Rajendra Kumar and Saroja Devi in "Teri Pyari Pyari Surat" from Sasural

Teri Pyari Pyari Surat Ko Lyrics & Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Teri Pyari Pyari Surat Sasural film
Rajendra Kumar scores big with the Mohammed Rafi’s chartbuster “Teri Pyari Pyari Surat Ko” from Bollywood film Sasural (1961).

Today we showcase the lyrics and English translation of “Teri Pyari Pyari Surat Ko,” one of Mohammed Rafi’s most romantic hits in honor of Valentine’s Day. Oozing with a dated flirtatious paternalism, Hasrat Jaipuri’s lyrics remind us of the incomparable beauty of the Urdu language. Who else but the great Mohammed Rafi (with that dreamy satin waterfall of a voice) could utter phrases like “chashme badduur” or “zarro.N ki nazar na lage” and induce seizures on the spot? He was awarded the Filmfare Award for Best Playback singer for “Teri Pyari Pyari Surat Ko” in 1961, having remarkably also won the year prior for “Chaudhvin Ka Chand!” Until 1967, male and female singers competed for the same singing award, so keep in mind that he crushed the Mangeshkar sisters twice in a row.

Now you are doubtless wondering, what the heck does “chashme badduur” mean? In Urdu-Hindi vernacular, the word “chashme” is often used for “eyeglasses,” so it seems awkward to start discussing your myopia just as you’re about to praise your crush’s beauty. Derived from Farsi, the phrase “chashme badduur” means literally “keep the evil eye far away.” We more commonly use the term “nazar” in Urdu-Hindi to mean “evil eye,” an omen of someone wishing ill upon you often from jealousy (of your beauty, wealth, achievements, etc). This is complicated by the fact that the term “nazar” in the right context bears no such connotations and could just mean “glance,” frequently employed in Bollywood love songs with poetic abandon. Context clues are everything.

So move past any disbelief in the cultural trope of the “evil eye” (just try winning an argument with your grandparents on this one), and you can appreciate what a sweet compliment it is to say, “chashme badduur.” This simple, respectful phrase conveys a desire to protect as well as admire. I recognize that this line of reasoning can quickly become a slippery slope, but hey, a 1960s romance is what it is. And I bet you’re already feeling lightheaded.

Still not sure what song to sing to your boo on Valentine’s Day? I’ll let the “Teri Pyari Pyari Surat Ko” lyrics do the rest of the talking and I’m confident your confusion will dissipate. Don’t let the mediocre looks of Rajendra Kumar wear you down (he always manages to snag the best Rafi songs–“Yeh Mera Prem Patra“or “Husnwale Tera Jawab Nahin” to name but a few). While everyone loves to hate on Saroja Devi, I think she does everyone a favor by distracting from the bigger on-screen eyesore.

Saroja Devi in Sasural,
As the film’s heroine, Saroja Devi uncomfortably dons the pigtails and bows of a middle-schooler in Sasural (1960). Fully grown women dressing as little girls is so classic of that era. It really deserves a separate conversation.

Teri Pyari Pyari Surat Ko Lyrics & Translation:

Terii pyaarii pyaarii suurat ko, kisii kii nazar na lage
Let no one cast an evil eye upon your lovely face
Chashm-e-badduur
Keep the evil eye far away
MukhaDe ko chhupaa lo aa.Nchal mei.N, kahii.N merii nazar na lage
Hide your face in the drape of your sari, lest I cast an evil eye upon you
Chashme baddur
Keep the evil eye far away

Yuu.N na akele phiraa karo, sab kii nazar se Daraa karo
Do not wander alone like this, be wary of everyone’s gaze
Phuul se zyaadaa naazuk ho tum, chaal sambhal kar chalaa karo
You are more delicate than a flower, be careful of how you walk
Zulfo.N ko giraa lo gaalo.N par, mausam kii nazar na lage
Let your hair fall upon your cheeks, lest the atmosphere cast an evil eye upon you
Chashme baddur
Keep the evil eye far away

