Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna Lyrics & Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Manoj Kumar as Bhagat Singh in Shaheed 1965

Manoj Kumar shines as the revolutionist Bhagat Singh who was executed by the British in Shaheed (1965).

In honor of India’s 70th Independence Day celebrations, today we present the lyrics and English translation of “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna.” An Urdu ghazal written in 1921 by Bismal Azimabadi, “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna” became a battle cry of freedom fighters through the 1940s. The poem was adapted for the film Shaheed (1965) starring Manoj Kumar about the life of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh. Known popularly as Mr. Bharat, Manoj Kumar would go on to make a name for himself glorifying the traditional Indian way of life in other patriotic films like Upkar (1967) and Purab Aur Paschim (1970). In Shaheed, Manoj Kumar settles comfortably into his niche, earning the Best Feature Film award.

Revolutionist Ram Prasad Bismil is sometimes incorrectly attributed with having written the ghazal himself, made more confusing by being a writer himself and sharing part of his name with the real poet. Nonetheless, Bismil, along with many other freedom fighters, helped spread the poem’s popularity.

Prem Chopra as Sukhdev in Shaheed 1965

Prem Chopra breaks from his typecast as the urbane villain to portray freedom fighter Sukhdev Thapur in Shaheed (1965).

In Shaheed, “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamannaa” is sung by Mohammed Rafi, Manna Dey, Rajendra Mehta who lend their voices to the characters of freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapur, and Shivaram Rajguru, who were hung for their roles in the Lahore Conspiracy case in 1929. Rich in Urdu ornamentation, “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamannaa” highlights the fighters willingness to die for their country while awaiting execution. The poem describes the gentle, courageous nature of the revolutionists who are proud to rise to the occasion demanded of them by history.

We hope you enjoy the lyrics and English translation of the elegiac ghazal “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna” below. Follow along here with the music video from the film, and for the Urdu-inclined, the complete original poem can be found here!

Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna Lyrics and Translation:

Ek se kartaa nahii.N kyuu.N duusraa kuchh baat-chiit?
Why does no one make conversation with others?
Dekhtaa huu.N mai.N jise woh chhup terii mehfil mei.N hai
Whomever I see is silent in your company
Woh chhup terii mehfil mei.N hai…
They are silent in your company

Sarfaroshii kii tamannaa ab hamaare dil mei.N hai
The desire to sacrifice is now in my heart
Dekhnaa hai zor kitnaa baazu-e-qaatl mei.N hai
I shall see how much strength is in the arms of my assassin

Waqt aane par bataa de.Nge tujhe, O aasmaan
I will tell you when the time comes, O sky
Hum abhii se kyaa bataaye.N kyaa hamaare dil mei.N hai?
What can I tell you now of what is in my heart?
Kyaa humaare dil mei.N hai…
What is in my heart…
Sarfaroshii kii tamannaa ab hamaare dil mei.N hai
The desire to sacrifice is now in my heart

Khai.Nch kar laayii hai sab ko qatl hone kii ummiid
Everyone has been pulled here by the hope of becoming killed
Aashiqo.N kaa aaj jamghaT kuuchaa-e qaatl mei.N hai
A congregation of lovers is in the street of their murderers today
Kuuchaa-e qaatl mei.N hai
They are in the street of their murderers
Sarfaroshii kii tamannaa ab hamaare dil mei.N hai
The desire to sacrifice is now in my heart

Glossary:

baat-chiit karnaa: to make conversation, chit-chat; chhup: silent; mehfil: company, gathering; sarfaroshii: sacrifice [literally: cutting of the head]; tamannaa: desire; dil: heart; zor: strength; baazuu: arms; qaatl: murderer, assassin; waqt: time; aasmaan: sky; khai.Nchnaa: to pull; ummiid: hope; aashiq: lover; aaj: today; jamghat: congregation; kuuchaa: street

It would be remiss to discuss this beautiful Urdu poem and its meaning for Indian independence without an inclusion of its equally profound legacy in Pakistan. Let us never forget that the movements that would eventually separate Pakistan and India during the partition were once far weaker than the hopes that united Hindu and Muslim freedom fighters in brotherhood against the British Raj. The dark shadow of partition that marred the celebration of Independence for thousands in the summer of 1947 is a subject close to my heart that I discuss more here along with the tragic decline of Urdu in Bollywood films.

The real Bhagat Singh who lived from 1907 to 1931 (left), Manoj Kumar in the film Shaheed from 1965 (middle), and Shammi Kapoor (right) in the film Shaheed Bhagat Singh from 1963.

The real Bhagat Singh who lived from 1907 until his execution in 1931 (left), Manoj Kumar in the film Shaheed from 1965 (middle), and Shammi Kapoor (right) in the film Shaheed Bhagat Singh from 1963.

“Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna” was also adapted for the more recent film The Legend of Bhagat Singh starring Ajay Devgan (2002). A charismatic young man whose terroristic methods clashed with the non-violence advocated by Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh has been the subject of numerous Bollywood films, including a portrayal by Shammi Kapoor in Shaheed Bhagat Singh (1963) and Sunny Deol in 23 March 1931: Shaheed (2002).

In Gandhi’s own words upon Bhagat Singh and his associates’ executions: “These heroes had conquered the fear of death. Let us bow to them a thousand times for their heroism. But we should not imitate their act. In our land of millions of destitute and crippled people, if we take to the practice of seeking justice through murder, there will be a terrifying situation. Our poor people will become victims of our atrocities. By making a dharma of violence, we shall be reaping the fruit of our own actions. Hence, though we praise the courage of these brave men, we should never countenance their activities. Our dharma is to swallow our anger, abide by the discipline of non-violence and carry out our duty.”

