Aayega Aanewala Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Ashok Kumar Mahal (1949)

Ashok Kumar is haunted by a mysterious voice echoing through his palace in Mahal (1949)

Today we showcase the haunting lyrics and English translation of “Aayega Aanewala” from Kamal Amrohi’s Mahal (1949). The film is a landmark in the history of Indian cinema, representing a visionary shift to director-focused auteurism that ushered in India’s Golden Era of filmmaking. Upon its release, director Kamal Amrohi shot to super-stardom along with the then unheard of songstress Lata Mangeshkar and the enchanting teenage Madhubala. A quintessential Bollywood ghost story, Mahal tells the tale of businessman (Ashok Kumar) who inherits a palace in Allahabad and discovers that it is haunted by his lover in a previous life (Madhubala).

With its famous opening chimes of an echoing grandfather clock, “Aayega Aanewala” is a cinematographer’s fantasy, stringing one beautiful image of surrealist delusion after another. From the revealing dolly-shot, shrouded by branches, of a shadowy woman on a swing with a dupatta that chases the wind to the wide shot of a an empty ballroom whose chandelier rocks back-and-forth from an unseen presence, German-born cinematographer Josef Wirsching infuses an intoxicating wonder into each shot that is as much frightening as it is gorgeous. Traces of that languid hallucinatory world he constructs can be seen in his later work, Pakeezah (1971).

Aayega Aanewala ghost on a swing

Above: The ethereal Madhubala is found swinging below in the palace gardens. Below: By the time Ashok Kumar approaches, the swing is empty, swaying eerily in the breeze.

At the age of 22, Kamal Amrohi arrived in Bombay with nothing but Rs. 17 and his own creativity. He wrote for a few films such as Shahjahan (1946) with the help of K.L. Saigal who became his supporter. Originally paid to simply write the script for Mahal, Amrohi insisted that he be allowed to direct as well. After much dispute the legendary Bombay Talkies studio relented–and made Bollywood history.

When recording the song “Aayega Aanewala” in the large empty Bombay Talkies studio, Amrohi had Lata Mangeshkar stand 20 feet away from the microphone when she sung the song’s opening notes. With each few words, she took another step closer until she reached the microphone for the chorus “Aayega, aayega, aayega.” They rehearsed this multiple times until they achieved the sound he desired. The effect was to capture the echoing nature of a voice floating through the large palace. With Lata’s angelic voice and Madhubala’s ghostly grace, the haunting femme fatale was created. Bimal Roy, who worked as an editor on the film, later drew upon Mahal‘s establishment of the Indian film noir genre when directing his own acclaimed Madhumati (1958).

If for no other reason, you’ve got to see this film just to be amazed at what Madhubala looked like as a teenager. I definitely didn’t look like that when I was 16 (although apparently Vyjayanthimala did). We dedicate this translation to our yesteryear fan Satya Khanna! Be sure to watch the film’s beautiful cinematography here as you follow along with our lyrics and English translation of “Aayega Aanewala” below!

Aayega Aanewala Lyrics and English Translation:

Khaamosh hai zamaanaa, chhup-chhaap hai.N sitaare
The earth is silent, the stars are quiet
Aaraam se hai duniyaa, bekal hai.N dil ke maare
The world is at rest, but the lovers are restless
Aise mei.N koii aahaT is tarah aa rahi hai
In the stillness, footsteps are approaching like this
Jaise ki chal rahaa hai man mei.N koi hamaare
As if someone is passing through my soul
Yaa dil dhaDak rahaa hai? ik aas ke sahaare
Or is it only my heart that is beating? I have this one hope for support

Aayegaa, aayegaa, aayegaa
He will come, he will come, he will come
Aayegaa, aayegaa, aanewaalaa
He will come, he will come, he who is to come

Deepak baghair kaise, parwaane jal rahe hai.N?
How are the moths burning without a flame?
Koi nahii.N chalaataa, aur teer chal rahe hai.N
No one fired, yet an arrow is flying
TaDpegaa koii kab tak, be-aas be-sahaare
How long will someone be tormented, without hope and without support?
Lekin yeh keh rahe hai.N dil ke mere ishaare
Yet the signals of my heart are saying
Aayegaa, aayegaa, aayegaa
He will come, he will come, he will come
Aayegaa, aayegaa, aanewaalaa
He will come, he will come, he who is to come

