Kora Kaagaz Tha Lyrics & English Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Rajesh Khanna Sharmila Tagore Aradhana kora kagaz

Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore clasp hands against the beautiful Darjeeling countryside in the film Aradhana (1969).

Today we present the lyrics and English translation of one of Bollywood’s favorite love duets “Kora Kaagaz Tha” from Aradhana (1969). The song is a welcome introduction to Autumn, filmed on location on the hilltops of Darjeeling where the only thing cozier than a view of the snow-capped mountains in the distance is Rajesh Khanna in a red turtleneck.

Aradhana has rightfully earned widespread acclaim as a monumental Bollywood masala flick that really epitomizes India’s Golden Age of filmmaking. Songs like “Kora Kagaz Tha” remind us how romance could once be spun from the magic in the air rather than from the dwindling lengths of the heroine’s skirt or from 6,000,000 back-up dancers bumping to an added techno beat. Very few love duets get everything right like this one does, immersing their audience in the beauty of India’s natural landscapes while allowing the Urdu and music to speak for themselves. Sharmila Tagore with her dimpled smile and Rajesh Khanna winking his legendary wink are pure, no-added-hormones or preservatives-required bliss. I can think of a few other songs that defrost my lifeless heart similarly: “Deewana Hua Badal” from Kashmir Ki Kali (1964) and “Abhi Na Jao Chhod” from Hum Dono (1961) come to mind.

Sharmila Tagore Aradhana kora kagaz

Sharmila Tagore’s spotlight-hogging wig takes no prisoners in Aradhana (1969).

Film director Shakti Samanta famously recalled that after pitching the brief summary of Aradhana to lyricist Anand Bakshi, Bakshi was inspired to write the lyrics to “Kora Kagaz Tha” within seconds. Who would’ve guessed almost 50 years later, those same poetic ideas would be resurrected in mainstream American pop music with Taylor Swift’s popular “Blank Space“? (OK, maybe T. Swizzle has never seen Aradhana before…but I bet if she did, her eyeliner would drip onto the floor from happy tears.)

The best advice I can give you is to put on your best plaid flannel, wrap a wool throw around you and the one you love, and take a long sip of cider before starting this one. I have your back, trust me. And as you listen, soak in the full glory of the Urdu “ghain” that punctuates Kishore Kumar’s “kaaghaz” or the blissful pop of the Urdu “qaaf,” adorning Lata Mangeshkar’s “mulaaqaat.” These are elegant linguistic subtleties that are fast disappearing from Bollywood music today. Lyrics and English translation to “Kora Kagaz Tha” are below!

Kora Kaagaz Tha Lyrics & English Translation:

KISHORE: Hey hey (hey hey) aahaa hmm hmm (hmm hmm) aahaa haa (haa) haa haa (hmm hmm)

Koraa kaaghaz thaa yeh man meraa (meraa meraa)
My mind was a blank sheet of paper 
Likh liiyaa naam is pe teraa (teraa teraa)
Until I wrote your name upon it

Koraa kaaghaz thaa yeh man meraa
My mind was a blank sheet of paper
Likh liiyaa naam is pe teraa
Until I wrote your name upon it

LATA: Suunaa aa.Ngan thaa jiivan meraa
My life was a lonely courtyard
Bas gayaa pyaar is mei.N teraa
Until your love resided within it

KISHORE: TuuT na jaaye sapne mai.N Dartaa huu.N
I am afraid that my dreams may shatter
Nis din sapno.N mei.N dekhaa kartaa huu.N
I keep seeing you in my dreams all day and night
Nainaa kajraa re, matvaale yeh ishaare
Oh, those kaajal-lined eyes, those intoxicating signals
Khaalii Darpan thaa yeh man meraa
My mind was an empty mirror
Rach gayaa ruup is mei.N teraa
Until your beauty manifested within it

LATA: Koraa kaaghaz thaa yeh man meraa
My soul was a blank sheet of paper
Likh liiyaa naam is pe teraa
Until I wrote your name upon it

LATA: Chain ga.Nvaayaa mai.N ne, ni.Ndiiyaa ga.Nvaayii
I lost all peace of mind, I lost sleep
SaaDii saaDii raat jaaguu.N, duu.N mai.N duhaayii
I remain awake all night long and I pray
Kahuu.N kyaa mai.N aage? Nehaa laage, jee na laage
What should I say next? I have fallen in love, my soul is restless
Koii dushman thaa yeh man meraa
My soul was an enemy
Ban gayaa miit jaa ke teraa
Until it became your beloved

KISHORE: Koraa kaaghaz thaa yeh man meraa
My soul was a blank sheet of paper
Likh liiyaa naam is pe teraa
Until I wrote your name upon it

