Sansaar Se Bhaage Phirte Ho Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Meena Kumari stars as an enchanting courtesan in Chitralekha (1964)

Sahir Ludhianvi’s lyrical genius as an Urdu poet is widely known, but his poetry in pure Hindi is considerably less prolific. While Sahir churned out gem after gem of Urdu shayari in films such as Taj Mahal and Gumraah, his output in pure Hindi is limited to a handful of films. Sahir’s first foray into the field of Hindi poetry occurred in the soundtrack for Chitralekha (1964), a film directed by Kidar Sharma based on a novel by the same name written by Bhagawati Charan Verma in 1934. The story revolves around the protagonist Chitralekha (played by Meena Kumari), a widowed courtesan who seduces men to their doom with her beauty in the court of King Chandragupta Maurya. Prince Bijgupt (played by Pradeep Kumar) is one of her many admirers, and his lust for Chitralekha prevents him from fulfilling his royal duties. Kumar Giri (played by Ashok Kumar) is a conflicted holy man whose spirituality wavers when faced with the temptation of Chitralekha’s physical charms. Overall, the film questions the philosophical significance of sin and virtue by tracing Chitralekha’s development from being a haughty courtesan to a humble ascetic. Despite this film’s compelling narrative and exploration of uncoventional themes, it failed to achieve success at the box office, especially when compared to its 1941 predecessor (the second highest grossing film of the year!). The mediocre box office performance has been attributed to miscasting of the main characters and a poorly written script.

Meena Kumari sings the line “apaman rachetaa kaa hogaa, rachnaa ko agar Thukraaoge” amidst a setting of flowers, which symbolize the natural beauty of creation.

Given the lackluster audience reception at the time of its release, this film is generally remembered today for its soundtrack composed by Roshan and penned by Sahir Ludhianvi. The two songs that are the most well known from this film are the Rafi solo “man re tu kaahe na dhiir dhare” and “sa.nsaar se bhaage phirte ho,” the Lata solo that I’ve chosen to translate today. Based on Raga Yaman Kalyan, this song is a  beautifully crafted statement against spiritual hypocrisy. Through his words, Sahir rejects the conception of sin and virtue established by organized religions in favor of a philosophy of universal hedonism. In context of the film, Chitralekha uses this song to mock Kumar Giri’s ascetism after he patronizes her with a sermon about giving up her sinful lifestyle in order to attain spiritual enlightenment. My favorite part of this song is probably when Chitralekha sings the clever and incisive line: “apaman rachetaa kaa hogaa, rachnaa ko agar Thukraaoge” (It will be an insult to the Creator himself, if you reject the act of creation). This song is full of feisty one-liners like this, so please take a listen to the song and follow along with translation/glossary below if you’d like to hear more. To conclude, I think we can all agree that Sahir does not disappoint here and proves his versatility poet who is equally comfortable writing lyrics in shuddh Hindi as he is in Urdu. Very impressive, indeed–enjoy!

-Mr. 55

Meena Kumari stumbles under the intoxication of wine in the company of her harem.

Sansar Se Bhage Phirte Ho Lyrics and Translation

sa.nsaar se bhaage phirte ho, bhagvaan ko tum kyaa paaoge?
As you flee from society, how will you find God?
is lok ko apnaa na sake, us lok me.n bhii pachataaoge.
You didn’t consider this world as your own, and you will repent it in that world. 

 ye paap hai.n kyaa, ye punya hai.n kyaa? riito.n par dharm kii mohare hai.n
What is sin and what is virtue? Religion uses such traditions as mere facades. 
har yug me.n badalte dharmo.n ko kaise aadarsh banaaoge?
How will you idealize the changing religions of every age?

yeh bhog bhii ek tapsaya hai, tum tyaag ke maare kyaa jaano?
This suffering is also a form of penance; what would you know, you renunciation-stricken fool?
apaman rachetaa kaa hogaa, rachnaa ko agar Thukraaoge.
It will be an insult to the Creator himself, if you reject the act of creation. 

ham kahte hai.n yah jag apnaa hai, tum kahte ho jhuuTha sapna hai.
I claim that this world is mine; however, you consider it a false dream.
ham janam bitaa kar jaaye.nge, tum janam gavaa kar jaaoge.
I will live life to the fullest, but you will waste yours in vain. 

sa.nsaar se bhaage phirte ho, bhagvaan ko tum kyaa paaoge?
As you flee from society, how will you find God?

Glossary 

sa.nsaar: society; bhagvaan: God; pachataanaa: to repent, regret; lok: world; paap: sin; punya: virtue; riit: tradition; dharm: religion; mohara: front, facade; aadarsh banaanaa: to idealize; bhog: suffering;  tapasya: penance; tyaag ke maare: struck with renunciation; apaman: insult; rachetaa: the Creator; rachnaa: to create; Thukraanaa: to reject, disapprove;  jag: world.

