Papa Jaldi Aaja Na Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

kids
These adorable children await their father Bharat Bhushan’s return from an overseas journey in Taqdeer (1967).

Here at Mr. and Mrs. 55, we wish you a very merry Christmas and send you our warmest season’s greetings! Although songs that depict Christmas are few and far between within the realm of Bollywood cinema (see last year’s post on Jingle Bells/Aao Tumhein Chand Pe Le Jaaye), there is no dearth of songs that celebrate the values comprising the essence of the holiday spirit.  While you shouldn’t hold out for a guest appearance by Santa Claus or good old Rudolph, many Hindi films from the Golden Era revolve around the aspects of Christmas that many people cherish the most: sharing happiness with others, celebrating love, and strengthening family bonds. Today, in honor of Christmas , we present a children’s classic from Taqdeer (1967) that evokes the holiday spirit through its heart-warming depiction of familial love: pappaa jaldii aajaa na.

Directed by A. Salaam Taqdeer (1967) is a Hindi remake of the Konkani film Nirmon (1966) that narrates a powerful story about a destitute widow (played by Shalini Mardolkar) whose husband (played by Bharat Bhushan) is thought to have died in a tragic shipwrecking. Struggling to make ends meet, she accepts a marriage proposal from her husband’s wealthy friend (played by Kamal Kapoor) for the sake of her family. Although money is no longer an issue for them, Shalini and her children struggle to find happiness in the absence of their warm and loving husband/father. Although his family thinks that he is deceased, it turns out that Bharat miraculously survived the shipwrecking but lost all of his memory prior to the accident as a result of amnesia. Several years later, Bharat’s amnesia resolves when he hears a performance of a song (“jab jab bahaar aayii“) that he had taught to one of his former music students. After his memory returns, Bharat returns home to Goa and encounters the harsh reality of the sacrifices his family has been forced to make in his absence. How will Bharat be reunited with Shalini and his children? Watch the full movie here to find out!

Composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelaal and penned by Anand Bakshi, this song is presented at the beginning of Taqdeer after Bharat has embarked on his overseas journey. Equipped with the gentle maternal beauty of Lata Mangeshkar’s voice, Shalini leads her children (voiced by Sulakshana Pandit, Ila Desai, and Meena Petki) in a song to ask for their father’s safe and prompt return home. Naturally, part of the reason that the children await their father’s return is because they are excited to receive the new toys and gifts that he will bring home for them from abroad. Yet, the line “guDiyaa chaahe na laanaa, pappaa jaldii aajaa na!” illustrates how the children dearly miss their father’s love and support regardless of whether they receive his gifts or not.

Indeed, this heart-warming song can serve as a reminder of what is truly important to us at this time of the year. The most important part of the holiday season is not exchanging gifts and reveling in new excitement of our new toys, clothes, or gadgets. Rather, the greatest gift that we can receive for the holidays is the opportunity to live, laugh and cherish the company of our family and loved ones. Still looking for ideas on how to spend your quality time this holiday season? Mrs. 55 and I recommend putting on your favorite old Bollywood flick and letting the bonding begin with those that matter to you the most. Until next time…

-Mr. 55
Shalini
Shalini Mardolkar writes a letter to her husband to tell him how much the family misses him in Taqdeer (1967)

 

Papa Jaldi Aaja Na: Lyrics and Translation

saat samundar paar se, guDiyo.n ke bazaar se
From a doll store across the seven seas,
achhii sii guDiyaa laanaa
please bring us back a doll. 
guDiyaa chaahe na laanaa, pappaa jaldii aajaa na!
Whether you bring a doll or not, please come home soon, Papa!

tum pardes gaye jab se, bas yah haal huaa tab se
Ever since you went abroad, our lives have not been the same.
dil diivaanaa lagtaa hai, ghar viraanaa lagtaa hai
My heart has gone mad, as this house feels desolate without you.
jhilmil chaa.nd sitaaro.n ne, darvaazo.n diivaaro.n ne
The shining Moon and stars, these doors and walls,
sab ne puuchha hai ham se: kab jii chhuuTegaa gham se?
they all have asked me, “When will your heart be liberated of sorrow?
kab hogaa unkaa aanaa? pappaa jaldii aajaa na!
When is the date of his return?” Please come home soon, Papa!

