Kar Chale Hum Fida Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Haqeeqat soldier's child photo

A fallen soldier carries a photo of his son during the Indo-China War of 1962 portrayed in the epic film Haqeeqat (1964)

Happy Independence Day, India! To celebrate this day, we recall the sacrifice and service of our men in uniform through the poetic call to action, “Kar Chale Hum Fida,” from the great war film Haqeeqat (1964). Starring Dharmendra, Jayant, Priya Rajvansh, and Balraj Sahni, Haqeeqat was the first film of its kind to bring audiences straight to the battlefield through the eyes of Indian soldiers (an obvious inspiration for its successful modern interpretation Border in 1997). Director Chetan Anand tells a self-described “mosaic” of a war freshly lost by India, but inspires confidence in the morale-shattered audiences with moving heroism and romance. Set in the ethereal realm of Ladakh along the border of India and China, Haqeeqat revives our hopes for the future of the still growing nation and glorifies the righteousness of Indian values even when defeated. The enemy are seen as scrawny, primitive beings with a limited vocabulary while the Indian fighters are tall, gorgeous, eloquent, and noble. Haqeeqat, meaning “reality,” portrays the real losses of the Indian army, complete with stunning battle re-enactments across the Himalayas, however, the poignancy of the film is how it turns losing a war with honor into a vastly more important moral victory.

“Kar Chale Hum Fida” bears a different kind of optimism than the “Mera Joota Hai Japani” anthem of post-independence India–an outlook now tempered by the marvels of technological and cultural advances with which the nascent country sought to keep pace and by the very real threat of encroaching communism. The song classically depicts the motherland as a new bride to be defended and death as a welcome sacrifice to preserve her honor. With godlike bravery and fortitude that surmounts all obstacles, the soldiers in “Kar Chale Hum Fida” transcend from life to death, from idealistic to divine. Hope is derived from the constant refrain that entrusts the responsibility of the nation to the next generation. Written in a flash of inspiration at 1 AM by Kaifi Azmi, the song’s tune arrived equally serendipitously to composer Madam Mohan the same night and was recorded the next morning.

Haqeeqat soldier death wife daydream editing sequence

The brilliant montage of a soldier’s death with his wife turning off their bedroom lamp in Haqeeqat (1964). Trace each shot and its mis-en-scene carefully from left to right to understand the genius of this editing sequence.

Before we further discuss the lyrics to what I believe is certainly one of Kaifi Azmi’s most beautiful poems, I need to talk about a moment earlier in the film that is one of the greatest moments in film history. Note that I wrote “film history,” not merely “Bollywood film history.” This sequence is incredible and deserves a full essay. There are some moments in the human experience that can only truly be expressed through the medium of film. These are rare and a gift to any director. Most stories can be well told in prose or acted in a theatre, but the true magic of cinema lives in moments like these that fuel a film director’s dreams. In this case, film editing is the star, the juxtaposition of distinct images harkens back to Soviet montage theory when filmmakers were first exploring the possibilities of the medium. Let’s walk through this together:

Ram Swaroop plays a soldier sent to the border with a tiny boxful of earth and seeds that his young bride tells him to plant in the barren lands of Ladakh. But he is wounded mortally in the crossfire and falls on his side to the ground in a medium close-up. CUT: A reverse shot* of his wife on their bed reaching to the lamp. She flicks the light off. CUT: Reverse reaction shot of Swaroop lying on the battlefield, he smiles at her. CUT: She smiles in return, flirtatiously switching the lamp back on. She turns it off again and moves closer to him. Her eyes close as if to sleep. CUT: A gunshot is heard and Swaroop falls dead in a close-up. CUT: Wide-shot of a Chinese soldier standing over Swaroop’s body with a warm gun. CUT: Close-up of the box of earth his wife had given to him, flung to the side.

What does it mean? In 2015, we take so much about film and our common constructs for granted. Here, a man and a woman completely separated by time and space are juxtaposed back-to-back and we as an audience immediately understand what is happening. How extraordinary, if you think about it. Swaroop is imagining that he sees his wife, recalling an earlier memory of them lying together in bed. We recognize that he is dying and the symbolism of her lamp flicking on-and-off is suddenly clear. When her lamps turns off and she falls asleep, he will never awaken. It is a tantalizing moment as we are both fearful of this inevitable poetic death, but also hypnotized by her flirtatious smile and playfulness with the light. The brilliance of the editing transports us suddenly from the cold battlefield to the warmth of a bedroom and the intimacy of a couple in love. It’s a reminder of what wars are truly being fought for. We want him to join her almost as much as we need him to remain alive. The close-up of earth after Swaroop’s murder assumes the wife’s logical next position in the editing of the sequence, invoking the classic symbolism of India as a new bride whose honor is worth dying for. This is the only medium that has the power to capture this. Take a second for me with this absolutely stunning sequence and just appreciate film–film as a medium, film as poetry.

*Note: For the film nerds among us, you’ll note that the shot of Swaroop’s wife is not technically a “reverse shot.” Classical Hollywood cinema and the 180 degree principle of continuity editing tells us that for a true reverse shot, the eye lines of the subjects must match (ie. his wife’s head should in principle be on the right looking to the left), a construct with which Chetan Anand is exceedingly familiar and employed throughout the film. However, he brilliantly chose to break this rule and instead mirrors (both literally and figuratively) the shot preceding it, thus presenting an entirely alternative reality rather than a simple continuation of ideas. Am I too obsessed?

Haqeeqat Prime Minister Nehru

Though criticized for his failure to anticipate Chinese attacks, Prime Minister Nehru himself blesses us with a brief cameo derived from archival footage in the delightfully pro-Indian government film Haqeeqat (1964).

Sorry for that huge stream of consciousness, but the filmmaker in me had to rave (as I simultaneously wipe away tears of appreciation). MOVING ON. Like the heart-wrenching “Aye Mere Watan Ki Logon,” “Kar Chale Hum Fida” effectively celebrates heroism rather than dwell on military strategic failures. We hope you remember some of the men and women in uniform in your life today as we celebrate their sacrifices with the lyrics and English translation of “Kar Chale Hum Fida” below. The video to follow along can be found here. Enjoy!

