Mera Kuch Saamaan Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Anuradha Patel plays an impetuous and free-spirited woman who haunts her former lover and his current wife with her gift for poetry. in Ijaazat (1987)
Anuradha Patel plays an impetuous and free-spirited woman who haunts her former lover and his current wife with her gift for poetry in Ijaazat (1987).

Released in 1987, Gulzar’s Ijaazat starring Naseeruddin Shah, Rekha, and Anuradha Patel is a film that falls outside of the time period traditionally associated with the “Golden Era” of Hindi cinema. Although we tend to feature films from the 1950s-1970s on this blog, an exception must be made for this film because of its timeless soundtrack composed by R.D. Burman, penned by Gulzar, and sung by Asha Bhonsle. Today, we present the lyrics and English translation to an ever-haunting gem from Ijaazat (1987): meraa kuchh saamaan

Based on the Bengali story Jatugriha by Subodh Ghosh, this film presents the classic love triangle trope often used to excess in Bollywood in a refreshingly subtle and poignant manner that reflects the high caliber of Gulzar’s artistry as a poet-turned-director. The story in this film revolves around the relationships among three main characters: Mahinder (Naseeruddin Shah), Sudha (Rekha), and Maya (Anuradha Patel). Mahinder, a young photographer, has been engaged to his childhood friend Sudha for five years in an arrangement made by his grandfather (Shammi Kapoor). In spite of this arrangement, Mahinder falls passionately in love with the impulsive and free-spirited Maya, but he is too afraid to confide the truth to his grandfather. When pressured to go through with the wedding, the conflicted Mahinder reveals his true feelings to Sudha. However, when Maya suddenly disappears from his life, Mahinder decides to honor his grandfather’s wishes and marries Sudha after all. Even at the end of the film, a lingering question remains: why would Sudha agree to marry a husband who did not truly love her?

Rekha struggles deeply as she is forced to grapple with her husband's history with Anuradha Patel and its effects on their marriage in Ijaazat (1987)
Rekha offers an understated performance as a vulnerable wife forced to grapple with her husband’s history with an ex-lover and its devastating effects on their marriage in Ijaazat (1987)

As the companionship between Sudha and Mahinder begins to grow, the underlying presence of Maya as an unwanted third party in their marriage inevitably leads to marital discord. Mahinder’s unresolved feelings for Maya and Sudha’s awareness of these feelings gradually creates tension that escalates once Maya re-appears in their lives and rekindles a friendship with Mahinder through letters, phone calls, and poems. Mahinder indulges Maya’s attention-seeking actions at each opportunity, deepening the rift that already exists between him and his wife. Despite many efforts to adjust to the very tangible presence of Maya in their lives, Sudha comes to realize that she will never be able to live happily with Mahinder and decides to walk away from her marriage. The turmoil and tragedy of this film goes on to culminate in a conclusion that is surprisingly positive and heart-warming–without completely spoiling the ending here, I will just say that fans of Shashi Kapoor will not be disappointed!

In spite of its portrayal of a relatively ordinary story, Ijazaat stands out from other films in the same vein because of its evocative dialogues, nuanced character development, and, of course, the beautiful music and poetry found in its soundtrack. In the context of the film, meraa kuchh saamaan is a poem addressed to Mahinder from Maya that captures the essence of their troubled relationship with remarkable finesse and sophistication. In this poem, Maya asks Mahinder to return her things back to her–these requests are not for the return of physical objects but rather for memories of their time spent together. Gulzar’s evocative poetry in an unusual free verse format earned him the National Film Award and Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist in 1988, while Asha Bhonsle won the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for her soulful rendition of this song.

a
Anuradha Patel’s character is unique to the version of Jatugriha that is presented in Ijaazat (1987), as the original story depicted the woes of a troubled marriage between a husband and wife without the “other woman” character.

Those of you familiar with this classic already may have wondered why Gulzar chose to use the number 116 in the last stanza of this song to describes the number of moonlit nights spent together by the protagonists. Some have suggested that 116 nights may indicate that Maya and Mahinder were involved in a relationship four months in duration (with four new moons), while others have suggested it is a reference to the number of phases of the moon found in ancient Indian literature. Interestingly, when asked in an interview about the interpretation of this number, Gulzar said: It’s not the number which is important, it’s important that somebody kept the count of the moonlit nights of which they spent together.”  This number went on to carry special significance for Gulzar as he recounts in a 2005 interview that he has written lyrics for exactly 116 of R.D. Burman’s songs during his career. 

