Karan Johar has mostly garnered flak for his larger-than-life movies about the rich. However, he's not credited enough for giving us some fabulous songs. Here’s how Dhindhora Baje Re is the latest...
Karan Johar's tryst with Bollywood song-and-dance routines
Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh unveiled the fourth song from their upcoming Karan Johar film – Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani in Kolkata on Monday. After giving us a love ballad in Tum Kya Mile, a naughty and fun dance number in What Jhumka?, and a heartbreak song in Ve Kamleya, team RRKPK now comes with a celebratory festive song in Dhindhora Baje Re.
Karan Johar’s tryst with Bollywood song-and-dance sequences
Set against the backdrop of Durga Puja celebrations, it is only apt that Dhindhora Baje Re was launched in the city of joy – Kolkata – also known for its festive fervour during Durga Pujo celebrations. While Karan Johar has mostly garnered flak for making larger-than-life movies about the rich and elite with a lot of attention to detail being given to the costumes, production design, and a whole lot of drama, we probably haven’t given enough credit to him/his movies for giving us some amazing music albums with fabulously choreographed songs that are much more than a typical Bollywood song-and-dance sequence.
Dhindhora Baje Re is the latest addition to the list of songs like Bole Chudiyan (Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham), Rock N Roll Soniye (Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna), Radha and Disco Deewane (Student of the Year), The Break Up Song and Cutie Pie (Ae Dil Hai Mushkil) that feature most of the cast members (if not all) from the respective films (My Name is Khan being the only exception, perhaps). When Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’s little Anjali tells Rahul, “Aap toh jaante ho ke mujhe singing aur dancing ka kitna shauq hai” before going to the summer camp in Shimla, we half suspect that she’s actually echoing the director’s fondness for the Bollywood song-and-dance routines, setting the expectations of the viewers right from his directorial debut. This is not to say that such songs didn’t exist in Hindi films earlier, but if Aditya Chopra brought some scale to such songs with Mehendi Laga Ke Rakhna (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge), KJo took inspiration from it for Saajan Ji Ghar Aaye (Kuch Kuch Hota Hai) and took it a notch higher with Say Shava Shava and Bole Chudiyan in K3G.
Not just another singing-and-dancing routine
The interesting thing to note about these songs would be that they not just assemble the huge ensemble cast together, even if it is by way of a dream sequence in Say Shava Shava and Bole Chudiyan, but also convey the relationship dynamics of the cast in a very intriguing manner. Consider how Koi Mil Gaya song in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai not only brings the protagonists together in a peppy and upbeat college dance number but also acts as a catalyst in Kajol’s Anjali realising the fact that Shah Rukh Khan’s Rahul and Rani Mukerji’s Tina, in-fact, fancy each other.
In K3G, while Hrithik Roshan’s Rohan is thinking about all his family members living together happily ever after in the middle of Bole Chudiyaan (think the entry of Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan in the song), SRK’s Rahul is dreaming about what it would be like if Kajol’s Anjali is a part of the Raichand family (mentally sings, 'Dekha tainu pehli pehli baar ve...') in Say Shava Shava song.
Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna’s Rock N Roll Soniye, while on the surface is a fun, party number; it is replete with sequences, dance moves, and lyrics (think ‘Yeh patthar ke sanam, inko kiska hai gham...’) that highlight the strained relationship dynamics of both the leading pairs (SRK & Preity Zinta, Abhishek Bachchan & Rani Mukerji).
By the end of the extremely popular Radha song in Student of the Year, Alia Bhatt’s Shanaya ends up taking the sahi wala galat rasta (the correct wrong way) that was suggested by Sidharth Malhotra’s Abhimanyu in order to get her boyfriend Rohan (Varun Dhawan) back. Even the party anthem of the film - Disco Deewane exposes how the relationship dynamics among all the friends have drastically changed because of the Triathlon competition.
In Ae Dil Hai Mushkil's song Cutie Pie, Ranbir Kapoor’s Ayan is desperately trying in vain to match up to Alizeh (Anushka Sharma)’s love interest-turned-fiancé Ali (Fawad Khan). The lyrics even say, "Devdas ki tarah afsos woh kare..." (while he laments like Devdas). The point being, these larger-than-life song and dance sequences in KJo’s world aren’t always just for indulgence. More often than not, they reveal a lot about the characters and their true self in tricky situations. Eventually, they end up serving a larger purpose, sometimes in a subtle and sometimes in an in-your-face manner.
Is Dhindhora Baje Re any different?
The latest offering Dhindhora Baje Re from Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani seems to fall in the latter category, what with Rocky and Rani sort of declaring that they stand united for their love against a visibly infuriated Jaya Bachchan. The Sanjay Leela Bhansali influence in the opulent set, production design, and multiple top shots is evident, and so are the subtle hat-tips to Dola Re Dola and Kaahe Chhed Chhed songs (Devdas) in the choreography (take a bow, Vaibhavi Merchant!). While SLB stuck to the typical Bengali white sarees with red borders for her leading ladies in Dola Re Dola, Johar opts for an all-red colour palette in Dhindhora Baje Re. While on the surface, the choice of red appears to be catering to aesthetics, it also becomes important when one thinks about the emotions at display in the song.
While Rocky and Rani are, in the words of Ranveer, “Rebels in love” reveling in love, Rocky’s grandmother (portrayed by Jaya Bachchan) is angry with them for reasons that we’ll get to know upon the release of the film. Our best guess is that she’s not really happy at the fact that her grandson has been accepted whole-heartedly by the Bengali family of Rani (as the visuals of the song suggest) while she’d planned to ensure that their prem kahaani bites the dust (This ain’t a spoiler guys, it’s pretty much what she says in the film’s trailer).
So, the prominent emotions at work in the song are those of love and anger – both are typically represented by the colour red. Much like other songs in Johar’s directorials, Dhindhora Baje Re too, on the surface, is a festive, celebratory, high-on-energy dance number that brings its entire ensemble cast together, but also highlights the strained emotional undercurrents in the characters at the moment.
Going by the way Jaya Bachchan walks out of the aarti during the Durga Pujo celebrations, we’re expecting nothing less than an explosion in the following scene. It remains to be seen what’ll happen when the stars align (or not) in Karan Johar’s upcoming musical extravaganza on July 28th, 2023.
(All images, unless mentioned otherwise, via Twitter)