This Alien Tongue
I have never written about music. I don’t know how music critics do it. Describing the meter and taal and melody in the language of text seems redundant to me. They can describe the number of ingredients in a recipe and yet not show you how food was cooked, how it tasted to eat. The song chonchLadhiyan from Anurag Kashyap’s most recent film Manmarziyaan – written and sung by Amit Trivedi (female voice by Shellee) - has been looping dangerously in my head. It is written in Punjabi. A language I don’t understand entirely, except for the word-origins which it shares with the more commonly spoken Hindi. The song expresses expanse. Just like my predictable Sunday jump into an open, cobalt sky. This expanse is woven into the daily claustrophobia of Amritsar and Jalandar. Two cities that feature in this song I don’t understand.
It says something about time - in stretching the current moment into the times of Porus and Alexander. Sikandar in Punjabi. Why were these warriors invoked in this song seemingly about love? Was it carving a geopolitical path into the heart? I don’t want to know. I am not asking for a translation. Even though I kind of am. I am not even seeking a celebratory separation of words and melody. The Punjabi pronunciation and Hinglish makes this melody what it is. And my not understanding it, makes this current obsession sweet. It further makes me think about thinking when there is no knowing involved. Knowing seems like a powerful evil in this loop of a hundred reruns of the same song. I don’t want to know the song. I concluded after three days of obsession. The unexplained is a sweet medicine.