The Immortal Dialogue of Pakeezah and English Translation

Aapke paaoo.N dekhe. Bahut haseen hai.N. Inhe zameen par mat utariiyega. Mele ho jaaye.Nge –Aapkaa ek humsafar…”

[“I have seen your feet. They are beautiful. Please do not place them on the ground. They will become dirty. –A fellow traveler…”]

Now we will explore some classic Pakeezah quotes and translated dialogue from the timeless 1971 film. I think it’s pretty clear that we’re obsessed with this movie. We’ve discussed the making of the film and its songs, but let’s take a moment to appreciate Pakeezah’s dialogue for which there is truly no comparison outside of the ode to spoken Urdu poetry that is Mughal-e-Azam (1960). I have to give a caveat: although we have provided a full English translation of these Pakeezah dialogues, I think the true poetry is lost outside of the Urdu language. Written by Kamal Amrohi himself, the exquisite dialogue of Pakeezah transports you to a languid surrealist fantasy. Among other questions, you may ask did people really talk like that? Do men as devastatingly charming as Raajkumar exist in real life? How fake is that blonde wig from the opening scene, seriously?

Although some of these will remain unanswered, let us now look closer at 3 of my favorite gems of Pakeezah dialogue and English translations that will be sure to get your heart rate up.

Ek har raat, teen baje. Ek rail gaadi apni patriyon se utar gayii, aur meri dil se guzarti hai...

[“Every night, when the clock strikes 3, a train leaves its rails and passes through my heart…”]

The first dialogue comes days after Pakeezah has received Rajkumar’s love letter. She is restless and can no longer focus on her work. Pakeezah confesses the reason for her behavior to her friend, who reacts famously against indulging such dreams. It’s a heartbreaking scene made artful by the grace of the Urdu language. Also please look at those sets and tell me there are architects in America who know how to build them.

PAKEEZAH: Bahut dino.N se, mujhe aisaa kuch lagtaa hai jaise mai.N badaltii jaa rahii hoo.N. Jaise mai.N kisi anjaane safar mei.N hoo.N aur kahii.N jaa rahii hoo.N. Sab kuch chuuTa jaa raha hai. Sahib Jaan bhi mujhse chuuT rahe hai.N, aur mai.N Sahib Jaan se duur hoti jaa rahi hoo.N.

[PAKEEZAH: For many days now, I feel as if I am changing. As if I am on an unknown journey and going somewhere. Everything is going away from me. Sahib Jaan is even leaving me, and I am going far from Sahib Jaan.]

SAHELI: Kaun hai yeh?

[SAHELI: Who is he?]

PAKEEZAH: Kaun?

[PAKEEZAH: Who?]

SAHELI: Yehii. Jisse mai.N pooch rahi hoo.N. Bataao!

[SAHELI: Him, whom I am asking about. Tell me!]

PAKEEZAH: Kya bataaoo.N kaun hai? Ek ajiib waaqaaya hai.

[PAKEEZAH: What should I say about who he is? It is a strange tale.]

SAHELI: Kya?

[SAHELI: What?]

 

PAKEEZAH: Ek har raat. Teen baje. Ek rail gaadi apni patriyon se utar gayii, aur meri dil se guzarti hai. Aur mujhe ek paighaam de jaati hai.

[PAKEEZAH: Every night at three o’ clock, a train leaves its rails and passes through my heart. And it gives me a message.]

SAHELI: Sahib Jaan, yeh paighaam tere liye nahii.N.

[SAHELI: Sahib Jaan, this message is not for you.]

PAKEEZAH: Kyaa? Nahii.N, nahii.N. Yeh mere hii liye hai. Is se mai.N ne apni hi paaoo.N mei.N rakhaa huaa payaa tha.

[PAKEEZAH: What? No, no, this is for me. It had been placed on my feet.]

SAHELI: Haa.N. Lekin us waqt tere paaoo.N mei.N ghungroo bandhe hue nahii.N ho.Nge. Agar ghungroo bandhe hue hote, to yeh kaise koi kahta ki paaoo.N ko zameen par mat rakhna? Maile ho jaaye.Nge? Merii jaan, yeh paighaam to hai. Lekin bhatak gayaa hai.

