Anyone who’s ever seen and loved “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham” will agree that this iconic film has an equally iconic soundtrack. It remains perhaps my favorite Bollywood picture of all time not only because of the timeless story of love and family but also because of the songs that I committed to memory so long ago.
I remember listening to my copy of the CD over and over and watching the musical numbers repeatedly until I knew all the choreography to every song. And as I listened to them again recently, it was as if no time had passed at all and I was right back experiencing it as if for the first time. But these songs are best enjoyed when shared with friends.
So, join me and let’s take it back to 2001 for a moment and relive all the feelings the soundtrack gave us, as tomorrow marks the 15th anniversary of this iconic film (and music)!
“Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham”
The moment Lata Mangeshkar, “The Nightingale of Bollywood”, sang the first note, tears sprung to my eyes. It took everything in me to keep them from falling. The title track is so emotional, it’s like it goes right through my soul. I can just picture the scene when Jaya Bachchan’s character Nandini instinctively senses the return of her eldest son and how powerful it was in showing a mother’s love and intuition. (Side note: I do love me some Jaya Bachchan, she is adorable in this movie.)
This song has such a beautiful meaning behind it about the relationships within families and the strong bonds shared, so it’s an immediate favorite. And of course, after all this time, I still know all the lyrics to sing along. I don’t understand or speak a word of Hindi but I know this song as if it were a sacred verse of scripture, and that speaks to its depth and power.
Le jaa le jaa, dil le jaa le jaa!
Now, this is my JAM! I was obsessed with this song! I knew all the choreography and even performed it in high school during our annual multicultural show. It’s just so fun and uplifting. When this song comes on at desi parties, it’s bound to get everyone dancing. I love the beat and whole vibe of it. It’s one of those songs that bring joy whenever you hear it which gives it a special role in both the movie and my heart. And at the end, the reprised “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham” line that connects it back to the title track and theme of the movie is such a nice touch.
“You Are My Soniya”
Another fun jam! It’s not my favorite but it’s a very cute little love song. Heart eyes all the way for Rohan and Pooja! It’s upbeat and catchy and just makes for a good time whether you’re listening with friends or having a solo dance party.
“Suraj Hua Maddham”
This is such a sweet, slow-burning love song. If you thought Rohan and Pooja had a beautiful love story, they have nothing on Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol’s Rahul and Anjali. Those two make my heart flutter and the visuals in the movie of them singing this song together in harmony is just perfect. I mean have you ever seen or heard anything more precious? And the fact their their relationship was initially forbidden just adds to the drama and angst of their enduring love. Ugh. FEELINGS!
“Say Shava Shava”
Okay, enough mushy stuff. This song is just fun, fun, fun! It’s from the scene where Amitabh Bachchan’s Yash Raichand is celebrating his birthday and has everyone getting down on the dance floor. This scene juxtaposed with the one of Anjali and her friends having their own celebration elsewhere shows the contrast of the two families and sets up the plotline of forbidden love to come.
“Yeh Ladka Hai Allah”
A very enjoyable song, this one is another between Rahul and Anjali gushing about each other. Seriously, those two are so sweet together. It’s also a great one to dance to and helps unfold the pair’s blossoming love story in a vibrant and cheery way.
“Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (Sad)”
Yep. As if this song wasn’t heart-wrenching already in its original form, there’s a SAD version. Actually, there are two sad versions. Two! They’re essentially the same except for the artist singing it. Much slower and more somber, each version lasts just under two minutes which is short for a Bollywood song but is no less powerful as it reiterates the movie’s theme. To be honest, I just have to hear Lata Mangeshkar sing the “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham” bit and I dissolve in tears.
“Deewana Hai Dekho”
Back to Pooja and Rohan! This is the first song they sang to each other when they first met as adults, not realizing they knew each other as children, and it’s just as cute as the two of them are together. I found myself amused by spoken word interjections that were supposed to be cool back then but apart from that, it’s really catchy. What I also love about this is Rohan’s impressive dance moves during his verses!
“Soul of K3G”
This is exactly what it says it is, the soul of K3G. It includes instrumental bits from the other previous songs blended together in a lovely melody. And again, ending with the signature “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham” line, it is all tied together beautifully. And I must say, Lata Mangeshkar was certainly a big part of this movie and its soundtrack’s soul in lending her talents which are immortalized in these songs.
The final song on the soundtrack is the hymn to the motherland, India. It’s quite fitting because as far across the globe as each family member has traveled in their lives, they ultimately return home to India where their roots lie and where their families are reunited and truly joined together as one at last. It’s touching and leaves a strong message with the listener that there’s no place like home.
Looking back on K3G’s 15th anniversary, there’s no doubt that the tunes are just as fun, catchy, moving and meaningful as ever. In my opinion, this soundtrack has become a classic in Bollywood history. Each song brings something special to the movie and its overall theme and, as time passes, evokes wonderful memories for those who have a strong connection to the film like I do.
“Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham” will always hold a special place in my life. It reminds me of many precious moments spent with my family watching it repeatedly when we were still new immigrants to the US and it was one of our strongest ties to our culture that we held on to in a foreign country. And this beautiful soundtrack, which makes us feel everything from love and joy to sorrow and sadness, exemplifies the power of music and the role it plays in art and film and our very lives.
Miranda Deebrah is an Indo-Guyanese writer and storyteller based in New York. Proud of her roots and heritage, she is an advocate for South Asian voices not yet heard and the stories not yet told. She is passionate about the arts and their ability to create change in the world and hopes to make her own contributions through her work. Her interests include traveling, reading biographies, spending evenings at the theater, reenacting choreography from Lady Gaga’s music videos, taking flying trapeze lessons, and making all kinds of magic happen.
September 14, 2023September 14, 2023 3min readBy Marium Abid
Pairs are made in heaven, and who better than the “Made in Heaven” expert crew to bring them together? Gracing our screen after three years, Zoya Akhtar’s brainchild “Made in Heaven” returned to Prime Video on Aug. 10 with seven episodes.
Set six months after the first season, Tara and Karan (played bySobhita Dhulipala andArjun Mathur) return with their original crew to plan magnificent weddings.
Although grand weddings are at the forefront of the show, there are multiple subplots to keep you hooked — maybe even shed a tear or two. The crux of the storyline is still Tara and Karan’s lives as we see them on a rollercoaster of emotions trying to manage their erratic personal lives.
Keeping true to its spell-binding depiction of weddings, love and relationships, every episode explores a challenge that is deep-rooted in South Asian norms and behaviors. With Kabir Batra’s (played byShashank Arora) voiceover — who’s also the photographer and videographer for the Made in Heaven company — this season makes us question whether the core of a marriage is love or flamboyance.
The season-opening leaves you mesmerized and wanting to fall in love; the extravagant set and a glamorous display of high fashion are true inspirations for whenever there’s a wedding in the family. The artistic works Sabyasachi, Gaurav Gupta, Tarun Tahiliani, and many more, steal the show; their trendsetting designs are a sight for sore eyes.
While this season brings forth many new faces as supporting characters, such as Dia Mirza and Sanjay Kapur, we also have some new members joining the original crew of “Made in Heaven.”
Mona Singh enters as Bulbul, wife of Jauhari (played by Vijay Raaz). She is introduced as a domineering auditor but as the show progresses, we witness the many layers of her character unravel; including that of a strong matriarch. One of the most compelling aspects of the show is her fight to save her son — who gets involved in a case of school harassment — and her and Jauhari’s approach and sensitivity toward the situation.
With her outstanding acting, Singh breathes life into the character. She exudes the panache of a businesswoman while perfectly depicting the complexities of a strong woman with a violent past — the mystery of which we learn as we move toward the end of the show.
Bulbul, however, is not the only new character on the show. Played byTrinetra Haldar Gummaraju, Meher is a trans woman in search of love and companionship. With Meher’s character, the makers have brilliantly opened the doors for more inclusive stories to come to the fore.
While each episode is a different story tackling some of the greatest shortcomings of our society, the lives of Tara and Karan remain at the center of it all; their characters evolving with every new challenge that is thrown at them. We see Tara “drop” from her previous known status of being a Khanna to just being Tara. Her story is one of identity, ownership and self-discovery; Karan’s, on the other had, is that of grief as we see him grapple with finding acceptance and drug abuse. Their struggles add substance to their characters navigating the privileged world; gravely reminding us of all that’s flawed.
It might feel a bit preachy and overwhelming at times, especially when two issues are being addressed in one episode. But in the end, it all makes sense…thanks to the extraordinary acting, marvelous direction, opulent sets and impeccable styling. “Made in Heaven” season 2 has to be your next binge-watch.
“How could the British bring the Indians without the cows?”That’s one of the jokes you’re very likely to hear at comedian Priya Guyadeen’s show. In fact, the 53-year-old just wrapped up a set of shows with her troupe: Cougar Comedy Collective. The Guyanese-born comic spearheads the group of mostly women of “a certain age,” as she puts it.
She says the group was formed in 2021 but she started dishing out jokes back in 2020 during the pandemic, over Zoom. She was always labeled the “funny one” in her family and decided to take her jokes to a virtual open mic, hosted by her friend, where she says failure was less daunting.
Cut to 2023, and the comic was able to take her show on the road. Guyadeen and her fellow performers recently hit the East coast for a set of shows called “Cougars on the Loose!” The shows even featured two male comics.
Guyadeen’s comedy routines touch on her Indo Guyanese background, highlighting stereotypes and a clash of cultures. In one of her jokes, she tells her audience that her Guyanese mom is bad with names when she introduces her white boyfriend, Randy, and he gets called Ramesh.
Out in the Bay Area — where she spends her days now — she tries to connect the sparsely Caribbean population to her jokes.
That includes talking about the 1978 Jonestown Massacre which had ties to San Francisco and ended in Guyana. She uses this as a reference point — trying to connect her audience to her background with historical context. She says this does come with its challenges, though.
