Raat Ke Humsafar Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

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Sharmila Tagore and Shammi Kapoor enjoy the magic of Paris at night in An Evening In Paris (1967).

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

This quote by Ernest Hemingway is perhaps my favorite description of Paris, the quintessential city of lights and love. Being in Paris is truly a feast for all senses, but it is an opportunity that the average citizen in 1960s India would never receive. Not in person, at least.

In the 1960s, the advent of a new escapist genre of films allowed Indian audiences to be transported to exotic cosmopolitan locales through cinema. Films like Love in Tokyo (1966) and Night in London (1967) offered Indian movie-goers the chance to catch a glimpse of foreign culture from the comfort of their seats in a movie theater. In these tourist fantasies, consistency in plot and character development was not important; the real star of the show was the international destination being featured in the film.  The lyrics and English translation that we have provided today come from one of this genre’s most well-known examples: Shakti Samanta’s An Evening in Paris (1967) starring Sharmila Tagore and Shammi Kapoor.

The soundtrack for this film, composed by Shankar-Jaikishan and penned by Shailendra/Hasrat Jaipuri, contains a number of memorable hits. Yet, in my opinion, “raat ke hamsafar stands out from the rest for its beautiful melody, poetic lyrics, and passionate rendition by Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhonsle. This romantic duet reflects a strong Western musical influence, which is enhanced by the gorgeous strings-centered orchestration and the non-traditional modulations in Rafi and Asha’s voices.

To bring an interesting perspective that may not be known to all fans of this song, there is a story behind its making that has been narrated by Nandu Chawathe, a musician in Shankar-Jakishan’s troupe. In a tragic turn of events, composer Shankar’s mother died the same morning that a musical sitting was planned for “raat ke hamsafar.”  Jaikishan, Shammi Kapoor, and others were waiting for Shankar, but most of the group left after hearing the news under the assumption that Shankar would like to take the day off. When Shankar arrived late, he asked Nandu Chawathe why everyone had left before the sitting occurred. Shankar was angry when he realized everyone had left and canceled the sitting without telling him when it was his mother who had died. An evening sitting was rescheduled the same day. When Shankar arrived, he turned off all the lights and lit a candle, much to everyone’s surprise. He hummed the opening line of “raat ke hamsafar,” and everyone was stunned instantly. The first line of the mukhDaa was even Shankar’s own words! Shammi Kapoor approved the composition, Shailendra finished out the rest of the lyrics, and a treasured gem of Hindi film music was born.

French onion soup!
Sharmila Tagore and Shammi Kapoor snuggle in a Parisian cafe as they enjoy a late-night snack–French onion soup!

Raat Ke Humsafar: Lyrics and Translation

raat ke hamsafar thak ke ghar ko chale.n
Oh companion of the night, let us wander home wearily,
jhuumtii aa rahii hai subaah pyaar kii
as the dawn of love arrives, swaying about.
dekh kar saamne ruup kii raushnii
After encountering the light of your beauty,
phir luTii jaa rahii hai subaah pyaar kii
the dawn of love is being stolen away.

sonevaalo.n ko ha.ns kar jagaanaa bhii hai
Those who are sleeping are to be awakened with a smile.
raat ke jaagato.n ko sulaanaa bhii hai
Those who have stayed awake tonight are to be lulled to sleep.
detii hai jaagne kii sadaa saath hii
Though it also gives the call to awaken,
loriyaa.n gaa rahii hai subaah pyaar kii
this dawn of love evokes calm by singing lullabies.

raat ne pyaar ke jaam bhar kar diiye
The night has filled our wine goblets of love.
aankho.n-aankho.n se jo mai.ne tum ne piiye
You and I drank from them with our eyes.
hosh to ab talak jaa ke lauTe nahii.n
After leaving us, our consciousness has yet to return.
aur kyaa laa rahii hai subaah pyaar kii?
What else does this dawn of love have in store?

kyaa kyaa vaade hue, kis ne khaayii qasam?
What promises were made tonight? Who has sworn to new vows?
is nayii raah par ham ne rakhe qadam
Upon this new path, we have taken our first steps.
chhup sakaa pyaar kab? ham chhupaaye.n to kyaa?
When could our love be hidden? Even if we could, so what?
sab samajh paa rahii hai subaah pyaar kii
This dawn of love is able to understand everything.

raat ke hamsafar thak ke ghar ko chale.n
Oh companion of the night, let us wander home wearily,
jhuumtii aa rahii hai subaah pyaar kii
as the dawn of love arrives, swaying about.