[SAHELI: Yes. But at that time, you’re feet were not bound by ankle bells. If they had been bound in ankle bells, how could anyone say “do not place your feet on the ground”? “They will become dirty”? My dear, this is certainly a message, but it is misguided.]

Tragic, right? My next favorite scene comes when Pakeezah has inadvertently landed inside Rajkumar’s own tent. She senses him approaching, and pretends to be asleep. Rajkumar bursts in with an appropriate flush of theme music to accompany him.

Rajkumar stares at sleeping Meena Kumari in Pakeezah (1971)

Pakeezah panics and the audience enters into her thoughts as she narrates her feelings in this beautiful moment of love and fear.

Pakeezah is unable to look at the mysterious man she loves in Pakeezah (1971)

“Allah! Woh mere paas khade hai.N. Aur meri jaan nikal jaa rahi hai. Aap yuu.N hii hairaan hairaan mujhe dekhte rehe.Nge. Mai.N taraste taraste, bina aapko ek nazar dekhe, mar jaaoo.Ngii. Aap hi ke samne, aap hi ke bistar par khatam ho jaaoo.Ngii. Zara muu.N phenk lijiye. Mai.N ek saa.Ns leloo.N! Ek chalak aapke dhekh loo.N!”

[“God! He is standing near me. And I feel as if I am dying. You will continue to stare at me in surprise, and I will slowly die without glancing at you even once. Beside you, on your bed itself, I will be finished. Please turn your face away so that I can take a breath! Let me take just a glimpse of you!’]

I can’t get enough of this scene–her words are so poetically expressed, but so vividly capture the anxiety of the moment!

Wondering what all the hype is about? Here are Meena Kumari’s exquisite feet in Pakeezah (1971)

“Afsos ki log duudh se bhi jal jaate…”

[“How unfortunate that people are burned even by mere milk…”]

The last epic dialogue I’ll discuss comes when Rajkumar brings Meena Kumari home for the first time. Do arguments really happen like that? In my house, an argument never devolves into an Urdu poem–but then again, we don’t have those outfits on.

D.K. Sapru plays a very scary Hakim Sahib in Pakeezah (1971)

HAKIM SAAB: Salim, woh kaun hai?

[HAKIM SAAB: Salim, who is this?]

SALIM: Woh ek gumnaam ladki hai.

[SALIM: She is a lost girl.]

HAKIM SAAB: To woh tumhaare saath hai?

[HAKIM SAAB: She is with you?]

SALIM: Jii.

[SALIM: Yes.]

HAKIM SAAB: Yaani?

[HAKIM SAAB: Meaning?]

SALIM: Yeh kaun hai, mai.N bhi nahii.N jaantaa. Yeh ek mazluum ladki ki jo apni aadaash kho chukhi hai. Aur itefaaqan woh meri panaah mei.N aa gayii hai.

[SALIM: Who she is, even I don’t know. She is an oppressed girl who had lost her memory. And by chance, she came into my care.]

HAKIM SAAB: Lekin, tumhaare is bayaan par, kaun yaqeen karegaa?

[HAKIM SAAB: But who will believe this tale of yours?]

Unnaturally handsome Rajkumar stands his ground against his family in Pakeezah (1971)

SALIM: Mujhe iski parva nahii.N

[SALIM: I am not worried about that.]

HAKIM SAAB: Tumhe nahii.N, lekin hame.N iski parva hai. Jo log duudh se jal jaate. Woh chaas bhi phoonk phoonk kar piite.

[HAKIM SAAB: You may not be, but I am. Those people who are burned by milk, drink even the froth with caution.

SALIM: Afsos ki log dhuudh se bhi jal jaate.

[SALIM: How unfortunate that people are burned even by mere milk.] Oh my God, such a good comeback! So poetic, so simple. I die.

HAKIM SAAB: Tum humse bahaz karna chaahte ho? Humse bahaz karne ki zaruurat nahii.N. Aisii ladkii jiskaa koi naam nahii.N, pathaa nahii.N, woh kyuu.N tumhaare saath hai?

[HAKIM SAAB: You want to argue with me? There is no need to argue. A girl with no name, no address, why is she with you?]

SALIM: Isliye ki woh merii panaah mei.N aayii. Aur yeh koi gunaah nahii.N.

[SALIM: Because she came under my care. And that is no crime.]

Meena Kumari grows more and more uncomfortable as she eavesdrops their argument.

