For our next song, we discuss the lyrics and English translation of Waqt Ne Kiya, an evergreen song by Geeta Dutt from Kaaghaz Ke Phool (1957). Although nearly everyone has grown up watching movies, few people have an understanding of what the production of a film entails. I don’t mean just the technical aspects of constructing a shot—I refer to that way of life, to the tinsel-lined world of glamour and infamy, of triumph and ruin, and of the battle for self-respect that challenges a director. Guru Dutt’s final film, Kaaghaz Ke Phool (1957), is an intimate and haunting tragedy that shows the audience just that—a glimpse into the vanished studio era of 1950s Bollywood.
Following in the mesmerizing footsteps of Sunset Boulevard (1950) and The Blue Angel (Der blaue Engel, 1930), Kaaghaz Ke Phool reveals another side to the world of show business through the rise and spiraling downfall of a great director. It examines the price of the soul of an artist, and is a harsh critique of contemporary values (even including the social condemnation of divorce!). In an ironic twist, the film was a flop at the box office when first released, leading to events in Guru Dutt’s personal life that mirrored the story of his own film. Eerily autobiographical, the film has now achieved a cult status in the history of Indian cinema.
The famous song “Waqt Ne Kiya” comes at a time in the film when the hero and the love of his life both come to an unspoken understanding that they must let each other go. As for the picturization, it is a cinematographer’s dream. Look at the lighting in these shots—at the rich blacks of the shadows, and how the dust from the overhead spotlights is captured floating ethereally in the air. The camera dollies in slowly to each character as they stare at one another and at their unfulfilled dreams enacting before them in the spotlight. There is actually very little movement by the actors—the real player is the camera itself, gracefully gliding through the empty set like a spectre of their own shattered hopes.
Enjoy the lyrics and full English translation of the masterpiece “Waqt Ne Kiya” below:
Waqt Ne Kiya Lyrics and Translation:
Waqt ne kiya kya hasee.N sitam
What a beautiful tragedy time has wrought
Tum rahe na tum
You are no longer you
Hum rahe na ham
I am no longer me
Beqaraar dil is tarha mile
Our restless hearts met in such a way
Jis tarha kabhi hum judaa na the
As though we were never apart
Tum bhi kho gaye
You became lost
Hum bhi kho gaye
I was lost too
Ek raah par chalke do qadam
As we walked a few footsteps on the same path
Waqt ne kiya…
Jaaye.Nge kahaa.N sujhta nahii.N
We cannot see where we are going
Chal paDe magar raastaa nahii.N
We set forward despite there being no path
Kya talaash hai
For what do we search?
Kuch pataa nahii.N
I do not know
Bun rahe hai.N dil khaab dam ba-dam
With every breath, my heart grows another dream
Waqt ne kiya…
Waqt= time, sitam= tragedy, torture; beqaraar= restless; tarha=manner judaa= apart; qadam= footsteps, talaash= search; dam ba-dam= with every breath
For anyone interested in gossip, the song is sung by Geeta Dutt—wife of none other than director and actor Guru Dutt himself. A major star on her own right, Geeta shot to fame at the age of sixteen when she wowed audiences with her uniquely rich and emotional voice (becoming S.D. Burman’s favorite!) But she too later suffered a personal tragedy from the well-known affair between her husband and his favorite actress, Waheeda Rehman—who actually lip-syncs “Waqt Ne Kiya” and plays the role of “the other woman” in the film! As I said, talk about life mimicking art. For more on Guru Dutt’s films, check out our earlier post on Pyaasa!
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I saw this movie yesterday.. and have still not recovered. Waheeda looks flawless in this song..! Wanted to come here and read the lyrics again. Does not make it any easier
This song has me in tears every time! Poignant, the longing and heartache is palpable…..
So true! It’s one of the few songs that accomplishes so much with so little movement from the actors–a subtle glance, a hesitant step forward, all carry an entirely heavy meaning that no words could describe.
Thank you profoundly. Yes, my eyes too well whilst watching this. Master photography. That generation has left their magnum opera for those who have a flavour for ‘rich blend’. To live these one needs to be on a different pedestal.
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Well done. Great website.
I believe there is a small error in the original lyrics wording in the third stanza. It “sujhta” not “sulajhta”. Your translation is correct, however. The former means to “see” whereas the latter means to “solve”.
Good call! I just listened to the song carefully again and the lyric uses “sujhtaa.” Thanks!
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I like the use of the word bun, meaning to knit /weave in the song. That part of the song is picturised so beautifully. For a very brief moment she escapes her tragic reality as she dreams of knitting baby boots and having a family with him. The escape is very brief though, reality sinks in fast as noticed by the tormented look on her face.
I love your blog!
Greetings from Amsterdam.
One of the most beautiful song I have ever heard. Typical old classics.
Thanks. Long time I searched meaning of this song.
This is human tragedy be an actor or a commoner.
Sometimes life appears to me a great conspiracy in which we abandon everything, we possess and achieve none except bundle of sad memories.
Great effort. Helps those who like to appreciate the old and classic movies while not having depth of knowledge in hindi or urdu.
I am from South India yet I am an insane movie-buff, with least bias to the languages of movies. Hailing from Andhra Pradesh, I am pretty happy to declare myself as one among several crores of Telugu people (both laymen as well as elite & erudite scholars) who go to any extent to squeeze maximum juice out of any mediocre movie to please themselves. While I enjoy every iota of literature, classical & commercial music of Telugu movies I have never spared the timeless masterpieces in Hindi too, ranging from 1950s till date.
Being a non-Hindi person I consider myself relegated to comprehend the miniscule nuances in Hindi lyrics. We have immense respect to the legendary Hindi actors and actresses with equal admiration to music directors of yore & of recent times.
I am quite impressed with your highly accurate description of what you have in your mind about the movie and the much needed translation for people like us. I notice that even Hindi speaking people are enjoying your translation.
Please accept my sincere thanks and encomiums.
An adorable job indeed ! Keep it up !!!
beautifully written .the song haunts you.. .
This haunting melody of the distant past has been in my memories since I was a kid. I lived across the street from a movie theater in Alleppey,Kerala, and the theater used to play a few songs from hindi movies before the second show (around 9:30 PM). Eventhough I did not understand the words and the meaning, I enjoyed and loved the hindi songs. My love for hindustani songs have prompted me to study Hindustani classical music when I was studying and working in North India.
Thank you for posting this and you are a great help to many of us, Please keep up the good work.
Sorry if this is a foolish question — but isn’t “hum” the 1st person plural pronoun, making “hum rahe na hum” more like “We are no longer us”? (Every other translation I’ve found online also has something like “I am no longer me,” so I assume I’m just confused.)
Love your website!
That’s a great question! This is actually one of the subtleties of Urdu-Hindi grammar we love. Hum does indeed refer to first person plural, BUT it can also be used to poet effect in the first person singular. Hence why we chose to translate this as “I” rather than “we.” You see this a lot in Bollywood songs and dialogues once you start keeping an eye out for it–it can be tricky at first!