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Feature: Revisiting 'Challa' – the lilting melody in Yash Chopra’s 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan'

Jab Tak Hai Jaan was special. It was Yash Chopra’s last film before he announced his retirement. The biggest irony in the title of the film was that unfortunately, the celebrated director died just a couple of weeks before its release, and even though ultimately the film itself disappointed, there were a few scenes in the in which bore the classic filmmaker’s stamp. Of them, one of the highlights was the song Challa, a quirky, peppy number filmed on Samar (Shah Rukh Khan), shot on the streets of London, and it’s about this song that our guest columnist Sahil Jon shares his thoughts on:

SRK makes quite the impact in Challa

When it was announced that the late Yash Chopra was going to collaborate with AR Rahman and Gulzar for his final directorial venture, excitement was understandably unparalleled. The first glimpse of Challa was in the following teaser (at 00:53) and I remember constantly replaying the clip just to hear the guitar intro of the song. The intro has a magically stripped back effect which only Rahman is capable of creating. Rabbi Shergill has sung wonderfully and Gulzar saab has penned a beautiful set of lyrics. What makes this song extra special however is the absolutely brilliant music video shot in London. When the full trailer for Challa came out and I saw SRK running around Trafalgar Square with his guitar, I was blown away at how beautiful the two [London and SRK] look together. Note the very last verse when SRK skips through Waterloo Bridge and jumps down on to Southbank -  his comfort with the local street performers is a joy to behold.

The content of the song is plain and simple: “Challa ki lab da phire?” (Translated as “What does this crazy wanderer seek?”) is the opening line of the song and it comes with great irony. London is a city of ranging culture and ethnicity. Thousands upon thousands of people grace the city every day with their presence; yet amongst so many people, Samar (SRK’s character) is searching for something, someone. This song is ultimately a light hearted search for that ‘something’ he is looking for. Samar’s busking is received well by the tourists’ around him and he feels at home in London; something that SRK has recently tweeted about. Challa is not just a song, but a form of motivation, inspiration and escapism. Challa teaches you that whenever you’re feeling lost, a great option for relief is to grab a bag, jump on a tube and head to London. It’s a song that promotes London’s beauty, culture and opportunistic nature. If all goes down the drain, then come to London and enjoy being part of a crowd that doesn’t care who you are, where you’re from and what you do. You never know what you might see, or find. You see, I myself have never really felt a part of a specific friendship group or clique. Instead, I try to think of everyone around me as one friend, even strangers. I guess I also feel like I belong to everyone, but no one belongs to me (“Challa tu sab da, Challa tera koi nahi”) and this feeling is inspired by SRK’s apt portrayal as Samar Anand. It’s way too soon to call it that, but the way it’s going I wouldn’t be surprised if these lyrics determine Challa as my favourite song of all time.

Do you agree with Sahil? Let us know below. 

Video: ChallaJab Tak Hai Jaan

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