Rang De Basanti (Colour it Saffron) is a very significant film from the Indian cinema repertoire, both for its aesthetic value and its lasting social impact. In its plot, the film draws parallels between Indian freedom fighters during colonial rule and a group of youngsters fighting for justice in independent India. In a masterfully written screenplay, the plot dwells on the real- world issues around excessive loss of Indian Air Force pilots’ lives due to technical snags in fighter plane, MIG 21. As the film progresses, it’s revealed that corrupt deals by politicians ensure faulty spares for the planes and endanger lives of pilots. The protest means used by the film included candle light vigils at the India Gate monument and civil society demonstrations publicized through media and word-of mouth

It is widely believed that Rang De Basanti paved way for aggressive questioning of political leadership by Indian civil society for their corrupt practices. Candle light marches and vigils at India Gate have since become a metaphor for public angst, as seen in Jessica Lall Murder Case, Priyadarshini Mattoo rape and murder,  Indian anti-corruption movement and, 2012 Delhi gang rape. I have always believed that films emerge from the culture we live in, rather than mere imagination and, they have (however limited) the power to bring in social transformations and Rang De Basanti is a shining case in point.

This evocative song written by former ad-man Prasoon Joshi is perhaps one of the most touching mother-child songs from Bollywood. A R Rahman’s earthy voice fits perfectly for it and along with legendary Indian singer, Lata Mangeshkar, it brings together Indian and Western notes in a very memorable way. The song is an imagined conversation of a mother and her dead son, ironically filmed over his funeral being conducted with state honors. She is anxiously asking her son to come back, knowing well he has laid down his life for his country and will never be back. The son on the other hand, is trying to convince her that he is in a better and beautiful place with all the comforts of heavan. As the song concludes, the son admits that even luxuries of paradise pale in comparison with his mother’s love. I have to admit, I always become teary-eyed at those lines as they bring a deep realization of a mother’s loss in this world and loneliness of a son’s soul in the next one. It’s a painful, yet poignant use of poetry.

Song Credits
Lyrics: Prasoon Joshi
Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, A R Rahman
Music: A R Rahman

Movie Credits
Directed by: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Starring:   Aamir Khan, Siddharth Narayan, Soha Ali Khan, Kunal Kapoor, R. Madhavan, Sharman Joshi, Atul Kulkarni and, Alice Patten
Produced by: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Ronnie Screwvala, P. S. Bharathi
Release: 26 January 2006

Original Lyrics-Luka Chhupi
Luka chuppi bahut huyi saamne aa ja naa
Kahan kahan dhoondha tujhe
Thak gayi hai ab teri maa
Aaja saanjh hui mujhe teri fikar
Dhundhla gayi dekh meri nazar aa ja na
Kya bataoon maa kahan hoon main
Yahan udney ko mere khula aasmaan hai
Tere kisson jaisa bhola salona
Jahan hain yahan sapno vala
Meri patang ho befikar udd rahi hai maa
Dor koi loote nahin beech se kaate na
Teri raah takey aankhiyaan
Jaane kaisa kaisa hoye jiyaa,
Dhire dhire aangan utre andhera, mera deep kahan
Dhalke suraj kare ishara chanda tu hai kahan
Mere chanda tu hai kahan
Kaise tujhko dikhaun yahaan hai kya
Maine jharne se paani maa tod ke piya hai
Guchcha guchcha kai khwabon ka uchal ke chuwa hai
Chaaya liya bhali dhoop yahaan hai
Naya naya sa hai roop yahan
Yahaan sab kuch hai maa phir bhi
Lage bin tere mujhko akela
Aaja saanjh hui mujhe teri fikar
Dhundhla gayi dekh meri nazar aa ja na

Translation of Luka Chhupi by bollywoodtarjuma

Enough of this hide and seek,
your mother is now tired and weak.
All day I have been searching,
now just come out of hiding.
Come home and calm my worry,
It’s dark and my vision is hazy
How do I explain maa?
Here I fly in open skies.
Here your bed time stories are alive,
dreamy, innocent and full of surprise.
I am soaring like a kite,
no one challenges my might
or restrains my flight.
My eyes are waiting and mind uneasy,
As darkness cloaks the porch gently,
I hunt for my life’s light with anxiety.
Sun has left but where is my moon,
please give a hint and come soon.
How do I show you this place maa?
I drink sweetness from waterfalls,
I touch bunches of dream-sprawls.
Warm sunshine peeps through shadows,
Everything is fresh with afterglows.
All comforts are here, just give a name,
but without you maa, nothing is the same.
All would be perfect here, if only
without you, I wasn’t so lonely.
Come home and calm my worry,
It’s dark and my vision is hazy