Ramaiya Vastavaiya Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Raj Kapoor Nadira Shree 420

In a classic example of a dutch angle, Raj Kapoor recoils from the snake-like Nadira in Shree 420 (1955).

Today we present the lyrics and English translation of the famous “Ramaiya Vastavaiya” from Raj Kapoor’s 1955 blockbuster Shree 420. One of the most priceless gems of India’s Golden Age of Cinema, Shree 420 is a showman’s dream. In an era when the aesthetic of film was still an experimental playground, Raj Kapoor’s Shree 420 is as original and evocative as it was 60 years ago.

Raju, played by Raj Kapoor himself, arrives in Bombay as a patriotic simpleton crooning “Mera Joota Hai Japani.” In a pawnshop, Raju encounters Vidya (played by Nargis, in her final romantic appearance opposite Raj Kapoor under his banner production company), a pretty teacher who is selling her bangles to help pay for her struggling school (and whose name redundantly means “knowledge.”) For the next few weeks, Raju works hard to both earn a decent living at a laundry service and to woo the principled Vidya, dreaming of a simple and happy future family.

However, this utopian simplicity does not last long. When Raju delivers some pressed shirts to a wealthy flat, he meets Maya (whose name significantly means “illusion”), a high society woman who thrives on parties and gambling with the rich. She recognizes Raju’s untapped potential as a cunning cardshark, and lures him to a fancy soiree where she introduces him as Rajkumar, the Prince of Pipalinagar, of all things ridiculous. This brief taste of luxury and easy money leads Raju to agree to form a partnership with the corrupt industrialist Seth Dharamanand, bringing him instant wealth.

But Raju’s whirlwind romance with high Bombay society is stained by the shame Vidhya instills in him for his actions, and one night at the nightclub, he sees Maya and her world of illusion for what they truly are. He runs away in horror back to the slums that once gave him a home. Enter the song “Ramaiya Vastavaiya,” a cute villager number complete with chorus girls in native dress and a heavy-handed reminder that yes, poor people can be happy too.

Nargis Shree 420 ramaiya vastavaiya

Nargis plays a virtuous, impoverished schoolteacher who struggles to give her students a better life in Shree 420 (1955).

Of course, the question you really want answered is, what the heck does “Ramaiya vastavaiya” mean?

It turns out Ramaiya vastavaiya is Telegu for respectfully asking, “Ram, won’t you come?” Legend has it that music composer Shankar Singh Raghuvanshi, who grew up in Hyderabad where Telugu is a dominant language, had been demonstrating his composition to director Raj Kapoor using placeholder Telugu lyrics. When Raj Kapoor heard the tune, he loved it so much, he wanted the Telugu title lyrics to be included in the final version! And perhaps the convenient symbolism did not escape Raj Kapoor–like Lord Ram returning at last to his kingdom, Raju finally comes back to the people who love him and his true home.

But all that aside, the real reason everyone has adored “Ramaiya Vastavaiya” for generations is simply that it’s so darn catchy. If you hear it once, you’ll be humming it all day! We hope you enjoy our English translation to the lyrics of this all-time favorite below. Follow along with the video and let us know in the comments how much your mind was blown like ours by the discovery of Ramaiya vastavaiya‘s Telugu roots.

Ramaiya Vastavaiya Lyrics and English Translation:

Mohammed Rafi:
Ramayyaa vastaavayyaa, ramayyaa vastaavayyaa
Ram, will you return?
Lata Mangeshkar:
Mai.N ne dil tujhko diyaa
I have given you my heart
Chorus:
Haa.N ramayyaa vastaavayyaa, ramayyaa vastaavayyaa
Yes, Ram, will you return?
Mai.N ne dil tujhko diyaa
I have given you my heart

village girl

Dancer Sheela Vaz plays a stock village girl with all the right morals in Shree 420 (1955). While shooting the song, Sheila Vaz, who did not speak Hindi, studied a translation of “Ramaiya Vastavaiya” and faked it till she made it!

Mohammed Rafi:
Naino.N mei.N thii pyaar kii roshnii
In your eyes was the light of love
Teri aankho.N me yeh duniyaadaari na thii
This worldliness was not in your eyes then
Lata Mangeshkar:
Tu aur thaa teraa dil aur thaa
You were different, your heart was different
Tere man mei.N yeh miThi kaTaari na thii
This sweet dagger was not in your heart then
Mohammed Rafi:
Mai.n jo dukh paauu.N, to kyaa? Aaj pachhataauu.N, to kyaa?
If I become sad, so what? If I regret today, so what?
Chorus:
Maine dil tujhko diyaa
I have given you my heart
Oh ramayyaa vastaavayyaa, ramayyaa vastaavayyaa
Oh, Ram, will you return?