HAKIM SAAB: Gunaah to nahii.N. Lekin ismei.N hamaarii badnaami hai.

[HAKIM SAAB: It is not a crime. But I could be dishonored from it.]

SALIM: Jii nahii.N, agar is mei.N koi badnaamii hai, to merii hai.

[SALIM: No, if anyone is dishonored, it is me.]

HAKIM SAAB: Tum kaun ho? Kya humko tumhaara koi rishtaa nahii.N?

[HAKIM SAAB: Who are you? Do you have no relation with me?]

SALIM: Jii hai. Lekin is maumle se aapkaa koi taluk nahii.N.

[SALIM: Yes, I do. But this matter does not concern you.]

HAKIM SAAB: Humaare koi taluk nahii.N?? Agar hamaaraa koi taaluk nahii.N. To phir tum apnii yeh badnaamii hamaare ghar kyuu.N le aaya ho?

[HAKIM SAAB: It does not concern me?? If it does not concern me, then why have you brought this dishonorable girl to my house?]

Rajkumar checks out Pakeezah for some inspiration and proceeds to storm out of the room in a flurry of Urdu poetry.

SALIM: Beshak mujhse ghalati huii. Mai.N bhuul hi gayaa tha. Is ghar ke insaano.N ko har saa.Ns ke baad doosre saa.Ns lene ki ijaazat aapse lenii padhtii hai. Aur aapki aulaad khuda ki banaaii hui zameen par nahii.N chaltii, aapki hatheli par rehti hai.N

[SALIM: Undoubtedly, I have made a mistake. I had forgotten that in his house, after every breath people must ask your permission to take the second. And that your children do not walk on the earth that God made, but live in the palm of your hand.]

Whoa. How do metaphors that awesome just come to you like that? I need to re-evaluate how I insult people. Why do these kinds of situations never happen to me?

As a small note, I just think the one-liner the head aunt says before the song “Chalte Chalte” is pretty sweet. When no one else shows up that night because the rich client has scared them all off, she graciously says to him,

“Log nahiin.N aaye, to na sahii. Sitaaron ki raat se, ek chaandni raat mei.N to kai zyaadaa roshni hoti hai.”

[“Other people did not come, so be it. In a moonlit night there is more radiance than in a night of stars.”]

Wah wah! The movie is teeming with pearls like this!

What is YOUR favorite dialogue from Pakeezah? Let us know in the comments! For more dialogues, check out our post on the beauty of Urdu in classic Bollywood film!

-Mrs. 55

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36 thoughts on “The Immortal Dialogue of Pakeezah and English Translation

    • Wow what a fantastic song! The lyrics are so moving and appropriate–it would have been great to have seen how it might have worked within the film. It’s really a shame what had to be removed. Thank you so much for the link!

    • amazing i am watching pakeezah on channel 4 its almost 3am i am sleep y now so will record it to watch again a few times 🙂 searched for pakeezah and found this blog…. and so glad i did oh and i was born the year it came out…i only just realised lols. thanks for the unreleased song…all the songs were great this fits right in, maybe time for a directors cut type re-release on bluray?

  1. It is so very hard to comment about Urdu poetry or dialogue unless you are praising and saying how very sweet it sounds which I must say it does making us all long to be experts after watching this movie. I will also add that Meena Kumari managed to pull of an outfit of a simple mauve and white which was very carefully carried out in the wall paint color and curtains and other room decor to further enhance her beauty as she calmly discussed her feet oblivious to the fact. I’m sure this was not by accident standing next to her companions simple white and boring clothes in comparision. In the actual seen when we see her famous feet full of mehndi, she is wearing the blazing and vibrant gold and red of a bride which again sets it off to perfection. I’m sure also not by accident.

    • Yeah it’s interesting, good point–her outfit is indeed the same colour as the walls, almost as if to underscore how she is inextricably linked and a part of this system despite her yearnings to escape. You’re quite right about her bridal attire in the next scene–very symbolic of her new journey and at last meeting the man she loves. Love the comments!

  2. Pakeezah is one of my favorite classic Bollywood movies. My favorite dialogue is when Raaj Kumar fights for Pakeezah at the end! Why did the producers make the dialogue so poetic in nature?

