20 Gorgeous Waltz Songs from Classic Bollywood Films

Guru Dutt Pyaasa not a waltz

Guru Dutt and Mala Sinha are NOT actually waltzing in the iconic song “Hum Aap Ki Ankhon Mein” from Pyaasa (1957).

The waltz is a beautiful dance form with music in triple meter that originated in 16th century Germany. The name is derived from the Latin volvere, describing the ensemble rotations of the dancers. So what place does the waltz have in 20th century Bollywood films? How did this art form cross continents and cultures?

I first starting looking closely at waltz songs in classic Bollywood films when trying to select a song for my husband and my “first dance” at our wedding. I wanted to use an old Bollywood song for this western tradition, and found myself unsure where to start looking. My mind jumped to the most iconic waltz dance from Bollywood I could think of: who doesn’t recall the serene dream sequence from Pyaasa (1957) in which Guru Dutt and Mala Sinha twirl together through the mist? There was just one issue: “Hum Aap Ki Ankhon Mein” was not actually a waltz.

Meena Kumari Kishore Kumar Mere Neendon Mein Tum waltz

Meena Kumari and Kishore Kumar waltz to O.P. Nayyar’s “Mere Neendon Mein Tum” from Naya Andaz (1956).

Yup. You and I were both fooled. As I discovered the distinct triple meter of the waltz is not ubiquitous in classic Bollywood, nor can you really fake dancing a waltz to anything else. The 3/4 meter of the waltz bears a similarity to the Hindustani dadra 6/8 meter, paving the way for a transition across continents. You can recognize the distinct rhythm of the waltz by listening for a strong first beat followed by two lighter beats. A common mistake is that many people think when dancing the waltz, the first beat is when both dancers move “up.” In reality, that first strong beat is when the dancers may move downwards in unison, and return to normal height (or on the balls of their feet) for the lighter beats following. There are many variations to this pattern, but generally, it gives the waltz dancers that beautiful wave-like cadence as if they are floating across the floor.

The waltz assumes many unexpected incarnations in classic Bollywood, exemplifying everything from urban glamour to girlish excitement to full-out pity party. The first known appearance of waltz in a Bollywood song is in “Hum Aur Tum Aur Yeh Khushi” from Ali Baba (1940) composed by the legendary Anil Biswas. Music director Naushad, known for his brilliant Hindustani classical compositions, helped usher the waltz rhythm into Bollywood mainstream as early as with the tragic “Tod Diya Dil Mera” from Andaz (1949), “Ab Raat Milan Ki” from Jadoo (1951), and “Tara Ri Yara Ri” from Dastan (1952). S.D. Burman highlighted the waltz in his hit House No. 44 (1955) with amorous ballads “Phaili Hui Hai Sapnon” and”Chhup Hai Dharti.” By the late 1950s, the waltz was adopted by nearly every composer, developing an important place in Bollywood well into the 1970s.

Nargis dil ki girah khol waltz

Nargis’ surprisingly incredible waltz moves school everyone in “Dil Ki Girah Khol Do” from Raat Aur Din (1967). And you thought she was only cut out for the village belle.

In Hindi films, a song with a waltz rhythm need not always portray a couple dancing–in fact, some of the best waltz songs create tension by not showing the couple come together. Other times, such as in Nargis’ incredible performance in Raat or Aur Din (1967), waltzing with ease was a sign of Western sophistication and elitism. The waltz gained a brief romantic revival in the 1990s with the super hit song “Kuch Na Kaho” from 1942: A Love Story (1993). But this song became quickly overdone at every Indian function I attended growing up, so I refused to use it at my own wedding. I needed a list of off-the-beaten-path waltz songs from classic Bollywood that would still make us look stylish.

Raj Kapoor Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh waltz

Raj Kapoor and Nadira dance together singing “Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh,” which begins as a lilting waltz in Shree 420 (1955).

