DIL SE: A Metaphor for the Soul’s Surrender to the God-within


Destined to be a classic, DIL SE is a truly brilliant beautiful film by Mani Ratnam, a creative genius and one of the greatest living film directors – and not just in India. Ratnam is right up there with the all time best: Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Red Desert, Bernado Bertolucci’s The Conformist, and Francois Truffaut’s The Four Hundred Blows.


Most viewers think of DIL SE as a love story, but I saw it as the perfect metaphor for the Soul’s surrender to God.


The hero falls in love with a girl he sees by chance one night in a lonely rural railway station. He has no idea that she is a terrorist and loses himself in love to her completely. It is my feeling that his relationship with this girl is purely metaphorical for the soul's ultimate surrender to God.


The idea that the soul must give up everything - including it's own illusory existence - to God is an idea found in both Sufism, Hinduism's Bhakti Yoga, and Christian mysticism. At the end of DIL SE, the Soul has become ONE with the Beloved. Their Sacred Union is immutable.


AR Rahman wrote the music in this film and the songs were enormously popular all around the world. People – like me - sang them even when they couldn’t understand the Hindi lyrics. Rahman, also a genius, is acknowledged by musicians everywhere as one of the truly great composers of music in our times. Like so many millions, I love Rahman’s music!


Rahman has a real genius for melody. He is said to be a Sufi. The words to the Rahman song CHAIYYA CHAIYYA and others are very Sufi:


He whose head is in the shadow of love

will have heaven beneath his feet.

Whose head is in the shadow of love...

Walk in the shadow.

Feet jingling (i.e., with anklets), walk in the shadow.

There's a friend who is like a sweet fragrance,

whose words are like poetry,

who is my evening, my night, my resurrection.

That friend is my beloved!


I don’t believe this film is about terrorism. This extreme aberrant of the human experience is used as a dramatic environment to allow Mani Ratnam a creative ‘tour de force’ to reveal one of life’s great mysteries: Our eternal sense of separation and longing.


The unforgettable night scene up in the mountains set to haunting music and bathed in transcendental blue light is a cinematic classic. Alone at last with his beloved, for one sweet moment our love-struck hero melts her icy defenses. Intense close-ups fill the screen and invite us to journey into their eyes, their tender smiles, and subtle expressions.


He tells her that he likes ‘very much’ that he can read nothing in her eyes, that there is so much hidden in her. Isn’t this the relationship that we all have with the eternally silent, sphinx-like Cosmos? He says: ‘I like this distance between us the best. Without this distance, I would have no excuse to get close.’


Here Mani Ratnam expresses something deeper, something eternal about the human condition itself – the essence of what drives us all, the space that allows us the adventure into the unknown.


The pursuit of his elusive beloved - to the death - is not about some lovesick fool, but rather reflects the underlying universal reality of all our lives and what it means to be human, to long for something that seems to be always somehow beyond us.




In comparison to the empty, soulless, 'special effects' rubbish cranked out of bottom-line-Hollywood year after year, I loved DIL SE, yes, with all my heart.


The acting in the last scene of DIL SE is something I will never forget. Shahrukh Khan’s volcanic presence often seems to bring out the best in the other actors. Manisha Koirala was awesome - perfect as the no-make-up mountain village girl. It takes a lot of confidence for a beautiful woman to allow herself to be photographed with so much pain written in her face.


At the end of the film our hero, beaten and bloody, approaches his beloved who has explosives hidden under her clothing. She has accepted her martyrdom and is headed for death.


He says: “I once said I’d never leave you. I have come.”

Knowing she is a walking timebomb and concerned for his safety, she warns him to stay away. Determined to fulfill her suicide mission, she tries to get by him and he lunges, grabbing her arm.


He says: “This is truth.”


He pulls her to him, holding her from behind, he can feel the explosives – but he doesn’t care. He stopped caring about that long ago. He has made his decision.


He whispers to her, “Don’t come with me, if you don’t want to.”


This is a male, with a high testosterone aggressive job, who has just been beaten up, escaped the terrorists and the Indian CIA, and beaten up another terrorist to find her – and he says passively, gently, “Don’t come with me, if you don’t want to.”


Her eyes are wild with fear – she’s freaking out now.


He whispers, holding her close, “Take me with you.”


Once again, he is passive. He will not be the one to ‘take’ her.

He is surrendering to her Will.


Again he says, “Take me along.”


Here is a passive expression, again of surrender from a normally willful man.


He holds onto her, ever tighter. Her face is twisted by her anguish and pain, tears streaming down her cheeks. He turns her around to face him – tears in his eyes and blood on his face.


Again, “Take me along.”


Once more begging her, his bloodstained bandaged hand reaches for hers and desperate to feel her touch, he places her hand on his face.


Once more, he begs her, “Take me too along.”

Almost a mantra, ‘Take me along’ is his expression of surrender to her...


And then he says, “You love me. Just once, say that you love me.”


Again, “Just once, say that you love me. Just once, say that you love me. Just once, say that you love me.”


Again a mantra of surrender...


Then, eye-to-eye, their faces very close now – he says, “Say it just once!”


Their eyes are locked in a silence that for them must reflect the slowing of time, as they both know they have only a few seconds left of life.


She looks deeply into him and with the least possible motion, nods lovingly, teary eyed – a new tenderness comes into her face, her eyes shinning with love for such a brief moment. She moves her head gently to almost nestle into him – a subtle demonstration of her final surrender to him and his love for her, which has at last overpowered her.


They embrace – after enduring the pain of so long a separation. They are now completely ONE. And in what may be his greatest moment of acting genius, to my knowledge, Shahrukh makes a series of the most amazingly subtle and intelligent expressions I have ever seen.


