There is a dark unspoken angst inside all of us. Some tame it well. In others it lurks near the surface. Scratch and it bursts.
Thank you Amit Trivedi, for giving vent to my angst. Over the hurts and aches that we accumulate. Over the slings and arrows of destiny.
I don’t do drugs. I don’t do tobacco. Heck, I’m among the few lucky ones who don’t have to do alcohol either.
I hear Chitta Ve, your new song from Udta Punjab, and I find release. The music enters me. It becomes a crescendo inside my head. I become one with the trans techno beat, experiencing the high of whatever you are trying to inject inside me.
And it releases. It’s cathartic.
Chitta Ve is in the tradition of Dum Maaro Dum.
You maaro dum with the classic every time you hear it. Even if you’ve never done dum in your life.
I’m a Kashmiri. Over the last few weeks, I have discovered that the magic woven by Amit Trivedi is best experienced if you are driving through the amazing roads of Kashmir, the songs playing loud on the car stereo.
I don’t understand all of Punjabi. Having lived for some years in Jammu helps. I can glean enough, and grin as the wacky lyric plays out.
I take the Mughal Road out of Srinagar, down Pir Ki Gali and Poonch, into the crisp, cold air. The song hits me.
As Shahid Mallya, Babu Haabi and Bhanu Pratap belt out the crazy Chitta Ve, you know you don’t have to get a synthetic high to get the chant rocking inside your head. Shellee gets the lyric just right, and Amit tots up the X factor with the dark and trippy music.
I play-replay the track over and over again, loud, as I negotiate the curves on the magnificent Mughal Road.
The caravan track used by Emperors Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan to go to Lahore is now a smooth, wide stretch. At a maximum height of approximately 3,500 meters over the Pir Panjal range, it is a thrill to drive on.
I’m at Bafliaz when I decide to stop driving for a while, and stretch myself. Looking at the expanse of the valley before me, I ruminate on the history of Bafliaz.
It’s named after Alexander’s horse, Bucephalus. Legend has it that he died here, and was buried in the Valley. Down the centuries, Bafliaz is the distorted form of Bucephalus.
I hit ‘Play’ for the next track. It’s Ud-Daa Punjab. I’m somewhat startled by the lyric.
Ander da kutta ajj kadiye Ha!/Agg duniya petrol chal suttiye Ha! (Let’s get the dog within us out today/The world is fire, let’s throw petrol on it).
Then I burst out laughing. The Dogri that I became familiar with at Jammu, and its closeness to first-cousin Punjabi, gives me a fair understanding of the coarse rap. I’m surprised to find it strangely addictive. The loud and edgy rap takes me through trance terrain.
Ud-Daa Punjab grips me. Vishal Dadlani and Amit sing it menacing and crude. The blackness has its own flavor, I find.
Rifle dikha ke mushayre lutiye/Upar se ajj kudd ke ajj tutiye ha! (We are gonna show our rifle power and steal the show/Let’s jump from the top and break today).
The rap is irreverent. It’s also cheeky and saucy. Playing Ud Daa Punjab on loop, I drive back over Mughal Road. If you love a song, you have get it roaring and pulsating inside you, before you let go of it.
There have been times when the romance of Mughal Road has enchanted me. Fascinated by the beauty and grandeur of a majestic waterfall on the way, Emperor Jehangir had named it Noori Chhamb after his queen Noor Jahan.
Sometimes, while on the Mughal Road, I think of how this dirt track began a dynasty’s love affair with a Valley – Kashmir.
I see Chingus written along the highway. This is where Emperor Jehangir’s intestines had to be buried after he died on the way. In Persian, ‘Chingus’ means ‘entrails’ or ‘intestines’.
The mountains are keepers of amazing stories.
Where am I going to drive next? Srinagar to Sonamarg. Kishtwar to Koker Nag via Sinthan Pass, Aru. Betaab Valley. Manasbal. Arhabal. Srinagar to Ladakh. In and out of Kashmir, I have a dozen options. And more.
I play the gloomy, grimy Dar Daa Daa Dassey. The music is heavy, raw and grungy. The song starts on a dark note. It becomes melancholic as the rap wears on.
And then, as I head back home, I settle for ‘Ik kudi, jida naa mohabbat/Ghum hai…’ (A pretty girl, whose name is mohabbat, has gone missing…)
We all could do with a little love in our lives. If music be the food of soul, play on.