Prose in praise of AR

“Thank God its Friday? Whoever came up with that phrase?”, he asked himself one more time. It had been a rather stressful day. He couldn’t remember when Thursday had ended and where Friday began. The date line faded amidst cross-country conference calls; Phone calls that tried to put out a major fire and retain a major customer. The day and the work week was thankfully over – only embers and mild embarrassment remained from the situation. He dragged his heavy legs to the car standing alone in the parking lot.  After tossing his trusty bag on the passenger seat, he eased the car into the deserted streets and finally on to the highway.

Ian Britton Smooth sailing for a full five minutes and then a sea of red; Brake lights everywhere. He was too tired to  play the lane switching game. He just settled his right foot on the brake and stared intently at the license plate of the truck in front of him. “Maybe I’ll call someone and while away the time”, he thought to himself. The cell phone was in the bag that was just out of his reach. He tried leaning towards his bag which inadvertently made the car move forward a little. He panicked and gave up on that effort. Radio – at least I can have a one way conversation – he mused and switched on the talkathon. Three different favorite stations were cribbing over the economic downturn. The music stations had all synched up on advertisements. Is the iPod there? – he glanced at the coffee holder. Hooray for little mercies – there it was the 2 GB freebie he had got two years ago through a friend. It still played all right but looked like it had spent some time under the car’s wheels. It still played all right – that was the key.  He had purchased an album the beginning of the week and hadn’t bothered to listen to even one song.

Delhi 6

Rahman was everywhere the past two weeks. He was quietly showing up at the Golden Globes, BAFTA and a few other award shows that seemed to have been put together for the first time. Rahman had already won in every one of those award shows. That warmed his heart a little bit. “Good for him. Jai ho!” he passed a mental note of appreciation to AR. He randomly chose a song from the album and continued staring intently at the slow moving traffic. A drop of rain splattered dramatically across the windshield. Water Drops 4555 (5) The first of the conquerors staking claim on a new land. Will more come? He leaned and looked up at the sky. The dark clouds, if they were there, were well camouflaged against the dark sky. A few more drops now gave company to the pioneering drop. He went back to staring at the brake lights.  The song was ‘Dil gira dafathan’ – according to the marquee in the player. – and it was playing unobtrusively in the background. Another new playback singer for sure – he thought to himself – maybe the joke that Rahman walks down the streets in disguise and picks random people to sing his songs has some truth in it. What IS Dafathan anyway? These Hindi songs are getting to sound more foreign than Desi – he lamented man hi man. Dil gira Dafathan – The heart fell Dafathan? - maybe Dafathan is the squishy sound a bloody heart makes when it is dropped to the floor – he chuckled at his own gross humor. His mirth was cut short by stronger signals reaching his brain via the ear drums. Wait a minute… this was actually good. He clicked the relevant button to make the song play back from the beginning.



The music evoked all sorts of memories for him. The first time the strands of Roja thrilled his senses was an evergreen time – he was on a picnic with his high school friends soaking in the beauty of Manjolai hill station. They hadn’t stopped playing the movie’s songs for the rest of the academic year. He mulled on his friends from what seemed like a previous life. That year was a transition in many ways – end of school life – moving out of the house – responsibility kicking its way in – new music from a newcomer.

He broke away from his reverie. The song that had consumed his car was now in repeat mode and had started playing from the beginning again. As if on cue, the traffic started moving with the crescendo of the instruments. Will the first strands of the guitar in this song inspire a new generation as the ones from Ilaiyaraja’s “Sendhoorapoove” did for a previous one? Without a visual aid, this particular song, dil gira dafathan, somehow triggered images of the song “En vaanile ore ven nila” - specifically the slogan “Music the life giver” from a carefree Rajinikanth’s T-shirt flashed across his inner eye. Thoughts of content and hope warmed his soul as he continued his journey home – to loved ones – to a weekend of music and relaxation and of course the Oscars. Thank God its Friday!


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