Lyrics and Translation:

mera kuchh saamaan tumhare paas paDaa hai
Some of my belongings remain with you.
saavan ke kuchh bhiige bhiige din rakhe hai.n
A few wet monsoon days,
aur mere ek khat me.n lipaTii raat paDii hai
and a night folded into one of my letters.
voh raat bujhaa do, meraa voh saamaan lauTaa do
Extinguish that night, and return my things to me.

patjhaD hai kuchh, hai na?
It was autumn then, no?
patjhaD me.n kuchh patto.n kii girane kii aahaT
The rustling whispers of leaves falling in autumn.
kaano.n me.n ek baar pahan ke lauT aayii thii
I had brought back those whispers once by wearing them as earrings.
patjhaD kii voh shaakh abhii tak kaa.np rahii hai
A branch of autumn still trembles in the breeze.
voh shaakh giraa do, meraa voh saamaan lauTaa do
Make that branch fall down, and return my things to me.

ek akelii chhatrii me.n jo aadhe-aadhe bhiig rahe the
When we both became drenched in the rain under a single umbrella,
aadhe giile aadhe sukhe, sukhaa to mai.n le aayii thii
half of our things became wet. I had brought the dry half back with me that day.
giilaa man shayad bistar ke paas paDaa ho
But perhaps my drenched heart remained next to the bed.
voh bhijvaa do, meraa voh saamaan lauTaa do
Send that back, and return my things to me.

ek sau solaah chaa.nd kii raate.n, ek tumhaare kaa.ndhe kaa til
One hundred and sixteen moonlit nights, and the single mole on your shoulder.
giillii maha.ndii kii khushbuu, jhuuTh-muuTh ke shikve kuchh
The fragrance of wet henna, and some fake tantrums.
jhuuTh-muuTh ke vaade bhii sab yaad karaa duu.n?
Shall I remind you of all the false promises too?
sab bhijvaa do, meraa voh saamaan lauTaa do
Send all of them back, and return my things to me.

ek ijaazat de do bas, jab isko dafnaauu.ngii
When I bury these these things, just grant me the permission
mai.n bhii vahii.n so jaauu.ngii
To lay myself to sleep among them.
mai.n bhii vahii.n so jaauu.ngii
To lay myself to sleep among them.

Glossary

saamaan: belongings, things; saavan: monsoon; bhiigaa: drenched, wet; khat: letter; lipaTnaa: to wrap, fold; bujhaa denaa: to extinguish; lauTaa denaa: to return; patjhaD: autumn; pattaa: leaf; giranaa: to fall; aahaT: whisper, faint noise; pahanna: to wear; shaakh: branch; giraa denaa: to make something fall; chhatrii: umbrella; aadhaa: half; giilaa: wet; sukhaa: dry; bistar: bed; bhijvaanaa: to have something sent; ek sau solaah: 116; kaa.ndh: shoulder; til: mole; maha.ndii: henna: khushbuu: fragrance; jhuuTh-muuTh: fake, false; shikvaa: complaint, tantrum; vaadaa: promise: yaad karaa denaa: to remind; ijaazat: permission; dafnaanaa: to bury: so jaanaa: to sleep.


In 2005, Asha Bhonsle in collaboration with the Kronos Quartet reprised several of her old songs as a tribute to her late husband R.D. Burman in the album You’ve Stolen My Heart: Songs from R.D. Burman’s Bollywood. In recognition of her work on this album, Asha received her second Grammy nomination in the category of Best Contemporary World Music. When asked to name her favorite song from the album, she said it was meraa kuchh saamaan because it “is very close to my heart as it transports me back into time when I was with Pancham.” (Source).

 -Mr. 55
Advertisements

Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi Shikwa Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Directed by the renowned lyricist Gulzar, Aandhi stirred up quite the controversy after the film was released in 1975. Shortly after the release of Aandhi, India found itself in the midst of a national state of emergency instituted by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in response to the deep-seated political unrest and instability that had emerged across the nation. The 21-month Emergency of 1975-1977 is often viewed as one of the darkest eras in the political history of post-independence India: corruption, censorship, and the suspension of civil liberties threatened to compromise the basic principles upon which the nation’s democracy had been built. In this context, it’s not surprising that Aandhi was banned by the government during the Emergency on the grounds that the film’s protagonist bore an inappropriate resemblance to Mrs. Gandhi. As a result, certain scenes depicting the protagonist drinking and smoking were re-shot and an extra scene in which the protagonist tells her father that she idolizes Indira Gandhi (“ye hii to mere ideal hai.n“) was included to separate the film from real life. Although the parallels in appearance, mannerisms, and even the film’s title (Aandhi, meaning storm, rhymes with Gandhi) are undeniable, Gulzar explains in an old Filmfare interview that he never intended to base this film on the life of Indira Gandhi:

“Contrary to popular opinion, my story wasn’t based on Indira Gandhi’s life. It had nothing to do with Indira-ji. She was just the role model for the lady politician. Frankly, who better could there be? She was such a dynamic lady.”

SuchitraSen_Aandhi_IndiraGandhi
Suchitra Sen tells her father that she idolizes Indira Gandhi in a flashback scene that was added to Aandhi (1975) after the film was initially banned by the government.