Mohammed Rafi:
Us desh mei.N tere pardes mei.N
In that country, in your foreign land
Sone chaa.Ndi ke badle mei.N bhikate hai.N dil
Instead of gold and silver, they sell hearts
Lata Mangeshkar:
Is gaao.N mei.N, dard ki chhaao.N mei.N
In this village, in the shadow of pain
Pyaar ke naam par hii dhaDakte hai.N dil
Hearts beat only in the name of love
Chaand taaro.N ke tale, raat yeh gaatii chale
In the tent of the moon and stars, the night sings this songs
Maine dil tujhko diyaa
I have given you my heart
Chorus:
Oh ramayyaa vastaavayyaa, ramayyaa vastaavayyaa
Oh, Ram, will you return?

Nargis Shree 420 ramaiya vastavaiya

Joining in on the song playing on everyone’s lips in town, Nargis mourns for her lost love in Shree 420 (1955).

Lata Mangeshkar:
Yaad aati rahii dil dukhaati rahii
I still remember you, my hearts still grieves
Apne man ko manaanaa na aayaa hame.N
But I do not know how to conciliate my own mind
Tu na aaye to kyaa? Bhuul jaaye, to kyaa?
If you do not come, so what? If you forget, so what?
Pyaar karke bhulaanaa na aayaa hame.N
But having fallen in love, I do not know how to make myself forget
Wohii se duur se hii, tu bhi yeh keh de kabhii
Even from far away, say this sometime
Maine dil tujhko diyaa
I have given you my heart
Chorus:
Oh ramayyaa vastaavayyaa, ramayyaa vastaavayyaa
Oh, Ram, will you return?
Mukesh:
Maine dil tujhko diyaa
I have given you my heart
Chorus:
Oh ramayyaa vastaavayyaa, ramayyaa vastaavayyaa
Oh, Ram, will you return?

Raj Kapoor Ramaiya Vastavaiya Shree 420

Embodying the return of Lord Ram, Raj Kapoor leaves the glitzy world of Bombay nightlife to engage a captive audience of villagers in Shree 420 (1955).

Mukesh:
Rastaa wohii aur musaafir wohii
The path is the same and the traveler is the same
Ek taaraa na jaane kahaa.N chhup gayaa
But I do not know where that star has hidden itself
Duniyaa wohii duniyaawaale wohii
The society is the same, the citizens are the same
Koi kyaa jaane kiskaa jahaa.N luT gayaa
No one knows whose world has been destroyed
Merii aankho mei.N rahe, kaun jo mujh se kahe?
Who once told me to remain forever in their eyes?
Maine dil tujhko diyaa
I have given you my heart
Chorus:
Oh ramayyaa vastaavayyaa, ramayyaa vastaavayyaa
Oh, Ram, will you return?

Glossary:

Ramya vastavaiyaa: Ram, will you come (Telugu); dil: heart; nain: eyes; pyaar: love; roshnii: light; aankhe.N: eyes; duniyaadaari: wordliness; man: mind; heart; miiThaa: sweet; kaTaarii: small dagger; dukh: sadness; pacchtaanaa: to regret; desh: country (India); pardes: foreign country; sonaa: gold; chaa.Ndii: silver; [kisi ke] badle mei.N: in place of [something]; bhiktaanaa: to sell; gaao.N: village; dard: pain; chaao.N: shadow; naam: name: dhaDaknaa: [the heart] to beat; chaa.Nd: moon; taaraa: star; raat: night; gaanaa: to sing; yaad aanaa: to remember; dukhaanaa: to grieve; manaanaa: to conciliate, to cajole; bhuul jaanaa: to forget; bhuulaanaa: to make [someone] forget; duur: far away; kabhii: sometime; rastaa: path; musaafir: traveler; chhup jaanaa: to hide; duniyaa: society, the world; duniyaawaale: citizens; jahaa.N: world; luT gayaa: destroyed

Lalita Pawar Raj Kapoor Shree420

With motherly affection, Lalita Pawar welcomes Raj Kapoor back to the fold with open arms in Shree 420 (1955).

The moral dilemma that plagues Raju’s existence eventually comes to a climax when Seth Dharamanand, Maya, and Raju are incriminated for swindling money from the poor to build communal houses. Seeking to atone for the past, Raju address the scores of poor people awaiting a home. Perhaps it is impossible to build houses for each person individually, he says, but they are a group of a million people, now united, and if they go to the government and demand land, they have the power to build their own homes with their combined money. The cure to poverty for the nation, he preaches, is not dishonesty, but hard-work and determination. Raju is released from his charges, and returns to the lifestyle of an honest workingman as he began, joined by Vidya who has forgiven him. The film finishes, humbled and hopeful, with the two heading down the road of life together.

Thank you to our fans Mustafa and Onima Thakur for this inspiring request!

-Mrs. 55

P.S. Be sure to watch the music video of this song and appreciate Raj Kapoor’s novel song transitions! Halfway through the song, the camera tracks “Ramaiya Vastavaiya” as it is picked up from the dancing villager’s circle by a passing horse carriage, overheard by a bicyclist, who carries the melody to Nargis sitting alone miles away, thereby fluidly retaining the realism of the sequence. Song transitions were still uncharted territory in this infant age of cinema–and Raj Kapoor, like the the great Guru Dutt, was a genius and pioneer. OK, OK I promise that’s the last thing I’m going to say about this song–but seriously, every scene in this movie is a film-lover’s gold mine!

