Jo haal dil ka is a very strange song. It’s strange only in the context in which it is presented. After all, heroines in wet, clingy clothes, mouthing sensual songs near waterfalls and other convenient water features is hardly strange for a Hindi film; It’s par for the course, but this song has no attempt at a gentle segue into moistness, or an excuse, such a swimming, bathing, picnics or whatever. This one jumps right in, and the hero is soaking wet throughout the song too. But mostly it’s strange because it is the one tangent from cinema reality into complete fantasy in an otherwise straight-edged film. Sarfarosh was hardly the epitome of realism, but for the most part t was set in a heightened and stylised real world. It’s quite an effective crime thriller. Jo haal dil ka is the strange neon cherry on an otherwise by-the-numbers action film.
As a song, it’s sort the last great one of a breed. The strong electronic drums and urgent electric guitar make it very much a product of the 90s in popular Hindi film music. As does the presence of Sonali Bendre on screen, who had her heyday at the time, and also the voices of Alka Yagnik and Kumar Sanu. Sanu was undisputed king of playback-singing in the 90s. The song has a unmistakably Jatin-Lalit feel to it, changing from the rock-inspired bits to the love ballad sections with a ease that they seemed to perfect at the time.
The visuals are interesting because they try to reconcile the differences in mood and tone between the movie, and the song itself. Starting off in a birthday party that’s very kosher and child-friendly, it cuts to the hero and heroine in a fantasy sequence of what’s really on their minds. The song sequence itself has both Aamir Khan and Sonal Bendre very seriously playing passionate, both soaking wet in what is likely a proper Indian monsoon, carefully helped along by rain machines when needed. And they change costumes 4 times, but always drenched. This song goes all the way in its alternate reality. Considering the very straight-man role played by Aamir Khan and the fairly modern but modest girl played by Sonali, this is a perfectly designed detour for the sake of shoe-horning in a thoroughly marketable song. Frankly, it works for me. Not only is the song a good one and filled with energy, but serves as a sufficiently distracting mental break during the continuously action packed proceedings of the film.
Alka Yagnik and Kumar Sanu give their voices their all and even Sanu rarely strays into his more nasal tones, which I never found to be a plus. This is an archetypal Jatin-Lalit tune and will always remain as one of their high points during the 90s, when they really went all out on the instrumentation, to the edge of being kitsch, but somehow made it work. The lyricist Sameer adds in his always dependable by-the-numbers words into the mix with verses like:
Yeh mujhko khabar hai, yeh tujhko pataa hai,
Jo chaaya dhadkan pe, chaahat ka nashaa hai.
Deewana tera bekhabar ho raha hai.
Jaane jaa dilon pe pyaar ka ajab sa asar ho raha hai.
You and I know, but it’s worth repeating,
It’s love that’s got our hearts beating.
Your greatest fan is confused and distraught,
Love has had a strange effect on the heart.
As cheesy and predictable as it is, Sarfarosh is one of the best films of the 90s, and a great early try of the current era of Indian films to make a very genre focussed film. All the songs of the film were good, but more in keeping with the tone of the story and the characters involved. But Jo haal dil ka is a beautiful little anomaly that I’m glad the film-makers had the questionable taste and the good sense to put in.