Sometimes, there might be a song you really like, a song that you resonate with even though you might not know the meaning of all the lyrics. You might have a rough idea what the song is about, but wouldn’t it bring the song closer to your heart if you were to understand every line?
Somesh Chandran, who runs the website www.dohaz.com, was consumed by this thought after watching Gangs of Wasseypur in 2015. “I loved the music in the movie but could never understand what it meant. I attempted to find out on the internet but the translations available online were literal and in many cases, wrong too. More importantly, those translations did not do justice to the quality of the songs. Listening to a song and discovering interesting information about it, personalises the music listening experience. I realised there is tremendous opportunity here to push the culture of Indian music forward in the right way,” says he.
After gathering a team of four writers who explain the lyrics, Chandran set up the website in June 2015.
DECODING IT RIGHT
Now one might argue that when you translate a phrase, or in some cases even a word, from one language to another, some of its essence is lost. The team at Dohaz.com is wary about this and take necessary steps to ensure that though the lyrics are paraphrased and explained, the beauty of thought in the lines is also retained. “The word I’d use to explain what we do is ‘decode’. So apart from explaining every verse, we also make sure to provide the context behind it and interesting trivia. This helps the listener engage with their favourite song at a much deeper level,” says Chandran, adding, “Our objective is, every time a user clicks on a verse, they must discover something new and interesting about the song.”
He uses the example of the latest chart topper from Bollywood, Kar Har Maidaan Fateh from Sanju slated to release next Friday. “There is a vast difference between conversational Hindi/Urdu and written Hindi/Urdu. The latter is far more complex and nuanced, he says, continuing, “The first line of the song is Kar Har Maidaan Fateh Bandeya. The word Bandeya from the song essentially means someone who feels caged and restricted. But it also means ‘beloved’ in the case of this song where the audience is meant to empathise with the protagonist Sanju. In the next line, he is described as a wounded bird, and the lyrics build on the ‘caged’ or ‘restricted’ reference.”
Though one may look up the meanings of Urdu words from Bollywood songs, the website also offers explanations of Sanskrit and Punjabi lyrics too. “Breaking down lyrics with such quality is a skill. Our writers have mastered this over the last three years. Thankfully, our visitors realise this and continue to appreciate the work we do,” says Chandran.
Talking about visitors on the website, he says, “Currently we get close to 41,000 visitors every month on our website. Sometimes more. We’ve had people like lyricist Varun Grover, comedian Tanmay Bhat share our website on Twitter. We’ve also regularly collaborated with artists like Raghu Dixit and rapper Naezy (one of the rappers who has inspired Zoya Akhtar’s upcoming film Gully Boy starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt). For example, if you go to Naezy’s channel on YouTube and watch the song Asal Hustle, you will find a link in the description that takes you to our website if you want to know the meaning behind his rap,” says Chandran adding that he’s working hard along with his team to help music apps differentiate themselves by providing quality content in the form of explanations and interesting trivia.
“This will eventually help the users engage with their favourite songs at a deeper level. Dohaz.com can be considered explanatory journalism for Indian music and poetry,” says he.