Jaane Woh Kaise Log Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Guru Dutt evokes classic Christ-like imagery in his depiction of Vijay the struggling poet in Pyaasa (1957).

We now present the lyrics and full English translation to one of my all-time favorite Guru Dutt songs “Jaane Woh Kaise” from Pyaasa (1957). I think my undying love for Guru Dutt is pretty evident at this point, but in case you need some convincing to get over the bold Clark Gable ‘stache, start here. Pyaasa is no ordinary film. When released to roaring accolades in 1957, Pyaasa broke precedent upon precedent in both impact and style. Notice how every song in this film seems to flow naturally as a consequence of the plot, as if the lyrics of the songs were a poetic continuation of the spoken dialogue? It was a technique pioneered by Guru Dutt that was later emulated by every great director in Bollywood. And the film hit some hard topics. I discuss more of the political stance of the film and the fascinating struggle Guru Dutt faced behind-the-scenes earlier, but now let us look instead to the classic “Jaane Woh Kaise” hit from the immortal pen of Sahir Ludhviani. It’s a mixture of everything right in the world: Guru Dutt as actor, Hemant Kumar with vocals, S.D. Burman composing, and Sahir in the back with the words of wisdom. This Hemant Kumar gem is truly the industry standard for awkward dinner party songs–even copied in modern times by Mira Nair in her film Vanity Fair (2004)!

Guru Dutt is employed as a dinner party waiter for his rich boss, Rehman, where he is confronted by the reality of his former lover, Mala Sinha, having abandoned him for wealth by marrying none other than the man currently employing him. The injustice of it all gets to him, and by chance, he’s a poet at heart who does what any other tragic poet would do in the situation: drop everything and throw a pity party.

Mala Sinha plays a cold-hearted social climber in Pyaasa (1957).

I love the cinematography in this song–Guru Dutt and his brilliant Director of Photography V.K. Murthy were known for their overblown yet graceful dolly-ins (watch the camera fly in “Waqt Ne Kiya“!), and so too in this song, the camera acts as a silent messenger of emotional turmoil, extracting a beautifully devastating toll on each of the key players in the room. And Guru Dutt holds his ground with arms outstretched as if crucified–a soft-spoken martyr against a background of bookshelves in which his own spoken words will later be immortalized and massacred. Again, you really need to see the film to appreciate the poetic genius of Guru Dutt film-making.

So enough talk, onto the lyrics and English translation of “Jaane Woh Kaise” from Pyaasa (1957)! Check out the picturization on youtube and let us know what you think in the comments!

Jaane Woh Kaise Log Lyrics and Translation

Jaane woh kaise log the jinke pyaar ko pyaar mila
I wonder what kind of people find their love reciprocated
Humne to jab kaliyaa.N maangii kaa.NTo.N kaa haar milaa
Whenever I asked for flowers, I received a garland of thorns

Khushiyo.N kii manzil DhoonDii to gham kii gard milii
I searched for a destination of joy, but I found a circle of sadness
Chaahat ke naghme chaahe to aahe.N sard milii
I desired tales of love, but I received only the coldness of sighs
Dil kii bojh ko duunaa kar gayaa, jo ghamkhwaar milaa
The burdens of my heart only doubled if I met someone meant to relieve my sorrow

BichhaD gayaa har saathii dekar pal do pal kaa saath
Every companion gave me a few moments of company, and left
Kisko fursat hai jo thaame diiwaano.N kaa haath
After all, who has the free time to hold a crazy man’s hand?
Humko apnaa saayaa tak aksar bezaar milaa
Even my own shadow is often weary of me

Isko hii jiina kehte hai.N to yuu.N hii jii le.Nge
If this is what they called life, then I will live like this
Uff na kare.Nge, lab sii lenge, aa.Nsuu pii lenge
I will not sigh, I will seal my lips, and swallow my tears
Gham se ab ghabraana kaisaa, gham sau baar milaa
After all, how can I be concerned by sadness? I have met sadness a hundred times

Humne to jab kaliyaa.N maangii.N kaaTo.N kaa haar milaa
When I asked for flowers, I found a garland of thorns
Jaane woh kaise log the jinke pyaar ko pyaar mila
I wonder what kind of people find their love reciprocated

Glossary:

kali: flower; kaanTaa: thorn; haar: garland; manzil: destination; gham: sadness; gard: circle; chaahat: love, desire; naghma: tale; aah: sigh; sard: chilly, cold; bhoj: burden; duunaa karna: to double; ghamkhwaar: a remover of sadness (note: the w is silent, as in khwaab); bichhaD jaanaa: to become separated; saathi: companion; fursat: free time; haath thaamnaa: to hold hands; saayaa: shadow; bezaar: fed up, weary; lab: lips; aa.Nsuu: tears; gham: sadness: ghabraanaa: to become anxious, concerned

Singing his heart out, Guru Dutt transforms Rehman’s classy dinner gathering into a awkwardly personal pity party in Pyaasa (1957).

Guru Dutt revives the martyr-style mis-en-scene in the reprise of “Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaaye” at the famous finale of the film! The scene has got to be one of the all-time greatest of Hindi cinematic history. For this and about a million other reasons, Pyaasa is absolutely mandatory classic Bollywood viewing!

-Mrs. 55

22 thoughts on “Jaane Woh Kaise Log Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

  1. Every scene, every frame of this movie has a story of its own. The camera work is brilliant. And you are so right about – every song in this film seems to flow naturally as a consequence of the plot, as if the lyrics of the songs were a poetic continuation of the spoken dialogue

    I get gooseflesh everytime I hear this song. It’s so powerful, so true and so touching.