BhaTkii huii jawaanii manzil ko DhoonDhti hai
My wandering youth is searching for a destination
Maajhi baghair nayyaa, saahil ko dhoondhti hai
As if a boat without an oarsman searches for the shore
Kyaa jaane dil ki kashTii, kab tak lage kinaare
What does the boat of my heart know of how long until we reach the river bank
Lekin yeh keh rahe hai.N dil ke mere ishaare
Yet the signals of my heart are saying
Aayegaa, aayegaa, aayegaa
He will come, he will come, he will come
Aayegaa, aayegaa, aanewaalaa
He will come, he will come, he who is to come

Glossary:

khaamosh: silence; zamaanaa: earth; chhup-chhaap: quiet; sitaraa: star; aaraam se: restful; duniyaa: the world; bekal: restless; dil ke maare: lovers; aahaT: footsteps; man: heart, soul; dhaDaknaa: to beat [heart]; aas: hope; sahaaraa: support; deepak: flame; [kisi ke] baghair: without; parwaanaa: moth; jalnaa: to burn; taDapnaa: to be tormented; be-aas: without hope; be-sahaaraa: without support; ishaaraa: signal, symbol; bhaTaknaa: to wander; jawaanii: youth; manzil: destination; DhoonDnaa: to search; maajhi: oarsman; nayyaa: boat; saahil: shore; kashTii: boat; kinaaraa: [river] bank

Now that that’s over, let’s take a brief moment to discuss ye olde moth and flame analogy. A favorite fall-back of Hindi film lyricists, the analogy of a kamikaze moth yearning for unity with fire has intrigued many a Bollywood romantic. With roots in Sufi mysticism, the classic moth and flame analogy has been lovingly immortalized by everyone from Rumi to Charles Dickens.

At its essence, the male lover (or metaphorical moth) is so blinded by love for a woman (the metaphorical flame), that he is willing to burn and die in order to join her. Very well. But in Bollywood, the analogy is so abused, the mere drop of the word parwaanaa in any context can denote a sinister Fate without even going into mention of the flame and burning alive. Interestingly, in the lyrics to “Aayegaa Aanewala“, the poet Nakshab Jarchavi constructs a fascinating twist on the hackneyed metaphor: instead of the male representing the moth, he represents the flame in whose absence our heroine is suffering! I love a good poetic gender role reversal. Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me?

-Mrs. 55

Ashok Kumar cigarette Mahal (1949)

Ashok Kumar cleverly burns his hand with his cigarette to check if he is dreaming. Yeah, no. He’s still awake.

 

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The Top 30 Greatest Classic Bollywood Films of All Time

The top 30 greatest classic Bollywood films have been selected. Which films made the list of Bollywood’s best?

Greatest Bollywood Films of All Time Guru Dutt Waheeda Rehman

Introduction

Mr. and Mrs. 55 – Classic Bollywood Revisited! at last present our definitive list of the Bollywood classics you absolutely must see before you die. Hundreds of films were scored and ranked across multiple dimensions of Bollywood cinema including: story, direction, performances, musical composition, as well as cultural impact and legacy. We included Hindi-language films made between the period of 1949-1979 on our list of the best classic Bollywood films ever made. Some on the list are beloved favorites of the industry, while others may surprise you.

Among the winners are directors Guru Dutt, Bimal Roy and Raj Kapoor–names synonymous with masterpiece Indian cinema–each with multiple films among Bollywood’s all-time greatest. Always wondered why a couple of young Harvard students like us love old Indian films so passionately? No matter what you think you know about Bollywood, the movies on this list will change your understanding of Indian films like never before. From village epics that grapple with our national identity to the nostalgic poetry of sudden disillusionment, classic Bollywood films transport us from the enchanting glamour of Bombay nightlife to the majestic gardens of Kashmir. They carry our souls through hardship and loss and revive our spirits with redemption.

This is cinema the way it was meant to be. This is classic Bollywood.

