We now present the lyrics and English translation to “Aye Mere Zohra Jabeen” from Waqt (1965). Young at heart Balraj Sahni plays a loving father of three young children who celebrates his business success with pomp and splendor. So overjoyed by where he believes Fate is taking his family, he dedicates a love song to his wife at a party. The film’s hit opening number “Aye Mere Zohra Jabeen” brims with a sense of carpe diem in the lives of a couple whose youth is coming to an end. Achala Sachdev plays the gentle wife fittingly embarrassed by the attention, but clearly loving the compliments. Their picture-perfect world is too wonderful to last–and before the night is over, tragedy strikes that separates the family. And from there unfolds one of the best Hindi masala films of the 60s!
The well-known opening line carries the Urdu vocabulary lover’s favorite, “zohra jabeen.” The meaning of this term has confused many a Hindi film goer over the ages. Actually a combination of two separate words, zohra and jabeen, the term is used loosely to mean “beautiful one,” but the true definition is far more fascinating. Zohra is the Arabic term for the Roman goddess of beauty, Venus, and also the planet easily identifiable as a shining star in the sky. Jabeen translate literally as forehead, a delicate part of the woman’s face to which praise has been given for centuries of Urdu ghazalry. So when addressing your sweetheart as zohra-jabeen, you are implying that her face shines with the beauty of Venus! Pretty flattering, right?
In an interview on Bangalore’s Radio City in 2005, Manna Dey recalls being requested for the number by music director Ravi with surprise:
“When Ravi called me to sing “Aye meri zohra-jabeen” for Waqt, I asked him, ‘Why me? You use only Rafi or Mahendra Kapoor.’ Ravi said it was Balraj Sahni’s personal request that I sing.”
Although Mahendra Kapoor and Rafi do indeed sing the other fabulous songs of the film, none ever became as famous than this Manna Dey chart-buster. Sung at almost any sangeet or wedding, “Aye Meri Zohra Jabeen” endears listeners across generations with excitement and sentimentality. Although often categorized as a qawwali, the song does not quite fit into the genre–despite its best attempts at synchronized group clapping. Check out the video to see class act Balraj Sahni get into character and witness one of the only Bollywood love songs uniquely targeted at couple of any age! Cutie-pie Achala Sachdev would later play Kajol’s grandmother’s in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge where the song was memorably revived!
We hope you enjoy the evergreen Sahir Ludhianvi lyrics and our full English translation to “Aye Meri Zohra Jabeen” below:
Aye Meri Zohra Jabeen Lyrics and English Translation:
Aye merii zohra-jabeen
Oh, my beautiful one
Tujhe ma’aluum nahii.N
You are not aware
Tuu abhii tak hai hasii.N
that you are still lovely
Aur mai.N jawaa.n!
and I am still young!
Tujhpe qurbaan merii jaan merii jaan!
I would sacrifice my life for you!
Yeh shokhiyaa.N yeh baa.Nkpan jo tujh mei.N hai kahii.N nahii.N
This coyness, this attractiveness of yours is nowhere else
Dilo.N ko jiitne kaa fan jo tujh me hai kahii.N nahii.N
The art of winning hearts that you possess is nowhere else
Mai.N terii! maii.N terii aankho.N mei.N paa gayaa do jahaa.N!
In your eyes, I have found my heaven and earth!
Aye merii zohra jabeen…
Tuu miiThe bol, jaan-e-man, jo muskuraake bol de
If you speak sweet words to me, my love, and smile
To dhaDakano.N mei.N aaj bhii sharaabii ra.Ng ghol de
Then even today, you infuse my heartbeats with an intoxicating colour
O sanam! O sanam mai.N teraa aashiq-e-jaavedaan!
Oh darling, I am your lover for eternity!
Aye merii zohra jabeen…
zohra-jabeen: beautiful (literally zohra: Venus and jabeen: forehead = beautiful one with the face that glows like Venus); ma’aluum: aware, information; hasii.N: beauty; jawaa.N: youth; qurbaan: sacrifice; jaan: life; shokhiyaa.N: coyness; baa.Nkpan: attractiveness; fan: art; do jahaa.N: two worlds, heaven and earth, realm; miiThaa: sweet; bol: words; jaan-e–man: beloved; muskuraanaa: to smile; dhaDkan: heartbeat; sharaabii: intoxicating, drunken; ra.Ng: colour; ghol: mixture, infusion; sanam: beloved; aashiq: lover; jaavedaan: eternal, never-ending
“Aye Meri Zohra Jabeen” is actually based on a musical composition by Afghanistan’s Abdul Ghafoor Breshna (1907-1974), a famous painter, poet, director, and musician who also composed the national anthem for the Republic of Afghanistan just before his death. “Aye Meri Zohra Jabeen” was requested by two fans, Kuldip Babbar and Hema Fonseka! Thanks for the fantastic suggestion, and keep those requests coming!
– Mrs. 55