Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Diachronous Delving into Dhan Te Nan

What delighted me even more than hearing Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘Dhan Te Nan’ for the first time is the realization that the music director has to be of the same vintage as I am. Why? Because I instantly recognized the sound-meme from my youth that he so cleverly channeled into his song for the forthcoming ‘Kaminey’.


If you are my age and grew up soaked in Hindi films, you know this sound. The first cousin to the more ubiquitous- ‘Dhishum!’ , which, as any fule kno, is the only technically correct foley for a punch, a box, a kick, a swipe, or (as we say in pure Gujarati) a fight. On the other hand, 'Dhann-ta-dhaaaan!!!', as any fule kno, is the loud background music exclamation! when the hero dramatically breaks into the villain’s den to save the heretobefore kidnapped heroini from a fate worse than… chiz chiz chiz.


In big, bold letters. In flashing lights, in neon. The audio equivalent to Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Whaam!’ (1963). As kids we must have made this sound in a variety of settings, telling the picchur ka shtory the morning after, or even catching a friend during chor-poliss- ‘Dhann-ta-dhaaaan!!!’ Gotcha!

Was it Bhardwaj, or Gulzar that did not get the sound just right? Dan Te Nan is a bit pale when written down, although its quite fine when sung, just like the sound we kids used to make. This dilution is not surprising- we’ve heard it done before. Rajesh Khanna used this as a dramatic counterpoint in Bawarchi (1972), but in an almost lisped ‘Dhat-ta-raa!’ which even we, as frigging seven year olds, for God’s sake, knew wasn’t the right way to say it.

This is a sound that needed to emerge full blown from within, deep within, rising up from the rectum, through the digestive tract, up the esophagus until its escaped with a roar: ‘Dhann-ta-dhaaaan!!!’ (dha-na-dha-nan)

Well, what to do? We are the people our parents warned us about.