    • Aah what a great scene when Raajkumar defends her publicly! Can the man do no wrong? I think partly the aim was to capture a sense of the graciousness and ornamentation of the time–in that culture, Urdu is by nature an overly polite and poetic language. Additionally, the poetry expressed in language mirrors the fantasy-like realm in which the characters reside (even in the film, their world seems an anachronism) and it adds to Pakeezah’s eventual fairy-tale escape.

  3. You’ ve captured some of my favourite dialogue. Love some of the scenes u’ve picked out, Raaj Kumar’s confrontation with the family patriarch, where Sahibjaan is in his tent and he encounters her…I would just like to add a few things. I think one of the most poignant and beautiful scenes both within Pakeezah, and in the history of cinema, is when having broken away from the family home, the couple are standing on a bridge with a picturesque yet roaring waterfall in the backround. Sahibjaan (Meena Kumari) is aghast and internally tortured at his having forsaken home and family for her sake.

    Saleem Ahmad Khan: Tum shayad hameesha apne aap ko bhul chuki ho, aur ab mukhe yaqeen ho gaya hai ki tum koi nahi ho sirf meri taqdeer ho. Udhar deko..saara alam tumhaare qadmo par jhuka hai, aur ye sab tumhe salaam karahein hain.
    Perhaps you have forgotten yourself forever. Indeed, now I am convinced that you are no one, but my destiny. Turn that way, the world is bowed at your feet, all these (turning to the objects of nature around them) offer their respects and salutations to you.
    Sahibjaan: Lillah! Chup hojaiye. Intne pyar se meri jaan mat lijiy. Mian iqraar kiye leti hun, mujhe sab yaad hai ki mai kya hun, kaun hun.
    Dear God! Please refrain! Don’t take my life with so much love. I confess, I remember everything, what I am, who I am.
    Saleem: Kaun ho tum? Kaun ho?
    Who are you? Who?
    Sahibjaan: Main beqasoor hun. Aap ne yeh samjhaya tha. Aap ayen. Apneh khat likha aur phir aap ne kabhi mjhe chain se sone nahi diya. Haar raat aap mujhe pukaarte hue guzarte rahe. Har roz, meri ruh meri badan se khich ti rahin. Door hi door main aap ki hasrat mein doob jaati, magar aap ne muje doobne bhi nahin diya. Main bhaag jatin, lekin aapke kheme ne mukhe gher liya. Aap agaye, aur aap ki dharkan ne ye mujhe keh ne bhi nahin diya ke main ek tawaif hun.
    I am without guilt. You taught me this. You came. You penned that letter, and then you took away all respite. Every night, you passed by calling out to me. Everyday, my soul tore away from my body. Far away, I would have drowned, consumed by my longing for you, but you wouldn’t let me drown. I would have run away, but your tent encompassed me. You came, and the beating of your heart didn’t even permit me to profess that I am a prostitute!
    The extent of his love for her, his idealisation of her, and his evocation all natural creation bowing at her feet, tears at her heart. Her knowledge of her reality, the artificially adorned yet sordid environment from which she has come, compel her to cry out. More important than what is said, in this scene, is what is left unsaid. The way she falls sobbing at his feet, and the tenderness with which he picks her up, after a brief pause, means much more than all that preceded it. I have always found the part where he picks her up and comforts her very moving, the music in the backdrop also being key to the effect created. While this film certainly employs very cultivated and rich sounding Urdu, none of the characters are overly voluble in this film, and it’s understated character and extensive employment of metaphor is something rare in Hindi cinema. An example of this is where Meena Kumari and Raaj Kumaar are riding away from a horse drawn carriage. They are doggedly pursued by a Hashim Khan, one of Sahibjaan’s former patrons who has recognised her, and attempts to accost her. Raaj Kumar inquires of Meena Kumar ‘Kaun hai ye?’ -who is this? And she responds ‘kis kis kia naam poochenge aap’ –(this is harder to translate but roughly means ‘how many names will you of ask me?’).
    I also like this scene where Raaj Kumar enters upon her in the Tent, but what I really liked was the part which follows after what you described. Having observed her feet, and recognised her he walks outside the tent and addresses her from the other side of it (improvised purdah). He begins with a ‘tasleem’ (a sort of more ornate word for salaam- this word is sadly totally out of use amongst Indian muslims today, I didn’t even know what it meant when I heard it in the movie) and proceeds to ask her about herself. Now, I very sure that the practice of purdah had very regressive implications, and did severely curtail womens opportunities and thier capacity to interact with and experience the broader world. That said, this particular scene did for me bring out a certain beauty and charm in it. The respect and courtesy he wishes to accord her, and his desire not to affront her modesty by addressing her directly, is evident in his chosen means to conduct the conversation with her. As he is about to leave the following day she coyly speaks from behind the tent side saying ‘sunye, raat hone se pehle zaroor laut ayega’ –(‘please return before night fall’) and he smilingly responds ‘zaroor’- (‘most certainly’). It was simply another age. While the movie was released in 1971, it is obviously set in and captures the aura of an earlier period. The total absense of modern forms of transport and utilities (excluding trains which had been around for ages) suggests that it was set prior to indepence or even earlier. It’s just so difficult for people of our generation to envisage romance of that sort, gender relations were far more restricted but when there was interaction of this kind (which was itself very modest and restrained), perhaps its pleasures and charms can only be grasped at fleetingly by us.
    I also like smaller details which are etched out and are (and are meant to be) highly suggestive of character. When Raaj Kumar first takes Meena Kumari to his home, the nature of his interaction with the women of the family and others, shows the kind of man he is, and we adore him. His affectionate and playfully reassuring demeanour towards his (I think) grandmother who breaks down crying when she relates that Shahabuddin (ashok kumar) is ill at a government hopital in Hyderabad. His respect and ettiquete towards the older women of the family, his more casual kindliness towards his other cousin, and lol…his gallantry and amusement when the maid (I think milkwoman) flirts with with him. I yet she can try to flirt with him so openly and make passes at him without fear, because she knows he’s a decent man. I’ve seen the movie so many times that even its minutae is very memorable for me. I really wanted to include some stills from the movie of these scenes, but I can’t seem to get them in.There are quite a number other small things which I really like about this movie, but I’ve taken so much space that I think I’ll leave it at this. By the way Mrs. 55, Many Congratulations on your engagement!

