Posted by: kcgadiyar | September 6, 2010

The CWG theme song – My 2 paise

Now that every news channel, most people online, the politicians of India and most of the CWG organizing team have finished criticizing Rahman and ripping the CWG theme song down piece by bloody piece, it feels like the right time to pitch in with my opinion.

Having seen and read most of the debates, i feel that the Rahman fans are sticking to one position i.e. his music takes time to grow on you, give it a chance, where as the anti-rahman camp are in the “Is it what 5 Cr. gets us?”. In between all of this, people have analyzed all the beats of the song and i have noticed comments on rediff (okay, it may not be the best place to get music comments, but still) say that the song should have been “leaner and quicker” (god only knows what that means)

I have heard the song plenty of times now (still waiting for it to grow on me) in an attempt to try to understand why this song has inspired so much hate among people, and i came up with these reasons (once again, this is completely my opinion and you are free to agree/disagree). Before starting, my personal opinion of the song is that it is a good song, i liked the tune, but some of the criticisms are valid (one criticism is way more valid than others and i will get to that in point 3). Also, i will not be comparing the song to “Waka waka” or any other anthem, every event is different and every song will be different as well.

1. Not inspiring enough: This is one common criticism i have heard about the song, the fact that the song does nothing to make you feel the Indian spirit. I don’t know about the Indian spirit, but there is a lack of a high point in the song. The wait for that one memorable point continues through the song, but the one high point (using Rahman’s own previous compositions, a “Jai Ho” chorus or the Sufi qawwali part in “Kehna hi kya”) never comes. As a result, there is no one line or one lyric that you can immediately recall from this song. Basically, the song builds to a payoff which never materializes.

2. The lack of a music video: How many songs have there been which people hated upon hearing it, but when they saw the song used in context in the movie or in a music video, they started loving it. I know it has happened to me plenty of times (the most recent being with the “Sadka” song in I Hate Luv Storys). A well made music video showing normal people on the street or the athletes competing in the games mouthing the lyrics would have gone a long way in building a positive association for the song and greater acceptance. As Rahman’s fans will themselves admit, his music is almost never liked on the first hearing. But for a CWG anthem, one listen is all anyone will give before passing their verdict.

3. The lyrics, oh god the lyrics: The lyrics of the song are

Oh yaaron, yeh India bulaa liya
Diwaano yeh India bulaa liya… bulaa liya

Yeh toh khel hai
Bada mail hai
Milaa diya… milaa diya

Yeh toh khel hai
Bada mail hai
Milaa diya

Oh rukna rukna rukna rukna rukna nahi
Haarna haarna haarna haarna haarna nahi
Junoon se kanoon se maidaan maar lo

Let’s go
Let’s go

Play o jiyo heyo let’s go
Play o jiyo heyo let’s go

Oh yaaron, yeh India bulaa liya
Diwaano yeh India bulaa liya… bulaa liya

Parvat sa ucha uthoon toh yeh
Duniya salami de

Sardil iraade na ho jayein kahin
Dil ko woh suraj de

Jiyo utho badho jeeto
Tera mera jahaan let’s go

Kaisi saji hai saji hai dekho maati apni
Bani rashke jahaan yaara ho
Kai rang hai boli hai kai desh hai magar
yahi jag hai samaaya saara ho

Laagi re ab laagi re lagan
Jaagi re mann jeet ki agan
Uthi re ab iraadon mein tapan
Chali re gori chali ban than

This is the best we could come up with? Yaaron, yeh India Bula Liya????? My hindi may be very weak, but what the hell does that even mean. Also, the chorus goes (deep breath) Play-o jiyo heyo lets go. Was the word “Khelo” not available? Who proofread the lyrics? We have completely nonsensical lyrics as the main repeated part. I doubt if even god could have salvaged these lyrics, Rahman had a tall ask.

Finally, the main reason why i think the song has been so brutally attacked by everyone.

4. Expectations: Quick, when i say “Commonwealth Games” what comes to your mind? If you have been following the news, it will be one or more of the following: Corruption, Stadia incomplete, Suresh Kalmadi ate money, Contractors undercut payments, Controversy upon controversy.

In between all of this, we knew that there was one ray of hope. One thing that could make us forget all about the issues which plagued the games and unite us in conducting a successful games. That something was supposed to be the CWG theme. The theme was supposed to be our rallying cry. It would be a statement that, “Yes, so far everything has gone wrong, but there is now stopping us now”. It was to be the one can’t miss. This built up the song more and more and the expectations got unrealistic. The song went from being a side-attraction to being the main event. So when the song fell short of our already raised expectations, that was the last straw. The attack on the song is in many ways our frustrated attack on the whole games. The reason being that it is easy to have a public face to blame for the song where as in the games committee, most people are unseen faces. Rahman could have been the saviour, unfortunately he has instead become the scapegoat.

Until Next Time,




  1. Well, to say that it will take a while to grow on me and I should keep listening to it (for me to like it) sounds like someone saying I should drink bitter melon juice repeatedly and I won’t mind the bitterness after a few repetitions, of course I won’t! BTW, I liked Roja’s music the first time I heard it, no growing up process there I figure.
    Maybe you aren’t aware of this, but songs in India are written both ways, that is, its not always the lyrics that may have been written first, a huge percentage of songs in India are also written composition first lyrics later, maybe the lyrics in question were the best the lyricist could come up with given the composition.
    Anyway, we’ll never know, and I stopped trying to make the song grow on me.

  2. Point#3 is the most valid one… people are blaming rehman, but mehboob is even bigger culprit… i can’t believe that somebody who has written ‘ae nazneen suno na’ (one of my favorite songs lyrics-wise) can write this piece of whatever… forget this, he wrote ‘maa tujhe salaam’ which gives me goosebumps even now… so, such criticism, such outrage happens when you don’t see things getting delivered as per expectations… comparing it with waka waka or talking about 5-crore-fees might be rubbish… but we’ve to agree on this– rahman/mehboob has given us something which doesn’t deserve to be an anthem…

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