But when I was planning my wedding, I never found that list. It’s as though thousands of men and women out there aren’t actually scrambling to dance to a Mohammed Rafi song in front of all their friends and family. I don’t get it. To the couple out there who wants to have the coolest wedding ever, this list is my gift to you!

20 Waltz Songs from Classic Bollywood Films:

  1. Lag Ja Gale (Woh Kaun Thi? 1964)

  2. Dil Ki Nazar Se (Anadi 1959)

  3. Dil Ki Girah Khol Do (Raat Aur Din 1967)

  4. Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh (Shree 420 1955)

  5. Dil Ke Jharoke (Brahmachari 1968)

  6. Yeh Raaten Yeh Mausam (Dilli Ka Thug 1958)

  7. Mere Neendon Mein Tum (Naya Andaz 1956)

  8. Phoolon Ke Rang Se (Prem Pujari 1969)

  9. Hum Aur Tum Aur Yeh Sama (Dil Deke Dekho 1959)

  10. Udhar Tum Haseen Ho (Mr. and Mrs. ’55 1955)

  11. Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan (C.I.D. 1956)

  12. Jeena Yahan Marna Yahan (Mera Naam Joker 1970)

  13. Main Shayar To Nahin (Bobby 1973)

  14. Phaili Hui Hai Sapnon (House No. 44 1955)

  15. Tod Diya Dil Mera (Andaz 1949)

  16. Chhup Hai Dharti (House No. 44 1955)

  17. Geet Gaata Hoon Main (Lal Patthar 1971)

  18. Tara Ri Yara Ri (Dastan 1950)

  19. Tera Aana Ik Pal Meri (Hum Naujawan 1985)

  20. Aaja Panchi Akela Hai (No Do Gyarah 1957)

Bollywood wedding waltz

My husband and my ‘first dance’ at our wedding: a waltz to Lata Mangeshkar’s “Lag Ja Gale.” When watching the video of us later, it was clear that I was no Nargis, but at least we had fun!

We ultimately decided on the Viennese waltz “Lag Ja Gale” for our first dance, which proved pretty ambitious for two people whose primary dance skills involved interpretive bhangra. Don’t see your favorite Bollywood waltz on our list? Let us know what other Bollywood waltzes you love in the comments!

– Mrs. 55

Chain Se Humko Kabhi Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Asha Bhonsle and O.P. Nayyar share a joyful moment together. Photo Credit: indianexpress.com

Today, we present the lyrics and English translation to a soul-stirring melody composed by O.P. Nayyar and sung by Asha Bhonsle that has stood the test of time: chain se ham ko kabhiiAlthough this song was supposed to be included in Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye (1974) directed by S. Ali Raza, it never made the final cut! In spite of its prominent absence from a movie, this memorable composition has been treasured by Hindi film music lovers for years ever since it was released. While the profound beauty of this rare song never fails to earn universal appreciation, many fans may be surprised to learn about the behind-the-scenes drama surrounding the the making and release of chain se ham ko kabhii.

When Asha Bhonsle was 16 years old, she eloped with her elder sister Lata Mangeshkar’s 31-year-old personal secretary Ganpatrao Bhonsle against the wishes of her family. Over the course of an unhappy marriage, the allegedly abusive Ganpatrao grew suspicious of Asha’s faithfulness to their marriage and eventually cast her out of their home in 1960 . Pregnant with her third child, Asha left the Bhonsle household permanently in order to secure a better future for her children. A few years later, Asha and music director O.P. Nayyar began a nine-year romantic relationship in 1963 that quickly became the talk of the tabloids.  Although both Asha and O.P. were married legally to their spouses, they lived together for many years in O.P.’s penthouse flat at the Miramar building in Mumbai. During this period, the duo churned out a series of memorable musical hits that fans of Hindi film music still hold dear to their hearts: diivaanaa huaa baadal from Kashmir Ki Kali (1964), yeh hai reshmii zulfo.n kaa andheraa from Mere Sanam (1965), zaraa haule haule chalo more saajnaa from Sawan Ki Ghata (1966), yehii woh jagah hai from Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi (1966), and aao huzuur tum ko from Kismat (1968), among many other gems.