Ek jhalak jo paata hai, raahii wahii ruk jaata hai
Upon gaining one look at you, a traveler halts right there in his tracks
Dekh ke teraa ruup salonaa, chaa.Nd bhii sar ko jhukaataa hai
Upon seeing your stunning beauty, even the moon bows its head
Dekhaa na karo tum aaiinaa, kahii.N khud kii nazar na lage
Do not keep looking into the mirror, lest you cast an evil eye upon yourself
Chashme baddur
Keep the evil eye far away

Dil mei.N chhupaa voh tiir ho tum, chaahat kii tasviir ho tum
You are the arrow hidden in my heart, you are the image of my desire
Kaun na hogaa tum se diiwaanaa? pyaar bharii tasviir ho tum
Who would not go mad for you? You are a picture filled with love
Nikalaa na karo tum raaho.N par zarro.N kii nazar na lage
Do not keep coming out upon this path, lest even a particle cast an evil eye upon you
Chashme baddur
Keep the evil eye far away

Terii pyaari pyaari suurat ko, kisii kii nazar na lage
Let no one cast an evil eye upon your lovely face
Chashme badduur
Keep the evil eye far away

 Glossary:

pyaarii: beloved, lovely; suurat: face; nazar: evil eye; chashm-e-badduur: keep the evil eye afar; mukhaDaa: face; chhupaa lenaa: to hide; aa.Nchal: the fancy end of a saarii that drapes over the shoulder; phirnaa: to wander, to revolve; [kisii se] Darnaa: to be afraid [of something]; phuul: flower; [kisii se] zyaadaa: more [than something]; chaal: gait; sambhal karnaa: to be careful; chalnaa: to go; zulfe.N: hair; girnaa: to fall; gaal: cheek; mausam: season, atmosphere; jhalak: glimpse; raahii: traveler; ruk jaanaa: to halt; ruup: beauty; salonaa: gorgeous, stunning; chaa.Nd: moon; sar jhuknaa: to bow [one’s] head; aaiinaa: mirror; khud: self; dil: heart; tiir: arrow; chaahat: love, desire; tasviir: picture; diiwaanaa: mad; bharaa: filled; nikalnaa: to emerge; zarr: particle (see use in “O Mere Shah-e Khuban“)

Rajendra Kumar and Saroja Devi in
Rajendra Kumar and Saroja Devi fall unavoidably in love during the Urdu lover’s paradise that is “Teri Pyari Pyari Surat” from Sasural (1960).

This incredibly apt Mohammed Rafi song was requested by mega-fan Ravi Chandran. Hope you and your special someone love it!

As for me, I wish a Happy Valentine’s Day to my sweet husband who still writes me love letters that would make Hasrat Jaipuri envious! Fortunately, knowing my style, he has entirely avoided mention of the whole “nazar” cliché…

– Mrs. 55

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Yeh Zindagi Usi Ki Hai Lyrics & Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Bina Rai's lovely smile in Anarkali (1953)
Bina Rai’s enchanting smile commands the screen in Anarkali (1953).

Today we present the lyrics and English translation to “Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai” from Anarkali (1953). “Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai” is a true Bollywood legend, one of Lata Mangeshkar’s most iconic numbers picturised upon a nail-biting thriller of historical mythology.

The doomed tale of 16th century Mughal Prince Salim and fabled courtesan Anarkali has been a favorite of the Bollywood film industry dating back to the pre-talkie days. A silent film in 1928 and then a talkie in 1935 starred Sulochana in the title role (who incidentally also plays Queen Jodha in the 1953 version).

In 1944, K. Asif too announced he would remake the film with Nargis as the lead, but unfortunately, the film was put on hold with the partition of India when his producer Shiraz Ali Hakim moved to Pakistan. Almost a decade after Bina Rai’s 1953 version became a blockbuster, K. Asif picked up steam on his “period” project, toyed with casting Nutan before honing in on Madhubala, and eventually released his magnum opus Mughal-e-Azam (1961).

Pradeep Kumar and Bina Rai star in Anarkali 1953.png
Pradeep Kumar and Bina Rai star as Prince Salim and his songstress lover in Anarkali (1953).