As we celebrate our freedoms today, we reflect on these moral dilemmas faced by the oppressed whose sacrifices spared us from knowing them.

-Mrs. 55

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Tere Mere Sapne Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Dev Anand Waheeda Rehman Tere Mere Sapne Guide

Dev Anand reassures Waheeda Rehman that he’s the real deal singing “Tere Mere Sapne” from masterpiece film Guide (1965).

Today we present the lyrics and English translation to the love ballad “Tere Mere Sapne” from the film Guide (1965). I know, I know, we’ve been riding on a Guide high recently. But if you haven’t already relished in the provocative philosophy of this all-time masterpiece of Hindi cinema , cancel your Friday night plans right now.

“Tere Mere Sapne” is considered one of singer Mohammed Rafi’s finest moments–a romantic ballad that mingles gentle tenderness with unabashed passion. The song marks a transition point in the film as Guide’s hero (played by Dev Anand) re-invents himself from a tourist guide into a personal one, guiding a dancer with a broken first marriage (played by Waheeda Rehman) away from the fringes of society toward fulfillment (or, at least, so he wishes). Dev Anand will eventually undergo a final character re-invention that makes the multiple interpretations of the film’s namesake so famous.

Waheeda Rehman ashamed crying Guide Tere Mere Sapne

Waheeda Rehman covers her head modestly, afraid of tainting Dev Anand with her dishonorable past in Guide (1965).

Shut your eyes. Listen to this song in its entirety, devoid of any of the film’s imagery, and you’ll feel yourself swaying. It’s because the song is written as a waltz–one of a handful of waltzes from classic Bollywood films that utilize the buoyant 3-beat meter that bursts with romance at every turn. That lilting instrument that fades in after the first chorus like a continuation of Rafi’s own heartbeat? It’s a saxophone, modernizing the classic waltz croon with jazz-like flair. Bollywood composers of this decade loved mixing styles and instruments from across the globe this way. Shout out to Guide‘s genius music composer S.D. Burman who helped usher in this golden era of Hindi film music!

Now open your eyes. Watch the choreographed way that Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman engage and disengage with each other during the song: their yearning approaches followed by tense rejections. Interestingly, like the 3-beat waltz itself, the entire sequence is filmed in 3 fluid shots. The song, therefore, has only 2 cuts–each marking a new stage in Waheeda’s acceptance of Dev Anand’s offer. The camera itself swirls between them with the grace of a seasoned dancer, eschewing the traditional shot-reverse-shot approach to fully embrace capturing in real-time the space between them–and, in doing so, highlighting its slow diminishment. For me, this kind of camerawork that gives flight to the emotional fabric of the sequence, so unique to classic Bollywood film songs, is one of the reasons I fell in love with Hindi cinema. Moments like these earned Director of Photography Fali Mistry the Best Cinematography Filmfare Award for Guide. Songs like “Dekhi Zamane Ki Yaari” from Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959) or “Lag Ja Gale” from Woh Kaun Thi? (1964) come to mind as other exemplifications of this style.

We hope you enjoy our English translation of the lyrics to “Tere Mere Sapne” below. Follow along with the video here and let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Tere Mere Sapne Lyrics & English Translation:

Tere mere sapne ab ek rang hai
Your and my dreams are now the same colour
Jahaa.N bhii le jaaye raahe.N, ham sang hai.N
Wherever these paths take us, we are together

Mere tere dil kaa tai thaa ek din milnaa
It was decided that our hearts would one day meet
Jaise bahaar aane par tai hai.N phuul kaa khilnaa
Just as it is decided that flowers bloom with the coming of Spring
O mere jeevan-saathii
O my life companion…

Tere dukh ab mere, mere sukh ab tere
Your sadness is now mine, my joy is now yours
Tere yeh do nainaa chaa.Nd aur suraj mere
Your two eyes are my moon and sun
O mere jeevan-saathii…
O my life companion…

Laakh manaa le duniyaa, saath na yeh chhuuTegaa
Society may appease us a hundred thousand times, but we will never be separated
Aake mere haatho.N mei.N, haath na yeh chhuuTegaa
Once you come to my hands, our hands will never be parted
O mere jeevan-saathii…
O my life companion…

Tere mere sapne ab ek rang hai
Your and my dreams are now the same colour
Jahaa.N bhii le jaaye raahe.N, ham sang hai.N
Wherever these paths take us, we are together

Glossary:

sapnaa: dream, rang: color; raah: path; sang: together; dil: heart; tai hai: to be decided; ek din: one day; milnaa: to meet; bahaar: Spring; phuul: flower; khilnaa: to bloom; jeevansaathii: life companion; dukh: sadness; sukh: happiness; nainaa: eyes; chaa.Nd: moon; suraj: sun; laakh: 100,000; manaa lena: to appease; duniyaa: society; saath chhuuTnaa: to become separated; haath: hand

Dev Anand comforts Waheeda Rehman Guide Tere Mere Sapne

Dev Anand’s bouffant-to-forehead ratio exceeds all expectations in Guide’s beautiful “Tere Mere Sapne.”

This lovely Mohammed Rafi love song was requested by multiple fans: Naina Agnestia, Kiran, and Sunita! Thank you all for the touching request, you sentimental fools! For more on the music of Guide, check out our translation of “Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamana Hai!”