maa.n bhii loDii nahii.n gaatii, ham ko nii.nd nahii.n aatii
Since Mom does not sing lullabies anymore, we have trouble falling asleep.
khelkhilaune TuuT gaye, sangiisaathii chhuuT gaye
Our toys are broken, and our companions have left our side.
jeb hamaarii khaalii hai aur aatii diivaalii hai
Our pockets are empty, yet Diwali is still to come.
ham sab ko na taDpaao, apne ghar vaapas aao
Please do not torment us any longer. Once you return home,
aur kabhii phir na jaanaa. pappaa jaldii aajaa na!
never leave us again. Please come home soon, Papa!

khat na samjho taar hai yah, kaaghaz nahii.n hai pyaar hai yah
Consider this a telegram, not a letter. It is made of love, not paper.
durii aur itnii durii, aisii bhii kyaa majbuurii?
There is such distance between us. What compels you to be so far?
tum koii naadaan nahii.n, tum isse anjaan nahii.n
You are not naive, nor are you unaware that
is jiivan ke sapne ho, ek tum hii to apne ho
you are my dream in this life. I consider only you to be mine. 
saaraa jag hai begaanaa, pappaa jaldii aajaa na!
I am estranged from the rest of the world. Please come home soon, Papa!

saat samundar paar se, guDiyo.n ke bazaar se
From a doll store across the seven seas,
achhii sii guDiyaa laanaa
please bring us back a doll.  
guDiyaa chaahe na laanaa, pappaa jaldii aajaa na!
Whether you bring a doll or not, please come home soon, Papa!

Shalini
Shalini Mardolkar and her children are not the same without their beloved head of household Bharat Bhushan in Taqdeer (1967).

 

Glossary

samundar: sea; guDiyaa: doll; bazaar: store, market; jaldi: soon, quickly; pardes: abroad; viraanaa: empty, desolate; jhilmil: shining; darvaazaa: door; diivaar: wall; chhuTnaa: to escape/depart, to be free of; loDii: lullaby; khel-khilaune: toys; sangii-saathii: companions; jeb: pocket; khaalii: empty; taDpaanaa: to torment; duurii: distance; majbuurii: compulsion, helplessness: anjaan: unaware; jag: world; begaanaa: estranged, alien.

Nutcracker
In my holiday best for my first viewing of The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky!
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O Duniya Ke Rakhwale Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

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Agonized by his fate, Bharat Bhushan entreats the Lord to heed his grievances in Baiju Bawra (1952)

On April 15, 2013, an unspeakable tragedy hit my current hometown of Boston when two bombs were set off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. This annual event held on Patriot’s Day attracts nearly 500,000 spectators who come to watch amateur and professional runners from all over the world. Considered one of the largest acts of terrorism ever to strike Boston, the marathon bombings killed 3 individuals and wounded nearly 300 victims. Tragedy is always unsettling, but these attacks have been particularly difficult to grapple with because of their proximity to home. As the local community finds the strength to overcome, our thoughts and prayers at Mr. and Mrs. 55 are with all those who were affected by this senseless act of violence in Boston.

Five days after the attack, a harrowing manhunt for one of the suspects at large put the entire city of Boston on lockdown with a “shelter in place” order for all residents.  Within the safe confines of my dorm at Harvard, I found comfort during this time in old Hindi film songs–something familiar and close to my heart.  In the aftermath of this tragedy, there was one song in particular that resonated deeply with my state of mind: o duniyaa ke rakhvaale from Baiju Bawra (1952). In commemoration of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, we offer the lyrics and English translation to this timeless devotional classic. 