In Filmistan’s magnificent 1953 version, the song “Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai” both opens and ends the film. A romantic version starts the movie on a high note (literally) while an ominous version carries the film’s climax as the heroine is entombed alive. The cinematography, particularly of the first iteration, is stunning: dream-like extreme close-ups of Bina Rai lend a lyrical quality to the Salim-Anarkali courtship. Every shot is infused with languid glamour matched by the actress’ complete command of the screen. I remain awestruck by Bina Rai’s performance–she possess that elusive je ne sais quoi, which eclipses beauty or theatrics to make her unquestionably a star. You cannot stop watching her even as the last brick is placed in front of her face (Geeta Bali from that era possesses a similar enchanting appeal).

Let me be clear: no matter how you slice it, the biggest star of this piece is Lata Mangeshkar whose vocals could overpower any Mughal army–from her gorgeous opening alaap to the haunting final farewell. It’s one of those mind-numbing songs that makes me sad when I remember some people live their whole pathetic lives without ever hearing this angel’s voice. Music composer C. Ramachandra famously shafted Geeta Dutt by switching the soundtrack to a pure Lata production halfway through (fortunately, one Geeta Dutt number was salvaged). The expert sitar that punctuates both versions of “Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai” is performed by none other than Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan (yes, the same genius who wowed you in “Madhuban Mein Radhika“).

Now that your cup runneth over with tea, check out the lyrics and our English translation to “Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai” below!

Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai Lyrics & English Translation:

Romantic version:

Yeh zindagii usii kii hai jo kisii ka ho gayaa
This life belongs to only to whomever gives themselves to another
pyaar hii mei.N kho gayaa
To whomever becomes lost in love

Yeh bahaar yeh samaah keh rahaa hai pyaar kar
This spring and this moment are telling us to fall in love
Kisi kii aarzuu mei.N apne dil ko beqaraar kar
They tell us to make ours hearts restless in desire of another
Zindagii hai bewafaa
Life is unfaithful
Zindagii hai bewafaa, luuT pyaar kaa mazaa
Life is unfaithful, so we must steal the pleasures of love
Yeh zindagii usii kii hai…

dhaDak rahaa hai dil, to kyaa? Dil ke dhaDakane.N na gin
So what if my heart is racing? Do not count your heartbeats
Phir kahaa.N yeh fursate.N, phir kahaa.N yeh raat-din
Where again will we have this leisure time, where again will we have these days and nights?
Aa rahii hai yeh sadaa
The call is coming
Aa rahii hai yeh sadaa mastiiyo.N mei.N Duub jaa
The call is coming for us to immerse ourselves in these intoxications
Yeh zindagii usii kii hai..

Yeh zindagii usii kii hai jo kisii ka ho gayaa
This life belongs to only to whomever gives themselves to another
pyaar hii mei.N kho gayaa
To whomever becomes lost in love

Bina Rai as Anarkali entombed alive
Bina Rai as Anarkali gazes at the audience one final time before she is (in theory) entombed alive in Anarkali (1953).

Sad version:

Yeh zindagii usii kii hai jo kisii ka ho gayaa
This life belongs to only to whomever gives themselves to another
pyaar hii mei.N kho gayaa
To whomever becomes lost in love

Jo dil yahaa.N na mil sake, mile.Nge us jahaa.N mei.N
Those hearts which could not meet here will meet in the other world
Khile.Nge hasrato.n ke phuul, jaa ke aasmaan mei.N
The flowers of our wishes will bloom as they reach heaven
Yeh zindagii chalii gayii…
Even if this life goes away
Yeh zindagii chalii gayii jo pyaar mei.N, to kyaa huaa?
Even if this life goes away, if it was for love, then so what?
Yeh zindagii usii kii hai…

Sunaayegii yeh daastaa.N, shamaa mere mazaar kii
The flame of my shrine will tell this story
Khizaa.N mei.N bhii khilii rahii, yeh kalii anaar kii
This pomegranate flower will keep blooming even in Autumn
Isse mazaar mat kaho…
Do not call this a shrine
Isse mazaar mat kaho, yeh mahal hai pyaar kaa
Do not call this a shrine, this is a palace of love
Yeh zindagii usii kii hai…
This life…