Glossary

hamsafar: companion; thaknaa: to be tired, weary; jhuumnaa: to sway; subaah: dawn; ruup: beauty; raushnii: light; luTaa jaanaa: to be stolen away; jaagat: one who is awake; sulaanaa: to lull to sleep; sadaa: call; saath hii: also; lorii: lullaby; jaam: wine goblet; hosh: consciousness; ab talak: yet; vaadaa: promise; qasam khaanaa: to take a vow; qadam rakhnaa: to take steps; chhupaanaa: to hide; samajh paanaa: to be able to understand.

Seine
Sharmila Tagore and Shammi Kapoor float away into the night on the Seine.

As an aside, I thought that I would say a word about the time that I spent in Paris during the summer of 2011! I was fortunate enough to receive a fellowship to conduct a research internship for three months in a cancer immunology laboratory at the Institut Curie. Besides the academic opportunities presented to me in the lab, my summer in Paris was a formative experience in terms of cultural enrichment and personal growth. I always look back fondly upon the time I spent in Paris, and the memories of that summer have stayed with me ever since. In keeping with the theme of this post, a couple of my pictures of Paris by night are presented below. Enjoy! À bientôt!

-Mr. 55
Seine
An early evening view of the Seine river.
EiffelTower
Enjoying the Eiffel Tower with friends on a Parisian summer night.
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Plagiarism in Hindi Film Music: Is Imitation the Most Sincere Form of Flattery?

Music directors in the Bollywood industry today are often accused of plagiarizing songs without giving proper credit to the original sources. Pritam Chakraborty, in particular, comes to mind as a composer who has been subjected to such accusations in recent times. Yet, lifting tunes is not a new trend in the industry: its origins can be  traced back to the industry’s earliest days when music directors of the Golden Era composed melodies heavily inspired by unattributed sources. Below, let’s take a listen to some plagiarized works composed by five of the greatest music directors of yesteryear: R.D. Burman, S.D. Burman, Shankar-Jaikishan, Salil Chowdhury, and O.P. Nayyar.

 R.D. Burman

Among the music directors of his time, R.D. Burman was perhaps the most notorious for composing inspired tunes.  Within the list that I’ve provided below, the magnitude of plagiarism varies from song to song. Some numbers below are direct lifts from their originals, such as the cult classic “mahbuubaa mahbuubaa” from Sholay (1975). Others represent more subtle variations of plagiarism: for instance,  the Kishore Kumar classic “dilbar mere kab tak mujhe” only takes it mukhDaa from “Zigeunerjunge” but has original antaras and interludes.  As a musician, I personally feel that the latter form of lifting is somewhat justifiable because it still reflects a level of creativity and originality on the part of the composer. The direct copying of tunes, however, raises ethical concerns and may have even placed music directors like R.D. Burman in legal trouble had such songs been released today.  Regardless of your opinion on this issue, what is universally striking about the list of songs below is the diversity of sources from which R.D. Burman drew his inspiration.  Collectively, the original melodies come from a smorgasbord of musical genres from all over the world: traditional folk, American pop, Greek, German, French, and even Iranian rock!

aao twist kare.n (Bhoot Bangla, 1965)  / “Let’s Twist Again” (Chubby Checker, 1962)
churaa liyaa hai tum ne  (Yaadon Ki Baraat,  1973) / “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium” (Bojoura, 1969)
teraa mujhse hai pahle kaa naataa koii  (Aa Gale Lag Ja, 1973)/ “The Yellow Rose of Texas” (Traditional)
mahbuubaa, mahbuubaa (Sholay, 1975) / “Say You Love Me” (Demis Roussos, 1974)
mil gayaa ham ko saathii (Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin, 1977) / “Mamma Mia” (ABBA, 1975)
jahaa.n terii yah nazar hai (Kaalia, 1981) / “Heleh Maali” (Zia Atabi, 1977)
kaisaa teraa pyaar (Love Story, 1981) / “I Have A Dream” (ABBA, 1979)
dilbar mere kab tak mujhe (Satta Pe Satta, 1982) / “Zigeunerjunge” (Alexandra, 1967)
kahii.n na jaa  (Bade Dilwala, 1983) / “La Vie En Rose” (Edith Piaf, 1955)
tum se milke  (Parinda, 1989) / “When I Need You” (Leo Sayer, 1977)

Zeenat Aman sizzles in “churaa liyaa tum ne” from Yaadon Ki Baraat (1973)

S.D. Burman

Like his son, S.D. Burman has also composed melodies that reflect marked inspiration from foreign sources.  Although we have already investigated the influence of Tagore’s music on S.D. Burman in a previous post, we now observe how his compositions also were inspired by non-Indian genres.  For a composer who was rather traditional in his musical output, who would have imagined that he lifted material from Mexican, Italian, and American country melodies?

chaahe koi khush ho (Taxi Driver, 1954) / “Tarantella” (Traditional)
jiivan ke safar me.n raahii
 
