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"Chaiyya Chaiyya" (English: [walk] in shade) is an Indian song from the 1998 Bollywood film Dil Se.., composed by A.R. Rahman, written by Gulzar, and sung by Sukhwinder Singh and Sapna Awasthi. It quickly became popular upon the release and its music video, directed by Mani Ratnam and starring Shah Rukh Khan and Malaika Arora, gained cult status, partly because it was filmed on a moving train. The song is based on Sufi music and Urdu poetry.[1] The Tamil version is called "Thaiyya Thaiyya", which was also popular among Tamils.

"Chaiyya Chaiyya"
Song by A. R. Rahman
from the album Dil Se.. soundtrack
LanguageUrdu (original)[1]
Tamil (alternate)
StudioPanchathan Record Inn
Composer(s)A. R. Rahman
Producer(s)A. R. Rahman
Audio sample

The Dil Se.. soundtrack album, where the song appeared on, sold six million units in India.[2] In 2002, the BBC World Service conducted an international poll to choose the ten most popular songs of all time. Around 7000 songs were selected from all over the world. According to the BBC, people from 155 countries voted "Chaiyya Chaiyya" ninth in the top 10 songs.[3]


About the songEdit

The lyrics of "Chaiyya Chaiyya" are based on the Sufi folk song "Thaiyya Thaiyya" with lyrics by poet Bulleh Shah. Singer Sukhwinder Singh originally suggested the song to A.R. Rahman who was looking for a Punjabi devotional song to include on the soundtrack of Dil Se... Gulzar subsequently rewrote the lyrics and changed the name to "Chaiyya Chaiyya".[4]

"Chaiyya Chaiyya" reached the top of the charts in India and became popular in the United Kingdom.[citation needed]

In an Interview with called "Sadhanai Tamilargal" with Mani Ratnam, AR Rahman and Vairamuthu, Rahman stated that the song was originally composed for his album Vande Mataram. But as it didn't fit in, he decided to show it to Mani Ratnam, who loves these kind of catchy tunes. The very first time hearing the song, Mani Ratnam decided to shoot the song in a train.

Music videoEdit

The video was filmed on top of the Ooty train (the Nilgiri Mountain Railway) in mountainous Tamil Nadu, southern India, while actor Shahrukh Khan dances with model/actress Malaika Arora and other dancers. The film was directed by Mani Ratnam and recorded by Santosh Sivan. The choreography was completed in four and half days by Farah Khan.[5] No major back projections or post-production special effects were used in the music video.

Malaika Arora, one of the performers, recalls: "Would you believe it? Well, the "Chaiya Chaiya" song was shot exactly as you see it on the screen: No camera tricks, no back projection, no post-production special effects!"[6] She also said that "...One of the unit members tripped and hurt himself. Other than that, things were safe."[7]

Popular cultureEdit

The song was featured in the opening of the second act of the musical Bombay Dreams, in which the train sequence from Dil Se.. is recreated on stage.

Remixes of the song were used in the opening and closing credits of the 2006 film Inside Man. The opening credits, set over shots of the robbery crew driving into Manhattan, feature an abridged version of the original with additional trumpet accompaniment, and the closing credits feature a hip-hop-inflected remix featuring Panjabi MC ("Chaiyya Chaiyya Bollywood Joint").

The song was featured in the background in episode 13 of the American sitcom Outsourced.

The song was featured in the pilot episode of Smith. A cover of this song was performed in episode 5 of season 5 of CSI: Miami.

The original track and a live version of "Chaiyya Chaiyya" are featured in AR Rahman's compilation album, A. R. Rahman – A World of Music.

The song was used during the opening ceremony of the 2010 Commonwealth Games held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi on 3 October 2010.

"Chaiyya Chaiyya" became famous in Indonesia in 2011, after Norman Kamaru, a policeman from Gorontalo, Indonesia recorded himself lipsync-ing it and uploaded the video to YouTube. The name of the video is "Polisi Gorontalo Menggila" (Crazy Gorontalo Police).[8]

On 17 May 2015, recording artist Kurt Hugo Schneider with Sam Tsui, Vidya and Shankar Tucker, uploaded a mashup video on YouTube titled Chaiyya Chaiyya / Don't Stop MASHUP!! - INDIA EDITION ft Sam Tsui, Shankar Tucker, Vidya. It garnered 300,000 views in 3 days. Shah Rukh Khan tweeted it, appreciating their work. As of January 2016, the YouTube video has 25 million views.

The a cappella group Penn Masala covered the song in their seventh album, Panoramic.

Eammon, one of the characters of Kamila Shamsie's novel Home Fire looks up the video and lyrics of the song in his attempt to learn Urdu.


  1. ^ a b Basu, Anustup (2010). Bollywood in the Age of New Media: The Geo-televisual Aesthetic: The Geo-televisual Aesthetic. Edinburgh University Press. p. 164. ISBN 9780748643233.
  2. ^ "Rahman @ 25". CNN-News18. CNN International. 8 September 2017.
  3. ^ "The World's Top Ten". BBC World Service. Retrieved 2008-11-05.
  4. ^ "'Music, like religion, has a soul. If you get this right, you can have different arrangements'". Indian Express. 7 September 2004. Retrieved 31 March 2010.
  5. ^ Poojari, Chatura (1998-09-11). "My first break: Farah Khan". The Indian Express. Retrieved 2008-08-08..
  6. ^ A.A. Michael Raj. "From tube to screen". The Hindu. Retrieved 2002-02-11.
  7. ^ Sukanya Verma. "'I expect a lot from myself'". Rediff. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
  8. ^ "Goyang India Polisi Muda". Yahoo! News Indonesia. 4 April 2011. Retrieved 12 April 2011.

External linksEdit

  • English translation of this song is available at [1].
  • An English translation available at [2].