Do Lafzon Ki Hai Dil Ki Kahani Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

 

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Amitabh Bacchan and Zeenat Aman share a romantic moment during a glamorous gondola ride shot in Venice, Italy for The Great Gambler (1979).

Today, we present the lyrics and English translation to an all-time hit song from The Great Gambler (1979): do lafzo.n kii hai dil kii kahaanii. Directed by Shakti Samanta, this action film starring Amitabh Bacchan in a dual role takes the audience on a cosmopolitan journey through a variety of exotic locales including Cairo, Rome, Lisbon, Amsterdam, and Egypt. While the film itself has not much to offer over other masala films released during this period of Hindi cinema, the soundtrack’s crowning gem do lafzo.n kii hai dil kii kahaanii is cherished by audiences to this day. In fact, watch Asha Bhonsle (at the age of 80!) dazzle the audience with this song here accompanied by the Metropole Orchestra at The Hague in 2013.

do lafzon kii hai dil kii kahaanii can be considered a natural successor to previous boat songs directed by Shakti Samanta, such araat ke humsafar  (An Evening in Paris, 1967) and chingaarii koii bhaDke (Amar Prem, 1972). The exotic picturization as well as the exquisite lilting melody make this song a stand-out among the other lackluster items found on the film’s soundtrack, which was composed by R.D. Burman and penned by Anand Bakshi. To infuse a dose of authentic Italian charm, the lyricist has included a few words of Italian in the song’s introduction–I’m certainly not an Italian expert, but my attempt at translating these lines is also presented below.

While the choice of veteran songstress Asha Bhonsle as the playback singer for heroine Zeenat Aman is no surprise, the choice of Sharad Kumar as the voice of the gondolier is rather interesting. Sharad Kumar Bader is an actor/singer who achieved fame in the late 1960s and early 1970s for his imitative renditions of songs originally performed by the one and only Elvis Presley. In addition to touring the globe for concerts where he sang Elvis numbers decked out in The King’s trademark jumpsuits, Sharad also received a break in Bollywood as an actor in films such as Paisa Ya Pyar (1969) and Zameen Aasman (1972) with the support of Shobhana Samarth (mother of actresses Tanuja and Nutan).  After his brief stint in the film industry, Sharad moved to Canada where he worked as an insurance agent and opened a vegetarian Indian food company called Zara’s Gourmet Kitchen with his wife Gita Bader. A colorful career path indeed!

What is your favorite foreign destination featured in a vintage Bollywood song? Let us know in the comments! Until next time…

-Mr. 55
Venice

Venice’s Grand Canal and its rich tradition of gondoliering are featured prominently in this all-time fan favorite song.

Do Lafzon Ki Hai Dil Ki Kahani: Lyrics and Translation

Sharad Kumar: laa, laa, laa… amore mio, dove sei tu?
My love, where are you?
ti sto cercando, tesoro mio!
I am searching for you, my treasure!

Amitabh Bacchan: “amore mio, dove sei tu..”
ai kyaa gaa rahaa hai?
What is he singing?

Asha Bhonsle: apne pyaar ko yaad kar rahaa hai aur kah rahaa hai ki…
He is remembering his love and saying…

Amitabh Bacchan: na, na, na aise nahii.n! gaa ke sunaao na?
No, not like this! Sing it for me, won’t you?

Asha Bhonsle: gaa ke? acchhaa!
Sing it? Okay!

do lafzo.n kii hai dil kii kahaanii
The tale of my heart is only two words long.
yaa hai muhabbat, yaa hai javaanii
Is it love or is it youth?

Sharad Kumar: amore mio, il tempo vola
My love, time flies.
prendilo, prendilo, amore mio!
Catch it, catch it, my love!

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The on-screen chemistry shared by the leading pair serves as the backbone for this lighthearted, action-packed, and often nonsensical film.

