In 1996, Sunil Shetty had more than half a dozen film releases. They were all likely action/revenge/angry-young-man pot-boilers of various kinds, and Shastra was one of them. I’ve never seen the film, from what I can remember, and it is difficult to remember because so many of these very similar products were released in the mid-90s that telling them apart does become a challenge unless you’re a die-hard fan. Shastra was very much a revenge plot, peppered with all the other comedic and romantic elements as a requirements rather than a necessity. Thankfully one such requirements were songs and it gave us the very memorable Kya ada kya jalwe tere Paro.
Kya ada kya jalwe tere Paro is a song where a bunch of “rowdies”, as they would be labelled in the South, woo and chase around a pretty girl on the streets, mostly as backup for their leader, our hero with the weird fashion sense and always sporting a coloured handkerchief. The idea of this sort of group wooing by boys and men on the street was actually a fairly new development in Hindi films at the time. As recently as 5-6 years prior to that, the only occasion for a street gang to accost a woman on screen would have been an unpleasant one, to be solved by a hero coming in to save the damsel in distress. But this was 1996, and the influx of South Indian cinematic talent and ideas was well on its way, people had already seen and been flummoxed by Prabhu Deva and his band of misfits in the song Urvashi, and songs of wooing would change accordingly. Also, Amir Khan‘s roll as the street-smart Munna in Rangeela the previous year had cemented the image of what lovable rogues should dress like, and the never as well executed effect can be seen in this song too.
At this point, Sunil Shetty was merely stretching his comedic legs, having mostly played macho bash-em-up heroes, but this song is definitely on the comedic side and while nor the most graceful of creatures, he does demonstrate good comic timing, which would come in handy in many of his later roles as he diversified. Somy Ali appears as the object of his exaggerated affections, mostly I take it, as some sort of bid to make jealous the token heroine of the piece Anjali Jathar. I guess this could be considered one of the proto item-songs of the time, since Somy Ali was a guest appearance, having acted with Sunil Shetty in Director Sanjay Khanna‘s previous film. The cinematography by Najeeb Khan is colourful, eclectic and shows many touches of artistry while pushing the comedic aspect. The dance choreography by Ahmed Khan is quite adventurous, trying very much to be in the same realm of creativity as something from Prabhu Deva while pulling back a lot to accommodate the limits of the actors. The hero is slap-stick, the femme fatale is sultry, and the heroine is comically confused, all according to plan.
The song and music itself stick in memory because they are very typical of the music of the times, strains of electronica mixed in with South Indian touches of the flute, along with a chorus, all in a pleasing, lilting melody. The music by Adesh Shrivastava is energetic and pleasing, and a younger Udit Narayan gives it his all during a time when he sang most of his most famous songs. His almost over-enthusiastic delivery of the song really works for the street-wise mood it is trying to set.
The words, like the rest of the song are very self-aware and camp. Penned by Shyam Raj, the lyrics are typical to the point of being parody, leaving us with such wonders as:
Tauba tera roop mere hosh uda le jaye,
Qatil teri jawaani, hai, kaun tujhe samjhaye,
Uff, yeh aankhen, uff, yeh baahein, tera hona dil yeh chahe.
Heavens! Your beauty steals away my senses,
Your youth is murderous, you wouldn’t get it without pretences,
Your eyes and embrace, bid me to be yours, free of defences.
Whether or not the film Shastra will stand the test of time, I think Kya ada kya jalwe tere Paro will remain a song of some classic status for a long time to come, especially to those of us who grew up when it was new. It is a proud product of its times, so much so that it chooses to end with a paraphrasing of the popular advertising slogan for Pepsi in India at the time. “Yehi hai right choice, Paro.”