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Composed by Naushad in the somber and grave raga Darbari Kanada, this evergreen number from Baiju Bawra (1952) is one of Mohammed Rafi’s best renditions. His pathos-laden voice navigates through a difficult melody spanning nearly two octaves that culminates in a high Bb4 (taar shuddh ma in the key of F) during the final climax. In light of the recent tragedy, however, we will focus on the message presented by Shakeel Badayuni’s lyrics. Without using elevated vocabulary, Badayuni masterfully captures the essence of an important philosophical maxim that may help us cope with the recent events: the reconciliation of opposites. Expressed as frustration and anger, the song’s protagonist struggles to accept the contradictory nature of the world he inhabits. Why were storms created along with ships? Why must we be separated from our loved ones after being united? Why does hope exist along with despair? And ultimately, why was evil created along with good? 

Failing to find adequate responses to these difficult questions, the protagonist lashes out in grievance against his Lord. Indeed, Badayuni makes a bold move in the context of a bhajan by having the protagonist refer to his Lord as harjaayii (unfaithful, betrayer). The protagonist’s frustration is understandable given that everything familiar to him in this world has turned against him. Using metaphorical imagery, Badayuni describes this feeling through the transformation of conventional entities: rain into fire, flowers into embers, night into snake, and stars into stones. The lyrics continue to take a few unconventional turns when the protagonist asks the Lord to take his life (“jiivan apnaa vaapas le le, jiivan denevaale“) and when the devotee subversively offers his blessings to the Lord (“bhagvaan bhalaa ho teraa!”) in sardonic resignation. 

At their core, these lyrics encourage the listener to appreciate the value of prajna, a Sanskrit term used to describe the wisdom of non-duality. Based on the fundamental reconciliation of dual phenomena, this worldview posits that the demarcation of polar opposites leads to further conflict and suffering.  Instead of placing last week’s tragic events within a framework of good versus evil, valuing prajna instructs us to focus our energy on reflection and the discovery of underlying causes.  Additionally, in Shakeel Badayuni’s words, we must not lose hope in the face of misfortune (“qismat TuuTii aas na TuuTii) as we rise above our differences and provide support to one another in this trying time of need.  

Here at Mr. and Mrs. 55, we would like to reiterate our deepest condolences and sympathies to all those in our community and beyond who were affected by the recent Boston Marathon attacks. For those who are interested, we encourage donations to One Fund Boston, a charitable organization established by Mayor Thomas Menino and Gov. Patrick Deval to support the victims of this tragedy. Stay strong, Boston!

-Mr. 55
s
Lord Shiva sheds tears upon his devotee’s plight in Baiju Bawra (1952)

O Duniya Ke Rakhwale: Lyrics and Translation

bhagvaan, bhagvaan, bhagvaan!
Oh Lord!

o duniyaa ke rakhvaale! sun dardbhare mere naale
Oh protector of this world! Please heed my woeful lamentations.

aash niraash ke do rango.n se duniyaa tuu ne sajaayii
You have adorned this world with the two colors of hope and despair.
naiyaa sang tuufaan banaayaa, milan ke saath judaayii
You created the storm along with the boat, separation along with union.
jaa dekh liyaa harjaayii
Lord, I have witnessed your betrayal.
 o luuT gayii mere pyaar ki nagarii, ab to niir bahaa le
Oh! My city of love has been plundered; now shed a few tears upon my plight.

aag banii saavaan kii barkhaa, phuul bane angaare
The monsoon rains have turned into fire, while the flowers have become embers.
naagin ban gayii raat suhaanii, patthar ban gaye taare
The beautiful night has become a snake, while the stars have turned into stones.
sab TuuT chuke hai.n sahaare
All of my support has been lost.
o jiivan apnaa vaapas le le, jiivan denevaale
Oh provider of life! Please take back this life from me.

chaa.nd ko Dhuu.nDe paagal suuraj, shaam ko Dhuu.nDe saveraa
The mad Sun seeks the Moon, while the morning searches for the night.
mai.n bhii Dhuu.nDuu.n us priitam ko ho na sakaa jo meraa
I too search for the beloved who could not be mine.
bhagvaan bhalaa ho teraa!
Lord, may you be blessed!
o qismat phuuTii aas na TuuTii, paa.nv me.n paD gaye chhaale
Oh! I have suffered misfortune without losing hope, though my feet have become sore with blisters.