With inspiration from a novel titled Kali Aandhi by Hindi author Kamaleshwar, Aandhi (1975) depicts the story of Aarti Devi (portrayed by Suchitra Sen) as she struggles to balance her professional ambitions with her quest for personal gratification while navigating through the volatile world of Indian politics. While traveling on the campaign trail, Aarti is caught by surprise when she runs into her estranged husband JK (portrayed by Sanjeev Kumar), who happens to be the owner of the hotel where she is staying currently. Nine years ago, the call to public service compelled Aarti to eschew her domestic duties and leave her husband and daughter in order to pursue her dreams of becoming a politician. After their unexpected reunion, Aarti and JK cultivate a tender but awkward relationship as they reminisce about memories from their past and come to realize that they still have unresolved feelings for each other after all these years. Through an artistic use of flashbacks, we learn about the development of Aarti and JK’s early romance, the disapproval of their marriage by Aarti’s father, and the eventual breakdown of their relationship. Their domestic conflict evolves into an Abhimaan-esque clash of egos and personalities, and they eventually decide to part ways after several failed efforts to maintain a happy marriage.

Su
Suchitra Sen sports Indira Gandhi’s trademark silver streak in Aandhi (1975).

Ultimately, Aandhi illustrates the complexities of an evolving relationship between two individuals who share mutual respect and affection for each other but are unable to reconcile their differences to converge seamlessly on the same path. In addition to providing a mature and realistic view of human relationships, Aandhi sheds light on the unique challenges that confront Indian women in positions of power as they attempt to balance their professional and personal lives. Although Aarti wins her election at the conclusion of the film, this victory is made bittersweet as she grapples with an unfortunate reality: professional success and domestic bliss were often mutually exclusive for Indian women of her time.

SK
The Martand Sun Temple near Anantnag, Kashmir serves as a gorgeous backdrop for this classic song from Aandhi (1975).

In addition to Gulzar’s skillful direction and the captivating performances delivered by Suchitra Sen (her diction is excused!) and Sanjeev Kumar, Aandhi is remembered most often today for its soundtrack of stunning songs composed by R.D. Burman using Gulzar’s poetry. Each Lata-Kishore duet is a gem and serves to illustrate a different facet of Aarti and JK’s relationship in the film. In particular, the classic “tere binaa zindagii se koii” is a tender and wistful expression of regret and lost love. Without the frills of an elevated vocabulary, this song boldly questions: can living life without the one you love be considered a life at all?

Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi Shikwa: Lyrics and Translation

tere binaa zindagii se koii shikvaa to nahii.n, shikvaa nahii.n
I have no complaints against a life without you.
tere binaa zindagii bhii lekin zindagii to nahii.n, zindagii nahii.n
Yet a life without you is not a life at all.

kaash aisaa ho tere qadamo.n se
I wish that, from your footsteps,
chunke manzil chale.n aur kahii.n, duur kahii.n
we could find a new destination; somewhere else, somewhere far.
tum gar saath ho manzilo.n kii kamii to nahii.n
With you by my side, there is no shortage of destinations for us to reach.

SK: suno Aartii, ye jo phuulo.n kii bele.n nazar aatii hai.n na?
Listen Aarti, do you see those things that look like flower vines?
darasal ye bele.n nahii.n, arabii me.n aayate.n likhii.n hai.n.
In fact, they are not vines. They are verses written in Arabic.
ise din ke vaqt dekhnaa chaahiye, bilkul saaf nazar aatii hai.n.
We should see them during the day. They can be read very clearly.
din ke vaqt yah saaraa paanii se bharaa rahtaa hai.
During the day, this whole place is filled with water. 
din ke vaqt jab ye phuvaaare

During the day, when these fountains…

SS:  din kii baat kyo.n kar rahe ho? kahaa.n aa paauu.ngii mai.n din me.n?
Why do you keep talking about the day? How will I come here during the day?

SK: yah jo chaand hai na? ise raat main dekhnaa.
Do you see this Moon? Watch it at night.
yah din me.n nahii.n nikaltaa.

It does not come out during the day. 

SS: yah to roz nikaltaa hogaa.
But the Moon comes out every night.

SK: haa.n, lekin biich me.n amaavas aa jaatii hai.
Yes, but the dark fortnight comes in between.
vaise to amaavas pandrah din kii hotii hai.
The dark fortnight usually lasts 15 days.
lekin is baar bahut lambii thii.
But this time, it felt much longer.

SS: nau baras lambii thii na?
It felt as if it were nine years long, no?

jii me.n aataa hai tere daaman me.n
I yearn to seek refuge in your bosom
sar chhupake ham rote rahe.n, rote rahe.n
to hide my face as I continue to weep.
terii bhii aa.nkho.n me.n aa.nsuuo.n kii namii to nahii.n
Are your eyes not clouded by the mist of fresh tears, too?

tum jo kah do to aaj kii raat
If you say so tonight,
chaa.nd Duubegaa nahii.n, raat ko rok lo
even the Moon will not wane. Please stop the night from passing!
raat kii baat hai, aur zindagii baaqii to nahii.n
We only have tonight, for the rest of our lives will not be shared together.

tere binaa zindagii se koii shikvaa to nahii.n, shikvaa nahii.n
I have no complaints against a life without you.
tere binaa zindagii bhii lekin zindagii to nahii.n, zindagii nahii.n
Yet a life without you is not a life at all.