Ashok Kumar plays the role of the conflicted holy man Kumar Giri in Chitralekha (1964)
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Chalo Ek Baar Phir Se Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

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Sunil Dutt sings about the pain of heartbreak at the piano in Gumraah (1963)

In my opinion, I think one of the best parts about being a fan of old Hindi music is that it gives you a fun opportunity to brush up on your Urdu-Hindi language skills. From time to time, Mrs. 55 and I have decided that we will share some of our favorite song lyrics here and provide a glossary and translation so that everyone can follow along!

Our first song is “chalo ek baar phir se,” which is an absolute gem from the 1963 film Gumraah directed by B.R. Chopra. Arguably the best song of his career, this composition was rendered by Mahendra Kapoor, an excellent singer who ultimately carved a niche for himself in the industry after emerging from his initial fame as a Mohammed Rafi clone. The real star here, though, is Sahir Ludhianvi, who was truly one of the most gifted poets that has ever written for Hindi cinema. Known for his cynicism and disillusionment with society, Sahir Ludhianvi wrote lyrics that reflect a great deal of emotional complexity and maturity. In contrast to his contemporaries, Ludhianvi chose to remain unhindered by the constraints set by the prototypical Bollywood love song; many of his songs are refreshing to hear for their expression of biting political satire, heartfelt grief, or outspoken anger.

Sahir Ludhianvi, poet (1921-1980)

In “chalo ek baar phir se” Ludhianvi writes about a situation in which unfortunate societal circumstances prevent two lovers from fulfilling their romantic desires and building a life together. Supposedly, Ludhianvi was inspired to write this song when he encountered an ex-lover of his at a party with her new husband. The encounter must have been incredibly painful for him because these lyrics are devoid of the typical romanticizations of pyar and muhabbat that are often found in songs from this period. Instead of praising love as an ideal, the protagonist of the song suggests that he and his lover should return to becoming strangers because the emotional separation will make it easier for both of them to heal from their pain. The last stanza of the song is especially powerful: the protagonist posits that it is counter-productive to invest energy into doomed romantic relationships when they have become a burden. Ludhianvi’s words here suggest that it is sometimes in everyone’s best interests to put an early end to the love stories that simply cannot have happy conclusions. His eloquence and nuanced use of language to express the pain of unfulfilled love is sublime, and this type of  poetic talent is sorely missed in the Bollywood industry today.  For those of you who haven’t heard this song yet, it’s definitely worth a listen. If you follow along with the glossary below, I’m sure you’ll learn a couple new words that will impress ALL your Urdu-speaking friends (yes, all 2 of them).

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Sunil Dutt masks his internal anguish with a coy smile in Gumraah (1963)

Chalo Ek Baar Phir Se Lyrics and Translation:

chalo ek baar phir se, ajnabii ban jaaye.n ham dono.n
Come, let us become strangers once again.

na mai.n tumse koii ummiid rakhuu.n dilnavaazii kii
I shall no longer maintain hopes of compassion from you
na tum merii taraf dekho ghalat andaaz nazaro.n se
Nor shall you gaze at me with your deceptive glances. 
na mere dil ki dhaDkan laDkhaDaaye merii baato.n me.n
My heart shall no longer tremble when I speak, 
na zaahir ho tumhaari kashm-kash ka raaz nazaro.n se
Nor shall your glances reveal the secret of your torment.

tumhe.n bhii koii uljhan roktii hai pesh-qadmii se
Complications prevent you from advancing further,
mujhe bhii log kahte hai.n ki yeh jalve paraaye hai.n
I too am told that I wear disguises. 
mere hamraah bhi rusvaayiaa.n hai.n mere maazii kii
The disgraces of my past are now my companions,
tumhaare saath bhii guzrii huii raato.n ke saaye hai.n
while the shadows of bygone nights are with you too.

taarruf rog ho jaaye to usko bhuulnaa bahtar
Should knowing one another become a disease, then it is best to forget it. 
taalluq
bojh ban jaaye to usko toDnaa achhaa
Should a relationship become a burden, then it is best to end it. 
voh afsaana jise anjaam tak laanaa na ho mumkin
For that tale which cannot culminate in a conclusion,
use ek khuubsuurat moD de kar chhoDna achhaa
it is best to give it a beautiful turn and leave it be.

chalo ek baar phir se, ajnabii ban jaaye.n ham dono.n
Come, let us become strangers once again. 

Glossary:

ajnabii: stranger; ummiid: hope; dilnavaazii: compassion; ghalat andaaz nazar: deceptive glance; laDkhaDaanaa: to tremble; zaahir: noticeable; kashm-kash: torment, struggle; uljhan: complication; pesh-qadmii karna: to advance; paraayaa jalva: disguise; hamraah: companion; rusvaa: disgrace; maazii: the past; taarruf: mutual acquaintance, knowledge of one another; rog: disease, afflication; taalluq: relationship; afsaanaa: tale; anjaam: conclusion; mumkin: possible; khuubsuurat: beautiful; moD; turn. 

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The expressions on the faces of Sunil Dutt, Mala Sinha, and Ashok Kumar  reflect the pervading tension of this situation from Gumraah (1963).