Kar Chale Hum Fida Lyrics and Translation:

Kar chale hum fidaa jaan-o-tan saathiiyo
We are finished sacrificing our lives and bodies, companions
Ab tumhaare hawaale watan saathiiyo.N
Now we entrust the country to you, companions

Saa.Ns thamtii gayii, nabz jamti gayii, phir bhi baDhte qadam ko na rukhne diyaa
Our breaths kept halting, our pulses kept congealing, but we did not allow our advancing footsteps to pause
KaT gaye sar hamaare to kuch gham nahii.N, sar Himaalaya ka humne na jhukne diyaa
If our heads were cut, we felt no sorrow, for we did not allow the head of the Himalayas to bow
Marte marte rahaa baa.Nkpan saathiiyo
As we died, our chivalry remained, companions
Ab tumhaare hawaale watan saathiiyo
Now we entrust the country to you, companions

Zindaa rahne ke mausam bahut hai.N magar jaan dene ki rut roz aati nahii.N
There are many seasons to live, however, the time to give your life does not come every day
Husn aur ishq dono.N ko ruswaa kare woh jawaanii jo khoo.N mei.N nahaatii nahii.N
What displeases beauty and love are youth that do not bathe in blood
Aaj dhartii bani hai dulhan saathiiyo
Today the earth became our bride, companions
Ab tumhaare hawaale watan saathiiyo
Now we entrust the country to you, companions

Raah qurbaniyo.N kii na viraan ho, tum sajaate hii rehnaa naaye qaafile
Let the path of sacrifice not become barren, you must continue to adorn it with new processions
Fateh ka jashn is jashn ke baad hai zindagii maut se mil rahii hai.N gale
The celebration of victory is after this victory in which life and death are embracing
Baa.Ndh lo apne sar se qafan saathiiyo
Tie the funeral shroud upon your heads, companions
Ab tumhaare hawaale watan saathiiyo.N
Now we entrust the country to you, companions

Khe.Nch do apne khuu.N se zameen par lakeer,* is taraf aane paaye na Raavan koi
Draw out a line upon this earth with your blood and do not let any demons come this way
ToD do haath agar haath uThne lage, chuu.N na paaye na Sitaa kaa daaman koii
Break the enemy’s hand if his hand raises [against you] and let no one dishonor Sita
Raam bhi tum, tum hii Lakshman saathiiyo.N
You are both Ram and Lakshman, companions
Ab tumhaare hawaale watan saathiiyo.N
Now we entrust the country to you, companions

Kar chale hum fidaa jaan-o-tan saathiiyo
We are finished sacrificing our lives and bodies, companions
Ab tumhaare hawaale watan saathiiyo.N
Now we entrust the country to you, companions

Glossary:

kar chalnaa: to depart; fidaa: sacrifice; jaan: life; tan: body; saathii: companion; [kisi ke] hawaale: [in someone’s] care; watan: country; saa.Ns: breath; thhamnaa: to stop; nabz: pulse; jamnaa: to solidify, to freeze; baDhnaa: to advance; qadam: footsteps; [kisi ko] rukhne diyaa: to allow [something] to stop; kaT; cut; sar: head; gham: sorrow; Himaalaay: Himalayan mountains; jhuknaa: to bow; marnaa: to die; baa.Nkpan: chivalry; zindaa rehnaa: to remain living; mausam: season; rut: time, season; roz: every day; husn: beauty; ishq: love; ruswaa: disgrace; jawaanii: youth; khoo.N: blood; nahaanaa: to bathe; dhartii: earth; dulhan: bride; raah: path; qurbaanii: sacrifice; viraa.N: barren, wasteland; sajaanaa: to decorate; qaafile: gathering, procession; fateh: victory; jashn: celebration; [kisi ke] baad: after [something]; maut: death; gale milnaa: to embrace; baa.Ndhnaa: to tie; qafan: funeral shroud; khe.Nchnaa: to pull, to draw; zameen: earth; lakeer: line; taraf: side, toward; raavaan: mythological demon of the Ramayan; toDnaa: to break; haath: hand; uThnaa: to raise; chuu.Nnaa: to touch (in this sense, referring to the dishonorable act of touching Sita’s garments); Sitaa: Queen of Ayodha, wife of Lord Rama; [kisi ka] daaman: end of [someone’s] skirt or garment, [someone’s] company; Raam: Lord Ram, King of Ayodha; Lakshman: brother of Ram, entrusted to protect Sita in the Ramayan

*This is a reference to the ancient myth of the Ramayana in which Lord Rama draws a white circle in the ground through which his enemy, Ravana, cannot pass. As long as his wife Sita, the embodiment of Indian womanhood, remained behind this line, she would remain safe (of course, she is tricked into leaving it or we wouldn’t have a story). Lakshman, Rama’s brother, protects Sita at her side while Rama is away. Both brothers, the offense and defense, are critical to preserving Sita’s honor in the Ramayana.

Haqeeqat

At the end of Haqeeqat (1964), the film fades to black over the battle-scarred face of a younger generation with the words, “THE END IS NOT YET.” Bold move, title card designer guy. Bold move.

This song is dedicated to my late grandfather, a Major-General in the Indian Army, who became an orphan at the age of 12, survived the Partition of India in 1947, fought on the fronts of the Indo-China War of 1962, and received the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal for his service in the Corps of Military Intelligence during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. He eventually retired with 3 children and 5 grandchildren who still strive to be as elegant and brave a human being as him.

– Mrs. 55

A Guide to the Instruments of Old Bollywood Film Music: from Hindustani to Western (and everything in-between)

Madan Mohan recording studio orchestra

Music director Madan Mohan in his studio circa. 1960s. How many different instruments can you spot in this photo?

Ever find yourself listening to Bollywood film music and feel like your brain is exploding in ecstasy from the rainbow of instruments striking your tympanic membranes? We know the feeling. The history of Bollywood film music goes much deeper than the playback singers who lived in limelight. The incredible talents of Hindi film music directors and musicians are responsible for the compositions we love today. Their risks and creativity were a gift to generations of music-lovers. Without composer Naushad defying his parents to play the harmonium “live” for silent films in the 1930s or R.D. Burman’s daring musical ingenuity in his break-out film Teesri Manzil, Bollywood music as we know it would be radically different.