Hai zindagii kii shaam aa, tujhe gale lagaauu.N mai.N
Let the evening of my life come, I would take you in my arms
Tujhii mei.N Duub jaauu.N mai.N
I would immerse myself in you
Jahaa.N ko bhuul jaauu.N mai.N
I would forget the world
Bas ek nazar, mere sanam
Just one last glance from you, my dear

Alviidaah….alviidaah…
Farewell…farewell…
Alviidaah….alviidaah…
Farewell…farewell…
Alviidaah….alviidaah…
Farewell…farewell…
Alviidaah….alviidaah…
Farewell…farewell…

Glossary:

zindagii: life; pyaar: love: kho jaanaa: to become lost; bahaar: Spring; samaa: moment, time; aarzuu: desire; beqaraar: restless; bewafaa: unfaithful; luuTnaa: to steal; mazaa: enjoyment, pleasure; dhaDaknaa: to beat [heart]; dil: heart; ginnaa: to count; fursaat: leisure time; raat-din: night and days; sadaa: call, cry; mastii: intoxication; Duubnaa: to drown, to immerse; hasrat: wish, desire; phuul: flower; aasmaa.N: sky, heaven; sunaanaa: to tell, to make heard; daastaa.N: story; shamaa: light, flame; mazaar: shrine, tomb; khizaa: Autumn; khilnaa: to bloom; kalii: flower; anaar: pomegranate; mahal: palace; shaam: evening; gale lagaanaa: to take in [one’s] arms; bhuulnaa: to forget; nazar: glance; sanam: lover, dear; alviidaah: farewell

Sulochana or Ruby Myers as Anarkali and Queen Jodha
Sulochana (also known as Ruby Myers) was a silent Indian film star of Jewish ancestry who starred in Anarkali (1928) (left) and later played Queen Jodha in the 1953 remake (right).

You are doubtless asking yourself, why did they have to entomb Anarkali alive though? Was there no more humane way of doing things? Okay, fine, the Mughals were not exactly known for their humane war strategies, but sheesh, when Prince Salim arrives at her tomb, don’t you think he would try tearing it down and checking if she’s alive rather than just having a meltdown and crying? Seriously, there had to be enough oxygen in there to last at least a little while longer!

As it turns out, Indian audiences couldn’t get enough of Pradeep Kumar and Bina Rai in a good old Mughal romance so they were cast again ten years later as Shah Jahan (Prince Salim’s real life son) and his queen Mumtaz Mahal in the film Taj Mahal (1963). Check out “Jo Wada Kiya Woh” or “Paao.N choo lene do” for more epic period Urdu poetry!

– Mrs. 55

O Mere Dil Ke Chain Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Mere jeevan saathi o mere dil ke chain.png
In “Mere Jeevan Saathi” (1972), a film that is peak Rajesh Khanna, our dashing hero serenades us all with “O Mere Dil Ke Chain.”

Today we present the lyrics and English translation to the palpably romantic Kishore Kumar hit “O Mere Dil Ke Chain” from Mere Jeevan Saathi (1972).

Starring silver-screen gold Rajesh Khanna and Tanuja, Mere Jeevan Saathi will scar you  for life if you are not careful. Along with Pakeezah and Kabhi Kabhi, Mere Jeevan Saathi  was one of the favorite films my sister and I watched on the daily as two perfectly normal, socially-adept kids in suburban America. Although often billed as a romantic-comedy, the film at times foreshadows the Stephen King novel “Misery” and in the finale, showcases a miraculous eye surgery with horrific POV shots that is probably the reason I can never wear contacts.

These necessary warnings aside, I highly recommend this film for the sublime music and superstar Rajesh Khanna’s hypnotizing performance, which kept luring me and my sister back despite our PTSD. R.D. Burman’s creative soundtrack with Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar at the helm is precisely the type of music that makes your parents sigh at dinnertime and wonder where the good olden days have gone.

Rajesh Khanna Tanuja o mere dil ke chain.png
Rajesh Khanna’s billowing puffy sleeves fail to deter Tanuja from biting the sweet bait in Mere Jeevan Saathi (1972).