– Mrs. 55

Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamana Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Waheeda Rehman Aaj Phir Jeene Guide

We are not worthy of Waheeda Rehman glistening in head-to-toe teal in “Aaj Phir Jeene Ki” from Guide (1965).

Today we present the English translation and lyrics to “Aaj Phir Jeene Ki” from the cult classic film Guide (1965). A stirring exploration of the Vedic transformation from materialism to freedom from worldly attachments, Guide is routinely listed among the greatest Bollywood films ever made. Based on the classic novel by R.K. Narayan “The Guide,” the film unearths profound depths beneath a glittery surface of a scandalous romance: Raju (played by Dev Anand) is a smooth-talking tour guide who is mesmerized by a vivacious young dancer, Rosy (played by Waheeda Rehman), the wife of an elderly archaeologist. Trapped in a loveless marriage of convenience, Rosy dreams of becoming a famous performer while masking her shame of being the daughter of a courtesan.  While her lofty ambitions and enchanting on-screen presence initially propel Rosy to the foreground of the narrative, Raju’s nuanced, reflective character is the real star of the film whose philosophical awakening bestows the film its larger-than-life greatness.

Dev Anand Waheeda Rehman hay cart Guide

Waheeda Rehman finds a renewed zeal to live with the support of Dev Anand in Guide (1965).

Raju observes with quiet fascination Rosy’s marital discord as he leads her and her husband on a tour of historical caves. His curiosity quickly blossoms into something more as her despair leads to attempted suicide as Rosy’s husband carries on an affair with a local villager. Raju finds himself assuming the role of her protector, whisking Rosy to the city where she purchases a set of ghungroos (dancing bells) from a street stall. The bells transform her instantly into capricious, joyful young woman who realizes how much she has to life for. As she prances back to the countryside, swirling through the Rani Padmini Palace and Chittorgh Fort in Rajasthan along the way, Waheeda Rehman’s “Aaj Phir Jeene Ki” (sung by Lata Mangeshkar) is a song of rebirth.

Guide is a landmark for its ceiling-smashing plot and careful, stunning cinematography that keep pace with its stellar soundtrack composed by S. D. Burman. Follow along with the video here to see how director Vijay Anand cuts between high-angle and low-angle shots that brilliantly mirror the unpredictable oscillations of Rosy’s mood.

Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamana Lyrics and Translation:

Kaa.Nto.N se khee.Nch ke yeh aa.Nchal
I pulled my saari away from thorns
ToD ke bandhan baandhe paayal
I broke my shackles when I tied these anklets
Koii na roko dil ki udaa.N ko
Let know no one stop the soaring of my heart
Dil woh chalaa aa aa aa aa aa…
There goes my heart…
Aaj phir jeene ki tamannaa hai
Today I have the desire to live again
Aaj phir marne ka iraadaa hai
Today I intend to die again

Apne hii bas mei.N nahii.N mai.N
I have no control over myself
Dil hai kahii.N to huu.N kahii.N mai.N
My heart is somewhere and I am somewhere else
Ho jaane kya paa ke merii zindagii ne ha.Ns kar kahaa
Who knows what my life gained as it said laughing
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…

Aaj phir jeene ki tamannaa hai
Today I have the desire to live again
Aaj phir marne ka iraadaa hai
Today I intend to die again

Mai.N huu.N huubaar yaa tuufaa.N huu.N?
Am I intoxicated or a rainstorm?
Koii bataaye mai.N kahaa.n huu.N
Someone tell me where I am
Ho Dar hai safar mei.N kahii.N kho na jaauu.N mai.N rastaa nayaa
I fear that I may get lost somewhere in this journey upon a new path
Aa aa aa aa aa…

Aaj phir jeene ki tamannaa hai
Today I have the desire to live again
Aaj phir marne ka iraadaa hai
Today I intend to die again

Kal ke andhero.N se nikal ke
I emerged from the darkness of yesterday
Dekha hai aankhe.N malte malte
I rub my eyes and finally see
Ho phuul hi phuul zindagii bahaar hai, tay kar liyaa
Flowers are everywhere and life is like Spring, I have decided
Aa aa aa aa…

Aaj phir jeene ki tamannaa hai
Today I have the desire to live again
Aaj phir marne ka iraadaa hai
Today I intend to die again

Glossary

kaa.Ntaa: thorn; khee.Nchnaa: to pull; aa.Nchal: end of a saari; toDnaa: to break; bandhan: shackle; paayal: anklet; koii: someone; roknaa: to stop; dil: heart; udaa.N: soaring, flight; aaj: today; phir: again; jeenaa: to live; tamannaa: desire; marnaa: to die; iraadaa: intention; bas mei.N: self-control; kahii.N: somewhere; jaane kyaa: who knows what, wonder what; paanaa: to gain; zindagii: life; ha.Nsnaa: to laugh; huubaar: intoxicated; tuufaa.N: storm; bataanaa: to tell; Dar: fear; safar: journey: kho jaanaa: to become lost; rastaa: path; nayaa: new; andheraa: darkness; nikalnaa: to emerge; malnaa: to rub; phuul: flower; bahaar: Spring; tay karnaa: to decide

Waheeda Rehman Rani Padmini palace Rajasthan

The depth of field in the shot allows the viewer to appreciate Dev Anand lagging behind in the background of the Rani Padmini palace in Rajasthan, India where “Aaj Phir Jeene Ki” was filmed on location.