  4. Thank you so much for your comments! What gems you’ve described! Actually, that moment you discuss in which she coyly asks for him to return by nightfall is one of my favorite moments–it’s subtle, short, and encompasses everything beautiful and graceful about that age. You’re quite correct–Rajkumar is the ultimate “shariif” and men like him are far and few between. The scene in which Meena Kumari confesses who she is in front of the waterfall is definitely one of the greatest–made even greater by his reaction. Honestly, the whole movie’s script deserves mention and a careful analysis. Your comments are always insightful and welcome–thanks again for sharing!

  5. nice presentation…congrats..
    in college days we (frens) often used to recite those dialogues when Ashok Kumar comes to take her daughter (before inhi logo ne song) and Sahibjaan’s Khala )Veena) says; “Achcha! to aap shahabuddin sahab hain! mere behnoii! kahiye ab kaise aana hua? ab kis tawaaif ko jahannam ki aag se bachaane ke liye parhezgaari ka kafan le kar aaye hain aap? ab kis kis gunehgaar ki talaash hai aap ko? shayad phir kisi abrastan ne farmaaish ki hogi aap se….. (it may be not in proper order as im reminding it after quite long)… and another my fvt dialoge (which i still use again and again…(when a man on horse follow Sahibjaan and salim when they goes in taangaa).. “Kis Kis ka naam poochenge aap?” It is my reply often 🙂

    • Haha I only wish I had cool enough college friends who would recite these dialogues with me! It usually ends up just being me and Mr. 55. That is a great dialogue! Another great one between Ashok Kumar and Veena (well, mostly Veena), is after the Teer-e-nazar when Veena reveals Pakeezah’s identity to Ashok Kumar–extremely powerful. The “kis kis ka naam poochenge aap” does seem to be pretty popular as well and is always a good reply!

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  8. Thank you so much for posting this. I am a modern-day Courtesan, with roots from the Mid-East and Subcontinent. Pakeezah is a film that truly touches my heart, because it portrays the pain we feel about our professions (which is rarely revealed). We give off a ‘public’ persona of glamour and elegance, yet inside we are deeply damaged.

    My favorite part in the film is when Sahibjaan says, “Prostitutes are dead bodies, and the market is the graveyard……., I am lured by life again and again.”