(Munimji, 1955) / “Mexican Hat Dance” (Traditional)
ek laDkii bhiigii bhaagii sii (Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, 1958) / “Sixteen Tons” (Tennessee Ernie Ford, 1955)
ham the vah thii (Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, 1958) / “Watermelon Song” (Tennessee Ernie Ford, 1957)
yah dil na hotaa bechaaraa (Jewel Thief, 1967) / “March” (Bridge on the River Kwai, 1957)
saalaa mai.n to sahab ban gayaa (Sagina, 1974) / “Chella Lla” (Renato Carosone, 1959)

The ever-versatile Kishore Kumar stars in a comic role in Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1955)

Shankar-Jaikishan

In my opinion, Shankar-Jakishan were the quintessential music directors of Bollywood’s Golden Age. They combined the authenticity of traditional Indian music with the modern sophistication of Western influences to produce songs that appealed to the masses. It’s not surprising that some of their tunes reflect inspiration from foreign influences, but what is remarkable is that several of the songs listed below are remembered today as some of this duo’s most treasured gems.  Two songs from Chori Chori (1956), two songs from Gumnaam (1965), and the title track of Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hai (1961) — among many other hits — were heavily inspired by existing Western numbers. I think you’ll be surprised to see some of your favorites on the list below…

ghar aayaa meraa pardesii (Awaara, 1952) / “Al Balad El Mahboub” (Umm Kulthum)
aajaa sanam madhur chaa.ndnii me.n ham (Chori Chori, 1956) / “Tarantella” (Traditional)
panchii banuu.n uDtii phiruu.n (Chori Chori, 1956) / “Coming Through The Rye” (Traditional)
aigo aigo yah kyaa ho gayaa?
(Boyfriend, 1961) / Stupid Cupid” (Connie Francis, 1958)
jiyaa ho jiyaa kuchh bol do  (Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hai, 1961) / “Broken-Hearted Melody” (Sarah Vaughan, 1959)
sukuu sukuu (Junglee, 1961) / “Sucu Sucu” (Ping Ping, 1961)
dekho ab to kis ko nahii.n hai khabar (Janwar, 1964) / “I Want To Hold Your Hand” (The Beatles, 1963 )
gumnaam hai koii (Gumnaam, 1965) / “Charade” (Henry Mancini and Orchestra, 1963)
jaane chaman sholaa badan (Gumnaam, 1965) / “Autumn Leaves” (Nat King Cole, 1956)
le jaa le jaa meraa dil (An Evening in Paris, 1967) / “Man of Mystery” (The Shadows, 1960)
kaun hai jo sapno.n me.n aayaa? (Jhuk Gaya Aasman, 1968) / “Marguerita” (Elvis Presley, 1963)

Rajendra Kumar definitely breaks conventions of automobile safety during the picturization of “kaun hai jo sapno.n me.n aayaa?” from Jhuk Gaya Aasman (1968).

Salil Chowdhury

Salil Chowdhury’s compositions always reflect an intelligent and sophisticated mastery of music that set him apart from his peers in the industry.  Instead of describing the songs listed here as cases of plagiarism, I would be more likely to categorize them as adaptations. When Salil Chowdhury used another Western melody as an inspiration, he always managed to make it his own by adding something special that would resonate with Indian audiences. Take, for example, the evergreen Talat-Lata duet “itnaa mujhse tu pyaar baDhaa.” Although the mukhDaa is clearly inspired by Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony, Salil composes new antaras that beautifully complement the original melody.  As another example, consider “bachpan o bachpan” from Memdidi (1961).  Inspired by the children’s rhyme “A Tisket, A Tasket,” Salil takes the melody to a new level of complexity by inserting operatic interludes sung by our beloved diva Lata Mangeshkar.  Bravo!

dharti kahe pukaar ke (Do Bigha Zameen, 1953) / “Meadowlands” (Lev Knipper, 1934)
halke halke chalo saa.nvare (Tangewaali, 1955) / “The Wedding Samba” (Edmund Ros and Orchestra,  1950)
dil taDap taDap ke (Madhumati, 1957) / “Szla Dziewczka” (Traditional)
zindagii hai kyaa, sun merii jaan  (Maya, 1961) / “Theme from Limelight [from 3:27] ” (Charlie Chaplin, 1952)
itnaa na mujhse tu pyaar baDhaa (Chhaya, 1961) / “Molto allegro” from Symphony No. 40 (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1788)
bachpan o bachpan (Memdidi, 1961) / A Tisket, A Tasket” (Traditional)
aa.nkho.n me.n tum ho (Half-Ticket, 1962) / “Buttons and Bows” (Dinah Shore, 1948)

Vijayantimala coyly hides behind a tree in the picturization of “dil taDap taDap ke” from Madhumati (1957)