For a hot minute,  I was tempted to describe this song as evergreen, and then checked myself. “O Mere Dil Ke Chain” has unquestionable timeless appeal, but the blaring hallmark of the 1970s steamrollered this song. Do I love it even more because of it? Obviously. Jim Morrison himself would have smiled from heaven had he lived to hear R.D. Burman’s genius use of the cathedral-like organ as a primary instrumental. And sure, the size Rajesh Khanna’s shirt collar warrants its own zipcode and maybe Tanuja could easily hide a dead body in the folds of her ginormous wigs, but one smoldering wink is all it ever takes to forgive and forget the excesses of that psychedelic decade.

Rajesh Khanna Tanuja o mere dil ke chain.png
Tanuja’s perfectly wing-tipped eyeliner punctures the romantic tension in “O Mere Dil Ke Chain.”

“O Mere Dil Ke Chain” is undeniably one of Rajesh Khanna’s most seductive and romantic hits, nestling into history amongst the likes of “Roop Tera Mastana” or “Woh Shaam Kuch Ajeeb Thi.” Without further ado, check out the lyrics and English translation of “O Mere Dil Ke Chain” below! And please describe how much you love Tanuja’s cat-eyeliner in the comments!

O Mere Dil Ke Chain Lyrics and English Translation:

O mere dil ke chain
Oh, one who calms my heart
Chain aaye mere dil ko duaa kijiye
Pray that calmness comes to my heart

Apnaa hii saayaa dekh ke tum, jaan-e jahaa.N, sharam aa gaye
Seeing your own shadow, my dear, makes you shy
Abhii to yeh pehlii manzil hai, tum to abhii se ghabaraa gaye
Now is merely the first destination, and you have already become nervous
Mera kyaa hogaa? Socho to zaraa
What will happen to me? Think about that a little bit
Haaye, aise na aahe.N bharaa kijiye
Sigh, do not sigh like this

O mere dil ke chain…
Oh one who calms my heart…

Aap ka armaa.N, aap ka naam, meraa taraanaa aur nahii.N
Your desire and your name, my song is about nothing more than these things
In jhuktii palko.N ke sivaa, dil ka Thikaana aur nahii.N
Beyond these lowered eyelids of yours, my heart has no other dwelling
Jachtaa hii nahii.N, aankho.N mei.N koii
It does not seem right to behold anyone else in my eyes
Dil tumko hii chaahe, to kyaa kijiye?
My heart wants only you, so what should I do?

O mere dil ke chain…
Oh comfort of my heart…

Yuu.N to akelaa bhii aksar, gir ke sambhal saktaa huu.N mai.N
I am alone often, and can steady myself when I fall
Tum jo pakaD lo haath meraa, duniyaa badal saktaa huu.N mai.N
But if you were to hold my hand, I could change the world
Maa.Ngaa hai tumhe, duniyaa ke liye
I asked for you in exchange for the world
Ab khud hii sanam faislaa kijiye
Now you yourself make a decision, my darling

O mere dil ke chain
Oh, one who calms my heart
Chain aye mere dil ko duaa kijiye
Pray that calmness comes to my heart

Glossary:

chain: rest, calmness; duaa: prayer; saayaa: shadow; jaan-e jahaa.N: life of the world [an Urdu-Hindi term of endearment]; sharam aanaa: to become shy, to feel embarrassed; abhii: now; pehlaa: first; manzil: destination; ghabaraanaa: to become nervous, to feel worried; zaraa: a little bit; aah: sigh; armaa.N: desire; naam: name; taraanaa: song; jhuknaa: to lower; palke.N: eyelids; Thikaanaa: shelter; jachtaa: correct; aa.Nkhe.N: eyes; akelaa: alone; aksar: often; girnaa: to fall: sambhalnaa:  to steady [oneself]; haath pakaDnaa: to hold hands; duniyaa: world; badalnaa: to change; maa.Ngnaa: to ask; khud: self; faislaa karna: to make a decision

Tanuja and Rajesh Khanna in Mere Jeevan Saathi
Tanuja feels shy as Rajesh Khanna croons to her in Mere Jeevan Saathi (1972), wondering if anyone noticed her ringlets are the wrong length.

This song was requested by obsessed fans Mohandas and Venkatesan! Thank you both for giving us an excuse to deliver a little extra Rajesh Khanna to people’s lives this holiday season.