    • Thank you so much for your honest and insightful comments! I agree, the scene where Sahib jaan says, “Har tawaai’if to ek laash hai,” is one of Meena Kumari’s greatest moments as an actress in this film. Pakeezah indeeds explores a side to the courtesan that other Bollywood films have merely glossed over or turned into melodrama. We appreciate your words and glad you liked the post!

  9. Dont remember the exact words but there is a dialogue which goes like this-
    (Meena Kumari to Raj Kumar, when he insists to marry her)
    PAKEEZAH – Jaha-Jaha tak aapko yeh Aasmaan nazar aata hai, waha-waha tak meri badnaami pheli huyi hai..

    SALEEM – Main tumhe wahan lekar jaaunga, Jahan tumhara Aasmaan khatm hota hai.. (so simple but yet so damn powerful)

    • totally agree! The exact lines go as follows:

      Pakeezah: “Saleem, tum jahan bhi mujhe le jaoge, meri badnami mujhe dundh hi legi. Mera ye dushman aasman kahin khatam nahi hoga. Tum kahan mujhe chupane liye jare ho?”

      Saleem, wherever you take me, my disgrace will eventually find me. My enemy sky will never end.

      Saleem: “Wahan, jahan tumhaara asmaan khatam hojata hai”

      Where your sky finishes

      * “enemy sky” does sound odd in English, but I can’t think of an effective alternate translation. ‘Vengeful skies’?

  10. Amazing post Mr and Mrs 55. I’ve accidently stumbled across your blog and have been going through your archives. You’ve got me hooked. I am not an afficiando of hindi movies- far from it- but I think your posts have kindled a desire to look beyond the obvious while watching the classics.

    • Thank you for the compliments! We are always thrilled to spark more curiosity in classic Bollywood–once you start watching a few films, it’s easy to get hooked! 🙂

      • I am keen follower of old hindi films.It was purely by chance that I stumbled upon your blog as I was searching old movie posters.I have gone through your fabulous collection of posters.Congrats. Read entire piece on beautiful urdu dialogues of Pakeezah.Amazing work indeed. I hope to follow your blog regularly. All the best.62prak

      • Thank you for the comment! Pakeezah has by far some of the most beautiful spoken Urdu in Hindi cinema–right up there with Mughal-e-Azam. Glad to find a fellow fan!

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  12. Each time I watch this film my heart breaks in to a thousand pieces – as I small boy I told my mother that when I grew up I would marry Meena Kumari – thank you for sharing

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  17. “Afsos ki log dood se bhee jal jaate hein! ” Being a die hard fan of Raaj Saab i have watched his every movie , but Pakeezah remains my favourite . Awesome, i just watch this scene everyday now ! I want to argue like Raaj kumar , We Indians have totaly forgot the reason for which Urdu was invented , this is the best language we can learn and teach our children to bring some tenderness , different aura in our busy stressfull lifes , at least by controlling our mouth and tone we can avoid many many arguments and still make sense ,Raaj saab had command on urdu language that is why he was so flawless and natural and always commanded respect from everyone only based on his language and confidence . “aapke paaon ….” scene and dialogue is i think the best dialogue of Hindi cinema . No doubt about Kamal amrohi perfection and the dialogue writer and the goddess Meenaji what can i say about her ,watching Pakeezah is like entering in another world ,it mesmerizes me so deeply that i feel so proud that it is one of my favorite movie and it teaches me so much. I am very happy to see that people appreciate this movie so much. !

  18. Thank you so much for appreciating the film exactly the way i want it to be appreciated. I have been a HUGE fan of this movie since I was 15 years old. My Nani had video cassettes and audio cassettes that she used to play for us when we used to go to our Nani’s place during summer holidays. And till this day, Pakeezah is one of my favorite movies.
    I love and am in awe of all the characters in the movie. Even the old woman (a miniscule role/character) at kabristan who brings Nargis’ gold bangles to the jeweler says such poignant dialogs that i can feel the shiver.
    If you can, could you please elaborate on the scene where the girls at the kotha are laughing when the Nawab sends a bird in the cage as a gift. And the young girl is slapped by her elder sister when she compares the bird to Sahibjaan. And her elder sister is slapped by their mother/old woman. That scene confuses me, as to is there any deeper meaning to it, or is it just a part of the narrative. Thank you !

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