*Female lines in red are sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Male lines in green are sung by Kishore Kumar.  The dialogue takes place between Sanjeev Kumar (SK) and Suchitra Sen (SS). 

Glossary

shikvaa: complaint; qadam: footstep; chunnaa: to select; manzil: destination; kamii: shortage, dearth; bele.n: vines; darasal: in fact; aayate.n: verses; phuvaare: fountains; amaavas: dark fortnight; pandrah: fifteen; baras: year; daaman: lap, bosom; aa.nsuu: tear; namii: moistness; chaa.nd: Moon. 

SK
After rumors circulate regarding her nightly meetings with Sanjeev Kumar, Suchitra Sen reveals to the public that she has been meeting her estranged husband in Aandhi (1975).

Did you know that this song was based on a Bengali melody originally composed by R.D. Burman for a Durga Puja album in the 1970s? Listen to “jete jete pathe holo deri” to hear this melody sung by the composer himself! When Gulzar heard R.D. Burman working on this song with Bengali lyricist Gauriprasanna Mazumdar, he enjoyed the song so much that he wrote Hindi lyrics for the tune so it could be included in Aandhi. When Gulzar inserted the iconic “nau baras lambii thii, na?” dialogue in between antaras of this song, he reports in the same interview that R.D. Burman was not pleased:

“So we kept the original tune for the mukhda, and he composed something else for the antara. But when I inserted some dialogue into the lyrics, Pancham scolded me, “’Do you have any idea of sur and taal? You cut in with your dialogue anywhere you want. It’s not done!”’ But we did it!”

They certainly did something right, as this song has become immortalized as one of Hindi film music’s most treasured creations. Thanks to our reader Raju for requesting this post! Until next time…

-Mr. 55

The Art of Urdu in Hindi Films: Losing A Poetic Legacy

Jan Nisar Akhtar and Sahir Ludhianvi
Legendary Bollywood lyricists Jan Nisar Akhtar (far left) and Sahir Ludhianvi (left center) enjoy a birthday celebration.

The language of Hindi films has evolved since the first talkie Alam Ara in 1931, based on a Parsi play.  The Golden Age of Hindi cinema that blossomed with the studio era of the 1950s and ebbed by the late 1970s is one of India’s greatest artistic achievements. During that time, Hindi films could hardly be called Hindi films. Rather, Hindustani, a mixture of Urdu and Hindi, was the lingua franca of the silver-screen—a reflection of a country unified by a fascinatingly diverse heritage with linguistic influences from Sanskrit, Farsi, Bengali, Arabic, Panjabi, and a myriad of others.

To anyone unfamiliar with the distinction between Urdu and Hindi—there are no hard and fast rules. What many call Hindi, others would call Urdu, but most everyone can appreciate their structural and grammatical similarity. Any attempt to divide them is based on the root origins of the vocabulary intermingled with what is generally a highly homologous syntax. “Urdu” vocabulary tends to draw upon words of Farsi or occasionally Arabic and Turkish origin and “Hindi” vocabulary is generally derived from Sanskrit or regional dialects. But don’t be fooled into thinking any word “belongs” to another language (or those of a particular religion)—Hindustani may vary speaker to speaker, community to community, but the language is all-encompassing.

Veteran Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi (left) with his daughter actress Shabhana Azmi (center), who married contemporary lyricist Javed Akhtar, and wife Shaukat Azmi (right).
Veteran Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi (left) with his daughter actress Shabhana Azmi (center), who married contemporary lyricist Javed Akhtar, and wife Shaukat Azmi (right).

The impact of Urdu in the Indian mainstream can be no better summed up by the famous words of our freedom struggle: “Inquilaab zindabaad!” or “Sarfaroshii kii tamanna ab hamaare dil mei.N hai.” Controversial arguments have been made relating the decline in popularity to links with Pakistan, which adopted Urdu as its official language. Yet in Hindi films for decades, the legacy of Urdu poetry continued to flourish in India as the pinnacle of culture and expression.

Indeed, despite enormous gaps in literacy across the country, some of the most popular songs of that era amazingly contain the most complex Urdu-based vocabulary. Perhaps one reason is that the Hindi film song-writers themselves were trained in the art of Urdu poetry. Many of the finest and most successful poets of Hindi film: Sahir Ludhianvi, Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, Gulzar, Hasrat Jaipuri, Shakeel Badayuni, Kaifi Azmi, Jan Nisar Akhtar, and Majrooh Sultanpuri to name but a few, began their careers in Urdu mushairaas, or poetic symposiums.

Gulzar lyricist
Record-breaking winner of 11 Filmfare awards for best lyrics, poet Gulzar (right) stands with actor Amitabh Bacchan (left) for whom he wrote hits from the dialogue of Anand (1971) to the modern dance number “Kajra Re” from Bunty Aur Babli (2006)

It would seem more than mere coincidence that these artists came to dominate film lyrics. Like many arenas, the Bombay film industry was an old boy network: Sahir Ludhianvi for example was close friends with Jan Nisar Akhtar, who became in-laws with Kaifi Azmi, who was a prominent member of the pre-partition Progressive Writer’s Movement with Majrooh Sultanpuri. And the music directors who often hand-picked their lyricists and made recommendations to film producers were also steeped in similar artistic traditions. Veteran composer Naushad grew up in the heart of Lucknowi culture, and Madan Mohan spent his childhood in the Middle East, eventually getting his break by joining the All India Radio in Lucknow. Yet connections in the film industry account for only part of its success—audiences had to maintain demand as well.

