You don’t need to be a polyglot who “clicks” foreign languages like a seed to understand how the title of this song is translated. Moreover, you don’t need to know at least one foreign language. “Tum-tum, tum-tum,” repeat those words again, listen to their sound, and try to guess what they remind you of. Of course, the roar of drums, which echoes the beating of the human heart! It is not for nothing that ancient adventure books, whose authors tried to reproduce the language of the primitive hunting tribes, necessarily have this sound imitation, which denotes rowdy dance, joy, and noisy celebration. It is also present in Anand Shankar’s 2021 film “Enemy,” which tells the story of two childhood friends who grow up to be mortal enemies. One of them becomes a dodgy, cunning killer and a menace to the underworld, the other, a cop who stalks him relentlessly. But, as befits an Indian movie, even thrillers shot in India are filled with music and songs. And if any of the characters happen to get to a crowded Indian wedding, you can’t do without songs!
The story of the song “Tum Tum”
Anand Shankar himself tells us that this rhythmic song is based on an authentic Tamil melody (the Tamils are one of the peoples of southern India). “Hearing this music would make my feet start dancing,” he confessed. True, in order for the melody to be loved first by India and then by the rest of the world, the words had to be translated first into Hindi and then into English. But since the meaning of all wedding songs in the world is universal (they all wish the young couple wealth, mutual love, healthy children and a long life, and for the guests – to have a good rest and have fun), this rousing song has lost nothing in translation. Moreover, it is no longer performed at cinematic, but at the most real weddings, as well as at bachelorette parties and just parties. And the dancers eagerly sing the words blessing the young bride and the happy groom and wishing them longevity, love and harmony. Just tell an Indian who loves Bollywood movies that you like this song, and you can be sure that you will be received and treated as one of your own.
The Meaning of the Song “Tum Tum”
So this rousing song is sung during a wedding, the most important day in the life of any Indian girl, whether she is an emancipated student, the proud daughter of a millionaire or a shy village belle. On this day she puts on a traditional sari of fiery red color, throws a veil that hides her delicate beauty from unceremonious prying eyes, and blushes herself moment by moment, like the morning dawn. The groom looks no less smartly, dressed up like a young prince, and happy that he is about to become the husband and lord of the beautiful girl. Even if in everyday life the bride and groom follow the European customs, go together to dances, to cafes and movies and generally have a great time, today they pretend as if they have seen each other for the first time in life and burn with shame and passion. Just like their millennial grandparents.
The plot of the song “Tum Tum” conveys both the feelings of the couple in love and the details of the wedding ritual, which has been sung many times by Indian poets and observant, inquisitive Europeans alike. The young girl, gripped by shame and awe, sees her fiancé, her heart responding to his pulse. It seems to her as if she is on fire and swan wings grow behind her back. Her arms and neck are adorned with fragrant garlands of flowers, her hands and feet are painted with henna, her intermittent breath smells like the fragrance of precious sandalwood, and her eyes sparkle like southern stars. A beautiful bride is compared to a pearl immersed in oriental incense, to the fragrance of fruit ripened under the hot sun, or to a temple mural depicting a goddess descending from heaven. Even if tomorrow is the start of everyday life for her, today a girl feels like she’s in a magical fairy tale. And when the fireworks are lit, the young couple feels as if their hearts join together, like a wick and a flame, to burn in the fire of love indefinitely, without extinguishing or burning out.