To truly understand the brilliance of the men and women who shaped Hindi film music, we must learn their tools. From traditional Indian instruments that date to the Vedic age to the orchestral forerunners of Europe to the unsung instruments of Brazil and Africa, the rich mediums of Bollywood music wrote their own rules. We have created a Beginner’s Guide to the Instruments of Classic Hindi Films for whether you’re a newcomer to Bollywood or a veteran, the innovation of these songs and their mechanisms will stun you. To simplify, we divided the instruments into rough categories with several of our favorite examples and links to videos and song translations beneath. And if you ever wonder which instrument was played in a particular song, refer back to this guide for the answer!

A Beginner’s Guide to the Instruments of Classic Hindi Films

String Instruments

Banjo: A plucked 4-5 string instrument with origins in Africa that traveled to America around the 18th century with African-American traditional music and became a staple of country and folk genres.

Ignore how uncomfortable the heroine’s Stockholm Syndrome makes you, and enjoy Meena Kumari’s decent impression of someone who knows how to play the banjo in the film Azaad. This is the only instance of this instrument’s prominent use in a film song that I know. If you have heard others, please leave a comment!

Kitna Haseen Hai Mausam (Azaad 1955)

Cello: A bass 4-stringed instrument dating back to 17th century Italy, the large cello is held against the seated cellist and traditionally played with a horsehair bow.

Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai (Kati Patang 1970)

Zindagi Ke Safar Mein (Aap Ki Kasam 1973)

Kuch To Log Kahenge (Amar Prem 1972)

Panna Ki Tammana (Heera Panna 1973)

Meri Bheegi Bheegi Si (Anamika 1973)

Guitar: A typically 6-string instrument with European roots with a multitude of incarnations, from acoustic to electric, that have influenced every genre from hard rock to reggae.

Bollywood film music saw a revolution with guitar use from the more acoustic versions a la “Tadbeer Se Bigdhi Hui” in the early 50s to the electric guitar riots of the 60s such as in the jolting opening of “Aaja Aaja” from Teesri Manzil (1966).

Aaja Aaja Main Hoon Pyaar Tera (Teesri Manzil 1966)

Chura Liya Hai (Yaadon Ki Baraat 1973)

Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh (Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai 1960)

Tadbeer Se Bigdi Hui (Baazi 1951)

Rulake Gaya Sapna Mera (Jewel Thief 1967)

Mandolin: An evolution from the lute family around 17th century Italy with traditionally 4 courses of double strings that feature prominently in classical European music.

This instrument has had a diverse role in Hindi film music–from an instrument of seduction in C.I.D. (1956) to one of tragedy in “Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki.” Fun fact: the mandolin that is featured in the interlude music “Achaji Main Hari” was played by Laxmikant and Manoharida themselves!

Kahin Pe Nigahen Kahin Pe Nishana (C.I.D 1956)

Achaji Main Hari Chalo (Kala Pani 1958)

Tum Bin Jaoon Kahan (Pyar Ka Mausam 1969)

Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki (Dulari 1949)

Santoor: An ancient Kashmiri instrument of 72-strings that are struck with special mallets and heard in traditional Sufi hymns and folk music of Northern India.

The beautiful, reflective santoor is prominent in many Bollywood films, often as a gentle romantic hint in the score during dialogue or first encounters with love. A great example is in “Mere Mehboob Tujhe” where the santoor is allowed to muse solo as the hero recalls his meeting with a mysterious woman for whom he now searches.

Aye Dil-e-Nadan (Razia Sultan 1983)

Sajna Hai Mujhe (Saudagar 1973)

Mere Mehboob Tujhe (Mere Mehboob 1963)

Sarangi: A bowed short-neck stringed instrument famed in Hindustani classical music for its close imitation of the human voice.

I often associate the sarangi with its great performances in courtesan songs. No better example is the hypnotizing opening of Pakeezah‘s immortal “Chalte Chalte.” The sarangi is a very evocative instrument, conjuring unimaginable sadness as in “Do Hanson Ka JoDa” or a lovely shyness in “Dil Cheez Kya Hai.”

Chalte Chalte (Pakeezah 1972)

Saranga Teri Yaad Mein (Saranga 1961)

Do Hanson Ka Joda (Ganga Jamuna 1961)

Dil Cheez kya Hai (Umrao Jaan 1981)

Aansuu Bhari Hai (Parvarish 1958)

Sarod: A lute-like instrument from Afghanistan that rose to prominence in the Mughal courts.

Like the santoor, the sarod often appears in the film’s score outside of a full-blown song-and-dance sequence. The sarod is highly versatile–when played quickly it can denote excitement and movement, and when plucked slowly it can pull at your heart strings. The mesmerizing battle between sitar and sarod in “Madhuban Mein Radhika” demonstrates this instrument’s power to take your breath away!

Madhuban Mein Radhika (Kohinoor 1960)

Man Re Tu Kahe (Chitralekha 1964)

Suno Chhoti Si Gudiya (Seema 1955)

Sitar: An 18-20 string plucked instrument synonymous with Hindustani classical music that influenced the Western pop world in the 1960s when adopted by The Beatles and Rolling Stones.

The ethereal sitar helped bring Hindustani music to the international stage. Used often in Hindi films to denote the gentle falling of rain (a famous Ravi Shankar composition in Satyajit Ray’s Pathar Panchali captures this brilliantly), sitar music is a classic Bollywood backbone.

O Sajna Barkha (Parakh 1960)

Hum Tere Pyar Mein Saara Aalam (Dil Ek Mandir 1963)

Chandan Sa Badan (Saraswatichandra 1968)

Tere Bina Zindagi Se (Aandhi 1975)

Chori Chori Chupke Chupke (Aap Ki Kasam 1974)

Tanpura: A 4-string instrument to accompany a Hindustani classical vocalist that does not play a melody, but rather provides a harmonic drone throughout the piece.

The beauty of the tanpura is in its relative simplicity. The singer plucks four strings in order continuously, allowing them to focus on their vocal composition while maintaining harmony. Listen carefully for its deep drone in the background of many classical and semi-classical songs!

