O Maria

Film: Saagar (1984)

Singers: S.P. Balasubramaniam, Asha Bhosle and chorus

Lyricist: Javed Akhtar

Producer: G.P. Sippy

Director: Ramesh Sippy
When Saagar was released, I was just three years old, so by no chance could I see the film then. Later in my life, I did get to listen to the songs, at a friend’s place, on radio or sometimes on TV, since they were ever-popular numbers.

But I never knew one of the songs from the album would become so close to my heart, forming an integral part of my life. Would I sing “O Maria…!” to my childhood buddy to change the track of our friendship with “…shaadi karogi mujhse”? And what would she say in return? Will it be the Saagar story repeating or will Kamal Haasan win this time?


The Goan village in its typical lively state − a wedding colorful and musical − and the drama that is woven into the dance − backed by the music that allows the dance director to explore movements and moments to take the story further.


The strength of his music lies in the visualization that Pancham does. He gives those spaces and punches to help Ramesh Sippy and the choreographer create the scene for the screen. Kamal Haasan doesn’t know how to say his dil ki baat to Dimple and he is always trying to reach out to her. It is Maria’s wedding but it is Kamal’s love story that is made evident through the song. And when Dimple’s rumaal drops to the ground, Kamal obviously reaches to pick it and the dancing Dimple steps unknowingly on his palm. Just watch out how Pancham uses musical phrases and instruments to give meaning to such moments!


The song starts with a brilliant piece on the violin and ad-libbing by S.P. Balasubramaniam and Asha Bhosle, followed by strumming on the banjo, typically lending it the character of a wedding song from the word go. The rhythm catches on with beats on drums and other percussion instruments. You have Asha and SPB singing their heart out in their inimitable styles − listen to the way they express “O Maria oho ho” or “Kaise kaha tha ye bataa aa aa aa” or “ooooooo Maariaaaaa, ooooooo Maaariaaaaa”!


They tease the couple in their respective styles and ask them what had happened when they had confessed their love − thus the variation in their tones and voice modulations. Pancham mixes the chorus so well with revelations by the leading singers.


For all the three antaras, Pancham has different musical pieces and instruments. Trumpets and banjo in the first interlude and when the antara starts, his favorite bass guitar punctuates the gaps.


For the second interlude, the silver flute smoothes the atmosphere since in the next antara SPB and Asha ask the couple about their private moments on the verge of the merge.


The third interlude has a bunch of violins and the guitar to add to the variation. All of these elements blend to add value to the group dance, the hero−heroine’s foot-tapping, close-ups in various frames, and even a clown-type character’s clapping or making faces.


There might be such songs composed by different composers, but the way Pancham does the detailing is amazing. The magic of this song is in watching it on-screen rather than just listening to it, “soul-ly” because of the “vision” of our beloved music director.


One cannot forget the “pain” on Kamal’s face, but the song is all about the “gain” of my life…

Nachiket Deo and Neeta Deo