Khoya Khoya Chand Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

dev anand Khoya Khoya chand kala bazaar

Dapper Dev Anand floats through Ooty with hair that could make Tintin jealous in Kala Bazaar (1960).

Today we highlight the lyrics and English translation to Mohammed Rafi’s “Khoya Khoya Chand” from the film Kala Bazaar (1960). Dev Anand stars as a poor bus conductor with an ailing mother who becomes desperate when he loses his job. He turns to the black market and makes a fortune in underground business dealings. Although he is able to provide well for his mother, he is ashamed when he meets the pure-hearted, but strong-willed Waheeda Rehman who spurns all forms of dishonesty. The strength of Kala Bazaar is in its character study, and though perhaps occasionally heavy-handed, the personalities it portrays are not stereotypic. Both Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman carry flaws as they navigate the grey space of their moral boundaries, adding a welcome warmth to the film.

Like the effortlessly romantic “Likhe Jo Khat Tujhe,” “Khoya Khoya Chand” makes my top three Mohammed Rafi songs of all time (bonus points if you can guess the third!) Set upon the peaceful Ooty landscape and brimming with whimsy, “Khoya Khoya Chand” is Dev Anand’s ode to the woman he loves and the crossroads at which they stand. The camera breezes alongside him, a cinematographic embodiment of the changing winds, and soars left and right as flirtatiousy as Shailendra’s lyrics. “Khoya Khoya Chand” is quite literally a breath of fresh air that will change the characters (and possibly you) forever! With an open sky of possibility above, what’s there not to love?

Waheeda Rehman Khoya Khoya Chand

With bold and unafraid eyebrows that make no excuses, Waheeda Rehman glows in the elegant black-and-white cinematography of Kala Bazaar (1960).

We hope you enjoy our English translation of the playful hit song “Khoya Khoya Chand” below! Follow along with our lyrics to the video here and try not to get dizzy as the camera spins with Dev Anand through the Ooty countryside!

Khoya Khoya Chand Lyrics and Translation:

O ho ho, khoya khoya chaand, khula aasmaan
The lost moon in the open sky
Aankhon mei.N saari raat jaayegi
The whole night will fly before your eyes
Tumko bhi kaise nee.Nd aayegi
How will you be able to sleep?
Oh oh, khoya khoya chaand…
Oh, the lost moon

Mastii bharii hawaa jo chalii
The blowing wind is filled with intoxication
Khil khil gayii yeh dil ki kalii
The flower of my heart has blossomed
Man ki gali mein hai khalbalii
There is an agitation in the alley of my soul
Ke unko to bulaao
For I must call out to her
O ho ho, khoya khoya chaand
Oh, the lost moon…

Taare chale, nazaare chale
Stars go, sights go
Sang sang mere woh saare chale
They all go along with me
Chaaro.N taraf ishaare chale
Signals come from every direction
Kisi ke to ho jaao
That I must become someone else’s
O ho ho, khoya khoya chaand
Oh, the lost moon…

Aisii hii raat, bheegii sii raat
On a rainy night like this
Haatho.N mein haath hote voh saath
If she was beside me, hand in hand
Keh lete unse dil kii yeh baat
I would tell her these words from my heart
Ab to na sataao
Now do not torture me
O ho ho, khoya khoya chaand
Oh, the lost moon…

Hum miT chale jinke liye
The person for whom I would disappear
Bin kuch kahe woh chhup chhup rahe
Without saying a word, she sits quietly
Koi zaraa yeh unse kahe
Someone tell her
Na aise aazmaao
Do not test me like this

O ho ho, khoya khoya chaand, khula aasmaan
The lost moon in the open sky
Aankhon mei.N saari raat jaayegi
The whole night will fly before your eyes
Tumko bhi kaise nee.Nd aayegi
How will you be able to sleep?
Oh oh, khoya khoya chaand…
Oh, the lost moon

Glossary:

chaand: moon; aasmaan: sky; aa.Nkh: eye; raat: night; [kisi ko] nee.Nd aanaa: to fall asleep; mastii: intoxication; hawaa: wind; khilnaa: to bloom; dil: heart; kalii: flower; man: soul; galii: alleyway, street; khalbalii: agitation; bulaanaa: to call; taaraa: star; nazaaraa: sights, vision; sang sang: alongside, together; chaaron taraf se: from 4 directions, from everywhere; ishaaraa: signal, sign; bheegii: rainy, wet; haath: hand; baat; word; sataanaa: to torture; miTnaa: to disappear; chhup: quiet; aazmaanaa: to test; to try

dev anand khoya khoya chand kala bazaar 2

I see you, you sneaky lover of men with vintage hairstyles. Wanna piece of this pompadour?

