Imtiaz Ali’s recently released film Highway serves as a stark contrast to his 2007 romantic comedy Jab We Met, which had originally put my current favorite Bollywood writer and director on the map. I love both movies for very different reasons, but since I’ve revisited Jab We Met, I’ve also rekindled my obsession with my favorite track from Pritam’s well-composed album: “Tum Se Hi”.
The entire Jab We Met album is filled with solid songs, from the catchy “Mauja Hi Mauja” and “Nagada Nagada” to the soulful “Aaoge Jab Tum,” and it’s hard to believe that Pritam was able to channel some of his best work into an album that he reportedly worked on in the middle of his own wedding festivities.
A Standout Song With Soul & Romance
“Tum Se Hi” separates itself from the rest of the tracks on this album courtesy of Mohit Chauhan’s soulful voice and Irshad Kamil’s romantic lyrics. Mohit Chauhan transitioned into the world of Bollywood playback singing in 2002 after having been part of the Hindi pop band Silk Route since 1996 — a band I vaguely remember courtesy of my sister’s influence on my taste in music from an early age.
Chauhan’s rise to success was slow and steady, but most people agree that his rendition of “Tum Se Hi” is what ultimately launched his mainstream Bollywood career. With these lyrics and vocals, some reviewers even went so far as to suggest that “Tum Se Hi” was the only song that made a lasting impression compared to all the other songs on the Jab We Met album.
In the movie itself, “Tum Se Hi” highlights Shahid Kapoor’s character Aditya’s progressive realization that his love for Kareena Kapoor’s Geet seeps into every single aspect of his life and work. Figuratively speaking, of course.
In the midst of all this, the song manages to make the visualizations of imaginary office dancing, imaginary married life, and imaginary rain dancing between Aditya and Geet all the more bearable. And, in case you didn’t fully understand what the song and video were trying to tell you, “Tum Se Hi” ends with Aditya’s introduction of his company’s new long-distance calling card, cleverly entitled “Geet: Dil Ki Baat.” Literally.
As many Bollywood fans are aware, stories for some films are “borrowed” from other places, and songs are no exception. In fact, there’s an entire website dedicated to music plagiarism in India! Having only been active in the Bollywood music industry since 2001, Pritam has still managed to rack up 52 accusations of plagiarism on this site. Thankfully, “Tum Se Hi” has not yet been reported as a lift of another song, so we can all enjoy it without a guilty conscience for a while longer.
The “Pritam or Plagiarism” post on the Twisted Transistor blog was very helpful in writing this piece!
Farah Naz Khan is an internal medicine resident at Emory University. After graduating from college in Boston, she returned to her Alabama hometown to attend medical school, and was reunited with the mix of Southern hospitality and South Asian culture that had shaped her childhood. Follow her on Twitter @farah287 or read some of her thoughts at farah287.blogspot.com.