Super-Special Song: O Paalanhaare


The very mention of O Paalanhaare from Lagaan brings to mind the soft chimes from A R Rehman’s composition. But before we dive into the beauty of the song, first, the basic information on this beautiful emotional devotional plea to the Almighty in Ashutosh Gowarikar’s brilliant film.

  • Song Name – O Paalanhaare
  • Movie – Lagaan
  • Singers – Lata Mangeshkar & Udit Narayan
  • Composer – A.R. Rahman
  • Lyricist – Javed Akhtar
  • Music Label – Sony Music Entertainment India Pvt. Ltd.
  • © 2001 Sony Music Entertainment India Pvt. Ltd.

Jo suno to kahein, Prabhuji hamri hai binati,

Dukhi jan ko, dheeraj do, hare nahin vo kabhi dukh se,

Tum nirbal ko raksha do, rah paaein nirbal sukh se

All that Bhuvan, the protagonist of the story, wants from the Almighty, is a life of pride, resiliency, dignity and peace for his village.

The entire ambience of the song makes it a quiet and introspective plea, not a rousing one. The still, moonlit night, with the entire populace gathered around the public temple, lends poignancy to the situation.

The picturization of the villagers —  at the crossroads of an event that will provide them with a much-coveted, desperately needed  respite or enslave them forever — coming together is stirring. Despite having done their best, they know the odds are heavily stacked against them, and they seek divine intervention after having giving it all they had.

The singers sing with a muted, humble enunciation that befits the situation. Lata Mangeshkar is a natural choice for the vocals of both, the protagonist’s mother and the heroine.

Lata Mangeshkar sang for both, the heroine and the mother

Udit Narayan sings with all his heart for Aamir Khan in the memorable magnum opus, Lagaan (2001).

Udit Narayan sang this with tremendous feeling

It is a righteous ask from the Almighty,  but the tone and tenor is genteel. Composer A R Rahman creates the mukhda without percussion and gets in a soft bell-chime and a restrained tabla in the antara to keep the words of the song in the fore-front. The lyrics, penned beautifully by script-writing great Javed Akhtar, are words strung with honesty and simple elegance. Interestingly, the word  nirgun  has been judiciously used to convey an all-encompassing supernatural force.

O Paalanhare remains a beautiful song from a memorable soundtrack of the present millennium. Enjoy it here in its complete creative beauty – as a great song in its beautiful, highly effective picturisation.

One must end on a wistful note about the near complete disappearance of this genre — devotional, prayer songs — from our movies. Opening one’s heart – whether in isolation or in a group — in front of the Almighty has always been a significant event in the story-lines of great movies of the past. This movie situation has always resulted in some of the finest songs.

The number of bhajans in the last three decades or so has dipped exponentially, it took a period drama – ironically, of the British Raj — to recreate such a situation.

A communion with the Almighty through music is a unique trait of our subcontinent, and one yearns for movies that will bring back such songs.

Courtesy Team REWIND (Twitter: @Rewind_hfm) a bunch of corporate professionals who have extended their passion for Hindi Film Music (HFM) to like-minded followers through a series of ongoing, interactive sessions entitled the Never Ending Discovery series to enable the inquisitive to enjoy music in a more informed fashion.

S D Burman – Never Ending Discovery: 

Don’t miss REWIND HFM’s upcoming S D Burman NED (Never Ending Discovery) Audio-Video workshop, in continuation of their monthly NED series to explore new and interesting facets about the great composer and singer Sachin Dev Burman. On Sunday, the 12th of November 2017, across three and a half hours from 5 pm to 8.30 pm at Celebration Sports Club Mini Banquet Hall, Garden No. 5, Lokhandwala Complex, Andheri (West) Mumbai 400053.

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