One of the best moments of Kala Bazaar is earlier in the film when Dev Anand and his posse are selling black market tickets to the premier of the film Mother India (1957)! Real archival footage from the premiere is blended seamlessly into the narrative, giving us a glimpse at the hysteria and excitement of a real-life star-studded movie premiere in the Golden Age of Bollywood. Watch as Mohammed Rafi, Nargis, Lata Mangeshkar, Guru Dutt, Dilip Kumar, Rajendra Kumar and many more make unexpected real-life cameos! There are few things I love more than the existential fairyland that is a film about films.

Mohammed Rafi at the Mother India (1957) premier

Famed playback singer Mohammed Rafi smiles at the real-life Mother India (1957) premiere as seen in Kala Bazaar (1960)!

This fun-loving song was requested by two faithful fans, Sudipta Banerjee and Himani Sood! Many thanks for the brilliant request and if you’re trapped in a snowstorm this week like we are, we hope these lyrics remind you of the joys of warm weather soon to come!

– Mrs. 55

Yeh Mera Prem Patra Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Yeh Mera Prem Patra Sangam Rajendra kumar vijayantimala

Vijayantimala reads a love letter from her childhood sweetheart Rajendra Kumar in “Yeh Mera Prem Patra” from Sangam (1964).

Happy Valentine’s Day to all our fans! In celebration of this romantic holiday, we present the lyrics and English translation to one of our favorite love songs, “Yeh Mera Prem Patra” from the hit film Sangam (1964). Radha (played by Vijayantimala) and Gopal (played by Rajendra Kumar) play two childhood lovers who have kept their feelings hidden because of Kumar’s best friend, Sundar (played by Raj Kapoor), who has professed his unwavering devotion to Radha for years. Although Radha spurns Sundar’s love, Sundar begs his best friend Gopal to make sure no other man spoils his chances when Sundar is called to serve in the air force on the northern front.

But then! Sundar is killed while serving his country–and in their shared mourning, Radha and Gopal can finally express their undying love for one another. A shining moment in Mohammed Rafi’s career, “Yeh Mera Prem Patra” is their outpouring of uninhibited romance. With a heavenly chorus in the air that highlights the dream-like world in which the two now find themselves, Radha runs across an open meadow to Gopal as he writes her a love letter. In fact, she is so eager to discover what he has written, that her sari falls from her shoulder in her haste, revealing the front of her blouse.

Let’s pause right here. For anyone uninitiated to classic Hindi films, believe me when I say, this NEVER happens. The heroine in classic Bollywood would never let her sari fall so revealingly, and surprisingly, Radha makes NO moves to adjust it. The scene is filmed brilliantly–because of the camera’s position, the sari show is purely for the viewer to ponder–Gopal is facing the audience and cannot see what we have all noticed. It’s as if the director, Raj Kapoor, is telling us that the romance we are witnessing is not purely chaste. And indeed, the like the Radha-Gopal of Hindu mythology, the film’s two lovers are not to be destined for eternal bliss.

Yeh Mera Prem Patra sari tussle

ABOVE: Vijayantimala quietly approaches Rajendra Kumar with her sari having fallen off her shoulder. BELOW: Rajendra Kumar and Vijayantimala tussle for the end of her sari playfully while the low camera height emphasizes the beautiful open skies.

The song references the famous Ganga and Jamuna rivers from whose geographical confluence with the river Saraswati (sangam), the film derives its name. The triangular symbolism and references to the sangam is evoked throughout the film, with each character embodying one of the three ancient rivers. Sangam made history as Raj Kapoor’s first technicolour film and one of the first Bollywood films to be shot in exotic locals such as Venice, Paris and Switzerland.

But beneath all the glitter, did you know there’s actually true love story behind this sweet poem? At the age of 20, the famed Urdu lyricist of “Yeh Mera Prem Patra,” Hasrat Jaipuri, fell in love his own Radha, a young Hindu woman from hometown in Jaipur. Though they never married, she would inspire many of his greatest poems. Jaipuri later recalled fondly in an interview:

“Meri haveli ke samne, ek badi khoobsurat ladki rehti jiska naam tha Radha. Aur ishq ka mahzab se, zaat paat se, koi taaluq nahii.N. Kisi se bhi ho sakta hai, kisi se bhi kiya jaa sakta hai. To mera unse pyaar hua. Taalim maine sher-o-shayari ki, mere naanaa madhoom/manhoom se haasil ki?, lekin ishq ka sabak jo hai, woh Radha ne padhaayaa ki ishq kya cheez hai.”

[“Near my home a very beautiful girl lived named Radha. And neither religion nor caste and creed have any power over love. It can happen with anyone and it can happen to anyone. And so I fell in love with her. I may have trained in poetry from my grandfather, but the lesson of love was taught by Radha.”]