KISHORE: Baagho.N mei.N phuulo.N ke khilne se pehle
Before the flowers bloomed in the gardens
LATA: Tere mere naino.N ke milane se pehle
Before your and my eyes met
KISHORE: Kahaa.N thii yeh baate.N?
Where were words like these?
LATA: mulaaqaate.N?
Meetings like these?
KISHORE: aisii raate.N?
Night like these?
LATA: TuuTaa taaraa thaa yeh man meraa
My soul was a shooting star
KISHORE: Ban gayaa chaa.Nd hoke tera
It turned into a moon when I became yours

BOTH: Koraa kaaghaz thaa yeh man meraa
My soul was a blank sheet of paper
Likh liiyaa naam is pe teraa
Until I wrote your name upon it

LATA: Aa aa aaa aa
KISHORE: Aaa aa aaa
LATA: O hooo hoo hoo
KISHORE: O hooo hoo hoo
LATA: Hmm hmm mmm mmm
KISHORE: Hmm hmm mmm mmm

Glossary:

koraa: blank; kaaghaz: piece of paper; man: mind; likhnaa: to write; naam: name; suunaa: lonely, empty; aa.Ngan: courtyard; jiivan: life; basnaa: to reside, to settle; pyaar: love; TuuTnaa: to break; sapnaa: dream; Darnaa: to be afraid; nis-din: day and night; nainaa: eyes, kajraa: black eye-liner, re: an expression of emphasis, such as “oh!”; matvaalaa: intoxicated; ishaaraa: signal; khaalii: empty, Darpan: mirror; rachnaa: to create, to manifest; ruup: beauty; chain: peace of mind; ga.Nvaanaa: to waste, to ruin; ni.Ndiiyaa: sleep; saaDii: entire, whole; jaagnaa: to awaken; duhaaii denaa: to pray, to request; aage: next, future; nehaa: love; dushman: enemy; miit: loved one; baagh: garden; phuul: flower; khilnaa: to blossom; milnaa: to meet; baat: words; mulaaqaat: meeting; TuuTaa taaraa: shooting star; chaa.Nd: moon

Rajesh Khanna Aradhana mountain echo

Why, hello, cozy red turtleneck. Rajesh Khanna (of perfect human being fame) induces a sense of lightheadedness that the mountain’s altitude could never achieve alone.

Aradhana takes a turn for the spicy a few scenes later with Kishore Kumar’s solo “Roop Tera Mastana” because, after all, you can’t make a masala film without the masala. But those who would forever rather stick to the old fashioned tree-frolicks of classic Bollywood, stay here in safe territory with me as long as the season lasts.

– Mrs. 55

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Awaaz Deke Humen Tum Bulaao Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Shammi Kapoor awaaz deke professor

Collar fully popped with emotion, Shammi Kapoor hears his lover’s voice echo to him through the mountains in “Awaz Deke” from Professor (1962).

Today we present the haunting duet “Awaaz Deke” from the crowd-pleasing dramedy Professor (1962), starring Shammi Kapoor, Kalpana Mohan, and Lalita Pawar. There is a charm to this film, enhanced by the scenic woods of Darjeeling, that surmounts its kitsch basis and the sprinklings of Tuntun as comic relief. Shammi Kapoor plays a young educated man in desperate search of a job as a teacher when his mother is diagnosed with the dreaded…wait for it…tuberculosis! [cue: sad violin solo and unnecessarily exuberant coughing spell]. You were expecting lymphosarcoma of the intestine, no? In order to pay for her treatment at a sanitorium, Shammi accepts a post as a professor to four orphaned children living with their domineering aunt. However, because the aunt (played in her usual court martial fashion by Lalita Pawar) mistrusts men and specifically requested a professor older than 50, Shammi cleverly dons a goatee and spectacles and attempts to pass as an elderly scholar. The comedy of errors that ensues forms the basis of a delightful, albeit sometimes face-palm-inducing, two and a half hours of singing and prancing around the picturesque Darjeeling countryside.

“Awaaz Deke” is among my favorite Lata-Rafi pairings, boasting a soul-stirring melody that rises above the rest of the film. I remember when I was younger hearing this song before ever seeing the movie, and being struck by the song’s unusual saxophone theme. I love the juxtaposition of the traditional Indian percussion that gives the song its sense of urgency with the beauty of the jazz staple, played in a way I had never experienced a saxophone before: haunting and pure. Composed by Shankar-Jaikishen in one of their favorites ragas, Shivaranjani, “Awaaz Deke” is a diamond of the Professor album that won the 1963 Filmfare Award for best music direction. That stunning high F5 that Lata nails in the antra, while not her highest note on record, will make you wonder how there can exist people in the world who have never known the majesty of Hindi film music.