The top 30 Films from 30 years of classic Hindi cinema (1949-1979):

1. Pyaasa

Pyaasa Guru Dutt

Guru Dutt, 1957

Pyaasa, or “thirst,”is the story of one man’s search for compassion in the cold cynicism of post-independence Indian society. Vijay is an unpublished poet, dismissed by his own family and scorned by socialites and his colleagues. After befriending a prostitute who shelters him, Vijay is believed dead and his poetry “posthumously” lionized. He becomes an overnight sensation, mourned by fans across the country, and the true Vijay is labeled an imposter. India entered its golden age of filmmaking in the 1950s when its long-awaited freedom from England and the hopes of a new government created a social tinderbox of great expectations and disillusionment. Pioneering the technique of utilizing song lyrics as direct extensions of the film’s dialogue, Guru Dutt as the writer-producer-director-star paints a stirring portrait of the commodification of humanity.

2. Mughal-e-Azam

Mughal-e Azam K. Asif

Karimuddin Asif, 1961

At the turn of the 17th century, Prince Salim falls in love with the court dancer Anarkali and wages war against his own father, Emperor Akbar, in order to marry her. Director K. Asif’s enormous cast, opulent sets, intricately designed costumes and extravagantly staged battle scenes made the film the most expensive ever produced in India at the time. But despite of all the grandeur, the film has a warm heart, and the dangers of the romance between Salim and Anarkali are infused into each glance they share. Although the love story is the backbone of the film, it is Emperor Akbar, from whom the film derives its name (“the Great Mughal”), who takes center stage as he is torn between love for his only son and the unforgiving demands of the Mughal Empire. Every line of dialogue is written with the ornamentation of poetry, casting an elegance to Mughal-e Azam‘s thunderous power.

3. Pakeezah

Pakeezah Kamal Amrohi

Kamal Amrohi, 1971

In the grandeur of Muslim Lucknow at the turn of the century, Pakeezah is a courtesan and dancer who dreams of leaving her life behind when a stranger falls in love with her in a train compartment, not knowing her true profession. With swirling romanticism and languid, dream-like cinematography, Pakeezah instantly became one of the most extraordinary musicals ever made. Perfectionist director Kamal Amrohi, who also wrote the script and some of the lyrics, effectively transports the viewer into a wistful age of bygone formality and luxury. Each of Pakeezah‘s popular semi-classical songs illustrates the duality of a courtesan’s poetry, at once glamorizing the elaborate rituals of love and destroying the institutions that upheld them.

4. Mother India

Mother India Mehboob Khan

Mehboob Khan, 1957

With tragedy strikes her family, newlywed village belle Radha is determined to weather a crucible of social and personal adversities without compromising her honor. In doing so, she reinvents herself as a heavy-handed symbol of India’s own pride as an ancient culture and a new democracy. A defining film in the history of Bollywood, director Mehboob Khan’s iconic Mother India set the pattern for the more than 60 years of Bollywood film that followed it. A mythologization of traditional values and an homage to the beauty of Indian heritage, Mother India‘s unabashedly epic glorification of self-sacrifice and female empowerment was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1958.

5. Guide

Guide Vijay Anand

Vijay Anand, 1965

A corrupt businessman is transformed into a spiritual guide after a misunderstanding that leads to his idolization by a village besieged by drought. Based on the R.K. Narayan novel of the same name and bolstered by a stunning soundtrack, Guide explores a fundamental Vedic transformation from materialism to a release from worldly attachments in an extremely unlikely hero. A scandalous love story settles into the background as director Vijay Anand boldly deconstructs social taboos, from adultery and non-traditional gender roles to religious fraud, in a film that stirringly evolves into a philosophical awakening greater than the circumstances it portrays–a brilliant reflection of the double entendre intended by its title.

6. Kaaghaz Ke Phool

Kaagaz Ke Phool Guru Dutt

Guru Dutt, 1959

In the 1950s at the height of India’s golden age of film-making, a celebrated movie director feels uninspired by the tinsel-lined glitz of studio era Bollywood. When he discovers a new actress, innocent to the corruption of the industry, he believes he has found a muse to ease his restlessness. A elegiac behind-the-scenes film about film-making, Kaaghaz Ke Phool became a cult classic following the eerie semi-autobiographical death of its director Guru Dutt. Trapped in a world of pretense, Guru Dutt illustrates a kind of yearning that softly and slowly erodes the soul–a desperate hunt for a human connection. The real triumph is in the film’s stunning camerawork, gracefully gliding through the empty studio sets like a beautiful spectre of Dutt’s own shattered desires.