-Mrs. 55

Tum Hi Mere Mandir Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Nutan_Khandan
Nutan embodies the essence of an archetypal pativrata wife in Khandaan (1965)

Today, we present the lyrics and English translation to “Tum Hi Mere Mandir” from Khandaan (1965).

In light of the ongoing #MeToo movement that has now made its way to the echelons of Bollywood elite, perhaps this song was not the most timely choice. Let me be clear: I do not support the misogynistic undertones of husband-worshipping expressed in this song. I do, however, love this song for Ravi’s delicately crafted tune that has been rendered to perfection by Lata Mangeshkar in her all-time prime.

Viewed with modern eyes, Rajendra Krishan’s words can certainly be construed as misogynstic and downright cringeworthy. However, appreciating these lyrics in the context of the story depicted in Khandaan adds a bit of tempering nuance. In this film, Sunil Dutt plays a man with special needs who feels that he is not a worthy partner to his wife. To strengthen his spirit, the ever-graceful Nutan comforts him with a serenade of this lilting gem. The lyrics of “Tum Hi Mere Mandir” take on a more egalitarian meaning in this context: instead of espousing blind subservience, marital love is portrayed as a divine commitment that should not be weakened by judging our partners for their flaws and imperfections.

This iconic song took home some of the big prizes at the Filmfare Awards Ceremony of 1966. Ravi won Best Music Director, Rajendra Krishan won Best Lyricist, and Lata Mangeshkar received a well-deserved Best Singer award (her third of four total). I mean, it can’t just be my heart that skips a beat as Lata begins to hum that lullaby in the third stanza?

-Mr. ’55

Nutan_SunilDutt_Khandan
Nutan comforts her husband Sunil Dutt with this iconic love song in Khandaan (1965)

Tum Hi Mere Mandir: Lyrics and English Translation

tum hii mere mandir, tum hii merii puujaa
You are my temple, you are my prayer.
tum hii devtaa ho
You are my God.
koii merii aa.nkho.n se dekhe to samjhe
If someone were to see through my eyes, they would understand
ki tum mere kyaa ho
what you mean to me.

jidhar dekhtii huu.n, udhar tum hii tum ho
Wherever I look, I see you and only you.
na jaane magar kin khayaalo.n me.n gum ho
But I do not know what thoughts you are lost in.
mujhe dekh kar tum zaraa muskuraa do
Show me a smile when you glance at me,
nahii.n to mai.n samjhuungii mujh se khafaa ho
or else I will think that you are angry with me.

tum hii mere maathe kii bindiyaa kii jhilmil
You are the sparkle of the bindi on my forehead.
tum hii mere haatho.n ke gajaro.n kii manzil
You are the destination of the flower garlands in my hands.
mai.n huu.n ik chhotii-sii maaTii kii guDiyaa
I am just a little clay doll.
tum hii praaN mere, tum hii aatmaa ho
You are my life, you are my soul.

bahut raat biitii chalo mai.n sulaaa duu.n
It is late in the night; come, let me put you to sleep.
pavan chheDe sargam, mai.n lorii sunaa duu.n, mmmm….
The wind carries a tune, while I sing you a lullaby.
tumhe.n dekh kar yeh khayaal aa rahaa hai
When I look at you, I feel that I am watching
ki jaise farishtaa koii so rahaa ho
an angel in peaceful slumber.

tum hii mere mandir, tum hii merii puujaa
You are my temple, you are my prayer.
tum hii devtaa ho
You are my God.

Glossary

mandir: temple; puujaa: prayer; devtaa: God; gum: lost; muskuraanaa: to smile; khafaa: angry; bindiyaa: decorative mark worn in middle of forehead by Indian women; jhilmil: sparkle; gajraa: flower garland; manzil: destination; maaTii: clay; guDiyaa: doll; praaN: life; aatmaa: soul; sulaanaa: to put to sleep; pavan: breeze, wind; sargam: melody, tune; lorii: lullaby; farishtaa: angel.

Nutan_SunilDutt_Khandan
Nutan serenades Sunil Dutt on a casual bedroom jhoola in Khandaan (1965).