This lovely Lata Mangeshkar solo was requested by fan Yahya. Did you know there was an English-language version of Guide that was even more daring and true to the novel, but never made it to large audiences? More on its fascinating back-story and how American Nobel laureate Pearl S. Buck and Dev Anand became unlikely co-producers in a future post!

Waheeda Rehman and Dev Anand reunited five years later for the film Prem Pujari (1970) that also boasted a gorgeous soundtrack, including the hit love duet “Shokhiyon Mein Ghola.” However, the film failed to capture the magic of their earlier hits and flopped at the box office. Dev Anand would go on to say in many interviews that working on Guide remained the highlight of his career.

-Mrs. 55

Mere Naina Sawan Bhado Lyrics & Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Rajesh Khanna rainy guitar mere naina sawan bhado

Rajesh Khanna soaks his blue bell bottoms as he croons to Hema Malini in the rain in Mehbooba (1976).

Today we highlight the lyrics and English translation of “Mere Naina Sawan Bhado” from Mehbooba (1976). Starring Hema Malini and Rajesh Khanna, Mehbooba is a dramatic reincarnation (punar-janam) love story that can only exist in Bollywood. When contemporary pop singer (played by Rajesh Khanna) is gifted an antique sitar for his birthday, he begins to unravel the mysteries of his past life and search for the woman whose musical talent once mesmerized him (played by the lovely Hema Malini). Mehbooba journeys from hip city life of 1970s Bombay to a countryside royal court of the 1800s where a court musician and dancer fall in love despite the misgivings of society.

First sung by Hema Malini in their past life when she believes Rajesh Khanna has deceived her, the female version of “Mere Naina Sawan Bhado” is a tragic rendition, bursting with lovely alaaps that befit the classical nature of that period’s music. “Mere Naina Sawan Bhado” is reprised later in the film in the modern day as Rajesh Khanna seeks to remind Hema Malini (now reincarnated as a local village belle) of their former bond. The male version is…well, steamier, in one sense of the word.

One of Mehbooba‘s most iconic scenes occurs when Rajesh Khanna begins to sing “Mere Naina Sawan Bhado” in the middle of a raging stormy night, luring Hema Malini from her sleep to discover the mysterious voice filling the air. Lightening flashes menacingly, everyone’s hair is blowing wildly, and still the guitar plays on (check out more on Bollywood rain songs here!). While the male version sung by Kishore Kumar is arguably more popular (Kumar himself ranked this song in his top ten personal favorites!), the female version sung by Lata Mangeshkar is as hauntingly beautiful and enhances our understanding of the former.

Hema Malini Mere Naina Sawan Bhado Mehbooba

Hema Malini’s memories of a past life are stirred when she hears “Mere Naina Sawan Bhado” from Mehbooba (1976).

Mehbooba was written by Gulshan Nanda who also wrote the screenplay of Neel Kamal (1968)–a film about a woman who visits an old palace where she discovers she was a court dancer in her previous life and that her former lover is still searching for her. Sound kind of familiar? We all see what you did there, Gulshan. Mehbooba will also literally carry a sense of deja-vu for to anyone who has seen Kudrat (1981), conveniently also starring Rajesh Khanna and Hema Malini caught in a punar-janam love tangle. However, Kudrat is a darker film with flashes of expressionist inspiration that elevate the entire genre and likely contributed to its greater commercial success.

With music by R.D. Burman and lyrics by Anand Bakshi, “Mere Naina Sawan Bhado” is a passionate tribute to old memories. We hope you appreciate the lyrics and learn from our English translation of both versions of “Mere Naina Sawan Bhado” below!

Mere Naina Sawan Bhado Lyrics and English Translation:

Male version:

Mere nainaa saawan-bhaado.N
My eyes are like the monsoons
Phir bhii meraa man pyaasaa
Yet still my mind remains thirsty

Aye dil diiwaane, khel yeh kyaa jaane?
Oh crazy heart, what does it know of this game?
Dard bharaa yeh giit kahaa.N se
From where does this pain-filled song
In ho.NTho.N pe aaye? duur kahii.N le jaaye
come to these lips? Take me far away
Bhuul gayaa kyaa? bhuulke bhii hai
What have I forgotten? Even though I forget
Mujhko yaad zaraa saa, phir bhii meraa man pyaasaa
I remember a little, yet still my mind is thirsty

Baat puraanii hai, ek kahaanii hai
This is an old conversation, this is a story
Ab sochuu.N tumhe.N, yaad nahii.N hai
Now I think you do not remember
Ab sochuu.N nahii.N bhuule woh saawan ke jhuule
Now I think you could not forget those swing sets of the rainy season
Rut aaye, rut jaaye deke
I saw the seasons come and go
JhuuThaa ek dilaasaa, phir bhii meraa man pyaasaa
This lie is a consolation, yet still my mind is thirsty

Baraso.N biit gaye, hamko mile bichhaDe
Ages have passed since we met and were separated
Bijurii bankar, gagan pe chhamke
We were like lightening that sparkled in the sky
Biite samay kii rekhaa, mai.N ne tumko dekhaa
But that line of time has passed since I saw you
Man sang aa.Nkh-michaulii khele
Playing hide and seek with my mind
Aashaa aur niraashaa, phir bhii meraa man pyaasaa
(were) hope and despair, yet still my mind is thirsty

Female version:

Mere nainaa saawan-bhaado.N
My eyes are like the monsoons
Phir bhii meraa man pyaasaa
Yet still my mind remains thirsty