Duniya Na Bhaaye (Basant Bahar 1956)

Man Tarpat Hari Dar (Baiju Bawra 1952)

Sukh Ke Sab Saathi (Gopi 1970)

Violin: A highly popular bowed 4-string instrument with roots in 16th century Italy that has had global impact, including in orchestral performances of Hindi film music.

Violins are an integral part of film music orchestration. I’ve listed several songs that highlight its use as a solo instrument, or more commonly as part of a large orchestra seen in numerous Hindi film songs from the 1950s onwards (the famous opening of “Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua” being but one of dozens).

Ek Pyar Ka Naghma (Shor 1972)

Mujhe Kisi Se Pyar (Barsaat 1949)

Likhe Jo Khat Tujhe (Kanyadaan 1968)

Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua (1955)

Karvaten Badalte Rahe (Mere Jeevan Saathi 1972)

Wind Instruments

Bansuri: An ancient flute-like instrument with a history dating back to the myths of Lord Krishna and Radha, the bansuri is made from a single shaft of bamboo with 6-7 holes and is associated with pastoral compositions of India.

The lonely bansuri is a common instrument of Hindi films denoting a tragedy, a philosophical side-note, or a quiet village scene. The bansuri of “Chingari Koi Bhadke” represents the second of these themes and will never fail to transport you to a different world of exoticism.

Chingari Koi Bhadke (Amar Prem 1972)

Chahoonga Main Tujhe (Dosti 1964)

Piya Bina (Abhiman 1973)

Na Koi Umang Hai (Kati Patang 1970)

Been (Pungi): An instrument fashioned from a gourd and two reed pipes, the been is the traditional instrument of snake charmers and popular in folk music of South Asia.

The good old been is one of pop cultures favorite instruments, yet is actually only a prominent player in a few classic Bollywood songs. The landmark, of course, is Nagin (1954) where “Man Dole Mera Tan Dole” made been music popular even outside the crowds who gather for snake charmers.

Man Dole Mera Tan Dole (Nagin 1953)

Ek Pardesi Mera Dil Le Gaya (Phagun 1958)

Parde Mein Rehne Do (Shikar 1968)

Western concert flute: A popular sideblown woodwind instrument that dates back to the 11th century Byzantine Empire and is commonly heard in bands and orchestras.

I love how the flute has been used in Hindi film music. Rethink how you’ve always imagined the flute and take a listen to the evocative solo the opens “Ja Re Ja Re Udi Ja Re Panchi” or the seductive twist of the key flute in “Aao Na Gale Lagalo Na”!

Ja Re Ja Re Udi Ja Re Panchi (Maya 1961)

Ruk Ja O Janewali Ruk Ja (Kanhaiya 1959)

Aao Na Gale Lagalo Na (Mere Jeevan Saathi 1972 – key flute)

O Haseena Zulfonwali Jane (Teesri Manzil 1966)

Harmonica: First appearing in Vienna in the 19th century, the easily portable hand-held harmonica has influenced artists from Blues and jazz genres.

Harmonica plays an important role in classic Bollywood film music, often played by optimistic young heroes with a song in their heart despite having great odds against them.

Jaanewalo Zara (Dosti 1964)

Hai Apna Dil To Awara (Solva Saal 1958)

Mere Sapno Ki Rani (Aradhana 1969)

Saxophone: Fashioned in brass originally in Belgium in the 19th century, the edgy saxophone is a key member of jazz and marching bands.

I was first alerted to the presence of saxophones when I heard the haunting and unexpected interlude music of “Awaaz Deke” (Professor 1962).  Interestingly, I’ve found that in Hindi film music (due in large part to maestro Manohari Singh whose soprano sax sets your heart on fire in “Mehbooba Mehbooba”), it is just as often as a jazzy party-starter as an edgy bridge toward tragedy.

Awaaz Deke (Professor  1962)

Jis Gali Mein Tera Ghar (Kati Patang 1970)

Aage Bhi Jaane Na Tu (Waqt 1965)

Roop Tera Mastana (Aradhana 1969)

Mehbooba mehbooba (Sholay 1975)

Shehnai: A traditional South Asian instrument known for its auspicious melodies at weddings and processions.

This lovely, but almost invariably tragic-sounding instrument is a staple of wedding scenes. The opening shehnai of “Babul Ki Duaaen” feels as if someone is crying, reflecting the sadness of a father’s loss. One of the more innovative melodies I’ve heard with shehnai is in the song “Chal Ri Sajni” (and incidentally among the most perfectly filmed and edited sequences in Bollywood history, but that’s another story…)

Babul Ki Duae.N Leti Jaa (Neel Kama 1968)

Kabhi Kabhi (Kabhi Kabhi 1976,  interlude after ghughat utaa raha hoon main)

Chal Ri Sajni Ab Kya Soche (Bombai Ka Babu 1960)

Trumpet: 3 piston-valves are the hallmark of this 15th century European instrument which has influenced jazz, Latin, and pop music alike.

While a more limited role in Hindi film music, the trumpet moved strictly cabaret club numbers to the beautiful opening of “Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli” where the lifting trumpet solo carries our hopes to the sky with it.

Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli (Anand 1971)

Zuby Zuby Jalembu (An Evening in Paris 1967)

Patli Kamar Hai (Barsaat 1949)

Haal Kaisa Janab Ka (Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi 1958)

Percussion

Bongo-Conga: Afro-Cuban drums (consisting of the smaller hand-held bongos and the larger barrel congas) that are backbones of Latin music, Afro-Cuban jazz, and the mambo music that swept 1950s United States.

Wanna know why “O Mere Dil Ke Chain” is your favorite Rajesh Khanna song and your heart races every time it plays? It’s not (just) his perfect face, it’s the Bongo-Conga! This exotic and uber-fun percussion instrument translates effortlessly from living room romance to an outdoor gypsy party.

O Mere Dil Ke Chain (Mere Jeevan Saathi 1972)

Dilbar Dil Se Pyaare (Caravan 1971)

Gum Hai Kisise Pyar (Rampur Ka Lakshman 1972)

Castanets: A distinct handheld instrument commonly associated with the Spanish Sevillanas folk dance that is played by clicking two small wooden shells together in a quick rattle.

Once you hear this sound in a song, you’ll never forget it. More popular in Bollywood songs of the 50s and early 60s, the castanets add a playful nuance on top of the base percussion provided by a different instrument.

