Dil Se was destined to be a hit for more than one reason. The 1998 film was the third and final installment of Mani Ratnam’s thematic trilogy (the first two were Roja (1992) and Bombay (1995)). The romantic thriller is set in the backdrop of Northeast India’s insurgency that has been going on since 1954. The movie was not only written but also directed by Mani Ratnam, the winner of six National Awards. The film’s casting was absolutely stellar – two actors at the peak of their careers, Shah Rukh Khan and Manisha Koirala, were in the lead roles. It also saw debutant Preity Zinta in a supporting role who still managed to steal hearts with her acting prowess and dimples, in that order. Yet another key reason for the film’s success is the soundtrack.
The movie’s music and songs are so iconic that it sold six million units in India. The absolutely stunning soundtrack saw the collaboration of two musical geniuses – the man with a silken voice, A.R Rehman and the unparalleled lyricists, Gulzar Sahab. The songs of the movie were romance themed and even then, the intensity levels were so high, that they still evoke a multitude of emotions.
It also helped that all the songs were shot in some of the most spectacular and fairly unique locations in India. For instance, the love-song Jiya Jale between Preity Zinta and Shah Rukh khan was shot in the backwaters of Kerala, Chaiyya Chaiyya featuring Malaika Arora was shot on a moving train and the Middle-Eastern flavored Satrangi Re was shot near Thiske Monastery and Pangong Lake. The last song is particularly loved by the critiques. Gulzar explores the seven stages of love, Sonu Nigam voice was elevated by Kavita Krishnamurthy’s humming and Rehman adds sufi touches with his orchestration.
The soundtrack is also unique because it not only featured Rehman’s usual star instrumentalists but had also included international musicians like John Themis and Guy Pratt.
All in all, Dil se was truly ahead of its time and will always deserve a special place in Bollywood’s history.