurt either. Mostly, it’s a song I always lose myself in every time I hear it.