Tere Sur Aur Mere Geet (Goonj Uthi Shehnai 1959)

Yeh Chand Sa Roshan Chehra (Kashmir Ki Kali 1964)

Door Gagan Ki Chaaon (Door Gagan Ki Chaaon Mein 1964)

Aaiye Meharbaan (Howrah Bridge 1958)

Mora Gora Ang Laile (Bandini 1963)

Madal: A hand-drum used in Nepali folk music that made its debut in Bollywood under music director R.D. Burman and Ranjjit Gazmer in the 1970s.

The madal has a fuller more rounded tone than the tabla or bongo, lending itself well to rustic scenes. It was featured heavily in the destination film “Hare Rama Hare Krishna”!

Hum Dono Do Premi (Ajnabee 1974)

Kanchi Re Kanchi Re (Hare Rama Hare Krishna 1971)

Dhol: A exciting Panjabi instrument famous for its influence on bhangra music, the dhol (and its family members the dholak and dholki) is a double-headed drum featured in genres from pop to qawwali.

The dhol is a great instrument for dancing and some of the best Bollywood choreography has featured the upbeat dhol. If you ever doubted Vijayantimala’s rumored legendary dance skills, just watch and listen to the end of “Honton Pe Aisi Baat” with the mind-boggling dhol spinning circles around the other instruments.

Chadti Jawani (Caravan 1971)

Honton Pe Aisi Baat (Jewel Thief 1965)

Jhumka Gira Re (Mera Saaya 1966)

Yamma Yamma (1980)

Jai Jai Shiv Shankar (Aap Ki Kasam 1973)

Duggi: A traditional Uttar Pradesh kettle drum in the tabla family played with two hands.

Popularized by Bollywood musician Homi Mullan, this percussion instrument creates a more rounded tone than the tabla, but is a perfect pastoral compliment to “Ni Sultana Re” as well as the sultry domestic “Bahon Mein Chale Aao.”

Ni Sultana Re (Pyar Ka Mausam 1969)

Bahon Mein Chale Aao (Anamika 1973)

Roop Tera Mastana (Aradhana 1969)

Dekha Na Haye Re Socha Na (Bombay to Goa 1972)

Ghatam (Matka): An ancient percussion instrument from South India, the ghatam is a clay pot with a narrow mouth and is played with bare hands.

It doesn’t get any more traditional than the ghatam, but R.D. Burman figured out how to use it an as unconventional ways as possible. Bet you wouldn’t have guessed that the percussion of hipster hit “Samne Yeh Kaun Aaya” came from a clay pot?

Samne Yeh Kaun Aaya (Jawani Diwani)

Are Kaise Mitti Ki Maadho (Imaan 1974)

Muttu Kudi (Do Phool 1974)

Reco Reco (Reso Reso): A scraped percussion instrument with a distict sound with origins in Brazilian music.

The reco reco is basically a party in a box! The distinct rhythm it creates adds spice to every song that is bold enough to utilize it. Watch how Kishore Kumar in a hilarious scene from Padosan lipsyncs his own actual recorded voice while playing the Reco Reco (who is in turn lipsynced by Sunil Dutt!) in “Mere Samnewali Khidki Mein.”

Mere Samnewali Khidki Mein (Padosan 1968)

Mere Naina Saawan Bhado (Mehbooba 1976)

Mera Naam Hai Shabnam (Kati Patang 1970)

Tabla: A pair of hand drums used commonly in Hindustani classic music composed of two distinct drums with differing roles for each hand.

This is one of the most common percussion instruments used in old Hindi songs and is always to go-to when all else fails. I once took tabla lessons, but quit after 2 weeks because my guru insisted I needed to cut my nails shorter to play the instrument correctly. He was right, of course, but there are sacrifices I’m not willing to make!

Sanam Tu Bewafa (Khilona 1970)

Jurm-e-Ulfat Pe (Taj Mahal 1963)

Baiyan Na Daro (Dastak 1970)

Jaag Dard-e-Ishq (Anarkali 1953)

Inhi Logon Ne (Pakeezah 1971)

Western Drum Kit: A collection of instruments often including a bass drum, a snare drum, and one or more cymbals that became popular with jazz bands in the early 20th century and ushered in rock-and-roll.

Rock-and-roll and nightclub bands have long been a part of Hindi film traditions and the Western drum kit hit the screen with a literal bang, and usually accompanied by a song better suited for “modern” audiences.

Dil Deke Dekho (Dil Deke Dekho 1959)

Ina Mina Dika (Aasha 1957)

Baar Baar Dekho (Chinatown 1962)

Tumne Mujhe Dekha (Teesri Manzil 1966)

Nain Milakar Chain Churana (Aamne Samne 1967)

Other

Accordion: Believed to have been invented in Berlin in the early 19th century, the accordion, like the harmonium, is played by compressing the instrument’s bellows with one hand while playing keys with the other hand.

The accordion produces a harsher sound than the harmonium, but is often more exciting as in the epic performance in “Anhoni Ko Honi” or the drama-filled “Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega”!

Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega (Sangam 1964)

Awaara Hoon (Awaara 1951)

Sab Kuch Seeka Humne (Anari 1959)

Anhoni Ko Honi Karde (Amar Akbar Anthony 1977)

Jeena Yahan Marna Yahan (Mera Naam Joker 1970)

Heavy Breathing and Grunting: An R.D. Burman signature that marks any classic Bollywood song as particularly racy and is served by both men and women with an extra scoop of awkward sauce.

Yeah, I had to throw this in. Don’t pretend like it doesn’t exist, and definitely don’t pretend that you don’t love it. Awkward breathing and grunting nosies are a strange but important hallmark of many of our favorite classic Bollywood cabaret numbers. They really just have to be heard to understand (and to believe). Now before you start to blush, these noises are actually pretty complicated to make–it takes great breathing control and just the right amount of oomph. Seriously, try these exercises at home when no one’s around to judge. You’ll give your lungs a run for their money!