7. Awaara

Awaara Raj Kapoor

Raj Kapoor, 1951

A female lawyer is determined to prove her lover’s innocence in a murder attempt on the life of a respected judge. Structured in medias res, the film’s flashback reveals the injustice of her lover’s past when the very judge who condemns him proves to be his own father: a man who threw his wife onto the streets when he believed a criminal had raped her. Echoing the dark lessons of the ancient Ramayana, Awaara shatters the nature versus nurture debate with a showman’s flair and surrealist fantasy, including the film’s legendary dream sequence evoking a descent into Hell. Awaara launched Raj Kapoor’s famous Chaplin-esque hero for the first time, who resonated immensely across the Soviet Union and Communist China as the voice of a new generation.

8. Sahib, Bibi, Aur Ghulam

Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam Guru Dutt

Guru Dutt/Abrar Alvi, 1962

Desperate to save her marriage, the younger daughter-in-law of a wealthy family sacrifices her moral boundaries to win over her alcoholic husband. A nostalgic glimpse into the decaying Bengali feudal system, Sahib, Bibi, Aur Ghulam unravels a dazzling murder mystery at the heart of its progressive view of societal redemption. Seen from the perspective of a young factory worker lured into a stately mansion as an ally of its young mistress, Sahib, Bibi, Aur Ghulam hauntingly opens the doors to the hollowness of exterior splendor. Spiraling against her will with the collapse of Calcutta’s landed aristocracy, Meena Kumari’s portrayal of the tormented wife is forever considered among the most magnificent on-screen performances of Bollywood history.

9. Aradhana

Aradhana Shakti Samanta

Shakti Samanta, 1971

When her lover dies at war, an unwed mother gives up her son up for adoption, vowing to watch over him in secrecy as he grows up in the house of another. Her poignant worship, or aradhana, of her dead fiancé and their son became immortalized in the Indian cinematic psyche as an audacious struggle of traditional society confronted by changing modern values. Boasting one of the all-time greatest soundtracks of Indian cinema, Aradhana epitomizes the versatility and creativity of the era’s leading music directors. From the youthful romance of “Kora Kaagaz Tha” to the grim Bardic undertones of “Safal Hogi Teri Aradhana” to the notoriously seductive “Roop Tera Mastana,” the film is as much remembered for its luminous performances as for exemplifying the golden age of Bollywood music.

10. Do Bigha Zameen

Do Bigha Zameen Bimal Roy

Bimal Roy, 1953

A farming family fights to save their ancestral land from a cunning mill owner. Do Bigha Zameen follows the father and son’s trip to Calcutta from their idyllic village to earn enough money to pay their debts–only to discover the miseries of urban poverty instead. Inspired by the work of Italian neorealism, Do Bigha Zameen pioneered early parallel cinema with a deliberate attention to the “everyday,” and the feeling of an invisible, unhurried camera whose shots and mis-en-scene are both carefully constructed and effortlessly fluid. Directed by Bengali auteur Bimal Roy, the film’s nationalistic electricity hit a broader audience, becoming the first Indian film to win the Prix Internationale at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival.

11. Bandini

bandini bimal roy

During the British Raj of the 1930s, a prison doctor falls in love with a convict who reveals the story of her tumultuous connection to a freedom fighter.

12. Madhumati

Madhumati Bimal roy

Bimal Roy, 1958

On a rainy night, a man enters an abandoned mansion where he is confronted by unfulfilled visions of his past life.

13. Shree 420

Shree 420 Raj Kapoor

Raj Kapoor, 1955

A country boy travels to Bombay to make his fortune where he is lured from the path of virtue into a thrilling life of deceit.

14. Sholay

sholay ramesh sippy

Ramesh Sippy, 1975

After his family is murdered by a notorious bandit, a former police officer enlists the help of two outlaws to capture him.

15. Ankur

shyam benegal Ankur

Shyam Benegal, 1974

The social hierarchies of rural India are disrupted when a landowner begins an affair with a poor farmer’s wife.