Kalpana Mohan awaaz deke professor

Kalpana Mohan searches for her estranged lover in a cute fur coat “Awaz Deke” from Professor (1962).

As pleasant a face as our leading lady possesses, director Lekh Tandon had harsh words for Kalpana Mohan when filming his directorial debut Professor. Because of her inexperience before a camera, he was forced to shoot multiple takes before achieving the performance he wanted–a costly endeavor in the days before digital film! A Kashmiri native, Kalpana was trained in Kathak dancing before she received her first break in Bollywood as the playful heroine of Professor. She virtually disappeared from the film industry following her marriage shortly after her successful role in Teen Devian (1965), and died tragically of cancer almost 3 years ago. She is remembered today by fans for the mesmerizing twinkle in her eyes you can see in all her films.

We hope you enjoy the English translation and lyrics to “Awaz Deke” below. This would be a perfect song to burst into the next time you and your significant other are having a lover’s tiff, right? I can think of no better way to break the tension. You can follow along with the video on youtube here!

Awaaz Deke Hamen Tum Bulaao Lyrics and Translation:

LATA: aawaaz deke hame.N tum bulaao
Lend me your voice and call out to me
Mohabbat mei.N itnaa na hamko sataao
Do not torture me so much in our love

LATA: Abhii to merii zindagii hai pareshaa.N
Now my life is filled with worry
Kahii.N mar ke ho khaak bhii na pareshaa.N
If I die somewhere, may my ashes be not so distraught
Diye kii tarah se na hamko jalaao
Do not light me on fire like a candle
Mohabbat mei.N itnaa na hamko sataao
Do not torture me so much in our love

RAFI: aawaaz deke hame.N tum bulaao
Lend me your voice and call out to me
Mohabbat mei.N itnaa na hamko sataao
Do not torture me so much in our love

RAFI: Mai.n saa.Nso.N ke har taar mei.N chhup rahaa huu.N
I am hidden in every chord of your breath
Mai.N dhaDkan ke har raag mei.N bas rahaa huu.N
I inhabit every melody of your heartbeat
Zaraa dil kii jaanib nigaahe.N jhukaao
Just lower your gaze toward your heart
Mohabbat mei.N itnaa na hamko sataao
Do not torture me so much in our love

LATA: na ho.nge agar ham to rote rahoge
If I was not here, then you would cry forever
Sadaa dil kaa daaman bhigote rahoge
You would forever drench the fabric of your heart
Jo tum par miTaa ho use na miTaao
Do not destroy the person who is already destroyed for you
Mohabbat mei.N itnaa na hamko sataao
Do not torture me so much in our love

RAFI: aawaaz deke hame.N tum bulaao
Lend me your voice and call out to me
Mohabbat mei.N itnaa na hamko sataao
Do not torture me this much in our love

Glossary:

awaaz: voice; [kisi ko] bulaanaa: to call out [to someone]; mohabbat: love; sataanaa: to torture; abhii: now; zindagii: life; pareshaa.N: worried, distraught; kahii.N: somewhere; marnaa: to die; khaak: ashes; diyaa: candle; [kisi] ki tarah se: in the manner [of something], like [something]; jalaanaa: to light on fire; saa.Ns: breath; taar: chord, string (of an instrument); chhup: silent, hidden; dhaDkan: heartbeat; raag: melody (in Hindustani classical music, a strict set of notes upon which a melody is based); basnaa: to settle, to inhabit; zaraa: a little; dil: heart; [kisii kii] jaanib: toward [something]; nigaahe.N: gaze; jhuknaa: to bow, to lower; ronaa: to cry; sadaa: always, forever; damaan: the end of a saari or skirt; bhigonaa: to drench; miTnaa: to disappear: miTaanaa: to erase, to make disappear

As a side note, this song is another great and tragic example of how the legacy of Hindi film music has been distorted by the constraints of the LP–you probably have been listening to an abbreviated version that removes the first line repetition of each stanza! It’s a small detail, but critical if you’re as obsessed with soaking in every drop of this masterpiece as I am. Two other great songs from this film, “Aye Gulbadan” and “Khuli Palak Mein,” suffered the loss of an entire stanza each when facing the LP cutting board! I can’t even handle this travesty.

Shammi Kapoor Professor outfit glasses hat

Shammi Kapoor pretends to be an elderly professor complete with round spectacles and a dubious goatee in Professor (1962).

This translation was requested by fan Jayawanth Bharadwaj! Thanks for reading and giving us a chance to translate such a beautiful duet!