O.P. Nayyar

O.P. Nayyar is known for his characteristically Western-inspired approach to crafting melodies for Hindi films, but his contribution to our list of directly plagiarized songs is relatively small in comparison to some of his peers in the industry. The most well-known example here is, of course,  the Rafi-Geeta duet “yah hai bambaaii merii jaa.n” which has been lifted from its predecessor “My Darling Clementine.”

baabuujii dhiire chalnaa (Aar Paar, 1954) / “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas(Trio Los Panchos, 1947)
yah hai bambaii merii jaa.n (C.I.D., 1955) / “My Darling Clementine” (Traditional)
lakho.n hai.n yahaa.n dilvaale (Kismat, 1968) / Red River Valley” (Traditional)

Biswajeet hams it up for Babita during the picturization of “lakho.n hai.n yahaa.n dilvaale” in Kismat (1968)

What is your opinion on plagiarism in Hindi film music? Was it acceptable for music directors of this time to lift material from Western sources in order to introduce musical diversity to Indian audiences? Or, is it unethical for such plagiarism to occur without giving credit to the original musicians who created the songs in the first place? Let us know in the comments, and feel free to share any examples that go along the theme of this post!

-Mr. 55

The Meaning of Zuby Zuby Jalembu

Sharmila Tagore HOT An Evening in Paris
Sharmila Tagore burns up the screen in a quasi-French number from “An Evening in Paris” (1967).

I have breaking news. It’s a glimmer of light upon one of Bollywood’s great mysteries. The scene? Middle of the film An Evening in Paris. The year is 1967, and Shammi Kapoor is hot on the trail of a mystery. It’s one of those twin storylines–good twin is being held against her will by the bad guys (who look a whole lot like Pran in a blue pinstripe suit), and bad twin is a nightclub dancer who moonlights as a hit woman. By a stroke of brilliant luck, both twins are Sharmila Tagore.

So, anxious and slightly disheveled, Shammi Kapoor strolls into the Parisien nightclub, and his sense of Indian purity and uprighteousness takes a hit when the lights dim and a half-naked Sharmila Tagore struts onto the stage in a feathery swimsuit. Suddenly, she bursts into song:

Zuby zuby jalembu! Zuby zuby jalembu! Aa gaye. Shukriya. Ho mere meherabaan.”

I mean, what the heck? What do those cryptic words mean? For most of the general Indian population of the 60s watching this bizarre film, I’m guessing they

  1. Assumed it was something French and exotic (“is she really saying Suzy Suzy allez-vous?”)
  2. Didn’t care because the meaning of these Asha cabaret songs are rarely profound anyway
  3. Were too distracted by Sharmila’s dance moves and (lack of) costume to pay attention to the lyrics

Well, folks, I’m here to tell you it’s a mixture of choice 1 and 2! It’s actually slightly more meaningful than you probably thought (caveat: slightly). The tagline of the song has a legitimate basis in French music. Indian record companies probably got the spelling wrong–what we typically see as “Zuby Zuby Jalembu” should have been “Zou Bisou Bisou Bisou.” Asha’s awkward pronunciation, of course, did not help anyone.

Released as hit single in 1960 by Gillian Hills, “Zou Bisou Bisou” was a famous go-go style French song of seduction that was later redone by everyone from Sophia Loren to Megan Draper in Mad Men. Cover versions of it hit the French billboards in the 60s and, although its slow sensuality is a far cry from the high-pitched ecstatic Asha Bhonsle version, both certainly share something in common. “Bisou” (French slang for “kiss”) must have been heard somehow, somewhere by Shailendra who used it for authentic inspiration in writing this classy number that made it all the way back to Bombay.

So you see? It’s not entirely nonsense, nor is it entirely logical–the rest of the song’s lyrics don’t add up to anything profound in Hindi, but at least the effect is at very least “exotic.” And that’s all Indian audiences of the 60s could hope for in these kinds of tourist films, right? Sharmila Tagore had a special relationship with France, so much so that in 1999, the country awarded her the highest honor for artists: Insignes de Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres I. Sure, it was probably more in honor of her earlier work with Satyajit Ray, but her tribute to French go-go music must’ve helped.

Look, it’s the Eiffel Tower in the background! WOW EXOTIC!

And there it is. One mystery closed. You can thank me later. This request was submitted by one of our favorite readers, Reena! Have an obscure Bollywood mystery you want solved? Send us a request and we’d love to investigate!

-Mrs. 55

P.S. OK, so I get it. The most interesting part of this post was the mention of Sharmila wearing a bikini on stage. The irony? After igniting a wave of change in film censorship and standards with her bold moves, when Sharmila herself joined the Central Board of Film Certification, she expressed concern with the idea of too many bikinis on screen. For more on cabaret songs in Bollywood, see our post on Lata gone wild!