Those who know Urdu/Hindi, even if not very well conversant with Urdu/Hindi/Persian poetry, can appreciate the beauty of Shayari (meaning poetry in Urdu). These two-liners from the three great Urdu/Persian poets (who are from different time periods in history), when juxtaposed, create a beautiful flow and is truly a treat for the mind! They all talk of God’s presence, where one seems to aptly respond to the other.
A mere transliteration into English prose will kill the magic! I did however find a beautiful poetic translation here, along with many others, that a poetry lover must check out! (I did change a couple words form the original translation, as they sounded more apt to me).
I happened to watch Jodha Akbar in the theater for more than once. Rather, I chose to. I liked a lot of things about the film, especially the song “khwaja mere khwaja“. Interestingly, it turns out that the track wasn’t originally meant for the movie; AR Rahman had composed it sometime back for himself to listen to. A regular visitor of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti shrine for a decade and a half, Rahman agreed to let Ashutosh Gowarikar use it in the film “only if gets the respect it deserves”.
In the film, a group of white clad Sufi mystics from Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti sing this song to Emperor Akbar in the open amidst burning torches. As words of praise for the saint start pouring with the gripping beat, it enchants the audience. The chorus and the singing elevates the listeners to their higher selves. Young emperor Akbar’s uninterrupted fixed look reflects his intense involvement. As the song progresses, the seated group of singers who are now completely in a trance rise and with one hand raised, start dancing still singing Khwajaji’s name. As the chanting increases, Akbar shuts his eyes for a moment and as if in a flash, slips into a divine trance, rises from his seat oblivious to the people around him and joins the dancing singers! With one hand raised with his gaze towards the sky, he loses touch with this world to enter a higher one, which is the hallmark of the song!
Composed an sung by Rahman himself, “khwaja mere khwaja” certainly generates a strong spiritual sentiment in its listeners. Once you listen to it, the song keeps playing in your mind for a long time. In the film, it tries to successfully establish a strong spiritual inclination as part of Akbars character which possibly lends him wisdom while making several significant decisions in the capacity of an Emperor who is still young. I was appalled to notice how some viewers ridiculed Akbars reaction. Probably this cross-section is not conditioned to think or expect beyond the mediocre confines set by the commerical Indian cinema. So they dont know how to handle it. According to me, this song has set a remarkable precedent for filmakers now and in time to come.