16. Hum Dono

Hum Dono vijay anand

Amarjeet, Vijay Anand (1961)

After returning from war, a soldier begins to lead a double-life when his doppelgänger’s family welcomes him home.

17. Barsaat (1949)

Barsaat raj kapoor

Raj Kapoor, 1949

Two men with different ideals of love search for answers with the coming of the monsoons.

18. Amar Akbar Anthony

Amar Akbar Anthony manmohan desai

Manmohan Desai, 1977

Three brothers are separated in childhood and eventually unite after one is brought up a Christian, one a Hindu, and one a Muslim.

19. Anand

Anand hrishikesh mukherjee

Hrishikesh Mukherjee, 1971

A doctor recounts the story of a terminally ill man who wishes to his live life to the fullest and spread happiness to those around him.

20. Haqeeqat

Haqeeqat chetan anand

Chetan Anand, 1964

A platoon of Indian soldiers leave their homes and loved ones to encounter the harsh realities of battle in the Indo-China War of 1962.

21. Don

Don 1978 chandra barot

Chandra Barot, 1978

A simpleton is trained to infiltrate the underworld by impersonating a criminal leader who has been killed in a police chase.

22. Mahal

Mahal kamal amrohi

Kamal Amrohi, 1949

A young lawyer is haunted by a ghostly woman in his new house, where the builder and his fiancée died shortly after it was built.

23. Sangam

Sangam raj kapoor

Raj Kapoor, 1964

An Indian Air Force Officer leaves for the Kashmiri front, entrusting his wife to the care of his best friend who has secretly always loved her.

24. Dosti

Dosti satyen bose

Satyen Bose, 1964

A penniless orphan makes the unexpected friendship of a blind boy who teaches him survival on the streets of Bombay.

25. Waqt

Waqt yash chopra

Yash Chopra, 1965

Natural disaster separates the members of a close-knit family who re-connect in a series of dramatic entanglements years later.

26. Deewar

Deewar yash chopra

Yash Chopra, 1975

A mother attempts to reunite her two estranged sons: one, a leading criminal of the underworld, and the other, an uprighteous policeman.

27. Kati Patang

Kati Patang shakti samanta

Shakti Samanta, 1970

As a promise to raise the child of her dying friend, a young woman risks starting a new life under a false identity.

28. Aandhi

Aandhi gulzar

Gulzar, 1975

A powerful politician struggles to reconcile her position with secrets from her past.

29. Purab Aur Paschim

Purab Aur Paschim major kumar

Manoj Kumar, 1970

East clashes with West when a traditional Indian student encounters swinging London society for the first time.

30. Bombai Ka Babu

Bombai Ka Babu Raj Khosla

Raj Khosla, 1960

A small-time thief is forced into a deadly web of deception when he gains the trust of his victim’s family.

Read more about these and other classic Bollywood films on our film pages! Which films do you consider among classic Bollywood’s all-time best and why? Leave us a comment and let us know!

– Mrs. 55

Aye Mere Pyare Watan Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

IndianIndependenceDay

In honor of India’s 67th Independence Day on August 15th, we offer the lyrics and English translation to a patriotic classic from Kabuliwala (1961): ai mere pyaare vatan.

Inspired by a Tagore short story of the same name, Hemen Gupta’s Kabuliwala (1961) narrates the story of a dry fruit seller named Rehman (played by Balraj Sahni) who leaves Afghanistan to come do business in India. Missing the daughter he was compelled to leave behind in his homeland, Rehman finds comfort in befriending a young Bengali girl named Mini in Calcutta.

This emotionally stirring film is accompanied by an equally beautiful soundtrack composed by Salil Chowdhury and penned by Prem Dhawan. By all accounts, the most memorable song from this soundtrack is ai mere pyaare vatan. Sung with incredible pathos by Manna De, this song has become one of the filmi world’s greatest contributions to the oeuvre of Indian patriotic music. The prominence that this song has gained in the desh-bhakti genre of Indian music is somewhat ironic given its context in the film: it is picturized on Rehman, an alienated Pathan in India who yearns for his homeland of Afghanistan.