“Yeh Mera Prem Patra” is the very love letter that Jaipuri wrote to his real life Radha–more than 20 years before Raj Kapoor would use the same sweet poem in Sangam! So this Valentine’s Day, we at Mr. and Mrs. 55 recommend you do something old-fashioned and write your special someone a romantic love letter! For inspiration, soak up Hasrat Jaipuri’s shy, tender lyrics and our English translation to the sentimental love letter, “Yeh Mera Prem Patra” below!

Yeh Mera Prem Patra Lyrics and Translation:

Meherbaa.Nlikhuu.N? “Haseenaa” likhuu.N? Yaa “dilruubaa” likhuu.N?
Should I write “compassionate one”? Should I write “beautiful one”? Or should I write “beloved”?
Hairaan huu.N ki aap ko is khat mei.N kyaa likhuu.N
I am puzzled by what to write in this letter to you

Yeh meraa prem patra paDh kar, ki tum naaraaz na honaa
When you read this love letter of mine, may you not be angry
ki tum merii zindagii ho, ki tum merii bandagii ho
For you are my life, for you are my prayer

Tujhe mai.N chaand kehtaa thaa, magar us mei.N bhi daagh hai
I used to call you the moon, but in the moon are blemishes
Tujhe suraj mai.n kehtaa thaa, magar us mei.N bhi aag hai
I used to call you the sun, but in the sun is ablaze
Tujhe itnaa hii kehta huu.N ki mujhko tumse pyaar hai, tumse pyaar hai, tumse pyaar hai
I tell you only this that I love you, I love you, I love you

Tujhe Gangaa mai.N samajhuu.Ngaa, tujhe Jamunaa mai.N samajhuu.Ngaa
I will think of you as the Ganges River, I will think of you as the Jamuna River
Tu dil ke paas hai itnii, tujhe apnaa mai.N samajhuu.Ngaa
You are so close to my heart, I will think of you as my own
Agar mar jaauu.N ruuh bhaTakegii tere intezaar mei.N, intezaar mei.N, intezaar mein
If I die, my soul will wander waiting for you, waiting for you, waiting for you

Yeh meraa prem patra paDh kar, ki tum naraaz na honaa
When you read this love letter of mine, may you not be angry
ki tum merii zindagii ho, ki tum merii bandagii ho
For you are my life, for you are my prayer

Glossary:

meherbaa.N: compassionate one; likhnaa: to write; haseenaa: beautiful lady; dilruuba: lover; hairaan: puzzled, stunned; khat: letter; prem: love; patra: letter; paDhnaa: to read; naaraaz: angry; zindagii: life; bandagii: prayer; chaand: moon; daagh: flaw, blemish; suraj: sun; aag: fire; pyaar: love; Gangaa: Ganges River; Jamunaa: Jamunaa River; dil: heart; [kisi ke] paas: to be nearby [something]; mar jaanaa: to die; ruuh: soul; bhaTaknaa: to wander; intezaar: wait

romance in the garden

Rajendra Kumar and Vijayantimala romance each other in a sunlit garden in Sangam (1964). For once in his life, Rajendra Kumar’s outfit of choice adds to the ambiance rather than destroys.

One of my favorite moments both musically and cinematically in this song comes at the very end when Lata Mangeshkar picks up the chorus over a beautiful wide tracking shot of the lovebirds walking hand-in-hand in the Elysian forest. This heavenly moment can only be seen and heard in the movie, it was tragically cut from the record version we know so well!

Mrs. 55 wedding

As promised, here is a photograph of Mrs. 55 finally marrying her college sweetheart last December!

Mrs. 55 adab arz

Adab arz hai! This love poem is dedicated to my very romantic new husband and personal Bollywood hero!

Soon after this song, Sundar surprises the couple by returning from war alive! Sundar then marries Radha because his devoutly loyal friend Gopal is unable to tell him his true feelings (like a typical Bollywood bromance, don’t you just love how the woman has basically ZERO say in all this?). Inevitably, of course, the famous love letter is later discovered and Raj Kapoor is heartbroken. See our English translation of the epic self-pitying “Dost Dost Na Raha” for more of the drama that unfolds!

But let us temporarily forget all that on this lovely Valentine’s Day. This beautiful ode was requested by dedicated fan Inderjit Wassi! Thank you for the poetic request!

– Mrs. 55

The History of Kissing in Bollywood: Timeline of a Taboo

Satyam Shivan Sundaram kiss Shashi Kapoor Zeenat Aman

Shashi Kapoor and Zeenat Aman kiss each other and a damp dupatta in Satyam Shivan Sundaram (1977).

Kissing in Bollywood films has been a volatile subject, a heated source of international ridicule and shame, for almost 100 years.  This blog post is likely to horrify just as many readers as it intrigues. What many people do not know is that the taboo of kissing in Hindi films has evolved so dramatically since the birth of film. In its early days, intimacy on-screen was not the heretical offense it later became–in fact, an appropriate diegetic display of affection was once standard fare in Hindi film! But a carefully constructed web of symbolic cinematography and allegorical imagery soon replaced the film industry’s brief encounter with physical romance. Instead generations of Indians grew up in a world where pretty treetops and flowers were more passionate than any human interaction could ever become. We created scores of young men and women like myself who get so uncomfortable when kissing appears on-screen if Indian parents are present, that we actually have to leave the room to relieve tension. And when I first saw Shashi Kapoor sell his soul kissing in a Satyam Shivam Sundaram, I felt my world had come to an end.

