(Hindi: राधा, Urdu: رادھا) is a female proper name, and it is the title of a song featured in the 2012 Indian coming-of-age film "Student Of The Year", also known by its acronym "SOTY".
The song's music was composed by the Bollywood
singer/composer duo Vishal-Shekhar
, and its lyrics were written by the Bollywood screenwriter and lyricist Anvita Dutt.
The singers are Shreya Ghoshal
for the female parts, and Udit Narayan
and again Vishal-Shekhar for the male parts.
In Hinduism, Radha is the lover of Krishna, an incarnation of the god Vishnu of such importance and fullness, that sometimes he is considered a god himself.
Krishna is unique among the Hindu pantheon because of his playfulness, the physical attraction he exerts on women, and for having an extra-marital relationship with a mortal lover, Radha.
This song's lyrics are a tongue-in-cheek attempt at subverting the traditional roles of Radha and Krishna.
Radha claims that she is not subjugated by Krishna's charms anymore, and sets out to seek her own love interests.
In the movie, this song is played during a party; at the time, the female protagonist, Shanaya (Alia Bhatt
), is dating Rohan (Varun Dhawan
), a classmate.
Despite being his boyfriend, Rohan constantly flirts with other girls. In order to punish him, Shanaya starts some flirting of her own with another classmate and Rohan's friend, Abhishek (Sidharth Malhotra).
The video clip starts with Shanaya singing the first verses of what seems to be a Hindu devotional song about Radha and Krishna. But after the first verses, she surprises Rohan, Abhishek, and the whole audience, by switching to a disco beat and to these non-traditional lyrics extolling Radha's independence.
As the song progresses, she switches her attention from Rohan to Abhishek, much to the former's shock.
The song utilizes several words from Hindu mythology, they are:
- gōpi: the gopis were the wives of the "gops" or cowherds, also cowherdesses or milk-maids themselves. They took care of Krishna as an infant, and were infatuated with him during his youth.
- rās: a Hindu circular dance that commemorates Krishna's seduction of the gopis
- rās-racaiyā: "he who performs the ras", i.e. Krishna
- sām̐vrā, sām̐vriyā: Saanwara, another epithet of Krishna (perhaps it means "sooty" or "having dark complexion"). It might also refer to the dark blue hue often used to represent Hindu deities in pictures.
- Kanha, Kanhaiya: it means "dear little boy", another epithet of Krishna
- mākhan cōr: "the butter thief", another epithet of Krishna; during his childhood, he was mischievous (although often for a good cause), and he stole butter from the milk-maids. Notice that "mākhan" (butter) is written using an old spelling.
The song also depicts some images typical of the Hindu imaginary, such as Krishna (or a male lover in general) accosting his love interest while she goes to the well or riverbank (panghaṭ) to gather water, and then grabbing her wrist.
It also describes Krishna as wearing a peacock feather on his forehead and playing the flute, common attributes of the deity.
Halfway through the song, al characters start playing a hand tambourine or tabor called "ḍaflī", and Shanaya sings a stanza seemingly disconnected from the rest of the song:
ḍaflīvālē ḍaflī bajā
Play the dafli, dafli-player!
mērē ghum̐ghrū bulātē haiṁ ā
My ghunghrus are calling out, come!
maiṁ nācūm̐ tū nacā
I dance, make (me) dance!
This is a tribute to an older song, "Dafli Wale Dafli Baja", featured ad the 1970 Bollywood film "Sagram".
The "ghunghrus" are a string of ankle bells used by classical Indian dancers to produce music while they dance.
In the movie "Sagram" the dancer is mute and this is her preferred way of expressing herself.
Both the movie and the song became enormously famous in India.
The adjective "desi", used for Radha's "desi Radha body" is typically used to describe a "country" girl, more or less with the same senses as in English: rural, autochthonous, native, authentic, etc.