In the sphere of Hindi film music, ai mere pyaare vatan is considered one of the most beautiful expressions of love for one’s homeland–a universal force that can transcend all cultural boundaries. On this special day, let us embrace the patriotic spirit of these lyrics and remember always to treat our homelands with honor, love and respect.

-Mr. 55
Balraj Sahni befriends a young girl who reminds him of his daughter back home in Afghanistan in Kabuliwala (1961)

Chhabi Biswas befriends a young girl who reminds him of his daughter back home in Afghanistan in the Bengali version of Kabuliwala (1957)

Aye Mere Pyare Watan: Lyrics and Translation

ai mere pyaare vatan, ai mere bichhDe chaman
Oh my dearest homeland, oh my lost garden!
tujh pe dil qurbaan
I shall sacrifice my heart for you.
tuu hii merii aarzuu, tuu hii merii aabruu 
You are my desire, you are my honor.
tuu hii merii jaan 
You are my life.

tere daaman se jo aaye un havaao.n ko salaam
I shall salute the winds that pass through your foothills.
chuum luu.n mai.n us zubaa.n ko jis pe aaye teraa naam
I shall kiss those lips that take your name. 
sab se pyaarii subaah terii sab se ra.ngii.n terii shaam 
You have the most beautiful of dawns and the most colorful of evenings.
tujh pe dil qurbaan 
I shall sacrifice my heart for you.

maa.n kaa dil ban ke kabhii siine se lag jaataa hai tuu
Sometimes you cling to my chest as my mother’s heart,
aur kabhii nanhii.n sii beTii ban ke yaad aataa hai tuu
and sometimes I remember you as my little daughter.
jitnaa yaad aataa hai mujhko utnaa taDpaataa hai tuu
The more I remember you, the more you torment me.
tujh pe dil qurbaan
I shall sacrifice my heart for you.

chho.D kar terii zamii.n ko duur aa pahu.nche hai.n ham
Having left your land, I have arrived somewhere far from home.
phir bhii hai yahii.n tamannaa tere zarro.n kii qasam
Swearing by every particle of your essence, I still harbor the desire
ham jahaa.n paidaa hue us jagah pe nikle dam
to take my last breath where I was born.
tujh pe dil qurbaan 
I shall sacrifice my heart for you.

ai mere pyaare vatan, ai mere bichhDe chaman
Oh my dearest homeland, oh my lost garden!
tujh pe dil qurbaan
I shall sacrifice my heart for you.

Glossary

vatan: homeland; bichhaDnaa: to be separated, lost; chaman: garden; qurbaan: sacrifice; aarzuu: desire; aabruu: honor; daaman: foothills; zubaa.n: tongue, lips, language; rangii.n: colorful; siinaa: chest; nanhii.n: little, young; taDpaanaa: to torment; tamanna: desire; zarra: particle; dam: breath.

Balraj Sahni on-screen with producer Bimal Roy in Kabuliwala (1961)

Balraj Sahni on-screen with producer Bimal Roy in Kabuliwala (1961)

The Tragedy and Triumphs of Do Bigha Zameen

Do Bigha Zameen 2

Balraj Sahni embraces his son in despair after a violent misunderstanding in the urban nightmare of Do Bigha Zameen (1954).

In the 1954, the year of the first Indian Filmfare awards, the film that took home the glory of both best picture and best director was about to become more than just a national treasure. Do Bigha Zameen, the latest directorial offering of a relatively minor Bengali newcomer, told a story that was not familiar in the tinsel-lined halls of Bombay filmdom. Without a glamorous period backdrop, without elaborate dream sequences, and without clearly enunciated moral take-home points, Do Bigha Zameen cannot be readily categorized with contemporary village epics such Mother India (1957) nor socially-conscience critiques like Shree 420 (1955) and Pyaasa (1957). With such a new vision of Indian cinema, stylistically and socially, Do Bigha Zameen hit a broader audience, becoming the first Indian film to win the Prix Internationale at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival.