Why is there such hype around kissing in Hindi films? After all, we’re all modern citizens of the world, and certainly Indians are some of the most romantic. Kissing in Bollywood films has jumped the spectrum from as liberal as the French in the 1920s to a wave of conservatism brought by the 1950s and again a shift back toward cinema’s early lip-locking roots by the 1990s. We at Mr. and Mrs. 55 hope our descriptive timeline of this fascinating cause célèbre sheds light on this controversial impulse of nature we were all led to believe pure Indian film stars did not possess!

Kohra Waheeda Rehman kiss fish symbolism

Director Biren Nag cleverly cuts from a threatened kissing scene in Kohra (1964) between Waheeda Rehman and Biswajeet to two fish finishing what the married couple started.

1896: The Lumiere Brothers bring cinema to India with a showing at the Watson Hotel in Bombay.

1918: Cinematographic Act is first passed by the country’s legislative council.

This addresses the licensing of cinema houses and the certification of films declared suitable for public exhibition. Boards of Censors would be established within 2 years in all major Indian cities, based on the guidelines of the British Board of Film Censors.

1921: Bilat Ferat, a Bengali silent film directed by Dhirendra Nath Gunguli, displays intimate scenes and kissing galore.

Based on Mahabharata, the film is about two kings who are vying for same hermit’s daughter.

1922: The film Pati Bhakti showcases Lalita Pawar in a serious kiss.

She would later become known for her stock roles in the 1950s and 1960s as the hard-hitting conservative mother figure.

1929: Silent film A Throw of Dice an exciting kiss between actors Seeta Devi and Charu Roy.

1933: Devika Rani locked lips with her real life husband Himanshu Rai on screen in Karma.

The famous lip-lock took 4 minutes and remains the longest onscreen kiss to date.

Devika Rani Karma

Shocking, right? Silent film star Devika Rani kisses her hero like a champ in Karma (1933). I know, I know. Despite myself, I can’t help but feel really, really uncomfortable.

1952: Cinematograph Act is established, ruling on-screen kissing to be indecent.

The Supreme Court of India claims: “Film censorship becomes necessary because a film motivates thought and action and assures a high degree of attention and retention as compared to the printed word. The combination of act and speech, sight and sound in semi darkness of the theatre with elimination of all distracting ideas will have a strong impact on the minds of the viewers and can affect emotions. Therefore, it has as much potential for evil as it has for good and has an equal potential to instill or cultivate violent or bad behaviour. It cannot be equated with other modes of communication.”

1954: 13,000 Indian women of Delhi collect a petition to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru that urges him to address the cinema’s wild potential to encourage “precocious sex habits.”

My question is, where were all the Indian men of Delhi?

“Films have an essential part to play in the modern world,” Nehru responded. “At the same time it is true that any powerful medium like motion pictures has a good effect and a bad effect. We have to take care therefore that we emphasise the good aspect of it.”

Incidentally, the biographical movie “The Indian Summer” in production a few years ago featured the story of Prime Minister Nehru during independence. The irony? The Information and broadcasting ministry wanted a scene featuring the kiss between Nehru and Edwina, wife of Lord Mountbatten, to be deleted. The film was ultimately shelved.

1964: The film Kohra displays a super awkward scene between a newlywed couple flirting with each other as wife Waheeda Rehman attempts to wake up her husband Biswajeet in the morning.

Several kisses are creatively implied. While the scene is actually filmed in the couple’s bedroom, two twin beds are shown just in case there could be any confusion.

1969: The song “Roop Tera Mastana” from film Aradhana becomes arguably the steamiest scene ever to hit the Hindi film industry.

See our English translation of “Roop Tera Mastana” for more! The Khosla Committee is established to inquire into the working of the existing procedures for the certification of films for public exhibition and related matters, focusing on the representation of sexuality saying:

“If, in telling the story it is logical, relevant or necessary to depict a passionate kiss or a nude human figure, there should be no question of excluding the shot, provided the theme is handled with delicacy and feeling, aiming at aesthetic expression and avoiding all suggestion of prurience or lasciviousness.”

Yet, many continued to find this attitude “un-Indian,” as the nation grappled with its increasingly important role in the global forum.

Bobby Rishi Kapoor Dimple kapadia kissing

Rishi Kapoor unexpectedly smooches Dimple Kapadia in Bobby (1973).

1973: Dimple Kapadia dresses in fewer items of clothing than ever seen on-screen before and kisses Rishi Kapoor in the film Bobby.

From bikini scenes by a pool, to lounging around the house with her bare midriff and a miniskirt, Dimple Kapadia was careful to leave nothing to the imagination.