Ghungharuu kii chham-chham, ban gayii dil kaa gham
The sound of the dancing bells become the sadness of my heart
Duub gayaa dil, yaado.N mei.N
My heart drowned in memories of you
Ubharii berang lakiire.N, dekho yeh tasviire.N
Only to emerge as colorless sketches, look at these portraits
Suune mahal mei.N naach rahii hai
In a lonely palace, still dancing
Ab tak ek rakkaasaa, phir bhii meraa man pyaasaa
Even now is a performer, yet still my mind is thirsty

Glossary:

nainaa: eyes; saawan-bhaado.N: the 5th and 6th months of the Panjabi (Nanakshahi) calendar that comprise the monsoon season; man: mind; pyaasaa: thirsty; dil: heart; diiwaanaa: crazy; khel: game; dard: pain; bharaa: filled; giit: song; kahaa.N: where; ho.NTh: lips; duur: far; bhuulnaa: to forget; yaad: memory; puraanii: old; kahaanii: story, legend; sochnaa: to think; bhuulnaa: to forget; jhuulaa: swing set; rut: season; jhuuThaa: lie; dilaasaa: consolation; baras: age, years; biitnaa: to pass; milnaa: to meet; bichhaDnaa: to be separated; bijuri: lightening; gagan: sky; chhamaknaa: to sparkle; samay: time; rekhaa: line; aa.nkh-michaulii: hide-and-seek; aashaa: hope; niraashaa: despair; gham: sadness; Duubnaa: to drown; ubharii: raised; berang: without color; lakiraaa: line; tasviir: picture; suunaa: lonely, mahal: palace; naachnaa: to dance; tak: until; rakkaasaa: dancer

Rajesh Khanna Mehbooba guitar mere naina sawan

Smooth-operator Rajesh Khanna executes his devastating wink mid-guitar pluck, completely obliterating anyone’s initial repulsion at his haircut.

Did you know Rajesh Khanna actually sings the first antra of the song in a separate scene that takes place in broad daylight? He opens with his famous wink that still manages to induce swoons despite his distractingly dated ‘do! Think I’m the only one obsessed with the hair and outfits in these films? This week our local independent movie theatre happened to be doing a Bollywood series (obviously, I soaked up every moment), including a special screening of Om Shanti Om (2007). During the song “Main Agar Kahoon,” something felt eerily familiar…check out Shah Rukh Khan’s outfit below to see what I mean! It’s one of the many subtle meta classic film references that make Om Shanti Om such a brilliant work!

Shah Rukh Khan imitates Rajesh Khanna's unforgettable blue ensemble with a rainbow top in Om Shanti Om (2008).

Shah Rukh Khan imitates Rajesh Khanna’s scarring unforgettable blue bell bottom ensemble with a rainbow top in Om Shanti Om (2007).

– Mrs. 55

Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

dilip-kumar-singing-madhuban-mein-kohinoor

Dilip Kumar plays a swashbuckling raja who knows how to carry a tune in Kohinoor (1960).

Today we present the lyrics and English translation to the semi-classical “Madhuban Mein Radhika” from Kohinoor (1960). Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari star in this masala film set during a romanticized period of Indian history when Hindu royalty were constantly engaged in sword-fights with their rivals, playing the sitar to the acclamation of their courtiers, and saving damsels in distress on horseback. Kohinoor is remembered today for the brilliant soundtrack and delightful script (read: you will not cringe and die during most of the comic scenes) as well a for the breezy performances by its hero and heroine. Meena Kumari giggles more in this film than in any of her other films combined!

Dilip Kumar as the young raja travels to the countryside and happens upon a musical assembly where a talented dancer, played by Kumkum, challenges anyone to perform a song to which she cannot dance. Naturally, our hero is ready with “Madhuban Mein Radhika”  to the delight of the court while Kumkum gracefully dances kathak to his tune. Shakeel Badayuni’s straightforward Radha-Krishna poetry is the basis of a rollicking number that keeps everyone, especially Kumkum, on their toes. “Madhuban Mein Radhika” is a true gem among film songs, drawing heavily upon Hindustani classical traditions that are rare to find executed with such unabashed purism in Bollywood films. It comes as no surprise that the song has maestro Naushad written all over it. To fully appreciate all the ornaments of the piece, I think it’s high time we break for a little vocabulary lesson…

A Brief Hindustani Classical Music Vocabulary Lesson:

Tarana in Hindustani classical music were thought to be invented by the great poet Amir Khusro (1253-1325 CE). Legend has it that a music competition was held by the famous conqueror Alauddin Khilji in which Amir Khusro and Gopal Nayak, court musician to the King of Devagiri were the last men standing. Nayak performed raaga Kadambak in Sanskrit for six evenings straight while Khusro sat enthralled among the courtiers. On the seventh night, Khusro sang the same song, copying each note to perfection, but substituted Persian words and jargon for the lyrics as he did not understand Sanskrit. His amazing performance won him the competition and thus, the tarana was born. Persian couplets and notation for tabla are often intermingled into the tarana, however, the basic phonetics are Farsi-based (eg. yalali, odani, tadeem). The structure consists of a main melody that the performer repeats and elaborates on as well as a second, contrasting melody, that may include higher notes and is introduced once before returning to the main melody. The taranas featured in Lata Mangeshkar’s “Tare Rahiyo” from Pakeezah (1972) and the Pakeezah (1972) Title Music are some of the film’s highlights.