mahal udaas aur galiyaa.n suunii, chup-chup hai.n diivaare.n
The palace is forlorn with its deserted alleys and silent walls.
dil kyaa ujaDaa, duniyaa ujaDii, ruuTh gayii hai.n bahaare.n
My heart has been ravaged, my entire world has been destroyed, and even the new spring sulks in displeasure.
ham jiivan kaise guzaare.n?
How can I spend my life like this?
o mandir girtaa phir ban jaataa, dil ko kaun sambhaale?
Oh! Fallen temples can be rebuilt, but who can mend my broken heart?

o duniyaa ke rakhvaale! sun dardbhare mere naale
Oh protector of this world! Please heed my woeful lamentations.

Glossary

bhagvaan: Lord; duniyaa: word; rakhvaalaa: protector; dardbharaa: woeful; naale: lamentation; aash: hope; niraash: despair; sajaanaa: to adorn; naiyaa: boat; tuufaan: storm; milan: union; judaayii: separation; harjaayii: betrayer, unfaithful one; luuT jaanaa: to be plundered; nagrii: city, town; niir bahaanaa: to shed tears; aag: fire; saavan: monsoon; barkhaa: rain; naagin: snake (female); suhaanii: lovely, beautiful; sahaaraa: support; jiivan: life; vaapas lenaa: to take back; denevaalaa: provider; chaa.nd; Moon; paagal: mad, crazy; suuraj: Sun; shaam: evening, night; saveraa: morning; priitam: beloved; “(kisii kaa) bhalaa ho!“: an expression used to indicate the offering of blessings to someone; chhaalaa: blister; mahal: palace; udaas: sullen, forlorn; galii: alley; suunaa: empty, deserted; chup-chaap: silent; diivaar: wall; ujaDnaa: to be uprooted, ravaged or destroyed; ruuTh jaanaa: to sulk; bahaar: spring; jiivan guzaarnaa: to spend life; mandir: temple; sambhaalnaa: to manage, mend.

shadows
A dejected Bharat Bhushan asks for his life to be taken back in Baiju Bawra (1952)
Bharat Bhushan Barsaat Ki Raat qawwali

Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Bollywood Qawwali Barsaat Ki Raat Shyama Ratna
Ratna (left) and Shyama (right) lead the qawwali “Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai” from the hit Bollywood film Barsaat Ki Raat (196)

For our next post, we provide an English translation of “Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai” qawwali (and its prelude “Na to Caravan ki Talaash Hai“) from the all-time classic film Barsaat ki Raat (1960). For anyone familiar with the beautiful lyrics of this Sahir Ludhviani masterpiece, you know that “Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai” is the crowning jewel of the qawwali genre. The ultimate in lyrical poetry, allusions, wit, and transcendent symbolism, “Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai” was no easy task to translate and dissect. Sahir Ludhviani, who also later penned the gems from films like Taj Mahal (1963), wrote an album of love poetry for Barsaat Ki Raat--from “Zindagi Bhar Nahii.N Bhoolegi” to “Mai.N Ne Shaayad Tumhe” to la pièce de résistance, “Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai.”

Bharat Bhushan Barsaat Ki Raat qawwali
Bharat Bhushan jumps in to save the girls’ qawwali team in “Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai” from Barsaat Ki Raat (1960)

Through this culmination piece of the film’s ongoing qawwali competition, both hero (Bharat Bhushan) and the heroine (Madhubala) are reunited after a long and painful separation. Mohammed Rafi, Asha Bhonsle, and Manna Dey vie to out-do each other in this clever, powerful discussion of the meaning of love, but at the song’s climax Rafi brings the qawwali to a heart-stopping triumphant finish that wins his team the competition. It is a real pleasure to appreciate the many levels on which the qawwali can be understood–from religious, to romantic, to quite literal–after singing “ilaaj koi to maut hai,” Shyama literally falls sick to her deathbed, or as Bharat Bhushan croons, “nikalii Radha saj ke,” Madhubala appears miraculously at the doorway from the prison of her house. Come follow along with our translation of this epic qawwali and it will be clear why “Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai” made Bollywood film history!

