Next we showcase the lyrics and English translation of “Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli” from the sentimental mega-hit Anand (1971). Diagnosed with terminal lymphosarcoma of the intestine, Rajesh Khanna is determined to raise the spirits of those around him. With a smile, he explains his philosophy to his bewildered physician, Amitabh Bachhan:
“Babumushai, zindagii badii honii chahiye, lambii nahii.N.” [“Babumushai, life should be big, not long.”]
Brimming with rich symbolism from floating balloons to boatmen in the ocean, “Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli” explores the outlook of a man whose journey is approaching its destination. Rajesh Khanna give a tour de force performance as a character at peace with the mysteries of the world.
The song begins with a distinctive, uplifting trumpet solo, establishing the tone. While other gorgeous songs of Anand such as “Kahin Door Jab Din” are sung by the gentle Mukesh, Manna Dey was chosen for “Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli.” Known better for his masterful Hindustani classical numbers of the 1960s, Manna Dey’s film career began to falter with the rise of Kishore Kumar’s heroic romantic vocals. But his popularity revived in the 70s with Anand when Rajesh Khanna himself asked music director Salil Chaudhary for a chance to lip-sync a Manna Dey song. As Manna Dey recalled in a 2012 interview,
“I loved the way he [Rajesh Khanna] picturised music. The success of a song depends upon how an actor picturises it. He was the number one in picturising songs. I will ever be indebted to him.”
We hope you enjoy the lyrics and English translation of “Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli” from Anand (1971). Follow along with the video here while reflecting on film lyricist Yogesh’s philosophical poetry!
Zindagi Kaisi Paheli Lyrics and Translation:
Zindagii kaisii hai pahelii, haaye!
Oh, what a riddle life is!
Kabhii to ha.Nsaaye kabhi yeh rulaaye
Sometimes it makes us laugh, sometimes it makes us cry
Kabhii dekho man nahii.N jaage, peechhe peechhe sapno.N ke bhaage
Sometimes the mind does not awaken, it chases dreams
Ek din sapno.N ka raahii chalaa jaaye sapno.N ke aage, kahaa.N?
One day that traveler of dreams will go beyond the dreams, but where?
Jin hone sajaaye yahaa.N mele sukh dukh sang-sang jhele
Those who bring people together, they experience joy and sorrow together
Wohii chunkar khaamoshii yuu.N chalii jaaye akele, kahaa.N?
Those same people choose silence and depart alone, but where?
zindagii: life; pahelii: riddle, puzzle; haaye: oh, sigh; ha.Nsaanaa: to make [someone] laugh; rulaanaa: to make [someone] cry; man: mind; jaagnaa: to awaken; peechhe: behind; bhaagnaa: to run; ek din: one day; sapnaa: dream; raahii: traveler; aage: ahead, future; melaa sajaanaa: to arrange a fair (literal), to bring people together; sukh: happiness; dukh: sadness; sang-sang: together; jhelnaa: to experience; chunnaa: to choose; khamoshii: silence; akelaa: alone
It’s hard to believe we lost a legend like Manna Dey 6 months ago, a little more than a year after losing Rajesh Khanna. The singer was 95 years old. This beautiful tribute to those dream chasers we wish were with us, “Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli,” was requested by fan Ajay.