The smoky confines of bars, the garish halls of old brothels, and such houses of mostly ill-repute have long been a great excuse for Indian films to break into song. In the old days, this on-screen responsibility was as likely to be handled by one of the main cast of actresses, as it was to include specialist dancers brought in purely for the scene. Today it’s often the perfect excuse to sneak in a guest appearance by a starlet in an item song, as is the case with Sajna ve sajna from Chameli, released in 2003.
Mahek Chahal acted in her own films both before and after this appearance as a dancer in a bar. What’s interesting about the song in the movie is that the story continues and moves forward while the song cuts in and out of the proceedings. Feels much more authentic to things happening in a dance bar this way, although such colourful and well-coordinated dancers, all choreographed by Saroj Khan are unlikely to turn up in the average bar. That’s movie magic for you.
Sajna ve sajna is visually stunning, with some very solid cinematography by Aseem Bajaj. He really uses the half-darkness, punctuated by coloured lights, of the space to good effect here. Kareena Kapoor and Rahul Bose continue to play their roles as a prostitute and stranded businessman respectively with the sincerity that made Chameli quite a pleasure to watch. And to top it all off, the whole thing is set in a place called Sweety Bar. Classic.
What really makes this song one to remember though, is Sunidhi Chauhan‘s unmistakable voice and Sandesh Shandiliya‘s wonderfully strange mix of traditional music and electronica. Irshad Kamil‘s heightened martyr-of-love lyrics add well to the atmosphere.
Tujhe bhar loon apni aankhon mein, in aankhon ko main kholoon na
Kholoon apni baaton main, phir is duniya se boloon na
Let me devour you with my eyes, so I may never open them again,
When I’m lost in our conversation, the world will speak to me in vain
Not much more to say about this song. Just watch, listen and enjoy.