– Mrs. 55

Neele Gagan Ke Tale Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Neele Gagan Ke Tale 2

Rajkumar gets romantic with his co-star Vimi in “Neele Gagan Ke Tale” from Humraaz (1967)

Next we showcase the lovely lyrics and English translation of “Neele Gagan Ke Tale” from Humraaz (1967). Set against a peaceful blue sky, Rajkumar and Vimi express their young love for each other as the voice of Mahendra Kapoor floats above. Because of this, the song carries a timeless quality marked by omniscience, as if everything we see is approved by Heaven. Whether a gentle horseback ride or riverside rendez-vous, “Neele Gagan Ke Tale” focuses just as much attention on the protagonists as it does on the wonder of nature. With an opening number as famously idyllic as this, Humraaz effectively lulls the viewer into a false sense of security. A highly underrated mystery thriller, the film shifts gears radically, filled with exciting turns and unexpected cameos until the shocking, but artistically very satisfying end. But that Elysian paradise of “Neele Gagan Ke Tale” where lovers dream and Earth is in bloom will continue to live on forever.

Rajkumar Vimi Neele Gagan ke Tale Humraaz 1967

Mahendra Kapoor’s  “Neele Gagan Ke Tale” is appropriately filmed against a beautiful deep blue sky.

Humraaz is also a rare showcase of Mahendra Kapoor’s talent as a singer. Music director Ravi is often credited as making Kapoor’s career with opportunities and expressiveness that other music directors famously denied him. A devoted Mohammed Rafi disciple, Mahendra Kapoor was often brushed aside by music directors like O.P. Nayyar, who unfairly referred to Kapoor as “besuraa” or “tuneless” in comparison! Ravi, however, believed in Kapoor’s unique talent and freely demonstrated his ability with Sahir Ludhianvi lyrics from the tragic “Chalo Ek Baar Phir Se” to the romantic “Kisi Patthar Ki Murat Se” also from Humraaz. The evergreen hit “Neele Gagan Ke Tale” won Kapoor the filmfare award for Best Playback Singer in 1967! And indeed, one listen of Kapoor’s resonant, tender vocals in this sweet ballad will quickly quell any dissent (which, coming from myself, a fight-to-the-death Rafi groupie, says a lot)! Paired with the blissfully romantic landscapes of India’s beloved tea estates in Darjeeling, the song is truly one of the most gorgeous classic Bollywood has to offer.

Rajkumar Vimi darjeeling Humraaz

Rajkumar and Vimi enjoy the peaceful Darjeeling landscapes in Humraaz (1967).

We hope you enjoy the full lyrics and English translation of “Neele Gagan Ke Tale” below. Follow along with the video and let us know how much you love the escapist fantasy of it all in the comments!

Neele Gagan Ke Tale Lyrics and Translation:

Hey neele gagan ke tale
Beneath the blue sky
Dhartii ka pyaar phale
The love of earth blossoms
Aise hii jag mei.N aate hai.N subahe.N
In this place the morning arrives
Aise hii shaam Dhale
In this place the evening falls
Hey neele gagan ke tale
Beneath the blue sky
Dhartii ke pyaar phale
The love of earth blossoms

Shabnam kii motii phoolo.N pe bhikre
The pearls of morning dew spread upon the flowers
Dono.N kii aas phale
And both of their desires flourish
Hey neele gagan ke tale
Beneath the blue sky
Dhartii ke pyaar phale
The love of earth blossoms

Bhalkaatii bele.N mastii mei.N khele
The sprawling branches play joyfully
PeDo.N se milke gale
And meet the embrace of the trees
Hey neele gagan ke tale
Beneath the blue sky
Dhartii ke pyaar phale
The love of earth blossoms

Nadiyaa kaa paanii dariyaa se milke
The water of the stream meets the river
Saagar kii or chale
And travels toward the ocean
Hey neele gagan ke tale
Beneath the blue sky
Dhartii ke pyaar phale
The love of earth blossoms

Glossary:

neelaa: blue; gagan: sky; tale: below; dhartii: earth; pyaar: love; phalna: to blossom; jag: place; subaah: morning; shaam: evening; Dhalnaa: to set, to diminish; shabnam: dew; motii: pearl; aas: desire; bhalkaatii: sprawling, winding; bel: branch; mastii: intoxication, joy; peD: tree; gale: embrace; nadiyaa: stream: paanii: river; dariyaa: river; saagar: ocean; or: toward, direction

Rajkumar Vimi Humraaz Neele gagan ke tale

Rajkumar is one heck of a handsome soldier as he bids a tender farewell to Vimi in Humraaz (1967).

Fun fact: “Neele Gagan Ke Tale” also makes our list of favorite “horse songs” found in Bollywood films because of its opening trot!

-Mrs. 55