Monday, September 7, 2015

Dhan Te Nan (Kaminey)

(For best effect, I suggest you listen to Dhan-te-nan while reading this piece)

There is something about the mad energy of Dhan-te-nan that makes us all pump our fists in the air and go Dhan-te-nan with Shahid Kapoor and Chandan Roy Sanyal.

A little background first - Charlie (Shahid) and Chandan are both small-time crooks with big dreams - it's the city of dreams after all. Times are hard and becoming a bookie is the way to easy money. This is Charlie's one big dream - having enough dough so he can start betting on horses. And guess what? Today was Charlie's lucky day! He has just come unexpected across a huge bag of cocaine; which means he'll soon have enough money to start what he had always wanted to do. With luck and Laxmi both at his (and Chandan's) sides; high on dreams and coke; they go out to celebrate their good stars. And it is this infectious high that has translated so well on the screen (and the song).

Lyrics and Translation:
(Often I have tried to "translate" Gulzar's words and often I have ended up ruining them. So this time let's try this in a different way. I won't try to translate the words, I'll just give my take on them - my interpretation, if you will. This will mean two things - first, we will be saved the pain of seeing the lyrics ruined. And second, I will be able to add context whenever it's needed.)

Aa ja aa ja dil nichodein
Raat ki matki todein
Koi goodluck nikaalein
Aaj gullak to phodein

[[So Charlie has recently come across some money that'll set him up on the road to finally becoming a bookie and start betting on horses. What he needs now is luck - good stars, if you will. And he's ready to break open the sky for that piece of luck.]]

Dil dildara mera teli ka tel
Kaudi-kaudi paisa-paisa paise ka khel
 [[I must admit that this line always left me puzzled. I mean, what? Why would anyone's heart be like oil? And then I realized the answer is there in the very first line of the song "Aaja aaja dil nichodein". You see, like the "telis" used to squeeze the seeds till the last drop of oil came out; our Charlie needs every last bit of his heart's desire and luck to win at this game (of money).]]

Chal-chal sadkon pe hogi dhan-ten
Dhan-te-nan ta-na-na-na

[[Let's go and conquer the street! Dhan-te-nan!! Here we come, Mumbai!!!]]

Aa ja ke one-way hai ye zindagi ki gali ek hi chance hai
Aage hawa hi hawa hai, agar saans hai to ye romance hai

[[The only way to go in life is forward. We are losing time one second at a time and this life time is our only chance. The dream will only last as long as our breath does.]]

Yahi kahte hain, yahi sunte hain
Jo bhi jaata hai, jaata hai, wo phir se aata nahin

[[And this is what we keep hearing and what they keep saying - "That which is gone, is gone. It's not coming back." Aane waala pal, jaane waala hai / Ho sake to ismein, zindagi bita do, kal jo ye jaane waala hai]]

Koi chaal aisi chalo yaar abke samandar bhi pul pe chale
Phir tu chale uspe ya main chaloon shahar ho apne pairon tale

[[Le't's play a trick - let's do something so incredible that even the sea does our bidding. Let's be someone who the entire city looks up to.]]

Kai khabrein hain, kai kabrein hain
Jo bhi soye hain kabron mein, unko jagana nahin

[[Gulzar often uses the term "kabr" (graves) for people who are dead inside. Their bodies are like graves or tombs for their dead souls. Here again - The world is full of dull and dead people. Let's not wake them up - what business do they have in this vibrant and thriving city of ours!]]

Aaj aaja kal nichodein, raat ki matki todein

[[Let's squeeze every bit of tomorrow out of today and go out and go dhan-te-nan on the streets]]


  1. How can someone be so amazing .. :-) I believe,a fast disco number like this, no one can perform such an in-depth interpretation n elucidation other than you..Hats off to you.. Keep posting :-)

  2. Stumbled across this blog today awesome. !
    The verse about the sea over the bridge also talks about them walking over the water and the city being under their feet...nice!

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  4. Glad i found u

  5. Superb as the post is, the best part is the first line:
    (For best effect, I suggest you listen to Dhan-te-nan while reading this piece).
    It really would have been half as fun if this crazy song was not playing when reading this post.

    Your posts in this blog are gems. Great work.

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  7. I want to read all your blogs ... You are amazing ... I am also a huge fan of Gulzar .


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