Everyone should have a theme song.
Apart from providing a standard entertainment option at picnics, the greater utility is, of course, when the family gets separated at Kumbh Mela or - more realistically - at the Inorbit Mall. Twenty years later, when a Muslim Police Officer (a.k.a The Elder Brother) will be taking a Hindu Tapori (a.k.a The Younger Brother), a Blind Flower Seller (a.k.a The Mother) has to be singing the same song at the traffic signal so that the 3-hour saga can finally be ended!
Bottomline, everyone should have a theme song.
And guess what? They already have! And for the strangest of reasons...
It could be because Saajan was the first film someone watched with this girlfriend (alone). And "Bahut pyaar karte hain tumse sanam" is his HelloTune fifteen years later.
It could be because a gang from college watched Ishq together. And that has ensured "Mr Lova Lova" has played at every college reunion since then.
For Javed Akhtar, "Woh subah kabhi to aayegi" - heard on a paan-shop radio as a struggler getting refused everyday - holds greater poignancy than anything else.
For Rick, Elsa's request of "As time goes by" kindles memories of how he ended up at the most popular nightclub of Casablanca. Despite the pain, he walked up to the crooner and did not say what everybody thought he did!
These memories have nothing to do with the melody of the song, the success of the film or the charisma of the lead players. It has a whole lot to do with the listeners' state of mind - level of inebriation, agreeability of company, sense of identity with lead players, applicability of the situation to current context etc.
And all that means there is a smile on your lips every time "Mannu bhai motor chale pom pom pom" plays somehere within earshot.
Even film characters have these songs which they hum, whistle, play on mouth-organ before the 70-piece orchestration takes over and the song bursts on to the screen.
Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge had SRK playing the tune on his banjo incessantly and it hovered in the background score before "Tujhe dekha to yeh jaana sanam" reached its climax in the mustard fields of Punjab!
Amitabh and Jaya had one in Abhimaan. Amitabh hummed it. It was played on the piano. We heard it without music. And then, in the final scene, they both broke off from their past demons to sing the evergreen "Tere mere milan ki yeh raina". The elder Burman scored yet again!
We had a Play-It-Again-Sam (PIAS) song in B-school.
It was a number called "Kaisa yeh pyaar hain allah allah" from the film Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya. Aishwarya Rai's debut Hindi film also had Bobby Deol and sank like a rock! This particular song had Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan singing it on screen - and it was one of those songs which nobody remembers after it exits the countdown shows. But someone in our gang realised that hearing this song before a class test led to an easier paper! This discovery immediately ensured that the song was christened The Anthem - and it was blared out of the music system just before we left our rooms. All of us even saluted dutifully when it was on!
Did The Anthem work? Well, we did graduate, didn't we?
Some songs work even better when given a twist of their own... Subhash Ghai's Karz was to previous births what Anand was to cancer. And its centre-piece "Ek Haseena Thi" had a guitar-riff which has come to be the theme music of rememberance of things past!
Every time anybody tries to remember something, one in the group starts to hum the tune helpfully, Tangta tang tang Tangta tang tang... if you know what I mean!
And the twist I was talking about?
A group of Management Trainees in Reckitt & Colman (now Reckitt Benckiser) changed the lyrics a wee bit. In an ode to the flagship brand of the company, the new version went, "Ek Paseena Thi, Ek Dettol Tha..." and it became something of a theme song for that and subsequent batches of trainees!
Har har! Play it again, again and again...
For me and my wife, the PIAS moment came during Salaam Namaste. Primarily noted for Preity & Saif's toned abs, it also had a song - "My dil goes mmmmm" - which trailed far behind its better known cousin (the title song). Our amazement was for the simple fact that the song managed to describe both of us so accurately that it was almost psychic!
I noticed it first - when they said "Aati hai woh aise chal ke jaise jannat mein rehti hai / Dekhti hai sabko aise jaise sabko woh sehti hai / Par gusse mein jab aaye / Aur aankhein woh dikhlaye / Ladte ladte galti se muskaaye..." - and realised it was the most accurate description of my wife anybody has ever managed!
She got back in the very next stanza - "Karti hoon jab usse baatein lagta hai sone waala hai / Soke jab jab bhi woh jaage lagta hai rone waala hai / Par chupke se woh aaye / Meri neend se mujhe jayage / Le baahon mein aur khud hi gir jaaye..."
Pedantic people will argue that I have never woken her up, but this is one song when we never touch the remote!
Right now, a new PIAS has taken control of my life. My son insists on hearing this one during all his meals and it is as illogical as it gets!
"Signal, pyaar ka signal" from the all-time clanger Bhaagam Bhaag is the one - and His Lordship gets really angry if everybody in the room does not start leaping when the Remo goes "Jump, jump, jump in the air"! We are breathless - and are only hoping to embarrass him beyond belief when he grows up!
So, what song do YOU want to hear?