Madhubala Barsaat Ki Raat
Madhubala hears Bharat Bhushan on the radio and decides to find him in Barsaat Ki Raat (1960)

Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai Lyrics and Translation

MALE:

Na to caaravaan ki talaash hai
I am not in search of a caravan
Na to humsafar ki talaash hai
I am not in search of a fellow traveler
Mere shauq-e-khaana kharaab ko teri rehguzar ki talaash hai
That ruined place of my desire searches for the path that leads to you

FEMALE:

Mere naamuraad junoon ka hai ilaaj koi to maut hai
If there is any cure for my unfortunate obsession, then it is death
Jo davaa ke naam pe zehar de
Give me that medicine whose name is poison
Usi chaaraagar ki talaash hai
I am in search of such a healer

Tera ishq hai meri aarzoo,
Your love is my desire
Tera ishq hai meri aabroo,
Your love is my honor
Dil ishq, jism ishq hai, aur jaan ishq hai
My heart is love, my body is love, and my life is love
Imaan ki jo poochho to imaan ishq hai
If you ask for faith, then that is love too
Tera ishq mai.N kaise ChhoD doo.N?
How could I ever leave your love?
Meri umr bhar ki talaash hai
That love is what I have been searching for all my life

MALE:

Yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
This is love, this is love, this is love
Jaan-soz ki haalat ko jaan-soz hi samjhegaa
Only one in torment can understand the condition of a fellow sufferer
Mai.N shamaa se kehta hoo.N mehfil se nahii.N kehta
I am speaking to the flame, not to the company gathered here
Kyonki yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
For this is love, this is love, this is love

FEMALE:
Sahar tak sab ka hai anjaam jal kar khaak ho jaana
By dawn, everything will burn and be reduced to ashes
Bhari mehfil mei.N koi shamaa yaa parvaana ho jaaye
Everyone in this gathering shall became either flame or moth
Kyo.N ki yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
For this is love, this is love, this is love

MALE:

Vehshat-e-dil rasn-o-daar se roki na gayi
Love is not stopped by the madness of the heart or ropes and the gallows
Kisi khanjar, kisi talvaar se roki na gayi
It is not stopped by any dagger, by any sword
Ishq Majnu ki woh aavaz hai jiske aage koi Laila kisi deewaar se roki na gayi,
Love is that voice of Majnu’s which Laila followed and which no barrier could stop
Kyo.N ki yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
For this is love, this is love, this is love

Woh hanske agar maa.Nge.N to hum jaan bhi dede.N,
If she laughs and asks, then I would even give my life
Haa.N yeh jaan to kya cheez hai? Imaan bhi dede.N!
Yes, after all what is this life? I would even give up my faith!
Kyo.N ki yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
For this is love, this is love, this is love

Naaz-o-andaaz se kehte hai.N ki jeena hoga,
I am told that I must live with my fate gracefully
Zehar bhi dete hai.N to kehte hai.N Ki peena hoga
They give me poison, and say I must drink
Jab mai.N peetaa hoo.N to kehte hai.N ki marta bhi nahii.N,
But when I drink it, then they say I won’t die
Jab mai.N martaa hoo.N to kehte hai.N ki jeenaa hogaa
When I am dying, they say I must live
Yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
For this is love, this is love, this is love

Mazhab-e-ishq ki har rasm kaDi hoti hai,
The laws and customs of love are very strict
Har qadam par koi deewaar khaDi hoti hai
At every step, there is a barrier standing
Ishq aazad hai, Hindu Na Musalmaan hai ishq,
Love is free, love is neither Hindu nor Muslim
Aap hii dharm hai aur aap hii imaan hai ishq
Your own duty and your own faith alone is love
Jis se aage nahii.N shekh-o-Brahaman dono.N,
Both Hindu and Muslim religious men cannot surpass this
Us haqeeqat ka garajtaa hua ailaan hai ishq
The reality of that thundering proclamation is love

(FEMALE in Panjabi):

Ishq na puchhe deen dharm nu, ishq na puchhe jaataan
Love does not ask your religion or creed, love does not ask your social class or caste,
Ishq de haatho.N garam lahu vich doobiyaan laakh baraataan ke
Love has drowned thousands of wedding revelers in its fiery blood
Yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
This is love, this is love, this is love