    Sahir is a genius, the way he has penned the lyrics for this movie is just mindblowing.
    Be it Guru Dutt’s direction, his performance, the songs, each character’s portrayal, SD Burman’s composition, the story – it’s a masterpiece in every way possible!

    I think you’ve missed the first antara –

    Khushiyon ki manzil dhoondi toh, gham ki dard mili
    Chahat ke naghmein chahein toh, aahein sard mili
    Dil ke bojh ko dhundla kar gaya, jo gham-khwaar mila

    I would love to read it’s translation too, what does gham-khwaar mean?

    • Oh woops, great point–I totally did not include the first antra! It’s now updated–ghamkhwaar is an old Urdu word for one who removes sorrow. Good call!! Also if you listen carefully, the lyrics are “gham ki gard,” not “dard”–although both make logical sense, “gard,” the endless circle, adds another dimension of magnitude to the lyrics!

      • I never knew there was a word like gard. Thank you so much!
        Yes, it does add another dimension to it. Just gham ki gard doesnt have much affect but the line on the whole –
        Khushiyon ki manzil dhoondi toh gham ki gard mili – now that creates an impact, a huge one!
        And thank you for the other corrections in the lyrics.

  2. I need to see this film…(I know…it’s utterly ridiculous that I have not seen it!)….it’s just that I first saw other films closely associated with Guru Dutt, which I did not much care for, and then never got round to actually seeing the key works for which he is celebrated as a genius today (Pyaasa and Kaaghaz ke Phool)….Even Mala Sinha looks quite pretty in this song, and quite restrained and effective in the acting department as well…..(because she was often paired with Raaj Kumar, I happen to have seen quite a lot of her and she was often seriously unbearable…)…My favourite line of this song has to be the first line “Jaane woh kaise log the jinke pyaar ko pyaar mila”….I also like “Humko apnaa saayaa tak aksar bezaar milaa”…gosh…it’s pretty bad if even your shadow is weary of you!…the line really effectively imparts a sense of his melancholic and dejected state (if that’s how he feels…have to see the film).

    • I actually agree with you on the Mala Sinha front–she’s a bit of a mess in most other films and does a very nice job in Pyaasa. If you see her in Baharein Phir Bhi Aayengii, her histrionics will make you cringe and die. Pyaasa and Kaaghaz are very different from his earlier work (including Mr. and Mrs. 55 haha!), and it’s definitely for the later films that he’s most beloved–for a good reason! My favorite of his is Kaagaz Ke Phool followed by Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, which are both great places to dive into his world!

  3. Hello! I’d like to commend you all for a fantastic job on this website. Prior to this song being sung, there are 2 “shers” that are spoken. Could you provide a translation for those as well? Keep up the good job! Best of luck!

  4. Hi! I’d like to commend you all for a fantastic job with your site. Prior to this song being sung, there are two “shers” that are spoken. Would it be possible to get a translation for them? Thank so much! Good luck and best wishes.

  5. Pingback: The Top 30 Greatest Classic Bollywood Films of All Time | Mr. & Mrs. 55 - Classic Bollywood Revisited!

  6. Thanks for this excellent translation- a great public service to those of us who loved the music but couldn’t quite follow the meaning of the lyrics which sound so nice!

  7. Hi
    Just fascinated by your fascination for Hindi classics and Urdu in them. Not only the content is amazing but the presentation, layout, your commentary, all is superb.
    Just a couple of comments

    a) Gard actually means dirt (or mud). Gardish is wandering about or moving in circles

    Khushiyo.N kii manzil DhoonDii to gham kii gard milii
    Searched for the house of love, but found only dirt of sorrow.

    Interestingly manzil means both the house/destination and journey. So your interpretation is very amazing and never thought of it. How does the following line sound
    Khushiyo.N kii manzil DhoonDii to gardish-e-gham milii

    b) Bezaar actually means sick

    Humko apnaa saayaa tak aksar bezaar milaa
    Most of the times I found my shadow even sick of me or
    Often I found my shadow even sick of me.

    Though weary also conveys the desired meaning

    Regards

    Rajiv

  8. Hi
    After i wrote the above comments, i remembered hearing “chowkidar gard laga raha hai”. so I guess gard also means moving around in circles. So your translation is superb. My urdu is self taught and limited to the common usage of urdu words.

    Teaching urdu through songs, is a perfect example of education through entertainment. How relevent this is in India’s context today can be judged from headlines that appear in newspapers with unfailing regularity

    a) In todays Times of India, Jul 27, 2015,

    40 years on, Urdu school still homeless

    b) The Indian Express, Jun 3, 2014

    AMC’s Marathi, Urdu schools face closure

    Thought you would be interested

    Regards

    Rajiv

  9. Wow how nice of you to translate for us, what a song, I never knew this was the original I only know of this song through a Pakistani drama pyare afzal the song is embedded with that drama as when u hear it u go straight back to it.

  10. Doesn’t ‘gard’ mean dust rather than circle? I believe Sahir is referring to clouds of dust raised by the persona’s pursuit of the, ultimately unattainable, destination. Sadly, ‘gard’ is all that he acquires, not his desired objective.

    • That is a great question! You are correct than in vernacular Hindustani, “gard” is used to mean dust in addition to the more purist definition of a circle or sphere, as it is commonly used in Farsi. Neither interpretation here might be seen as incorrect, however, we chose to translate this as circle because we felt it made more sense poetically and may have likely reflected the lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi’s original intentions as he often incorporated Persian terms in his work.

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