From the epic qawwali “Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai” from Barsaat Ki Raat (1961), the lilting ode, “Aap Ki Nazron Mein Samjha” from Anpadh 1962), to the playful duet “Deewana Hua Badal” from Kashmir Ki Kali (1964), Urdu in films was remarkably accessible—holding a place for any viewer in every genre. True, it is unlikely the entire audience understood each word in those songs. However, in this manner, film and music could be educational for those who did not–a unique way of preserving the culture they reflected back on. As parallel cinema diva Shabana Azmi aptly quipped,

“If you compare today’s songs with the songs of the 1960s and 1970s, then definitely today’s songs are according to the demand. But if you see, Hindi films used to protect the Urdu language as they used it, but it is slowly dying and I feel bad for it.”

The same extended to the dialogues of films themselves–and I don’t refer only to genre films like Pakeezah (1971) or Mughal-e-Azam (1961). Pure Urdu was ubiquitous in classic Hindi cinema, wafting equally through the sets of an urban crime drama and meandering through a village epic. The importance and sheer beauty of Urdu poetry in dialogues is highlighted in one of the most famous film speech’s of yesteryear. The stirring climax of Daag (1973) culminates in a speech given by Rajesh Khanna’s character for an award bestowed to him by his community. Notice how in this and so many other scripts, Urdu is an inextricable poetic catalyst for the Hindi speech:

Rajesh Khanna’s Speech from Daag (1973):

Aap.
Aap kya jaane mujhko samajhte hai.N kyaa?
Mai.N to kuch bhi nahii.N

“You.
I do not know what you make of me
For I am nothing

Is qadar pyaar itnii baDe bheed ka mai.N rakhuu.Ngaa kya?
Is qadar pyaar rakhne ke qaabil nahii.N
Mera dil, merii jaan…
Mujhko itni mohabbat na do, dosto.
Soch lo dosto…
Is qadar pyaar kaise sambhaaluu.Ngaa mai.N?
Mai.N to kuch bhi nahii.N

How can I carry such love from so great a crowd?
I am not worthy of such great love
My heart, my life…
Do not give me so much love, my friends
Think instead.
How will I bear such great love?
For I am nothing.

Pyaar.
Pyaar ek shakhs ko agar mil sake to badii cheez hai zindagi ke liye
Aadmi ko magar yeh bhi milta nahii.n
Yeh bhi milta nahii.n
Mujhko itni mohabbat milii aap se,
Mujhko itni mohabbat milii aap se…
Yeh mera haq nahii.N, merii taqdiir hai.
Mai.N zamaane ki nazro.N mei.N kuch bhi na thaa.
Merii ankho.N mei.N ab tak woh tasveer hai

Love.
If a man can receive love, it is a great thing in life
Yet many men do not even receive this
They do not even receive this
I have received so much love from you,
I have received so much love from you
This is not my right, it is my fate
I was once nothing in the eyes of the world
And in my eyes, that image remains

Izzate.N, shauharate.N, chaahate.N, ulfate.N, koi cheez duniya mei.N rehtii nahii.N
Aaj mai.N huu.N jahaa.N, kal koi aur thaa.
Yeh bhi ek daur hai, woh bhi ek daur thaa…

Respect, fame, desire, love, nothing remains in the world permanently
Today where I am, yesterday there was someone else
This is one generation, that was another generation…

Aaj itni mohabbat na do dosto.
Ki mere kal kii khatir ka kuch bhi rahe
Aaj ka pyaar thoDa bacha kar rakho
Aaj ka pyaar thoDa bacha kar rakho, mere kal ke liye

Today do not give me so much love, my friends
So that there may be some left for me tomorrow
Today, save some of that love
Today save some of that love for my days ahead

Kal.
Kal jo gumnaam hai
Kal jo sunsaan hai
Kal jo anjaan hai
Kal jo viiraan hai

Tomorrow.
Tomorrow which is anonymous
Tomorrow which is silent
Tomorrow which is unknown
Tomorrow which may be barren

Main to kuch bhi nahii.N huu.N
Mai.N to kuch bhi nahii.n”

I am nothing at all
I am nothing at all.”

With every thoughtfully chosen word, the pervasive Urdu “qaaf” is pronounced as delicately as the gentle “khe,” and the lines are delivered with the poetic overtures of a song lyric. These dialogues were written with poetry in mind, and indeed many song lyricists eventually took to writing entire film scripts (the script of Daag was written by immortal Urdu poet Akhtar ul Iman of Waqt and Gumraah fame).

Immortal lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri (right) with music director R.D. Burman and film director Nasir Hussain at a 1983 recording session.
Famed lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri (right) with music director R.D. Burman (center) and film director Nasir Hussain (left) at a 1983 recording session.