MALE:
Raah ulfat ki kaThin hai ise aasaan na samajh
The path of love is dangerous, do not think it easy
Yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
This is love, this is love, this is love

FEMALE:
Bahut kaThin hai Dagar panghat ki
The path to the riverside is very dangerous
Ab kya bhar luau.N mai.N Jamuna se matki?
Now how can I fill my jug with water from the banks of the Jamuna River?
Mai.N jo chali jal jamuna bharan ko dekho sakhi ji mai.N jo chali jal jamuna bharan ko
As I was on my way to fill my jug with water from the Jamuna,
Nand kishor mohe roke jhaadon
The young boy of Nanda [Krishna] stopped me
To kya bhar luau.N mai.N Jamuna se matki?
So how can I fill my jug with water from the banks of the Jamuna River?

MALE:
Ab laaj raakho more ghoonghat pat ki
Now protect my honor, this veil of mine
Jab jab Krishn ki bansi baaji,
When Krishna played his flute
Nikali Raadhaa saj ke
Radha emerged, dressed up
Jaan ajaan ka dhyaan bhulaa ke,
Forgetting all she was taught
Lok laaj ko taj ke
She left the honor of society
Haaye ban ban Doli Janak dulaari,
The darling child of King Janak [Sita] swayed into the forest
Pehenke prem ki maalaa
And wore a garland of love
Darshan jal ki pyaasi Meera
Meera thirsty for her a glimpse of her Lord
Pii gayii vishh ka pyaalaa aur phir araj kari
Drank a glass of poison and then pleaded
Ke laaj raakho raakho raakho, laaj raakho dekho dekho,
Protect my honor, protect my honor, protect my honor
Yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
This is love, this is love, this is love

Allah rasool ka farmaan ishq hai
The commands of God and Mohammed are love
Yaanii Hadith ishq hai, Quraan ishq hai
The teachings of Mohammed are love, the Quraan is love
Gautam kaa aur Maseehaa kaa armaan ishq hai
The wishes of Bhudda and Christ are love
Yeh kaayanaat jism hai aur jaan ishq hai
This material existence and this life are love
Ishq sarmad, ishq hii mansoor hai
Love is everlasting, love alone is victorious
Ishq Moosa, ishq Koh-e-Toor hai
Love is Moses, love is Mt. Sinai
Khaaq ko but, aur but ko devtaa karta hai ishq
Love turns clay into idols, and idols into Gods
Intahaa yeh hai ke bande ko khuda karta hai ishq
The pinnacle is that love has the power to turn a man into a revered God
Haan.N yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
Yes, this is love, this is love, this is love

Glossary:

caravaan: caravan; talaash: search; humsafar: fellow traveler; shauq-e-khaana; desires, hobbies; barbaad: ruined; rehuguzar: pathway; naamuraad: unfortunate; junoon: obsession; ilaaj: cure; maut: death; davaa: medicine; zeher: poison; chaaragar: one who treats you, doctor, healer; aarzuu: desire; aabruu: honor; jism: body; imaan: faith; jaansoz: torment, soul-burning; sahar: the time before dawn; anjaam: conclusion; khaak: ashes; parvaanaa: moth (used allegorically as one blinded by love); vehshat: madness; rasn: rope; daar: gallows; khanjar: dagger; talwar: sword; LailaMajnu: legendary ill-fated lovers; awaaz: voice; deewaar: barrier, wall; cheez: thing; naazoandaaz: pride and style, grace; mazhab: law; kaDi: strict, harsh; qadam: step; azaad: free; dharm: Hindu religious duty; haqeeqat: reality; garajnaa: to thunder; ailaan: proclaimation; deen: Islamic obedience; jaataan: caste; lahu: blood; ulfat: love; kaThin: dangerous; aasaan: easy; Dagar: pathway; maTki: jug, pot; Nand kishor: young Krishna laaj: honor; ghuunghat: veil; bansi: type of flute; dhyaan: meditation; lok: people, society; ban: forest; Dolna: to sway; Janak Dulari: The darling daughter of the mythological King Janak [Sita]; prem: love; maalaa: garland; darshan: glimpse of a deity; pyaasi: thirsty; vish ka pyaalaa: glass of poison; araj: plea; rasool: messenger [of God, Mohammed]; farmaan: commands; hadith: a report of the deeds and the teachings of Muhammed, Gautam: Buddha; Maseehaa: Jesus Christ; kaayanaat: material creation; sarmad: everlasting; mansoor: victorious, Moosaa: Moses; Koh-e-Toor: Mt. Sinai; khaaq: clay; but: idol; devtaa: God; intahaa: pinnacle, culmination