1978: The film Satyam Shivam Sundaram showcases Shashi Kapoor and Zeenat Aman locking lips in multiple scenes.

Shashi Kapoor eventually jumps off the kissing deep-end in Merchant-Ivory films becoming known as the Bollywood actor with no boundaries!

1988: Gulzar’s Libaas is banned by the Indian Censor Board and was not released in India until 2014.

The film starring Shabana Azmi and Naseerudin Shah centers on Indian couples having extra-marital relationships. The film was critically acclaimed around the world, but was not allowed a showing for almost 30 years in the country of its origin.

I’m sure the Censor Board’s decision to ban this film prevented tons of men and women from cheating on each other…umm, not.

1996: Raja Hindustani features an awkward minute-long kiss between Amir Khan and Karishma Kapoor.

I still recall the awkwardness of that scene when first seeing this film with my family. Oh, my scarred childhood.

2004: Sharmila Tagore becomes Chair of the Central Board of Film Certification (until 2011).

You might think that would tame things down again, but she subsequently allows all kinds of wildness:

“We see ourselves as more of a certification body than just censor board. We are not into moral policing; we follow a middle path. There are certain things we let go, as we have to be a little more tolerant and mature. Times are changing and we have to change with it.”

Under her watch, kissing in Hindi films hits the jackpot.

“I do believe in censorship and I do believe in freedom of expression, but at the same time there has to be a reasonable restriction. You really can’t go back; the change of being liberal is here to stay for a longer time,” she added.

2005: Rani Mukherjee and Amitabh Bachhan share a cross-generational kiss in the film Black

It’s as weird as you would imagine.

2008: A passionate kiss between Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan in the film Dhoom 2 was asked to be removed by Aishwarya’s father-in-law, Amitabh Bachhan.

After all, she was a married woman now, and that would just be the height of humiliation for her family, right???! Oh, the irony. Isn’t it 2008 already?

2010: Shah Rukh Khan who vowed never to kiss on-screen was “forced” to kiss Katrina Kaif in the film Jab Tak Hai Jaan.

Oh please, Shah Rukh. That didn’t exactly look like extortion to me.

2012: Bombay Talkies displays Bollywood’s first full-out gay kiss, and debuted at the Cannes Film Festival.

We totally love how this is finally making it to the mainstream and stereotypes are getting challenged in India! Thank you Karan Johar for having more guts than most Bollywood directors ever did.

Karan Johar gay kiss Bombay Talkies

Director Karan Johar featured a tender kiss between two men with lots of facial hair in his short segment in Bombay Talkies (2012).

My apologies in advance to all the aunties who were unable to finish their breakfasts because they stumbled across this post. Believe me, it hurts me as much as it hurts you.

One of the reasons we’ve been so out of touch the past few months is because of preparations for my wedding that took place 2 weeks ago! Mr. 55 gave a beautiful piano performance at the sangeet of “Lag Ja Gale” that would have you in tears. Many pictures are forthcoming, but you’ll be interested to note that in classic Bollywood tradition, not a single kiss was planned at the event! But we were tricked as soon after we stepped off the mandap by my husband’s groomsmen yelling in unison to “Kiss the bride!” It was a no-win situation! If we kissed, my Nani was right in the front row and would judge us so hard, but if we didn’t, our friends would think we had some kind of problem.

So we went for it. It was probably the most awkward thing I’ve ever done. Thank you old Bollywood films for making two otherwise completely normal Americans totally unprepared for a public display of affection at their own wedding.

And no, we won’t be posting any pictures of that special moment…for obvious reasons.

– Mrs. 55

 

Thandi Hawa Kali Ghata Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Madhubala in Mr. and Mrs. 55 (1955)

The epitome of modernity, feisty Madhubala croons poolside in Mr. and Mrs. ’55 (1955).

Today we present the lyrics and English translation of “Thandi Hawa Kali Gata” from our very own namesake Mr. and Mrs. ’55 (1955). The film follows an unlikely young couple, Madhubala and Guru Dutt, who are forced together by circumstance and end up challenging their own social mores, maturing, and finding love to essentially become an ideal match—a figurative “couple of the year.”

People tend to have strong feelings one way or another for this film. The music is hands-down fantastic, but the plot tends to be divisive, depending on how you view Guru Dutt’s stance on female emancipation in the 1950s. I tend to argue that the film is empowering—his narrative is social criticism of the flaws in patriarchal society, as well as an exploration of non-traditional female roles. While Madhubala’s character does indeed discover many virtues of a conventional Indian housewife, her realization that she would prefer marriage to divorce comes with a refreshing sense of maturity and self-discovery that in no way shackles her independence. Unlike many great heroines of the era, in Mr. and Mrs. ’55, Madhubala is feisty and does exactly what she wants, when she wants! I like that about a woman.

Madhubala in Mr. and Mrs. 55 Thandi Hawa

In the coming-of-age classic “Thandi Hawa Kali Ghata,” Madhubala blushes in Mr. and Mrs. 55.