It would be impossible to summarize the incredible work of these poets in one post (hence why we’ve devoted much of our blog to it!). A small sampling of Filmfare award-winning lyrics are below:

“Chaudhvin ka chaand ho, ya aftaab ho? Jo bhi ho tum khudaa ki qasam laa-jawaab ho…” –Shakeel Badayuni (Chaudhvin Ka Chand 1961)

“Chaahuu.Ngaa mai.N tujhe saa.Nj saveN.re. Phir bhi kabhi ab naam ko tere awaaz mai.N na doo.Ngaa…”--Majrooh Sultanpuri (Dosti 1965)

“Bahaaro.N phool barsaao, meraa mehboob aayaa hai. Hawaao.N raagini gaao, meraa mehboob aaya hai…”--Hasrat Jaipuri (Suraj 1967)

“Kabhi kabhi mere dil mei.N khayaal aataa hai ki jaise tujhko baanaayaa gaya hai mere liye…” –Sahir Ludhianvi (Kabhi Kabhi 1977)

“Aanewaalaa pal jaanewaalaa hai. Ho sake to is mei.N zindagii biTaado pal jo yeh jaanewalaa hai…” — Gulzar (Gol Maal 1980)

I was fortunate to have the chance to learn to read and write in Urdu from my grandparents who moved to New Delhi after the partition of Punjab. But this opportunity is so rare that I found after my grandfather passed away, I know few people to whom I can still write in Nasta’liq. Urdu is a language of romance—more beautiful than French and Italian, and more intricate than superficial political divides. The legacy of Urdu will continue to add to the allure and nostalgia of old films for generations to come. For the loss of Urdu is more than the mere loss of vocabulary. Without Urdu in Hindi films, we have lost our own andaaz–the manner with which we once communicated our thoughts and feelings, our decorum, and a rich, meaningful ornamentation in expressing ourselves that can never be replaced.

-Mrs. 55

Tum Pukar Lo Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Waheeda Rehman Tum Pukar Lo
Waheeda Rehman hesitates at the bottom of a staircase leading to the man she loves in Khamoshi (1968).

For our next post we present the full lyrics and translation to the hauntingly beautiful “Tum Pukar Lo” from Khamoshi (1968). This song easily makes my list of most powerful and stirring picturizations from Bollywood. The stark black-and-white imagery highlights the emptiness of space, of shadows, and symbolic barriers. Most of all, the graceful shots that linger longer than action alone permits serve to create a new environment–a world of waiting where time slows down and the confines of the hospital become both escapist and imprisoning.

I loved and still love the opening dolly shot so much that I attempted to recreate it in my final film project junior year of Harvard. The shot is transformative–literally taking the audience from behind bars to the free world, and Waheeda from the restraint of her conscience to the new life that beckons her above the staircase. A gentle wind miraculously flows down from Dharmendra’s balcony, through the barren corridor, down the grand stairs, and ultimately through Waheeda’s saari palluu giving rise to a simple, evocative image of a woman drawn by a force greater than any danger: love.

Waheeda Rehman Tum Pukar Lo Khamoshi
I LOVE the classic “frame-within-a-frame” of the mis-en-scene. Not how the lighting in this sequence informs the trajectory of the characters–recall that prior to Waheeda’s discouragement, the welcoming light source came from the balcony (now shrouded in obscurity), indicating a change in both destination and mindset.

I’ve broken down the dolly shot into 3 parts with my storyboard sketches to give you a full picture of how a shot like this is pulled off. The timing and fluidity of the dolly movement (and the pull focus) must be perfectly coordinated with the pace of the actresses walk as the camera additionally swivels on its own axis tracking her ascent up the stairs. I can only say after having attempting to do this shot myself, that it’s a headache but the effect is absolutely wonderful.

Ultimately, Khamoshi is a film about identity and the silence caused by its loss through love. The misappropriated gazes in the film that lead characters in and out of a world of insanity is moving and tragic–and the audience too becomes implicit in that beautiful slippage of reality through Kamal Bose’s stunning cinematography, which won him the Filmfare award in 1968! Like Khamoshi’s characters, the camera lingers in each constructedly bereft space, longing for something more.

TumPukarLo1
The shot begins to the side of the staircase, a literal behind-bars view of Waheeda’s ascent.
tumpukarlo2
The camera swivels midway through the dolly pull at a low-angle as the rails of the staircase form a figurative cage around the actress.
The dolly track at last ends at the base of the staircase, holding the shot after Waheeda leaves the stairs, underscoring the incredible emptiness of the space she inhabits.
The dolly track at last ends at the base of the staircase, holding the shot after Waheeda leaves the stairs, underscoring the incredible emptiness of the rigid space she inhabits–and her escape from it.