Sargam is the vocalization of the notes that define the raga in which the song is sung. Improvisation ascending and descending the scale allows the audience to understand the raagas range and boundaries, often occurring at the beginning or the end of the piece. The sargam typically incorporates improvisation upon themes to set the tone of the piece. A great example of a beautiful mid-song sargam is in Asha Bhonsle’s “Nigahen Milane Ko” from Dil Hi To Hai (1960).

Alaap is similar to sargam, but does not name the notes, using instead simply the aakaar (“aah” sound) to create music. It frequently opens a piece, but can be interjected in the middle, or at the end for dramatic effect–as well as intermingled among the sargam with artistic license. One of my favorite alaaps from films is Suman Kalyanpur’s heavenly interjection above Hemant Kumar midway through “Na Tum Humen Jano” from Baat Ek Raat Ki (1963). In “Madhuban Mein Radhika,” listen for Mohammed Rafi’s silky alaap to start off the song and entrance his audience.

Taan, is similar to an alaap, but is much more fast-paced and showcases the singer’s vocal abilities. The two taans in this song (picturized on comedic actor Mukri) were sung by Ustad Niyaz Ahmed Khan. Bollywood film songs Kal Nahii.N Paaye Jiya from Chhoti Si Mulaqat (1967)  and Tu Hai Mera Prem Devta from Kalpana (1960) feature multiple beautiful taans punctuating each stanza.

Jugalbandi is a playful competition between two performers in which one mimics the other, and then surpasses. A challenging test of both the ability to perfectly imitate and then improvise, a jugalbandi between two master musicians is absolutely thrilling to witness. This is commonly between two instrumental performers, but as in “Madhuban Mein Radikha,” is briefly showcased as between the singer and the tabla player (note: the lyrics actually reference the Carnatic mridangam, which is a different percussion instrument than the Hindustani tabla, however, a tabla is indeed is picturized in the film). Another fun example of jugalbandi in Bollywood is at the ending of the song Muqabala Humse Na Karo from Prince (1969).

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Kumkum entrances her audience with a kathak performance based on classic Radha-Krishna imagery in Kohinoor (1960).

Are we all on the same page now? Because I’m fully expecting you to count the taal as you check out the music video here. Follow along with our English translation of the lyrics to “Madhuban Mein Radhika” from Kohinoor (1960) below! How many lovely ornaments of Hindustani classical music can you hear in the song?

Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache Lyrics and Translation:

ALAAP: Aaaah aaaah aaaah

madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re
In the honey gardens, Radha danced
Girdhar kii muraliiya baje re
As the flute of Krishna played

pag mei.N ghuunghar baandhke
With dancing bells tied to her leg
ghuunghaT mukh par daal ke
With a veil placed upon her face
nainan mei.N kajraa lagaake re
With kajal applied to her eyes
madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re
In the honey gardens, Radha danced

Dolat chham-chham kaminii
The beautiful lady swayed and sparkled
Chhamakat jaise daamini
Her sparkle was like lightening
Chhanchal, pyarii chhab laage re
Her face appeared mischievous and lovable
madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re
In the honey gardens, Radha danced

mridang baje…
The drum was played…

Tirikitadhum Tirikitadhum Ta Ta
mridang baje
Tirikitadhum Tirikitadhum

Naachath Chum Chum
ThaThay ThaThay Thatha
Chum Chum ChanaNaNa
Chum Chum ChanaNaNa

Dhan Dhakdan Dhakdan Dha
Dha Dha Dha

madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re…

TAAN: Aaaaaaaah

madhuban mei.N radhikaa…

TAAN: Aaaaaaaah

madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re
madhuban mei.N radhikaa…

SARGAM :

Ni Sa Re Sa Ga Re Ma Ga Pa Ma
Dha Pa Ni Dha SA Ni RE SA
RE SA Ni Dha Pa Ma Pa
Dha Ni SA RE SA Ni Dha Pa Ma Pa
Ga Ma Pa Ma Ga Ma Re Sa
madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re…

SA SA SA Ni Dha Pa
Ma Pa Dha Pa Ga Ma Re Sa Ni Re Sa
Sa Sa Ga Ma Dha Dha Ni Dha SA
madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re
madhuban mei.N radhikaa…

TARAANAA:

Ode NaDir DiTa NiTa DhaRe Dhim, Dhim Ta Na Na
Nadir DiTa NiTa DhaRe Dhim, Dhim Ta Na Na
Nadir DiTa NiTa DhaRe Dhim, Dhim Ta Na Na

JUGALBANDI:

NaDir DiTa NiTa DhaRe

(tabla response)

ODe Tana Dhir Dhir Tana
Dhir Dhir Dhir Dhir
Thum Dhir Dhir Dhir

(tabla response)

Dha Tirikita Tak , Thum Tirikita Tak
Tirikita Titikita Ta DhaNi

NaDir DiTa NiTa
ODe NaDir DiTa niTa
ODe Nadir Dita NiTa
DhaRe Dhim Dhim Ta Na Na ….

Glossary:

madhuban: sweet garden, honey garden; Radhikaa: Radha, gopi lover of Krishna; nachnaa: to dance; girdhar: Lord Krishna; muralii: flute; baajnaa: to play; pag: leg; ghuungar: dancing bells; baandhnaa: to bind, to tie; ghuungaT: veil; mukh: face: Daalnaa: to place, to put; nainan: eyes; kajraa: eyeliner; Dolat: sway; chham-chham: sparkling; kaamini: beautiful lady; daamini: lightening; chhanchal: mischievous; pyaarii: loveable; chhab: face; mridangam: traditional Carnatic percussion instrument

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Dilip Kumar jams his sitar with rockstar attitude in Kohinoor (1960).