Sadly, this musical power couple encountered a rough patch in their relationship around 1972. One account of this story claims that Asha decided to leave O.P. when she saw him raising a hand and slapping her grown daughter Varsha. Whatever the reason may have been for their break-up, the couple had one last piece of unfinished business to deal with as they separated: the songs they had made together for the film Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye. Recorded before the couple had decided to part ways, records of these songs had been released several months in advance of the film’s premiere in 1974. Following the tragic break-up, Asha used her clout in the industry to have chain se ham ko kabhii deleted from the movie before it was released in theaters. However, the song had gained such widespread acclaim on its own that it won Asha her sixth Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer in 1975. Since Asha refused to go to the ceremony to receive this award, O.P. Nayyar accepted the trophy on her behalf. It is said that O.P. then tossed the trophy out the window on his car ride home, ending their relationship on a truly sour note.

To this day, Asha refuses to acknowledge O.P. Nayyar publically and does not credit him for her early successes in the playback singing industry. Interestingly, in his old age, O.P. Nayyar overcame the bitterness of the duo’s break-up and admitted that Asha was “the best person I’ve ever met.

Chain Se Humko Kabhi: Lyrics and Translation

chain se ham ko kabhii aap ne jiine na diyaa
You have never let me live in peace.
zahar bhii chaahaa agar, piinaa to piine na diyaa
Yet, even if I asked to die by poison, you would not let me drink it.

chand ke rath me.n raat kii  dulhan jab jab aayegii
When the Night arrives as a bride on the Moon’s chariot,
yaad hamaarii aap ke dil ko taDpaa jaayegii
memories of me will continue to cause you heartache.
pyaar ke jalte zakhmo.n se jo dil me.n ujaalaa hai
The light in your heart emanating from our love’s burning wounds
ab to bicchaD ke aur bhii zyaadaa baDhnevaalaa hai
will continue to shine more brightly now that we are apart.
aap ne jo hai diyaa, vah to kisii ne na diyaa
What you have given to me, no one else has been able to replicate.
zahar bhii chaahaa agar, piinaa to piine na diyaa
Yet, even if I asked to die by poison, you would not let me drink it.

aap kaa gham jo is dil me.n din-raat agar hogaa
To bear your sorrow in my heart all day and night,
soch ke yah dam ghuTataa hai, phir kaise guzar hogaa?
the very thought of this is suffocating. How can I endure it?
kaash na aatii apnii judaayiimaut hii aa jaatii
If only death had come to me instead of this separation,
koii bahaane chain hamaari ruuh to paa jaati
then, under this pretext, my soul could finally rest at peace.
ek pal ha.nsnaa kabhii dil kii lagii ne na diyaa
My heart’s emotions have never let me smile for a moment.
zahar bhii chaahaa agar, piinaa to piine na diyaa
Yet, even if I asked to die by poison, you would not let me drink it.

chain se ham ko kabhii aap ne jiine na diyaa
You have never let me live in peace.

Glossary

chain: peace; zahar: poison; rath: chariot; dulhan: bride; ujaalaa: light; sulagnaa: to smolder; dam ghuTnaa: to suffocate; guzar honaa: to endure, subsist; kaash: if only; judaayii: separation; maut: death; bahaanaa: pretext; ruuh: soul; lagii: emotion, feeling.

In the context of this tumultuous backstory, the lyrics of chain se ham ko kabhii (penned by S.H. Bihari) are aptly fitting as Asha’s final swan song under O.P. Nayyar’s baton. Thank you to our reader Tanushree for requesting a post on this beautiful song and its interesting history–keep those requests coming! Until next time…

-Mr. 55
Pran

A young Rekha stars in Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye (1964). Since the song was deleted from the released film, details surrounding the picturization of chain se ham ko kabhii remain a mystery to this day.