Now let’s take this moment to talk about the ridiculous ribbons and pigtails flying around the set in this song. Don’t be shy, you know precisely what I’m talking about. Mr. and Mrs. 55‘ was not the first film (and certainly not the last) to idealize fully-grown women who did their hair like 5-year old girls. Every actress of Bollywood’s yesteryear from class-act Meena Kumari to joke-a-minute Asha Parekh has played the romantic lead with a hairdo that awkwardly imitates the elementary school kids. Yes, chew on that for a moment. There’s an entire slightly uncomfortable social theory behind the craze. Contrast this lunchbox look to Madhubala’s long flowing locks in the sweet duet “Udhar Tum Haseen Ho” toward the end of the film as she begins to accept her marriage to Guru Dutt. Symbolic, no?

But enough about my beef with pigtails. Sung by Guru Dutt’s own wife Geeta Dutt, there’s plenty to love in this uplifting jingle! Follow along with the video here and enjoy our English translation and lyrics to “Thandi Hawa Kali Ghata” below!

Thandi Hawa Kali Ghata Lyrics and Translation:

ThanDii hawaa, kaalii ghaTaa, aa hii gayii jhoom ke
A cold wind and black clouds have come with ebullience
Pyaar liiye, Dole, ha.Nsii, naache jiiyaa ghoom ke
Carrying love, laughter swayed, and my heart danced in swirls

baiThii thii chhup-chhaap yuu.N hii, dil kii kalii chhum ke mai.N
I was sitting quietly, caressing the flower of my heart
dil ne yeh kyaa baat kahii, rah na sakii sun ke mai.N
What my heart said, I could not stay there to listen
mai.N jo chalii dil ne kahaa aur zaraa jhoom ke
As I left, my heart spoke with even more exuberance
Pyaar liiye, Dole, ha.Nsii, naache jiiyaa ghoom ke
Carrying love, laughter swayed, and my heart danced in swirls

Aaj to mai.N apnii chhabii dekh ke sharam aa gayii
Today I became shy upon seeing my own reflection
Jaane yeh kyaa soch rahii thii ki ha.Nsii aa gayii
I do not know what I was thinking, but I suddenly laughed
LauT gayii zulf mere honTh meraa chhuum ke
My hair flew back and touched my lips
Pyaar liiye, Dole ha.Nsii, naache jiiyaa ghoom ke
Carrying love, laughter swayed, and my heart danced in swirls

dil kaa haar iktaar hilaa, chhiDne lagii raginii
The necklace of my heart struck a chord on the iktaar, and it began teasing out a melody
kajraa bhare nain liye, ban ke chaluu.N kaaminii
With kajra-lined eyes, I became a beautiful woman and set out
Keh do koii aaj ghaTaa barse zaraa dhoom se
Someone tell the clouds to rain thunderously today
Pyaar liiye, Dole, ha.Nsii, naache jiiyaa ghoom ke
Carrying love, laughter swayed, and my heart danced in swirls

ThanDii hawaa, kaalii ghaTaa, aa hii gayii jhoom ke
A cold wind and black clouds have come with ebullience
Pyaar liiye, Dole, ha.Nsii, naache jiiyaa ghoom ke
Carrying love, laughter swayed, and my heart danced in swirls

Glossary:

ThanDii: cold, hawaa: wind; kaalii: dark; ghaTaa: cloud; jhoom: ebullience, exuberance; Dolna: to sway; ha.Nsii: laughter; naachnaa: to dance; jiiyaa: soul, heart; laughter; ghoomnaa: to swirl; chhup-chhaap: absolutely quietly; chhabii: reflection, image; sharam aanaa: to become embarrassed, to become shy; zulf: hair; honTh: lips; haar: necklace; iktaar: a traditional Hindustani one-stringed instrument, raginii: a small song, kajraa: traditional Indian  eyeliner; nain; eyes; kaaminii: a beautiful, desirable woman; koii: someone; barasnaa: to rain; dhoom se: with noise

Madhubala and friends in Mr. and Mrs. 55 (1955).

Madhubala and her girlfriends join hands in a chorus of pigtails and parasols in Mr. and Mrs. ’55 (1955).

Don’t you love how this film is just bursting with the tension of modernization? Like many typical “coming-of-age” songs, lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri employs nature-based allegories to describe a girl’s maturation to womanhood and the development of romantic inclinations. However, the song is unexpectedly filmed at the uber urban hangout of Mahatma Gandhi swimming pool in Bombay’s Shivaji Park! Gotta love those modern girls. Producer-director Nasreen Munni Kabir describes Guru Dutt’s cinematographic decision-making process while filming this song in her must-see documentary “In Search of Guru Dutt“!

This brilliant Geeta Dutt hit was requested by loyal fan Sonia! We know we’ve been taking longer than usual to get around to requests, but with Mr. 55 getting swamped in medical school and me getting down to the wire for wedding planning, we’re doing our best! Stay tuned–we love hearing from our fans!

– Mrs. 55