Dilip Kumar’s performance in Kohinoor (1960) garnered the Filmfare award for Best Actor that year. According to Naushad, Dilip Kumar the perfectionist, supposedly learned how to play the sitar just for this song. While that may seem extreme, anyone who has seen Raj Kapoor fail miserably to pretend play the piano (as much as we love the man) will appreciate how big a difference this makes in any self-respecting musical number.

Wondering what’s up with the snake and the mongoose at the end of the song? Naturally, every self-respecting raja-rani film needs at least one assassination-by-cobra attempt…amiright?

– Mrs. 55

Chal Chal Chal Mere Haathi Lyrics & Translaton: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

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Rajesh Khanna gives Tanuja an unusual jumpstart with a herd of elephants in Haathi Mere Saathi (1971).

Today we present the delightful lyrics and English translation of everyone’s childhood favorite song “Chal Chal Chal Mere Haathi” from Haathi Mere Saathi (1971). Rajesh Khanna star as orphaned Raju who makes fast friends with a herd of elephants that protect him and become like family. Among them, Ramu, is the star elephant who helps Raju build a fortune as a street performer, eventually allowing Raju to build a zoo where the community can share in his love of animals. The song “Chal Chal Chal Mere Haathi” during which Rajesh Khanna and Tanuja fall in love is a quintessential “only-in-Bollywood” moment. Where on earth (besides your wildest fantasies) will you ever see a convertible pushed by a group of elephants as a mechanism of securing the romance?

Tanuja plays the cleverly named Tanu whose gorgeous red Chevrolet Impala convertible breaks down in the middle of the road. Raju happens to arrive at the critical moment to help this damsel in distress! Fortunately, the elephant crew knows how to drive that puppy straight to the heart.

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Rajesh Khanna rubs noses with his favorite elephant and they both look happy AF.

Kishore Kumar lends his rich voice to Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s playful composition. Anand Bakshi’s lyrics burst with flirtatious overtures as well as underhanded zingers while the singer teasingly appears to solely address the elephants the entire time. A hearty trumpet is gloriously sprinkled throughout the song’s score as a substitute for the elephants roaring their approval. Be sure to watch extra carefully during the swift stunt in which Rajesh Khanna appears to float to the top of the elephant. Anyone who has taken a good old-fashioned haathi ride during a trip to the motherland knows ascending the elephant is NEVER this graceful. Thank you, awkwardly crouched production assistants who gave our hero the leg-up!

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Tanuja pretends to drive as Rajesh Khanna whistles flirtatiously in her ear in Haathi Mere Saathi (1971). I mean it, take off those driving gloves, we all know steering is futile.

So pull up a high-chair and reel your kids in for this one. They’re going to love our English translation of the lyrics of “Chal Chal Chal Mere Haathi” and you’ll be glad a world still exists this innocent and colorful, even if only for a few minutes on-screen. Follow along with the video here and enjoy our translation below!

Chal Chal Chal Mere Haathi Lyrics and English Translation:

Chal chal chal mere saathii, O mere haathii
Let’s go, my companion, O my elephant
Chal le chal kaTaaraa khii.Nch ke
Come pull this piece of junk
Chal yaar, dhakka maar
Go on, friend, push!
Band hai moTar kaar
The motor car is broken down
Chal yaar dhakka maar
Go on, friend, push!
Chal chal chal mere saathii…

Phuulo.N se naazuk hai woh, moTar mei.N baiThii hai jo
She who sits in the car is more delicate than a flower
Aahistaa aahistaa chal, usko na taqliif ho
Go carefully, let her not experience any trouble
Haaye, haaye, kha na jaaye
Haaye, haaye, let it not consume me
Uskii naazuk kamariiyaa bal, chal!
The swaying of her delicate hips, let’s go!
Chal chal chal mere saathii…

Khidmat terii kaam de, shaayad woh inaam de
If your service is successful, perhaps she will reward you
Kar us hasii.N ko salaam, aa.Nkhon se paighaam de
If you salute the beautiful lady, she may send you a message through her eyes
Paas aaja, O sun raajaa
Come close, listen O King
Aisa mauqaa na jaaye nikal, chal!
Let this chance not escape, let’s go!
Chal chal chal mere saathii…

Tuu yaaro.N ka yaar hai, kitnaa vafaadaar hai!
You are a friend of friends, how faithful you are!
JhuuTha hai saaDaa jahaa.N, sachcha teraa pyaar hai
The rest of the world may be a lie, but your love is honest
Tuu paglaa, na badalaa!
You crazy creature, do not change!
SaDii duniyaa gayii hai badal, chal!
Even if the whole world has changed, let’s go!
Chal chal chal mere saathii…

Glossary:

saathi: companion; haathi: elephant; kaTaaraa: junk, jalopy; khee.Nchnaa: to pull; dhakka maarna: to push; band hona: to be broken, to be closed; yaar: friend; phuul: flower; naazuk: delicate; baiThnaa: to sit; aahistaa: carefully; taqliif: trouble, problem; khaanaa: to eat, to consume; kamariiyaa: small waist; bal: sway; khidmat: service; kaam dena: to be successful; shaayad: perhaps; inaam: reward; hasii.N: beautiful lady; aa.Nkh: eye, paighaam: message; paas: near, close; aa jaanaa: to come here; sunnaa: to listen; raajaa: king; mauqaa: chance, opportunity; nikalnaa: to escape, to go out; vafaadaar: faithful; jhuuTaa: lie; sachchaa: truth; pyaar: love; paglaa: crazy person; badalnaa: to change; duniyaa: world

elephants in Namibia

Shots of a herd of African elephants I encountered while on a safari in Namibia with my husband recently. Can you guess which song was stuck in my head the whole time?