In what can only be a few seconds, he makes a timeless expression of a profound and deeply felt acceptance of this their tragic moment – and in defiance of their fate and impinging death, he simultaneously holds onto her as if to protect her within the strength of his tender embrace and undying love, as they move together into Death.


His lips purse slightly, expressing a stubborn determination, a slight nod of the head, like shrugging your shoulders, in relinquishment of all control, giving in and giving up, while his eyes say - 'It was all worth it.'


His lips are barely touching her forehead, as she is hiding in his protective embrace, waiting, steeled against the next moment. He takes a small breath, his last, letting go of everything, of life itself. He closes his eyes on this his tear and blood stained face, for the final time – and the bomb goes off in a white explosion! The ultimate total surrender…


A.R. Rahman’s music haunts you with these words:


Let me sleep in the lap of death!

Let me drown my body in your soul,

You of the many colors, of the many-colored soul.


Those of you who understand the idea of spiritual surrender in Bhakti Yoga and Sufism will love this film.


Santosh Sivan’s camera work is, as the Planet Bollywood reviewer says is simply stunning. For those of us who will probably never visit Ladakh, Sivan’s images will remain etched in our hearts, inspirational.


SRK’s acting in this film was superb - at once a mix of his endearing, boyish vulnerability, tenderness, and wild explosive impulsiveness that characterize the intelligence of this immensely popular actor.


The critics often say this is A.R. Rahman's best film score.


Farah Khan’s choreography is at its original imaginative heights. Who can forget the dance in SATRANGI RE, the stunning images of passionate anguish, ‘love is an uncontrollable fire’.


Love is an uncontrollable fire…

It cannot be started on a whim,

and cannot be extinguished if you try

Love is an uncontrollable fire…

Her eyes touched me like so - lightly, lightly,

and I was infatuated; it filled my heart.

You, only you, you are all the sweetness of living!

You are my longing, my longing itself

The flame of your body fires my breath; desire urges me onward.

My pain begins to understand its purpose: 

You, only you... You are all the sweetness of living.

You, only you... You are my longing, longing itself!

You touch me like a whisper, your eyes softened by silence.

On the floor I make my prayers, some conscious, some unconscious.


Or SRK’s contagious energy, igniting rhythms on top of that train dancing to CHAIYYA CHAIYYA. WAH! What a scene! Or tenderly protecting Manisha in the get-up-and-dance song, ‘the heart, it’s a sweet hardship’ DIL SE RE?




On the back of the DVD it says: Ancient Arabic literature classifies love into seven different shades…

HUB…their eyes meet, it is like a touch…a spark…Attraction.

UNS…the touch of the eyes was as if, it was infatuation.

ISHQ…the flame of the body is felt, his breath starts igniting…Love.

AQIDAT…Reverence…she touches him like a whisper, as if silence is mixed in here eyes…he prays, knelt down on the floor, a little consciously & a little unconsciously…

IBADAAT…he is entangled on her path…entangled in her arms…Love turns to worship.

JUNOON…his living is an Obsession…his dying is an obsession…apart from this there is no peace…

MAUT…let him rest in the lap of Death…let his drown his body in her soul…

DIL SE…a journey through these seven shades.





Love has nothing to do with

the five senses and the six directions:

its goal is only to experience

the attraction exerted by the Beloved.

Afterwards, perhaps, permission

will come from God:

the secrets that ought to be told, will be told

with an eloquence nearer to the understanding

than these subtle confusing allusions.

The secret is partner with none

but the knower of the secret:

in the skeptic's ear

the secret is no secret at all.


- Rumi, Mathnavi III, Sufi poet; 1417-1424






My darling, grant me your sight,

I cannot exist without You.

Life without You is like a pond without a lotus,

Or a night without the moon.

I pass nights in deep distress,

The pain of absence eats my heart.

No food by day, no sleep by night.

No words pass my lips either.

Who will listen to me? To whom can I speak?

Come, my Beloved, and quench my pain.

Why do You torment me, O Inner Ruler?

If You came, my pain would go.

Mira is you servant, her Love has run for many births.



Deep is my longing to meet Shyam [Krishna],

Every day I rise early and wait for Him in expectation.

Many days I have passed in torment,

I am caught in the net of longing.

Show me Thy compassion soon, my Master.

Am I not Thy slave?

My weary eyes long for Thy sight,

My breath will hardly emerge from my body.

Day and night my only thought is

"When will Hari [Krishna] keep me by his side?"

Mine is a love that will not lapse,

Why do You still make mischief?

O Master of Mira, When will You come?

Your coming will fulfill all my desires.


From 'The Devotional Poems of Mira Bai'

Translated with Introduction & Notes by A.J. Alston; Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1980





The following quotes are from: BHAKTI - The Religion of Love

By B.Bhattacharya, 2003, UBS Publishers, New Delhi


The love that does not overwhelm – is no LOVE.


Love is not to be found in the ephemeral physical containers…the body draws a limit when Love desires to fly free into the realms of boundless, limitless JOY!


A spirit of submission [surrender] acts as a true guide to deeper Knowledge.


The end of all Knowledge lies mute and still in Love.


The experience and consummation is THE thing – and not the object that helps give the experience.





If you should choose to take God on as your Beloved, you will find yourself opening a 'door' to an adventure that has no ending. They say that in the Kali Yuga, Bhakti Yoga is the most effective way to reach Union and ONENESS with God. This is because whatever Knowledge of universal truths and metaphysics there is in the Kali is likely to be contaminated and confused by the dense frequencies of this Cycle of Time - and thus slow the seeker down on the Path Home. The Path through the Heart is considered pure - and safer.







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