Yes, that glossary was a mouthful. Even as it is, I must warn that many of these words have a far deeper religious meaning to them that cannot be summed up in the one or two words as I have defined them. But no one said the Hindustani language was easy, and this song is just loaded with Arabic-based and Sanskrit-based vocabulary as well as references from both Hindu and Islamic traditions. It’s part of why Urdu-Hindi is such a complex, beautiful and absolutely fascinating language. Let’s take a more in-depth look at some of these lines:

  • “Ishq Majnu ki woh awaaz hai…” according to the Arab legend, similar to Romeo and Juliet, Laila and Majnu (whose nickname means “madly in love”) were two star-crossed lovers from rival families. However, Laila fled from her house to be with the one she loved and it is said that as Majnu was caught and whipped, their love was so strong that Laila screamed and blood appeared to flow from Laila’s skin instead.
  • “Bahut kaThin hai Dagar panghat ki…” is actually a line from the great Amir Khusrau qawwali written during the 13th century. The qawwali refers in one sense to the risks of dishonor faced by Radha as she attempted to fetch water, another sense explores the risks of standing up for religious beliefs (in Khusrau’s case, an allegiance to Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya.) The line has now become a sort of idiomatic warning to not underestimate the burden of any difficult task.
  • “Jab jab Krishna ki bansi baaji…” refers to the tales of Hindu folklore of childhood lovers Krishna and Radha, the latter of whom risked familial honor and suffered teasing and torment from her girlfriends in her love for the young Lord.
  • “Janak dulari ban ban Doli…” is a reference to the Ramayan in which Sita, upon learning of her husband Ram’s banishment to the forest, renounced her title as well. Sita, it should be recalled, had a very lavish upbringing as she was the daughter of King Janak, so this was no simple sacrifice to live in the dangerous jungle. But Sita’s love was unparalleled, and although she was not otherwise compelled to accompany Ram to the jungle, did indeed join him out of pure devotion.
  • “Darshan jal ki pyaasi Meera…” refers to the legend of Krishna devotee and Rajput Princess, Meera Bai of the 16th century. Her zealous worship and love of Krishna inspired not only many famous bhajans we know and sing today, but the resentment of her brother-in-law who frowned upon her actions (eg. mingling with the poor, ignoring her husband, etc.) He made several notorious attempts to kill her, including forcing her to drink a glass of poison that Lord Krishna is said to have transformed into nectar and saved her when she pleaded for the Lord to protect her honor.

As you can probably tell, I LOVE this qawwali. I discover new things every time I enjoy it (for example, anyone else notice how the background clappers only start shrugging their shoulders cliched bhangra-style ONLY when Ratna starts singing in Panjabi? Coincidence? I think not!) The song indeed transcends all religious and material loyalties, bringing the audience a dazzling, other-wordly experience. For anyone who’s tired of all the allegories and vocabulary quizzes, here’s the long-awaited behind-the-scenes gossip:

Did you know Bharat Bhushan actually got married in real life to Ratna (who ironically played the only character in the film NOT in love with him!) Surprise, right!? She was his second wife, and some even say that later mild-mannered Bharat Bhushan had had an affair with none other than Meena Kumari. Did the scandals never end in this town?

For more Urdu bliss, check out our post on the beauty of Urdu poetry in Hindi films!

-Mrs. 55

Ratna Barsaat Ki Raat
Ratna, wife of Bharat Bhushan, plays a sassy side-kick in the film Barsaat Ki Raat (1960)