Ramu and Raju’s friendship are everyone’s bestie goals. They have each other’s backs like nobody’s business. Haathi Mere Saathi (1971) is truly the Bambi (1942) of Bollywood–and every child will remember exactly how they felt the first time they experienced the trauma of the film’s ending. Wow, there is just so much dust flying around my house lately, my eyes really need to stop watering. Stop, get a grip on yourself, Mrs. 55. SERIOUSLY, TOO MUCH DUST, WHY ARE MY EYES SO SENSITIVE.

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Even though your outfit is the color of pepto bismol, you da man, Rajesh Khanna.

This one-of-a-kind song was requested by fan Janaki. Awesome choice! We know we’ve been slower to post lately with the busy year, but requests like these are always inspiring. We love hearing from fans!

-Mrs. 55

A Definitive Ranking of Men’s Facial Hair in Classic Bollywood Films

Raj Kapoor in a promotional photograph for Dil Hi To Hai sporting an 'm' mustache.

Raj Kapoor in a promotional photograph for Dil Hi To Hai (1963) sporting a suave ‘m’ mustache.

Happy Movember! This lovely time of year is a month when men around the world grow out their mustaches to change the face of men’s healthcare–such as through raising awareness for prostate and testicular cancer. Read more about the Movember Foundation here!

Inspired by this movement, today we present a definitive ranking of men’s facial hair in classic Bollywood films, a photographic indulgence of every important mustache and beard that hit the silver screens of Bombay and then bounced straight into our souls. And God knows we needed something this in our lives after that f*$&ing insane apocalypse difficult election week. But be forewarned, some of these manes can bite–and others might make you suddenly feel itchy. Most of all, that fluttering sensation in your chest like a fluffy mustache tickling your heart–that’s called love.

A Definitive Ranking of Men’s Facial Hair in Classic Bollywood Films

15. Kishore Kumar’s waxed perfection in Padosan (1968)

kishore-kumar-padosan-mustache

His mustache is basically a pair of angel wings.

14. Shashi Kapoor’s deadly combo in Chor Sipahee (1979)

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Shashi shines in a shaggy beard and a full-bodied mustache with just a hint of delicate curl. Looking bad never looked so good.

13. Amitabh Bachhan’s full coverage in Do Anjaane (1976)

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Amitabh goes incognito behind a blanket of his generous wool.

12. Pradeep Kumar’s Mughal-style beard in Taj Mahal (1963)

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The Mughals were champions of many things including the artistry of a man’s face. Note the paintbrush side-burns that complete this regal look.

11. Rishi Kapoor’s bad boy scruff in Laila Manju (1979)

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Rishi may be dying of thirst, but his scruff is on fleek right now.

10. Pran’s proud Pathan mane in Zanjeer (1973)

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Pran is a class act as a Pathan sporting a well-tamed auburn fur coating.

9. Vinod Khanna’s caterpillar mustache in Amar, Akbar, Anthony (1977)

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Something alive might actually be crawling on his face. Something beautiful and shimmering.

8. Shammi Kapoor’s fluffy goatee in Professor (1962)

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While this look should never be tried at home, Shammi’s iconic goatee made men of boys.

7. Jeetendra’s provocative chevron mustache in Parichay (1972)

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The only thing fuzzier than the tuft of fur nestled in the dimple of Jeetendra’s upper lip is his vision through those thick hipster lenses.

6. Dev Anand’s curly mustache in Hum Dono (1961)

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Thoughtful, courteous, and deadly–the curly mustache of Dev Anand is nothing short of a war hero.

5. Manoj Kumar’s patriotic handlebar in Shaheed (1965)

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Because nothing quite says “Inquilab Zindabad” like a well-trimmed mustache.

4. Raj Kapoor’s pyramidal mustache in Awaara (1951)

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Once a classic, always a classic. The Egyptians building Giza had no idea what they were inspiring.

3. Rajesh Khanna’s hipster beard in Do Raaste (1969)

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Be still my beating heart. I bet there’s a dozen plaid shirts in his closet, and that he listens to actual CDs on his walkman because he just wants to be authentic.

2. Guru Dutt’s emotional mustache in Pyaasa (1957)

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The only thing quivering more than Guru Dutt’s voice is the 4 mm diameter patch of heaven resting on his upper lip

1. WINNER: Rajkumar’s devastating pencil mustache in Pakeezah (1972)

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I DIE THE SWEET DEATH BY LOVE OF A MUSTACHE. There are few things in life greater than this show-stealing masterpiece of men’s grooming.

Men, time to take a hard look in the mirror and evaluate if you’re really bringing your full potential to the world. And remember, just because we all love to see a little facial hair in November, it is NEVER OK to flash your chest hair in public in broad daylight à la Amitabh Bachhan, even if it’s just an unsightly tuft from your too-many-buttons-unbuttoned polo shirt. The 70s are over. These things are not equivocal. I just felt like that had to be said.

You’re welcome.

– Mrs. 55