Piya Tu Ab To Aaja (Caravan 1971)

Duniya Mein Logon Ko (Apna Desh 1972)

Mera Naam Hai Shabnam (Kati Patang 1970)

Aa Jaane Ja (Intaqam 1969)

Lekar Hum Deewana Dil (Yaadon Ki Baraat 1973)

Harmonium: A type of hand-pumped accordion often used as melodic accompaniment in Hindustani vocals as well as qawwali and folk music.

The harmonium is one of Hindustani classical music’s best modern friends and a great accompanist to everything from a layman’s love ode (a la “Bahut Shukriya”) to semi-classical qawwalis (as seen in Nutan’s one-man-show “Nigahen Milane”).

Leke Pehla Pehla Pyaar (C.I.D. 1956)

Bahut Shukriya (Ek Musafir Ek Hasina 1962)

Nigahen Milane Ko (Dil Hi To Hai 1963)

Kajra Mohabbatwala (Kismat 1968)

Yashomati Maiya Se (Satyam Shivam Sundaram 1978)

Manjira: A small pair of hand cymbals that traditionally accompanied bhajans with roots in ancient temple music.

Although manjira are traditionally used as accompaniments to bhajans, I ADORE how they were used in the romantic “Chhupa Lo Yun Dil” to underscore the devotional imagery to a couple’s love for each other.

Chhupa Lo Yun Dil Mein (Mamta 1966)

Na Main Dhan Chaahoon (Kala Bazaar 1960)

Kanhaiya Kanhaiya Tujhe Aana Padega (Maalik 1972)

Piano: One of the world’s most familiar musical instruments, the piano is played through a keyboard that strikes strings connected to a soundboard.

You’ll be the classiest guy in the room if you can burst into song with your own piano accompaniment at a party. Or so classic Bollywood tells us. Piano songs are essentially their own genre in the world of Hindi films. Once the piano comes out, it gets fancy and emotional in a hurry.

Pyar Diwana Hota Hai (Kati Patang 1970)

Dil Ke Jharoke Mein (Brahmachari 1968)

Aji Rooth Kar Ab (Aarzoo 1965)

Dheere Dheere Machal (Anupama 1966)

Dost Dost Na Raha (Sangam 1964)

Shankh (conch shell): An ancient instrument fashioned from the shells of large snails that are typically featured in Hindu religious hymns.

This occasionally heard instrument is usually only found in highly religious songs, but can also be heardwhen our heroes make a trip to a temple or when someone is praying for justice in the world. A powerful example comes during the climax of aarti in Purab Aur Paschim!

Om Jai Jagdish (Purab Aur Paschim 1970)

Mose Mora Shaam Roota (Johnny Mera Naam 1970)

What a whirlwind! We hope our introductory guide to the instruments of old Bollywood is a useful tool as you immerse yourself in the incredibly diverse music of our favorite films! All I have to say after reviewing my list is that I really could have used more cowbell.

Just kidding (in fact, listen to “Kitne Bhi Tu Kar Le Sitam” from Sanam Teri Kasam for some actual Bollywood cowbell action). What other instruments played in your favorite classic Bollywood songs have we left off our list? Leave us a comment with an old film song you wish you knew more about and we’ll try to tell you which instruments are featured!

-Mrs. 55

 

 

 

 

Beqarar Karke Humen Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Waheeda Rehman Bees Saal Baad

Mysterious and beguiling, Waheeda Rehman catches the eye of Biswajeet, heir to a legacy of misfortune, in the film noir classic, Bees Saal Baad (1962)

Today we showcase the lyrics and English translation of Hemant Kumar’s “Beqarar Karke” from the film Bees Saal Baad (1962). We often talk about seductive songs and cabaret numbers in classic Hindi films, but invariably those songs are sung by bad girl Helen or a femme fatale who entices our hero down the wrong path. “Beqarar Karke” is different. Sung by that luscious and versatile vocal genius, Hemant Kumar, the song dangerously pulls our heroine into its spell of seduction in broad daylight. It’s not often that we get a song of temptation sung by a dude, and when we do, it’s heaven (no, literally, Hemant Kumar has the voice of God). The brilliance of Hemant Kumar’s composition are in its unexpected opening guitar chords. Set in the rural village of Chandanghat, the film’s atmosphere suddenly becomes infused with jazz and heart-pounding anticipation as Kumar’s voice dips through the first word of the song, leaving everyone as “beqarar” as he foretells. The surprising Western lilt marked Biswajeet as solid hero material! Bees Saal Baad was Biswajeet Bombay debut, and originally, it was Bengali superstar Uttam Kumar who had been the first choice as lead. Fortunately, singer-music director-producer Hemant Kumar lobbied for relative newcomer Biswajeet, and after working diligently to clean up his Bengali accent when speaking Hindi, launched his career!

Bees Saal Baad tells the eerie tale of a nobleman, played by the dashing Biswajeet, who returns to the village where his forefathers were mysteriously murdered. A staple of Bollywood film noir, Bees Saal Baad explores the darkness of the old feudal system with a satisfyingly sick twist ending. But no Indian film noir is complete without romance, and soon after arriving to his ancestral home, Biswajeet naturally falls for the coy village belle (acted superbly by Waheeda Rehman). Unused to his slick city ways, she falls hard for him when he surprises her with a flirtatious serenade in the countryside. With lyrics penned by Shakeel Badayuni, “Beqarar Karke” teases us with glimpses of innocent romance mingled with a fatalistic warning that defines the film. Biswajeet recalls:

I remember during the shooting of the song sequence, “Beqarar Karke Hame.N”, Biren Nag instructed me not to touch Waheeda Rehman, but ooze romance with my looks and smile. I followed him exactly and it was Waheeda Rehman’s regal and serene screen presence which lit up the silver screen during the shot.

Low Angle Shot Bees Saal Baad Bekarar Karke

Above: Director Biren Nag constructs a clever low angle shot of Waheeda Rehman teetering on the edge of a cliff as Hemant Kumar aptly croons, “Yuu.N qadam akele na aage baDhaaiye.” Below: Seconds later, Biswajeet smoothly slips in for the rescue hug, staring down at the viewers in triumph.

He sort of broke his rule there when he went in for the rescue hug, but we know you’re going to swoon over this song as much as Waheeda! Try to grab control of your beating heart and check out the video for “Beqarar Karke” here as you follow along with our English translation and lyrics below!