You won’t see much of Dharmendra, the mystery man and asylum inpatient, who sings this song. Instead you see only his outline against the balcony of their confinement. And of course, anything else would be imperfect–while this, this unfulfilled gaze of love, is precisely the poetic complement to the yearning expressed in Gulzar’s heartfelt lyrics. This song may be my favorite Hemant Kumar solo with a melody that hangs in the air long after the song is finished. Whether or not it beats Rajesh Khanna lip-syncing “Woh Shaam Kuch Ajeeb Thi” from the same film is up to you to decide!

tum-pukar-lo-03 Dharmendra
Dharmendra passes sleepless nights thinking of the beautiful woman he lost in Khamoshi (1968).

Without further ado, see for yourself why this song has become immortal. Follow along with the video here, and we hope you enjoy the lyrics and full English translation to “Tum Pukar Lo” below!

Tum Pukar Lo Lyrics and Translation:

Tum pukaar lo
Call out to me
Tumhaaraa intezaar hai
I am waiting for you
Tum pukar lo
Call out to me
Khwaab chun rahe hai.N raat beqaraar hai
I am sifting through dreams while the night remains restless
Tumhaaraa intezaar hai
I am waiting for you
Tum pukaar lo
Call out to me

HonTh se liye hue dil ki baat hum
The words in my heart have escaped from my lips
Jaagte rahe.nge aur kitne raat hum?
How many more nights will I remain awake like this?
Mukhtasar si baat hai: tumse pyaar hai
The matter is simple: I love you

Tumhaaraa intezaar hai
I am waiting for you
Tum pukaar lo
Call out to me

Dil bahal to jaayegaa is khayaal se
My heart will be content with this thought
Haal mil gaya tumhaaraa apne haal se
That my well-being becomes yours
Raat yeh qaraar ki beqaraar hai
This restful night remains restless

Tumhaaraa intezaar hai
I am waiting for you
Tum pukaar lo
Call out to me

Glossary:

pukaarnaa: to call; intezaar karna: to wait; khvaab: dream; beqaraar: restless; honTh: lips; mukhtasar: brief, short; bahal: content; khayaal: thought; haal: well-being, state; qaraar: restful, quiet

My favorite line of this song is by far “Mukhtasar si baat hai, tum se pyaar hai!” So romantic and God, how I love an understatedly accurate pronunciation of the Urdu khe! However, I’m afraid this is one of those cases in which no matter how you translate it, the beauty of the line is just lost in the bluntness of English.

Mrs. 55

Jaane Kaise Sapnon Mein Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Two Bharat Ratnas come together: Pt. Ravi Shankar and Lata Mangeshkar

Today, we present a guest blog entry by one of our favorite readers Pothik Chatterjee:

“The classical sun of India has set and a darkness has come over. There is no artist who spread Indian music this rapidly across the world.”

–Lata Mangeshkar, on the passing of Ravi Shankar

Legendary Indian classical musician and composer Pandit Ravi Shankar, passed away recently on December 11, 2012 at the age of 92 near his home in Encinitas, California. Shankar, a winner of the prestigious Bharat Ratna award, was a proponent of  “world music” before the term became fashionable in the field. He is most famous in the West for his collaborations with violin virtuouso Yehudi Menuhin, minimalist composer Phillip Glass, and Beatles singer George Harrison. Shankar’s legacy is a testament to the fact that truly great music can overcome cultural barriers and achieve appreciation on a universal scale.

In 2006, I received the opportunity to hear Pandit-ji and his daughter Anoushka Shankar perform live in Washington D.C.  It was a sublime musical experience that I cherish fondly to this day. Even as a child, I have memories of watching Satyajit Ray’s film, Pather Panchali (1955)  and being moved to tears by the touching story of a Bengali family in rural India. The soundtrack that Shankar composed for Ray’s film and the entire Apu Trilogy was so powerful and emotionally stirring that it could be regarded as one of the film’s major characters in itself. Shankar also composed the soundtrack for Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi, earning him a coveted Oscar nomination.

Pt. Ravi Shankar teaches George Harrison on the sitar.

It is less well-known that that Pandit-ji also composed a handful of soundtracks in the arena of Bollywood cinema, including Anuradha (1960), Godaan (1963) and Meera (1979). As a tribute to Ravi Shankar’s contributions to Hindi film music, we provide the lyrics and English translation for jaane kaise sapno.n me.n from Anuradha (1960). Directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, this film is based on a short story by Sachin Bhowmick that was originally inspired by Gustave Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary. The film tells the story of  Anuradha (played by Leela Naidu), who goes against her father’s wishes by marrying an idealistic doctor (Balraj Sahni). Anuradha sacrifices her singing career to move to the village with her husband, and the film depicts her ensuing feelings of marginalization and entrapment.

The soundtrack to this film is especially memorable for Ravi Shankar’s collaboration with Lata Mangeshkar. Lata navigates effortlessly through the difficult classical compositions of this soundtrack, matching Shankar’s musical genius every step of the way. In this particular song, Shankar crafts a pleasant melody based on raga Tilak Shyam, a hybrid creation of Pandit-ji himself that fuses the evening ragas Tilak Kamod and Shyam Kalyan. Appropriately enough, the picturization here depicts the beautiful and expressive Leela Naidu walking with Balraj Sahni through a grove of coconut trees in the evening with the sun setting behind them.  As a joyous and exuberant raga, Tilak Shyam is often performed at a fast tempo, evoking a sense of romantic delirium that is also reflected in this song’s lyrics penned by Shailendra.