Asha Bhonsle: dil kii baato.n kaa matlab na puuchho
Please don’t ask me the meaning of my heart’s words.
kuchh aur ham se bas ab na puuchho
Please don’t ask me anything now.
jis ke liye hai duniyaa diivaanii
What the world has gone mad for,
yaa hai muhabbat, yaa hai javaanii?
Is it love or is it youth?

yah kashTiivaalaa kyaa gaa rahaa thaa?
What was that gondolier singing about?
koii ise bhii yaad aa rahaa thaa
He was reminded of someone special
qisse puraane, yaade.n puraanii
along with old tales and old memories.
yaa hai muhabbat, yaa hai javaanii?
Is it love or is it youth?

is zindagii ke din kitne kam hai.n
The days of this life are limited in number.
kitnii hai.n khushiyaa.n aur kitne gham hai.n
they are filled with so much joy and so much sorrow.
lag jaa gale se, rut hai suhaanii
So embrace me, in this beautiful season.
yaa hai muhabbat, yaa hai javaanii
Is it love or is it youth?

do lafzo.n kii hai dil kii kahaanii
The tale of my heart is only two words long.
yaa hai muhabbat, yaa hai javaanii
Is it love or is it youth?

Glossary

lafz: word; kahaanii: tale; muhabbat: love; javaanii: youth; matlab: meaning; duniyaa: world; kashTiivaalaa: gondolier; qisse: tales; yaade.n: memories; khushiyaa.n: joy; gham: sorrow; gale se lag jaanaa: to embrace; rut: season; suhaanii: lovely, beautiful. 

venetian

A glimpse of Italy at The Venetian hotel from my recent vacation to Las Vegas.

gondola

Vegas’s replica of the Grand Canal–complete with gondolier and Italian serenades!

 

 

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Shammi Kapoor, the Elvis of India: Realities of a Rockstar

Shammi Kapoor Teesri Manzil

Shammi Kapoor plays a lovable rockstar in Teesri Manzil (1966).

Bollywood actor Shammi Kapoor (1930-2011) was popularly known as the Elvis of India. I just got back from a road trip with my fiancé down to Graceland, home of the original King. Despite jamming out to “That’s All Right Mama” as we toured around, I couldn’t help but think of Bombay film legend Shammi Kapoor and the famous media comparison. I’m a diehard Elvis Presley fan, and my love for his Indian counterpart is no less. But is it even fair to correlate the two?

When I first heard of the comparison of yesteryear Bollywood actor Shammi to American rock-and-roll legend Elvis, I needed a little convincing. All right, I needed a lot of convincing. Nothing short of blasphemy is on the line when you start comparing yourself to the King. I grew up listening to Elvis and had seen Shammi Kapoor films like an Evening in Paris (1967), Brahmachari (1968), Prince (1969) and Andaz (1971). The slightly overweight Bollywood thespian with heavy pancake makeup and tight pants was a far cry from the jailhouse rocking Elvis Presley I knew so well. After all, anyone can wear a pair of tight pants in public, but not everyone should.

So why then do we call Shammi Kapoor the Elvis of India? To begin to answer this, we must go back in time. We return to Shammi Kapoor’s earliest hits films in the days before even the rip-roaring success of Junglee (1961): movies like Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957) and Dil Deke Dekho (1958). Suddenly, the similarities in appearance are clear. Sure in later colour films Shammi Kapoor didn’t look much like Elvis, but let’s face it, by the time the 70s rolled around, Elvis didn’t look much like Elvis either.

Elvis Presley Shammi Kapoor

Unintentional twins, Elvis Presley (left) and Shammi Kapoor (right) revolutionized the entertainment industry complete with popped collars and pompadours.

But the comparison of the two entertainment icons goes beyond mere appearance. Elvis brought with him a cultural revolution in the midst of a tumultuous political atmosphere in the U.S. Shammi Kapoor, I would argue, brought that same youthful rebellion to India. Before Shammi Kapoor, no actor had ever so deliberately and daringly sought to appeal to the “modern youth” audience on-screen. Before the Shammi revolution, popular actors like Ashok Kumar, Guru Dutt and even Raj Kapoor appealed to a more traditional, elder protagonist who often encountered a modern society—but did not speak for it. Shammi was different.

elvis shammi kapoor car

Both Elvis (left) and Shammi (right) pose with their convertibles, hands on hips and one button too many unbuttoned.

