It has been 22 years since one of Mani Ratnam's movies Dil Se [Uyire in Tamil] released and it is an undisputed fact that the popularity of the film is widely attributed to the iconic train song Chaiya Chiaya [Thaiya Thaiya in Tamil]. The dance number composed by A.R. Rahman went on to become so popular that in a 2002 poll conducted by BBC, where 155 countries voted for the best song of all times, Chaiya Chaiya ranked 9th from over 7000 songs all around the world.
While it was known that Chaiyya Chaiyya was based on 'Tere ishq nachaya kar ke thaiyya thaiyya', a Sufi folk song penned by poet Bulleh Shah, recently a twitter user revealed the story behind how Sukhwinder Singh, male voice behind the song suggested the sufi number to A.R. Rahman, which was originally supposed to feature in Rahman's own album.
Interestingly, the twitter thread also reveals the story behind Bulleh Shah's resolve to regain the trust of his mentor and teacher, which inturn reveals that castesim and class divide has existed since times unknown. Read the thread here:
Bulleh Shah was a Mughal-era Punjabi Sufi saint-poet, but in his beginnings, he was a rather stern Islamic scholar of Syed heritage and, according to legend, was able to perform miracles as a result of his mastery over mystical faith. However, his status made him haughty (2/13).— நபி 📿🕌 نَبِی aka “bitter melon bilal” (@enna_kodumada) February 20, 2020
he told Bullah. Shaken to his core that someone else could know his secrets, Bullah's ego was rattled and he submitted to Inayat, becoming his disciple.— நபி 📿🕌 نَبِی aka “bitter melon bilal” (@enna_kodumada) February 20, 2020
Bullah's Ashrafi family was upset at this development. They frequently told Bulleh Shah to leave his Pīr, (4/13)
but insulted them on arrival. (Some narrations say they were not allowed in, others say they were not seated, some say Bullah's family pretended they had never issued the invite.) Though Bullah was not directly involved in the incident, Inayat then disowned his disciple (6/13)— நபி 📿🕌 نَبِی aka “bitter melon bilal” (@enna_kodumada) February 20, 2020
One day, Bullah came upon a group of performers from the Kanjar caste; knowing his master's fondness for dance and music, he learnt folk arts from them and joined their troupe. One day, Inayat stopped by a performance, where Bullah had donned the robe of a woman in dance. (8/13)— நபி 📿🕌 نَبِی aka “bitter melon bilal” (@enna_kodumada) February 20, 2020
After this event, Bullah once again was accepted as Inayat's disciple.— நபி 📿🕌 نَبِی aka “bitter melon bilal” (@enna_kodumada) February 20, 2020
Many of Bullah's poems reference his opposal of caste directly as well (i.e. "Othe amla de hone ne nabede," and "Behad Ramzan dasda"). (10/13)
As for "Tere ishq nachaya kar ke thaiyya thaiyya's" connection to Dil Se's "Chaiyya Chaiyya," the former was suggested to AR Rahman by Sukhwinder Singh to serve as inspiration for a Punjabi devotional, from which Gulzar rewrote and crafted the lyrics we know. (12/13)— நபி 📿🕌 نَبِی aka “bitter melon bilal” (@enna_kodumada) February 20, 2020