Leela Naidu makes her debut as a Bollywood heroine in Anuradha (1960)

Even diehard fans of vintage Hindi cinema may not recognize the name Leela Naidu. Born to an Indian father and Irish-French mother, Naidu received an elite education in Switzerland and began her training as an actress under the renowned French director Jean Renoir. In 1954, she was named Miss India and made Vogue magazine’s top ten list of most beautiful women in the world. In 1960, Naidu made her Bollywood debut in Anuradha. However, despite her beauty and competence as an actress, she failed to achieve success in the Bollywood industry. There are some interesting parallels between Shankar and Naidu’s experiences in Hindi cinema: the Western exposure and upbringing of both artists alienated them as outsiders in some ways, and this may have prevented them from reaching their full potential in the industry. Perhaps they could only be fully appreciated by the classes, and not the masses of Bollywood fans.

On the other hand, Ravi Shankar did command immense respect from the music directors and singers in the Hindi film world. Such was his aura that when music director Ravi (of Chaudhvin ka Chand fame) entered the film industry, he happily gave up the last part of his name out of reverence. Initially, he was called Ravi Shankar but he did not want to be confused with Pandit-ji.

To conclude, I’ll leave you with an interesting tidbit of controversy about Ravi Shankar and Lata Mangeshkar that originated from their work together during the recordings for Anuradha. Because Lata had failed to show up to one of her recording sessions for the this film without prior notice, tensions flared between these two legendary artists. Years later, Ravi Shankar returned to mainstream Hindi cinema in 1979 to compose the music of Gulzar’s directorial venture Meera. In place of Bollywood’s reigning playback queen, Vani Jairam sang all the compositions on this soundtrack, and she even received a Filmfare Award for her work! Clearly, it doesn’t always pay to be a diva…

-Pothik Chatterjee (@pothik on Twitter)

Jaane Kaise Sapnon Mein: Lyrics and Translation

jaane kaise sapno.n me.n kho gayii.n a.nkhiiyaa.n?
Who knows in which dreams my eyes have become lost?
mai.n to huu.n jaagii, morii so gayii.n a.nkhiyaa.n
I am awake, yet my eyes have fallen asleep.

ajab diivaanii bhayii, mose a.njaanii bhayii
My eyes have become wondrously mad and unfamiliar to me.
pal me.n parayii dekho ho gayii.n a.nkhiiyaa.n
in a moment, my own eyes have turned into strangers.
mai.n to huu.n jaagii, morii so gayii.n a.nkhiyaa.n
I am awake, yet my eyes have gone to sleep.

barsii yah kaisii dhaaraa, kaa.npe tan-man saaraa
Such a torrent has rained upon me that my entire body and soul is quivering.
ra.ng se a.ng bhigo gayii.n a.nkhiyaa.n
Along with my body, my eyes have become soaked in color.
mai.n to huu.n jaagii, morii so gayii.n a.nkhiyaa.n
I am awake, yet my eyes have gone to sleep.

man ujiyaaraa chhaayaa, jag ujiyaaraa chhayaa
When my mind was illuminated, the world lit up.
jag-mag diip sanjo gayii.n a.nkhiyaa.n
The glimmering candles in my eyes have become enshrined.
mai.n to huu.n jaagii, morii so gayii.n a.nkhiyaa.n
I am awake, yet my eyes have gone to sleep.

koii man bhaa gayaa, jaaduu vah chalaa gayaa
Someone has pleased my mind; he has cast his magic upon me.
man ke do motiyaa.n piro gayii.n a.nkhiyaa.n
The two pearls of my mind have been joined together as my eyes.
mai.n to huu.n jaagii, morii so gayii.n a.nkhiyaa.n
I am awake, yet my eyes have gone to sleep.

jaane kaise sapno.n me.n kho gayii.n a.nkhiyaa.n?
Who knows in which dreams my eyes have become lost?

Glossary:

sapnaa: dream; kho jaanaa: to become lost; a.nkhiiyaa.n: eyes; morii: my, an archaic form of merii; jaagii: awake; so jaanaa: to go to sleep; ajab: strange, wondrous; diivaanaa: mad, crazy; mose: from/to me, an archaic form of mujhse; anjaanii: unknown, unfamiliar; paraayaa: stranger, foreign; barasnaa: to rain; dhaaraa: torrent, tide; kaa.npnaa: to quiver; tan-man: body and soul; a.ng: body; bhigo jaanaa: to become soaked; ujiyaaraa chhanaa: to be illuminated, to light up; jag-mag: glimmering; diip: candle; sanjo jaanaa: to become enshrined; man bhaanaa: to please the mind; jaaduu chalaanaa: to cast magic; motii: pearl; piro jaanaa: to be joined together.

Leela Naidu experiences her first love with Balraj Sahni in Anuradha (1960)
Leela Naidu experiences her first love with Balraj Sahni in Anuradha (1960)