Beqarar Karke Humen Lyrics and Translation:

Beqaraar karke hame.N yuu.N na jaaiye
Please do not go away like this and make me restless
Aap ko hamaari qasam lauT aaiye
For my sake, please come back
Dekhiiye woh kaali kaali badaliyaa.N

Look at those small dark clouds above
Zulf kii ghaTaa churaa na le kahii.N
May they not steal away the clouds of your hair
Chorii chorii aake shokh bijliyaa.N
The mischievous lightening comes secretly
Aap kii adaa churaa na le kahii.N
May they not steal away your elegance
Yuu.N qadam akele na aage baDhaaiye
Do not walk forward alone like this
Aap ko hamaare qasam lauT aaiye
For my sake, please come back

Dekhiiye gulaab kii woh Daaliyaa.N
Look at those rose branches
BaDh ke chuum le na aap ke qadam
May they not come and kiss your feet as you walk
Khoye khoye bha.Nware bhii hai.N baagh mei.N
Bumblebees are also hidden in this garden
Koi aap ko banaa na le sanam
May one of them not make you their own
Bahakii bahakii nazaro.N se khud ko bachaaiiye
Save yourself from their roving gazes
Aap ko hamaare qasam lauT aaiye
For my sake, please come back

Zindagii ke raaste ajiib hai.N
The paths of life are strange
In mei.N is tarah chalaa na kiijiiye
Please do not walk across them like this
Khair hai isii mei.N, aap ki huzuur
Anyway, your majesty, across these paths
Apnaa koi saathii DhoonDh liijiiye
Please find yourself a companion
Sun ke dil kii baat yuu.N na muskuraaiiye
Please do not smile upon hearing these words of my heart
Aap ko hamaare qasam lauT aaiye
For my sake, please come back

Beqaraar karke hame.N yuu.N na jaaiye
Please do not go away like this and make me restless
Aap ko hamaare qasam lauT aaiye
For my sake, come back

Glossary:

beqaraar: restless; yuu.N: like this, in this manner; [kisi ke] qasam: [for someone’s] sake; lauT aanaa: to come back; kaalii: dark; badalii: [small] cloud; zulf: hair; ghaTaa: cloud; churaanaa: to steal; chorii chorii: quietly, sneakily; shokh: mischievous; bijlii: lightening; adaa: elegance, style; qadam: footsteps; aage: forward; baDhaanaa: to advance; gulaab: rose; Daal: branch; chuum: kiss; khoyaa: lost; bha.Nwaraa: bumblebee; baagh: garden; bahakaa: flowing, roving; nazar: glance, gaze; khud: self; [kisii ko] bachaanaa: to save [someone]; zindagii: life; raastaa: path; ajiib: strange; is tarah: in this manner; khair: anyway; aap ki huzuur: my honor, your majesty; saathii: companion; DhoonDhnaa: to search; dil: heart; baat: words; muskuraanaa: to smile

A quick note for the Hindi-Urdu grammar aficionados: Did you know aap ki huzoor has the same significance as mere huzoor? Bizarre, right?! Both statements confer a title of respect and superiority, despite opposite possessive pronouns (similar to “your honor” versus “my lord”). Huzoor, deriving from the Arabic hudoor denoting royal presence and still written in Nasta’liq with a zuaad, is a formal address found in many Urdu lyrics of Bollywood’s golden age (remember “Huzoor-e-wala” from Yeh Raat Phir Na Aaayegi (1965)?).

Biswajeet Bees Saal Baad

Like a dark cloud in a black turtleneck, Biswajeet glistens against the sky in Bees Saal Baad (1962).

Big shout-out to fans Ravi Shankar and Sundar who requested this game-spitting winner! For another inspiring Hemant Kumar composition and solo masterpiece, don’t miss “Tum Pukar Lo” from Khamoshi (1969).

– Mrs. 55

Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi Shikwa Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Directed by the renowned lyricist Gulzar, Aandhi stirred up quite the controversy after the film was released in 1975. Shortly after the release of Aandhi, India found itself in the midst of a national state of emergency instituted by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in response to the deep-seated political unrest and instability that had emerged across the nation. The 21-month Emergency of 1975-1977 is often viewed as one of the darkest eras in the political history of post-independence India: corruption, censorship, and the suspension of civil liberties threatened to compromise the basic principles upon which the nation’s democracy had been built. In this context, it’s not surprising that Aandhi was banned by the government during the Emergency on the grounds that the film’s protagonist bore an inappropriate resemblance to Mrs. Gandhi. As a result, certain scenes depicting the protagonist drinking and smoking were re-shot and an extra scene in which the protagonist tells her father that she idolizes Indira Gandhi (“ye hii to mere ideal hai.n“) was included to separate the film from real life. Although the parallels in appearance, mannerisms, and even the film’s title (Aandhi, meaning storm, rhymes with Gandhi) are undeniable, Gulzar explains in an old Filmfare interview that he never intended to base this film on the life of Indira Gandhi:

“Contrary to popular opinion, my story wasn’t based on Indira Gandhi’s life. It had nothing to do with Indira-ji. She was just the role model for the lady politician. Frankly, who better could there be? She was such a dynamic lady.”

SuchitraSen_Aandhi_IndiraGandhi

Suchitra Sen tells her father that she idolizes Indira Gandhi in a flashback scene that was added to Aandhi (1975) after the film was initially banned by the government.

With inspiration from a novel titled Kali Aandhi by Hindi author Kamaleshwar, Aandhi (1975) depicts the story of Aarti Devi (portrayed by Suchitra Sen) as she struggles to balance her professional ambitions with her quest for personal gratification while navigating through the volatile world of Indian politics. While traveling on the campaign trail, Aarti is caught by surprise when she runs into her estranged husband JK (portrayed by Sanjeev Kumar), who happens to be the owner of the hotel where she is staying currently. Nine years ago, the call to public service compelled Aarti to eschew her domestic duties and leave her husband and daughter in order to pursue her dreams of becoming a politician. After their unexpected reunion, Aarti and JK cultivate a tender but awkward relationship as they reminisce about memories from their past and come to realize that they still have unresolved feelings for each other after all these years. Through an artistic use of flashbacks, we learn about the development of Aarti and JK’s early romance, the disapproval of their marriage by Aarti’s father, and the eventual breakdown of their relationship. Their domestic conflict evolves into an Abhimaan-esque clash of egos and personalities, and they eventually decide to part ways after several failed efforts to maintain a happy marriage.