Hamrahi 1963 starring Rajendra Kumar and Jamuna.png

Mujhko Apne Gale Laga Lo Lyrics & Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Rajendra Kumar and Jamuna star in Hamrahi (1963).png
Rajendra Kumar and Jamuna share a fleeting side hug in a song entirely about hugging from Hamrahi (1963).

Mujhko Apne Gale Laga Lo” is one of classic Bollywood’s sweetest romantic duets from the 1960s, an unexpectedly magical collaboration between equal parts celestial being and hep cat Mohammed Rafi and the lesser-known Mubarak Begum. The highlight of the film Hamrahi (1963), “Mujhko Apne Gale Laga Lo” is the subject of today’s English translation and lyric analysis. After hearing this song, I have zero doubts that you will firmly preach the gospel of Mohammed Rafi to your co-workers bickering over Pandora stations, and that you’ll surprise yourself at how much you actually really like a female singer whose name doesn’t rhythm with “Mata Langeshkar.”

In Hamrahi, typically squeaky clean Rajendra Kumar reinvents himself by playing a playboy who flits from one gorgeous woman to the next. When he enters into an arranged marriage with Jamuna, he is appalled to find himself falling in love with her just as she rebukes him for his tainted past. He imagines her flinging her arms out and begging him to hug her on their honeymoon (hence this moderately awkward song sequence), but alas, the man-child’s dream is shattered and Rajendra Kumar must prove his worth to Jamuna before she accepts his love.

Jamuna hugs herself in
Unable to straight-on hug the hero due to tight censorship constraints, Jamuna hugs herself in “Mujhko Apne Gale” from Hamrahi (1963)

But I didn’t come here to talk about dream sequences and the less-than-dreamy looking couple who star in it. I intend to open your mind to female playback singer Mubarak Begum (1936-2016). A meatier alternative to Lata’s nymph-like vocals, Mubarak Begum falls shy of Shamshad Begum’s red-blooded gusto and Geeta Dutt’s sassiness, but is easily saccharine enough to be cast as a heroine.

Unfortunately, that never quite happened. Like Suman Kalyanpur and Minoo Purushottam whose ambitions were relegated to the side show, Begum’s career growth was also stunted permanently by the Mangeshkar sisters. Yet when Mubarak Begum was hospitalized toward the end of her life and in dire financial straits, it was none other than Lata Mangeshkar who offered emotional and monetary support to her and her family.

Yes, you may say, but like the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, was this all too little, too late? Or could it be viewed as a generous act by a supremely talented woman who had no choice but to play hardball in a man’s world? After all, can Lata really be blamed for playing to win?

You decide, gentle reader. And as you mull it over, enjoy our English translation of lyricist Hasrat Jaipuri’s “Mujhko Apne Gale Laga Lo” below! When you get to the part where Mohammed Rafi softly croons “dil se dil ke taar milaao,” disregard the sudden palpitations in your chest. They are an expected side effect.

Mujhko Apne Gale Laga Lo Lyrics & English Translation:

Begum: Mujhko apne gale lagaa lo, aye mere hamraahii
Take me in your arms, oh my fellow traveler
Tumko kyaa batalaauu.N mai.N? Ki tumse kitnaa pyaar hai?
What should I tell you? How much I love you?

Rafi: Mujhko apne gale lagaa lo, aye mere hamraahii
Take me in your arms, oh my fellow traveler
Tumko kyaa batalaauu.N mai.N? Ki tumse kitnaa pyaar hai?
What should I tell you? How much I love you?

Begum: Jab tum mujhse duur rahte ho, jiiyaa meraa ghabaraataa hai
When you stay far away from me, my soul feels restless
Nii.Nd aankho.N se uD jaatii hai, chaa.Nd agan barasaataa hai
Sleep flies from my eyes, the moon rains fire
Dono.N pahluu jal jaate hai, aag mei.N aag lagaataa hai
Both of our shadows burn, fire upon fire is lit
Jaise taDape bin jal machhalii, pyaar mujhe taDapaataa hai
Like a fish out of water, your love agonizes me
Oh! Pyaar mujhe tadapaataa hai
Oh! Your love agonizes me
Is uljhan se mujhko bachaalo, aye mere hamarahi
Oh save me from this entanglement, my fellow traveler
Tumko kyaa batalaauu.N mai.N? Ki tumse kitnaa pyaar hai?
What should I tell you? How much I love you?

