Song Sketch

Ghanan ghanan ghan – Tale of the Black Clouds – Lagaan

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It has been a long, hot summer and we are desperately waiting for the rain gods to shower their blessings (literally) on us. The time spent while waiting for the first drop of rain is painful and testing just like the one which a lover experiences while waiting for his beloved’s reply to his question. Sometimes, Mother Nature plays games with us and teases us by sending deep, dark clouds our way making us extremely happy. This happiness is short lived and the clouds just roar and bid us adieu quickly.

Something similar happens with the people of Champaner when they are in dire need of water and the black clouds just come and disappear leaving the entire village heartbroken. This song from the movie Lagaan (2001) depicts the hide n seek of clouds with the poor villagers. How excited they are to hear the sound of thunder, to witness the sight of the first dark clouds and finally to see those clouds tease them and eventually leave.

The excitement, the euphoria, the happiness followed by surprise, sadness and dejection is beautifully captured on camera through this song. All the actors (including the junior artists) seem to be living their characters and that is evident from their work.

It is composed by the genius A.R. Rahman and the lyrics are written by Javed Akhtar (He also received National Award for this song). The vocals have been provided by Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Shankar Mahadevan, Shaan Sukhvinder Singh and Kishori Gowarikar. Although the film is a period drama, the music is certainly timeless! Whether it is the style, the instruments, the lyrics or the vocals everything fits perfectly giving us this magnum opus of an album.

The usage of drums, dhols and dafli add to the flavor of the song giving us a feeling of the thunderous beginning of not only the song but also to the much awaited rainy season. The simple iktara seems to be chiming in between, reminding us of the earthiness of the song, along with other regular instruments. The song has different kinds of antras throughout; just like the rain, sometimes it drizzles and sometimes it pours.

Ghanan ghanan ghan
Ghanan ghanan ghan

Ghanan ghanan ghir ghir aaye badra
Ghane ghan ghor kaare chhaye badra
Dhamak dhamak goonje badra ke danke
Chamak chamak dekho bijuriya chamke
Mann dhadkaye badarwa
Mann dhadkaye badarwa
Mann mann dhadkaye badarwa

The dark clouds have covered the sky and are so thick that there is darkness all over. They are thundering and roaring like the drums which are played after a victory while the lightning is dancing to their tune. These clouds are making my heart flutter echoing their sound with equal strength.

Kaale megha, kaale megha
Pani toh barsaao
Kaale megha, kaale megha
Pani toh barsaao
Bijuri ki talvar nahin
Boondon ke baan chalao
Megha chhaye, barkha laye
Ghir ghir aaye, ghirke aaye
Kahe yeh mann machal machal
Na yoon chal sambhal sambhal
Gaye din badal, tu ghar se nikal
Barasne waala hai ab amrit jal

Duvidha ke din beet gaye
Bhaiya malhaar sunaao

O dark clouds, enough with your roars and thunders! Let not the sword of the lightning take center stage as now is the time for the arrows of shower. When the clouds arrive they will bring rain along and my heart is singing happily and asking me to be carefree now and come out of the house and enjoy the elixir which will fall down shortly. The time of sadness is about to pass, now let us all sing songs of the rain.

Ras agar barsega
Kaun phir tarsega
Koyaliya gaayegi baithi mundheron par
Joh panchi gaayenge
Naye din aayenge
Ujaale muskura denge andheron par
Prem ki barkha mein bheega bheega tann mann
Dharti pe dekhenge pani ka darpan
Jayiyo tum jahan jahan
Dekhiyo wahan wahan
Yahin ek samaan ki dharti yahan
Hai pehne saat rangon ki chunariyan

If the nectar falls from the sky everyone would be happy. The songbird would sing happy melodies and usher the new days with its songs. The bright happiness will finally smile on the dark sadness and our bodies and minds would drench in love. There will be so much water on this earth that it would reflect our happy scene and no matter where you go you will see the earth wrapped in the colourful rainbow.

Pedon par jhoole daalo
Aur oonchi peng badhao
Kaale megha, kaale megha
Pani toh barsaao
Kaale megha, kaale megha
Pani toh barsaao
Bijuri ki talvar nahin
Boondon ke baan chalao

It is time to put the swings on the branches of the tree again and let the swing go very high. We are ready for the rain; please shower us with it O black clouds.

Aayi hai rut matwali
Bichane haryali
Yeh apne sang mein layi hai saawan ko
Yeh bijuri ki payal
Yeh baadal ka aanchal
Sajaane layi hai dharti ki dulhan ko
Daali daali pehnegi phoolon ke kangan
Sukh ab barsega aangan aangan
Khilegi ab kali kali
Hansegi ab gali gali
Hawa joh chali toh rut lagi bhali
Jala de joh tann mann woh dhoop dhali

The impassioned weather has finally arrived to encapsulate the earth in its green drapes and it has brought the rain clouds along. It has also brought the anklet of the lightning and the veil of the clouds to beautify this bride called the earth. Now every branch will adorn the bangles of the flowers and every garden will be content. Every bud will blossom into a beautiful flower and fill the lanes with laughter. This soft, cool breeze has brought in the pleasant weather and the scorching sunlight has gone.

While the villagers are busy making merry, the clouds fly away leaving them disappointed. The rain that should have lashed the earth with fervor is nowhere to be seen and the momentary happiness is lost. Now, the wait begins yet again.

Ghanan ghanan ghan
Ghanan ghanan ghan

Note: In 2016, A R Rahman’s band NAFS had recreated this song. This recreation gives it a complete makeover from ‘desi’ to avant-garde, quite literally.

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