But what is all this hype about? What makes Do Bigha Zameen so radical and why does everyone always bring it up in discussions of must-see Bollywood films? The film is directed by Bimal Roy, a prominent member of the post-colonialist Bengali intelligentsia, who was directly influenced by another radical film movement sweeping Europe: Italian Neorealism. Like other great Bengali directors of his day, ie. Rhitwik Ghatak and Satyajit Ray, Bimal Roy was fascinated by the work of Italian pioneer Vittorio de Sica and his masterpiece Ladri Di Biciclette (1948). The film is the defining work of Italian neorealism, marked by a deliberate attention to the “everyday,” the feeling of an invisible, unhurried camera whose shots and mis-en-scene are carefully constructed, but have the naturalness of a documentary. The Italian neorealist movement glorified without ornamentation the lives and suffering of “ordinary” citizens. It gave importance to the unimportant and evoked sympathy without the crutches of melodrama.

Do Bigha Zameen 1Balraj Sahnia Nirupa Roy

Nirupa Roy and Balraj Sahni flirt with each other beneath a shady tree in Do Bigha Zameen (1954).

Now I’ll argue that among the Indian film influenced by the neorealist movement, Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy is perhaps the truest to the legacy set by Ladri di Biciclette. To fully appreciate that unique style of film-making, you must see Ray’s Aparajito. Do Bigha Zameen blends the line between neorealism and commercial–similar perhaps to the films of Guru Dutt, but without the poetic grandeur. Starring the classiest of men, Balraj Sahni and Nirupa Roy (yes! she did play the heroine before becoming a stock mother-figure actress in the 70s!), Do Bigha Zameen, tells of the hard work, misfortune, and desperate measures taken by a family who is cheated of their land by a greedy mill owner. The film follows the father and son’s trip to Calcutta from their idyllic village to earn enough money to pay their debts–only to discover the harsh realities of urban poverty instead.

Like Ladri di Biciclette, the film also explores the evolving relationship between a father and son, of how the dynamic changes when a child grows up quickly and a mutual level of forgiveness that comes with a more mature relationship. With scenarios by Hrishikesh Mukherjee (who also did the screenplay for gems like Anand!), it’s clear that “realism” is given a healthy splash of Bollywood exaggeration. When the going gets rough for this family, it just spirals into greater and greater tragedy–the loss of property, becoming victims of robbery, illness, and a car crash. A heavy-handed background score encourages the audience to evoke sympathy and fear, as well as a handful of painful histrionics rendered by the cutesy child actor. But all in all, the real triumph of this film is in the conclusion.

The impoverished family watches the destruction of their ancestral land behind a closed gate in Do Bigha Zameen (1954).

At the end of Do Bigha Zameen, there is no real outcome. Like with Satyajit Ray’s Aparajito, it ends with a single shot of the family, moving on into the distance. The journey we as an audience have witnessed is but a chapter in their lives that we know will be marked in the future with similarly unresolved troubles. But it also carries a kind of hope with it, not that all will be right in the world, but a hope that men and women like these are survivors and will find a way to persevere, even if that does not mean coming out on top. It is what sets this film apart from the Raj Kapoors of the world. And that is, I think, the message that hit home with millions of Indian viewers in the dissatisfied liberated world.

The film takes its name from a Rabindranath Tagore poem “Dui Bigha Jomi.” In the original poem, a poor farmer begs his landlord to not make him sell his ancestral plot of land. But the cruel landlord insists, while the farmer famously begs (as in the film adaptation) that the land is like his mother–and how could anyone sell their own mother? Do Bigha Zameen, however small, carries the price of a man’s honor, and for the poor farmer, this cannot be bought by mere money.

Meena Kumari plays a doting mother in a special appearance for the Lata Mangeshkar song, “Aaja Re Nindiya Tu Aa” in Do Bigha Zameen (1954).

Also of note, a young Meena Kumari plays a minor role as a benevolent landlady who agrees to to help the family with their debts (before further disaster strikes, rendering her offer useless). She had been on set of Roy’s earlier film, Parineeta (1953), when she heard of the production and loved it so much, she begged to participate. Of particular and slightly disturbing note is the facial hair on her upper lip that the costume and make up department didn’t do something more about. You think it blends in because you can’t really see it in person, but it shows up on black-and-white film stock like a dark shadowy menace. Gets ‘em every time.

