Kajra Re

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"Kajra Re"
Bollywood song by Alisha Chinoy, Shankar Mahadevan and Javed Ali
Released 2005
Genre Qawaali
Fusion Music
Length 8:04 (soundtrack album)
7:50 (music video)
Writer(s) Gulzar
Composer(s) Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Producer(s) Aditya Chopra
Yash Chopra
Music sample

Kajra Re (Hindi: कजरा रे, English: Oh, Kohl-Lined (Eyes)[1]) is a song composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, written by Gulzar and sung by the playback singers Alisha Chinoy, Shankar Mahadevan and Javed Ali. It is from the 2005 film Bunty Aur Babli, starring Abhishek Bachchan, Rani Mukerji and Amitabh Bachchan. The song features Amitabh and Abhishek at a nightclub and Aishwarya Rai, making a special appearance in the film, sings for Amitabh, who joins her with Abhishek in the singing and dancing.

Production and Development[edit]

Kajra Re is inspired from a folk song from the Braj region, in which the celebrated kohl-lined eyes are Lord Krishna's, and belongs to the Qawaali genre with western fusion. The words "Tujhse milna purani dilli mein" have been rendered by Amitabh Bachchan. The trio have used sitar to make it sound more Indian. Amitabh Bachchan, after initially hearing the song, demanded a few changes, but the director, Shaad Ali, and producer, Aditya Chopra, convinced him against them.[2] The song was composed in half a day. Alisha was chosen for the female vocals since her anglicized accent was meant to provide an essentially different intonation.[3]

Reception and Impact[edit]

The song became extremely popular among the masses[4] and was hugely successful on Indian music charts.[5] The Hindustan Times described it as "the reinvention of the qawwali by Shankar-Ehsaan-Roy and Gulzar" and called it "the item number of the decade."[6] Kajra Re featured on top in Rediffs 2005's list of top 5 songs.[3] It also won the poll conducted by Planet Bollywood as the song of the year with a whopping 44%.[7]

It was voted as the song of the year by three radio stations, including Lotus FM, a station popular among the Indian diaspora in South Africa.[8] The song was also featured in Caminho das Indias, a marathon soap opera that ran on Brazil's popular Rede Globo.[9] The track was featured in Hindustan Times' Songs of the Century, which deemed it to be the "undisputed item song of the decade."[10]

Music video[edit]

Before the song sequence, Amitabh, who plays a police inspector in the movie, relates his story of unrequited love in the city of Delhi to Abhishek, which is later alluded to in the song. Aishwarya's character, a bar girl, sympathizes with Amitabh's character and plays courtesan. The dance, choreographed by Vaibhavi Merchant, features Aishwarya in a brocade choli and dipped ghagra, sans make-up and kohl, and some lip gloss.[11]


Alisha Chinai won the 2005 Filmfare Best Female Playback Award and the 2005 Bollywood Movie Award - Best Playback Singer Female for the song, while Gulzar collected the best lyricist award in almost all major award functions including the IIFA and Filmfare Awards, for the song.

Vaibhavi Merchant won the following awards:


  • The music video is 7:50 seconds long; the album version, available on the movie soundtrack, lasts 8 minutes 4 seconds. There are two official remixes to this song[citation needed]: "Special Movie Remix" which is 5 minutes and 33 seconds and "Aqeel Tribal Mix" which is 5 minutes 49 seconds. The remixes sound very similar.
  • A portion of "Kajra Re" is featured in Dor with Gul Panag, Ayesha Takia, and Shreyas Talpade dancing along in the desert.


  1. ^ Lyrics to "Kajra Re" from bollywhat.com
  2. ^ ""I have to compliment Himesh. If we have 2 hits a year, he has 20" - Ehsaan". Bollywoodhungama.com. 2006-03-24. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  3. ^ a b "rediff.com: 2005's Top 5". Specials.rediff.com. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  4. ^ "HindustanTimes-Print". Hindustantimes.com. 2007-10-31. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  5. ^ "Second coming - The Times of India". Timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 2005-06-28. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  6. ^ "From Melody to Dev D". Hindustan Times. 2009-12-31. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  7. ^ "People's Choice Awards 2005". Planet Bollywood. 1996-08-20. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  8. ^ "'Kajra Re' voted song of the year in South Africa - bollywood news". glamsham.com. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  9. ^ "An Indian in Brazil". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 2010-07-17. 
  10. ^ "Songs of the Century". Hindustan Times. 2012-08-20. Retrieved 2012-08-20. undisputed item song of the decade. 
  11. ^ "An item number without makeup!". Bollywoodhungama.com. 2005-09-06. Retrieved 2011-06-28.