For our next song, we translate the lyrics of my all-time favorite Mohammed Rafi song, Likhe Jo Khat Tujhe. The lyrics and translation of Likhe Jo Khat Tujhe have no frills, no super complicated Urdu, just verse straight from the heart. The metaphors of the lyrics have a simple beauty to them and the handsome voice of Mohammed Rafi brings them to sublimity. Although the film Kanyadan (1968) glorifies the social oppression of women and child marriages (highly objectionable and not worth the three hours I lost watching it), this song epitomizes what classic Bollywood love is all about. Boy falls for girl. Girl has an extremely cute colorful native outfit on and hides coyly behind local trees. Boy attempts to win over girl by serenading her. Girl and boy do not kiss, but you know by the way the camera pans around the flora that it’s on their minds. Likhe Jo Khat Tujhe is a blissfully adorable reminder of all things magical that Bollywood romance once meant: the charming poetry of innocent love. Can that ever get old?
Also note the clever use of Shashi Kapoor’s sleek convertible as the object around which the actors flirt and evade each other. As if we weren’t already convinced of how cool it was to be modern in the 60s…
Likhe Jo Khat Tujhe Lyrics and Translation:
Likhe jo khat tujhe woh teri yaad mei.N
Those letters that I wrote to you
Hazaaro.N rang ke nazaare ban gaye
Became a wondrous sight of a thousand colors
Sa.Nveraa jab huaa to phool ban gaye,
When morning came, they became flowers
Jo raat aayi to sitaare ban gaye
When night fell, they became stars
Likhe jo khat tujhe…
Koyi naghma kahii.N goonjaa kahaa dil ne yeh tu aayii
A melody resonated somewhere as my heart sensed your presence
Kahin chatki kali koyi main yeh samjha, tu sharmaayi
Somewhere a flower blossomed and it appeared as if you had blushed
Koi khushboo kahii.N bikhrii lagaa yeh zulf lehraayi
A fragrance filled the air and it seemed to me your hair had billowed
Fiza rangeen, adaa rangeen, yeh ithlaana, yeh sharmaana
The ambiance is colourful, your style is colourful, you sometimes swagger, you are sometimes demure
Yeh angaDaaii, yeh tanhaayii yeh tarsa kar, chale jaana
This preparedness, this isolation, this way you torture me, then walk away
Bana de ga nahii.N kisko jawaa.N jadoo yeh deewaanaa?
Who would not go crazy with your youthful magic?
Likhe jo khat tujhe…
Jahaa.N tu hai, vahaa.N main hoo.N, mere dil ki tu dhaDhkan hai
Wherever you are, I am there. You are my heartbeat
Musaafir mai.N tu manzil hai, main pyaasaa hoo.N tu saawan hai
I am a traveler, you are my destination. I am thirsty, you are the monsoon
Meri duniya yeh nazare.N hai.N, meri jannat yeh daaman hai
My world is held by the way you look at me, my paradise lies in your embrace
Likhe jo khat tujhe…
khat: letter; yaad: memory; sa.Nveraa: morning; khushboo: fragrance; zulf: hair; rangeen: colorful; tanhaayii: loneliness; jadoo: magic; musaafir: traveler; pyaasaa: thirsty; jannat: paradise
For all the Urdu-Hindi grammar junkies, you’ll notice that we’ve written the word “naghma” with an “h” although it’s often seen written without. This because the word naghma in Urdu is actually spelled with a ghain, not a regular “g” (in Hindi, the “ga” would have a dot below to indicate this). Ghain makes the “g” a more gutteral, difficult sound to pronounce, but if you’re trying to impress your friends at your next Bollywood Night, be sure to enunciate this clearly. Other words like kaaghaz (paper), baagh (garden), maghruur (proud) and ghalat (mistake) also contained frequently overlooked ghains.
Great job, guys!
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Beautiful song and your impeccable translation as always. Shashi was the handsomest actor of his time. So sad to see him now in his old age.
Thank you for reading! It’s true, in his prime, Shashi Kapoor was so handsome it hurt. But even though he ages, his films and songs like these are immortal!
Sung perfectly by the Master
Days of love and flirtation by great Bollywood stars
Unlike today’s shoot ,rape,kill, murder…
Great job, buddies! I enjoy reading your articles. Thanks for your entertaining and informative blogs
Neil from Houston, Texas
Thank you so much for translating one of the great songs ever sung. I know little bit about Hindi but your translation makes it easy to understand and have great appreciation for the song.
Hello! I am a choir teacher and I am teaching my students this song. Do you know anyone who could make a slow pronunciation recording for us? Thanks!!