With edgy attire, a boyish charm to mask his sharp tongue and a irreverent eye for the ladies, Shammi burst onto the Bombay scene with never-before-seen sex-appeal. He voiced the thoughts and emotions of a new generation who didn’t play by the rules of their fathers—Shammi flirted shamelessly in his movies, played the drums like a rockstar in his songs, and never failed to bring a sleek pompadour ‘do to the set to balance the party happening in his hips. Before Shammi, such actions would have been downright villainous, reserved only for the drunk antagonist of the film who would never win the pure-hearted girl. But Shammi changed the game.

He oozed that James Dean sense of self-confidence so despised by the older generations and so adored by young women everywhere. Watch his peacock strut in “Baar Baar Dekho” from Chinatown (1962), and the way Mohammed Rafi throws in a suave “Tally ho!” into the mix as Shammi coolly slams his guitar. Those signature hip gyrations would have done the King proud!

Elvis Presley Shammi Kapoor

Elvis Presley and Shammi Kapoor strike similar poses in even more similar outfits. Left: Elvis performing “Jailhouse Rock” in 1957. Right: Shammi Kapoor swinging to “Dilruba Meri Neeta” in Dil Deke Dekho (1959).

The heart of the revolution, of course, lay with the music. Elvis combined his Southern gospel routes with African-American rhythm and blues to create a whole new catchy sound that caught the country by storm. It was a wave that Shammi Kapoor brought to Bombay. Through radical compositions that drew upon rock-and-roll themes, sassy lyrics, and Mohammed Rafi’s energetic and versatile vocals, Shammi Kapoor too changed the face Bollywood music, ushering an era of fusion-inspired hits from “Bolo Bolo Kuch To Bolo” to “Aaja Aaja Main Hoon Pyaar Tera.”

As Shammi Kapoor said in a Times of India interview before his death:

“My style was unique, but it would have come to nothing had it not been for such brilliant music directors like O. P. Nayyar and Shankar-Jaikishan. I was this supremely macho guy and within me lay dormant an incredible energy that was screaming for expression. Luckily for me, my directors sensed the potential in me and allowed me to unleash my creativity. I guess I also had this very innocent way of looking at girls that heightened the romance element in my films.”

Graceland Elvis Presley

My visit to Graceland, home of the King of Rock and Roll. Left: Boarding one of Elvis’ private jets named for his daughter Lisa Marie. Right: Giving the King a little help holding up a gold record!

The truth of the matter is, Shammi Kapoor never said he modeled himself off of Elvis and never mentioned him in any interviews. Although their legacies share some similarities, the two men never met nor made any attempt to do so. The parallels that link their names together are those that we their fans imagined as observers. The late Shammi Kapoor did not achieve fame in an era where concert videos of Elvis could be watched or copies of the King’s films reviewed over and over again. Shammi insisted that all his choreography was extempore, straight from his heart. In fact, the only direct Bollywood copy of an Elvis hit was “Marguerita” (1963) picturised as “Kaun Hai Jo Sapnon Mein Aaya” by Rajendra Kumar in 1968.

So ultimately, perhaps it is an injustice to say that Shammi Kapoor imitated Elvis Presley’s style. After all, many men around the world knew how to shake their hips and puff their hair, but how many could bellow “YAHOO!” to the object of their affection and get away with it?

Perhaps it would be better to call Elvis the Shammi Kapoor of America.

– Mrs. 55

Plagiarism in Hindi Film Music: Is Imitation the Most Sincere Form of Flattery?

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

 R.D. Burman

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

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

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

S.D. Burman

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

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

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

Shankar-Jaikishan

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

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

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

Salil Chowdhury

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

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

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

O.P. Nayyar

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

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

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

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

-Mr. 55