Su

Suchitra Sen sports Indira Gandhi’s trademark silver streak in Aandhi (1975).

Ultimately, Aandhi illustrates the complexities of an evolving relationship between two individuals who share mutual respect and affection for each other but are unable to reconcile their differences to converge seamlessly on the same path. In addition to providing a mature and realistic view of human relationships, Aandhi sheds light on the unique challenges that confront Indian women in positions of power as they attempt to balance their professional and personal lives. Although Aarti wins her election at the conclusion of the film, this victory is made bittersweet as she grapples with an unfortunate reality: professional success and domestic bliss were often mutually exclusive for Indian women of her time.

SK

The Martand Sun Temple near Anantnag, Kashmir serves as a gorgeous backdrop for this classic song from Aandhi (1975).

In addition to Gulzar’s skillful direction and the captivating performances delivered by Suchitra Sen (her diction is excused!) and Sanjeev Kumar, Aandhi is remembered most often today for its soundtrack of stunning songs composed by R.D. Burman using Gulzar’s poetry. Each Lata-Kishore duet is a gem and serves to illustrate a different facet of Aarti and JK’s relationship in the film. In particular, the classic “tere binaa zindagii se koii” is a tender and wistful expression of regret and lost love. Without the frills of an elevated vocabulary, this song boldly questions: can living life without the one you love be considered a life at all?

Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi Shikwa: Lyrics and Translation

tere binaa zindagii se koii shikvaa to nahii.n, shikvaa nahii.n
I have no complaints against a life without you.
tere binaa zindagii bhii lekin zindagii to nahii.n, zindagii nahii.n
Yet a life without you is not a life at all.

kaash aisaa ho tere qadamo.n se
I wish that, from your footsteps,
chunke manzil chale.n aur kahii.n, duur kahii.n
we could find a new destination; somewhere else, somewhere far.
tum gar saath ho manzilo.n kii kamii to nahii.n
With you by my side, there is no shortage of destinations for us to reach.

SK: suno Aartii, ye jo phuulo.n kii bele.n nazar aatii hai.n na?
Listen Aarti, do you see those things that look like flower vines?
darasal ye bele.n nahii.n, arabii me.n aayate.n likhii.n hai.n.
In fact, they are not vines. They are verses written in Arabic.
ise din ke vaqt dekhnaa chaahiye, bilkul saaf nazar aatii hai.n.
We should see them during the day. They can be read very clearly.
din ke vaqt yah saaraa paanii se bharaa rahtaa hai.
During the day, this whole place is filled with water. 
din ke vaqt jab ye phuvaaare

During the day, when these fountains…

SS:  din kii baat kyo.n kar rahe ho? kahaa.n aa paauu.ngii mai.n din me.n?
Why do you keep talking about the day? How will I come here during the day?

SK: yah jo chaand hai na? ise raat main dekhnaa.
Do you see this Moon? Watch it at night.
yah din me.n nahii.n nikaltaa.

It does not come out during the day. 

SS: yah to roz nikaltaa hogaa.
But the Moon comes out every night.

SK: haa.n, lekin biich me.n amaavas aa jaatii hai.
Yes, but the dark fortnight comes in between.
vaise to amaavas pandrah din kii hotii hai.
The dark fortnight usually lasts 15 days.
lekin is baar bahut lambii thii.
But this time, it felt much longer.

SS: nau baras lambii thii na?
It felt as if it were nine years long, no?

jii me.n aataa hai tere daaman me.n
I yearn to seek refuge in your bosom
sar chhupake ham rote rahe.n, rote rahe.n
to hide my face as I continue to weep.
terii bhii aa.nkho.n me.n aa.nsuuo.n kii namii to nahii.n
Are your eyes not clouded by the mist of fresh tears, too?

tum jo kah do to aaj kii raat
If you say so tonight,
chaa.nd Duubegaa nahii.n, raat ko rok lo
even the Moon will not wane. Please stop the night from passing!
raat kii baat hai, aur zindagii baaqii to nahii.n
We only have tonight, for the rest of our lives will not be shared together.

tere binaa zindagii se koii shikvaa to nahii.n, shikvaa nahii.n
I have no complaints against a life without you.
tere binaa zindagii bhii lekin zindagii to nahii.n, zindagii nahii.n
Yet a life without you is not a life at all.

*Female lines in red are sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Male lines in green are sung by Kishore Kumar.  The dialogue takes place between Sanjeev Kumar (SK) and Suchitra Sen (SS). 

Glossary

shikvaa: complaint; qadam: footstep; chunnaa: to select; manzil: destination; kamii: shortage, dearth; bele.n: vines; darasal: in fact; aayate.n: verses; phuvaare: fountains; amaavas: dark fortnight; pandrah: fifteen; baras: year; daaman: lap, bosom; aa.nsuu: tear; namii: moistness; chaa.nd: Moon. 

SK

After rumors circulate regarding her nightly meetings with Sanjeev Kumar, Suchitra Sen reveals to the public that she has been meeting her estranged husband in Aandhi (1975).

Did you know that this song was based on a Bengali melody originally composed by R.D. Burman for a Durga Puja album in the 1970s? Listen to “jete jete pathe holo deri” to hear this melody sung by the composer himself! When Gulzar heard R.D. Burman working on this song with Bengali lyricist Gauriprasanna Mazumdar, he enjoyed the song so much that he wrote Hindi lyrics for the tune so it could be included in Aandhi. When Gulzar inserted the iconic “nau baras lambii thii, na?” dialogue in between antaras of this song, he reports in the same interview that R.D. Burman was not pleased:

“So we kept the original tune for the mukhda, and he composed something else for the antara. But when I inserted some dialogue into the lyrics, Pancham scolded me, “’Do you have any idea of sur and taal? You cut in with your dialogue anywhere you want. It’s not done!”’ But we did it!”

They certainly did something right, as this song has become immortalized as one of Hindi film music’s most treasured creations. Thanks to our reader Raju for requesting this post! Until next time…

-Mr. 55

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