The single mom also practices clean jokes. Once she finishes up her daily routine with her eight-year-old son and day job as a project manager for a biotechnology company, she tries to find time to write her material.
It’s a balancing act. I’m like the day job-Priya for a few hours or for a chunk of time. And then I’ve got to put on my comedian hat and do that for a period of time because with comedy, I’m not just performing. I’m also producing, managing the shows, booking talent, seeking venues.
Though it’s not easy, she says she’s learning through it all — the business side of comedy and discipline.
Guyadeen, who’s lived in Brazil and Canada, says her young son really contributes to her comedy. A lot of her material focuses on jokes for parents, and single parents like herself, because she feels:
[We live] in a society that doesn’t really create a support system for single parents.
Her nonprofit, Cougar Comedy Collective, was born out of all the great reception she received. She noticed a “niche market” of women in their 50s who loved to get dressed up and come out to the shows to hear jokes that related to their own lives that aren’t typically touched on. These were jokes about menopause, aging and being an empty nester. Guyadeen says her nonprofit,
…bring[s] talent together in our age group to celebrate this time of life; celebrate this particular juncture in a person’s life.
As Guyadeen continues her comedic journey, she says she hopes she’ll be a role model for other Caribbean women to follow their dreams despite their age. She also hopes to see more Caribbean people carving out their space in the entertainment industry.
Featured Image of Priya Guyadeen taken by Elisa Cicinelli Photography
As a South Indian American, I am aware of how non-brown Americans view the Indian film industry. One word: Bollywood. Bollywood and the South Indian film industry has always been lumped into the same category as Bollywood, despite the diversity. For Indians, South India is obviously different from North India, but non-brown people assume it would all be the same. This extends beyond Indian cinema; feeding into assumptions regarding other aspects of culture like language, food, and so on. People tend to assume all Indians speak Hindi or eat tikka masala at home rather than trying to understand the diversity of Indian culture. With time, especially with the help of social media, there was more accessibility to understanding the differences among these cultures, yet nothing truly spread across the globe. Then came “RRR.”
“RRR” is a Telugu film from Tollywood. This South Indian film has become a worldwide sensation with its incredible visual effects, captivating plot, and catchy music. I was blown away by the reception this film got in the United States, especially from American film critics who were all praise. What impressed me the most was how more Americans clarified it was not a Bollywood film, and differentiated it as a Tollywood film. The number of people taking the time to learn the difference between Tollywood and Bollywood might seem simple, yet meaningful, nonetheless. South Indian films are incredibly underrated and are finally getting the attention they deserved. It is incredible to see the celebration surrounding the film and what it represents and means to this community and how we get to share it with the world. The hype was real, and then the awards season began.
The Golden Globes top the list of some of the major awards for television and film and it was amazing to hear that “RRR” had been nominated in two categories for this award. Funnily enough in my own world, it aired on my birthday. Then came the moment when Jenna Ortega said “Naatu Naatu, RRR” and the song played as M.M. Keeravani approached the stage to accept his award. This song became the first Asian, not only Indian, song to win the Golden Globe for Best Original Song. The 80th Golden Globes saw many wins for the Asian community with films like “Everything Everywhere All At Once” and “RRR.” There is something beautiful about being South Indian in America and watching a South Indian song win an award in America on one’s birthday. There is a joy in getting to tell my friends, both brown and non-brown, about it and share the song, “Naatu Naatu,” with them. Sure it is Indian, but it is just a bit closer to home, and that closeness stands with a beautiful meaning. When it came to the Critics’ Choice Awards, it was touching to hear about how S.S. Rajamouli grew up with the encouragement of creativity and storytelling. It honestly inspired me to continue my own projects; I hope to see them prosper as well.
After the win at the Golden Globes, the Oscars became highly anticipated for the Indian community, especially when the nominations for Best Original Song were announced. Of course, when the familiar title appeared once again, a victory felt within grasp. “Naatu Naatu” had a couple of big moments at the Academy Awards ceremony: the performance and the win itself. The performance was introduced by the absolutely phenomenal actress, Deepika Padukone, who, too, is s South Indian. Her introduction of the song brought forward the context in which the tune takes place, that is during 1920 under the British colonization of India. She reminded all of us of how significant the song was along with its catchy beat. When it came to the announcement of who won Best Original Song, it was a first-of-its-kind victory given that it was the first time an Indian film won in this category. The speech made by M. M. Keeravani was beautiful as he sang to the tune of “Top of the World” with his own lyrics to take in the moment. It was certainly an extremely proud day to be Indian anywhere in the world, and especially to be a South Indian.
Seeing non-brown folks acknowledging the diversity of Indian culture has been beautiful to witness. The cultural pride of saying an Indian film, specifically a South Indian film, won the Oscar, a Golden Globe for Best Original Song and two Critics’ Choice Awards so far is an absolute joy. Seeing South Indian representation, especially during the awards season, is inspiring for brown creatives. This has been a time of great cultural pride in the South Indian community, and as a South Indian creative myself, I am honored to see it.
Photo Courtesy: Netflix