– Mrs. 55

O Sajna Barkha Bahar Aayi Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Sadhana wistfully enjoys the rain in "o sajna barkhaa bahaar aayii" from Parakh (1960). Because she plays the role of a village girl here, she was instructed to get rid of the characteristic "fringe" hairstyle seen in her later movies in order to avoid looking too glamorous!

Rain songs have always held a special place in Bollywood cinema. From “pyaar hua iqraar hua” in Shree 420 (1955) to “ghanan ghanan ghir aayii badra” in Lagaan (2001), fans of Hindi cinema have been treated to a number of beautiful gems about the rain over the years. Today, I’ve translated an all-time classic rain song from the film Parakh (1960) directed by Bimal Roy (he won his third Filmfare Award for Best Director for this film!): “o sajna barkhaa bahaar aayii”.   Parakh satirizes Indian democracy using a plot in which the postmaster (Nasir Hussain) of a village mysteriously receives a check for five lakh rupees to be given to an individual who is most well-equipped to benefit the village. When it is decided that an election will be held, influential characters in the village begin campaigning to persuade the village that they are the most deserving candidate to receive the check: namely, the impious postman (Motilal), the pious piest (Kanhaiyya Lal), the creepy rich man (Asit Sen), the greedy doctor (Rashid Khan) , the landlord (Jayant), and the well-respected schoolmaster (Vasant Chowdhury). Meanwhile, the postmaster’s daughter (Sadhana) begins to fall in love with the schoolmaster, and she sings “o sajna” as she pines for him in the rain.

A musically timeless duo: playback singer Lata Mangeshkar and music director Salil Chowdhury

This song is considered to be one of the finest compositions of the music director Salil Chowdhury (who also wrote the story for Parakh). Although Salil Chowdhury did not receive his due during his lifetime, he is undeniably  one of the most talented and revolutionary composers from the Golden Era. His compositions are often remembered for their unusual melodies, rich orchestration, and integration of Western and Indian classical themes. Those of you familiar with Salil Chowdhury’s work in Bollywood may be surprised to know that he also composed songs for a wide variety of Indian languages, including Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Telegu. Among these languages, Salil’s most prolific work was in his native tongue Bengali–he revolutionized the genre of the Bengali adhunik (modern) song with his musical compositions and self-written lyrics (what a multi-talent!). In fact, as is the case with many of his Hindi songs,  the tune for “o sajna” was released in Bengali first in 1959 as “na jeo na.” This song was one of Lata Mangeshkar’s earliest hits in the Bengali music industry, and Bengalis have cherished the collaboration between Lata and Salil ever since this major musical milestone.

–Mr. 55

P.S: As an extra tidbit of trivia, it has been said that the only non-classical record found in the collection of renowned Hindustani vocalist Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan after his death was an LP of “na jeo na.” What an honor!

O Sajna Barkha Bahar Aayi Lyrics and Translation

o sajnaa barkhaa bahaar aayii
Oh, my beloved, the rain-filled season of spring has arrived.
ras
kii puhaar laayii, a.nkhiyo.n me.n pyaar laayii
It has brought sprinkling droplets of nectar, it has brought love to these eyes.

tum ko pukaare mere man kaa papiiharaa
The cuckoo bird in my heart calls out to you,
miThii miThii aganii me.n jale moraa jiiyaraa
as my heart burns in a sweet fire.

aisii rimjhim me.n, o sajan, pyaase pyaase mere nayan
My eyes long for you, my beloved, in this light shower of rain;
tere hii khvaab me.n kho gaye
they have become lost in a dream of you.

saa.nvalii salonii ghaTaa jab jab chhaayii
When the beautiful dark clouds spread throughout the sky,
a.nkhiyo.n me.n rainaa gayii, nindiyaa na aayii
the night passed in my eyes, and I could not fall asleep.

o sajna barkhaa bahaar aayii
Oh beloved, the rain-filled season of spring has arrived.

Glossary

barkhaa: rain; ras: nectar; puhaar: sprinkles, droplets; papiiharaa: pied-crusted cuckoo bird (associated with the monsoons in Indian mythology); jiyaraa: heart; rimjhim: light rain; saa.nvalii: beautiful; salonii: dark; ghaTaa: clouds; rainaa: night; nindiyaa: sleep.