Rafi: Jin raaho.N par ha.Nske chalo tum, phuul vahaa.N khil jaate hai.N
Flowers bloom upon those paths where you laugh and travel
Dam lene ko jahaa.N ruko tum, madhuushaale ban jaate hai.N
Wherever you stop to take a breath becomes filled with honey
Tumko chhuukar pavan jhakore, khushbuu lekar jaate hai
Upon touching you, the wind gusts and carries your sweet fragrance with it
Lekin hum to dekhe surat, dil thhaame rah jaate hai
Yet when I see your face, I stop to hold onto my heart
Dil thhaame rah jaate hai!
I stop to hold onto my heart!
Dil se dil ke taar milaalo, aye mere hamarahi
Let the strings of our hearts meet, oh my fellow traveler
Tumko kyaa batalaauu.N mai.N? Ki tumse kitnaa pyaar hai?
What should I tell you? How much I love you?

Begum: Jab tak tumko mai.N na dekhuu.N, chain mujhe kab aata hai?
When I do not see you, when would I find peace?
Khoj mei.N terii man ka pa.Nchhii duur kahii.N kho jaataa hai
In search of you, the bird of my mind becomes lost far away
Rafi: Jab tum mujhko mil jaatii ho, dard davaa ban jaata hai
When you meet me, all pain turns into medicine
Varnaa tum bin saaraa jiivan, suunaa ban kehalaataa hai
Otherwise without you, my entire life would be known as deserted forest
Sunaa ban kehalaataa hai
My life would be known as a deserted forest
Har manzil par mujhko sambhaalo, aye mere hamarahi
Take care of me at every destination, oh my fellow traveler
Tumko kyaa batalaauu.N mai.N? Ki tumse kitnaa pyaar hai?
What should I tell you? How much I love you?

Mujhko apne gale lagaa lo, aye mere hamraahii
Take me in your arms, oh my fellow traveler
Tumko kyaa batalaauu.N mai.N? Ki tumse kitnaa pyaar hai?
What should I tell you? How much I love you?

Glossary:

gale lagaanaa: to take in [your] arms, to hug; hamraahii: fellow traveler, partner; batalaana: to tell; pyaar: love; duur: far; jiiyaa: soul, life; ghabaraanaa: to worry, to become restless; nii.Nd: sleep; aa.Nkhe.N: eyes; uDnaa: to fly; chaa.Nd: moon; agan: fire; barsaataanaa: to rain; pahluu: image, shadow; jalnaa: to burn; aag lagaanaa: to light a fire; jaise: such as, like; taDapnaa: to yearn; jal: water; macchalii: fish; uljhan: entanglement; bachaanaa: to save; raah: path; ha.Nsnaa: to laugh; phuul: flower; khilnaa: to bloom; dam lenaa: to take a breath; ruknaa: to stop; madhuushaalaa: a place where honey or wine is found, a liquor establishment; chhuunaa: to touch, pavan: wind; jhakoraa: gust; khushbuu: sweet fragrance; surat: face; dil: heart; thhaam lena: to hold onto; taar: chord, string; chain: peace; khoj: search; man: mind; pa.Nchhii: bird; dard: pain; davaa: medicine; varnaa: otherwise; saaraa: entire; jiivan: life; suunaa: deserted; ban: forest; kehalaanaa: to call, to name; manzil: destination; sambhalnaa: to take care, to steady

Hamrahi 1963 starring Rajendra Kumar and Jamuna.png
Not afraid of mixing loud sartorial patterns, Rajendra Kumar gets super close to Jamuna in “Mujhko Apne Gale Laga Lo” from Hamrahi (1963), but fails spectacularly to make meaningful contact.

I bet you want to know if Jamuna ultimately forgives Rajendra Kumar for his unsavory prior behavior and they live happily ever after in arranged Hindu marriage bliss? Does this couple ever actually get to hug each other? Does Rajendra Kumar fire the poor soul who put him in that striped jacket??

You and I will only ever know the answers to the first two questions. The last will perhaps remain an eternal mystery.

– MRS. 55