The Top 30 Greatest Classic Bollywood Films of All Time

The top 30 greatest classic Bollywood films have been selected. Which films made the list of Bollywood’s best?

Greatest Bollywood Films of All Time Guru Dutt Waheeda Rehman

Introduction

Mr. and Mrs. 55 – Classic Bollywood Revisited! at last present our definitive list of the classic Bollywood movies you absolutely must see before you die. Hundreds of films were scored and ranked across multiple dimensions of Bollywood cinema including: story, direction, performances, musical composition, as well as cultural impact and legacy. We included Hindi-language films made between the period of 1949-1979 on our list of the best classic Bollywood movies ever made. Some on the list are beloved favorites of the industry, while others may surprise you.

Among the winners are directors Guru Dutt, Bimal Roy and Raj Kapoor–names synonymous with masterpiece Indian cinema–each with multiple films among Bollywood’s all-time greatest. Always wondered why a couple of young Harvard students like us love old Indian films so passionately? No matter what you think you know about Bollywood movies, the films on this list will change your understanding of Indian films like never before. From village epics that grapple with our national identity to the nostalgic poetry of sudden disillusionment, classic Bollywood films transport us from the enchanting glamour of Bombay nightlife to the majestic gardens of Kashmir. They carry our souls through hardship and loss and revive our spirits with redemption.

This is cinema the way it was meant to be. This is classic Bollywood.

The top 30 Films from 30 years of classic Hindi cinema (1949-1979):

1. Pyaasa

Pyaasa Guru Dutt

Guru Dutt, 1957

Pyaasa, or “thirst,”is the story of one man’s search for compassion in the cold cynicism of post-independence Indian society. Vijay is an unpublished poet, dismissed by his own family and scorned by socialites and his colleagues. After befriending a prostitute who shelters him, Vijay is believed dead and his poetry “posthumously” lionized. He becomes an overnight sensation, mourned by fans across the country, and the true Vijay is labeled an imposter. India entered its golden age of filmmaking in the 1950s when its long-awaited freedom from England and the hopes of a new government created a social tinderbox of great expectations and disillusionment. Pioneering the technique of utilizing song lyrics as direct extensions of the film’s dialogue, Guru Dutt as the writer-producer-director-star paints a stirring portrait of the commodification of humanity.

2. Mughal-e-Azam

Mughal-e Azam K. Asif

Karimuddin Asif, 1961

At the turn of the 17th century, Prince Salim falls in love with the court dancer Anarkali and wages war against his own father, Emperor Akbar, in order to marry her. Director K. Asif’s enormous cast, opulent sets, intricately designed costumes and extravagantly staged battle scenes made the film the most expensive ever produced in India at the time. But despite of all the grandeur, the film has a warm heart, and the dangers of the romance between Salim and Anarkali are infused into each glance they share. Although the love story is the backbone of the film, it is Emperor Akbar, from whom the film derives its name (“the Great Mughal”), who takes center stage as he is torn between love for his only son and the unforgiving demands of the Mughal Empire. Every line of dialogue is written with the ornamentation of poetry, casting an elegance to Mughal-e Azam‘s thunderous power.

3. Pakeezah

Pakeezah Kamal Amrohi

Kamal Amrohi, 1971

In the grandeur of Muslim Lucknow at the turn of the century, Pakeezah is a courtesan and dancer who dreams of leaving her life behind when a stranger falls in love with her in a train compartment, not knowing her true profession. With swirling romanticism and languid, dream-like cinematography, Pakeezah instantly became one of the most extraordinary musicals ever made. Perfectionist director Kamal Amrohi, who also wrote the script and some of the lyrics, effectively transports the viewer into a wistful age of bygone formality and luxury. Each of Pakeezah‘s popular semi-classical songs illustrates the duality of a courtesan’s poetry, at once glamorizing the elaborate rituals of love and destroying the institutions that upheld them.

4. Mother India

Mother India Mehboob Khan

Mehboob Khan, 1957

With tragedy strikes her family, newlywed village belle Radha is determined to weather a crucible of social and personal adversities without compromising her honor. In doing so, she reinvents herself as a heavy-handed symbol of India’s own pride as an ancient culture and a new democracy. A defining film in the history of Bollywood, director Mehboob Khan’s iconic Mother India set the pattern for the more than 60 years of Bollywood film that followed it. A mythologization of traditional values and an homage to the beauty of Indian heritage, Mother India‘s unabashedly epic glorification of self-sacrifice and female empowerment was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1958.

5. Guide

Guide Vijay Anand

Vijay Anand, 1965

A corrupt businessman is transformed into a spiritual guide after a misunderstanding that leads to his idolization by a village besieged by drought. Based on the R.K. Narayan novel of the same name and bolstered by a stunning soundtrack, Guide explores a fundamental Vedic transformation from materialism to a release from worldly attachments in an extremely unlikely hero. A scandalous love story settles into the background as director Vijay Anand boldly deconstructs social taboos, from adultery and non-traditional gender roles to religious fraud, in a film that stirringly evolves into a philosophical awakening greater than the circumstances it portrays–a brilliant reflection of the double entendre intended by its title.

6. Kaaghaz Ke Phool

Kaagaz Ke Phool Guru Dutt

Guru Dutt, 1959

In the 1950s at the height of India’s golden age of film-making, a celebrated movie director feels uninspired by the tinsel-lined glitz of studio era Bollywood. When he discovers a new actress, innocent to the corruption of the industry, he believes he has found a muse to ease his restlessness. A elegiac behind-the-scenes film about film-making, Kaaghaz Ke Phool became a cult classic following the eerie semi-autobiographical death of its director Guru Dutt. Trapped in a world of pretense, Guru Dutt illustrates a kind of yearning that softly and slowly erodes the soul–a desperate hunt for a human connection. The real triumph is in the film’s stunning camerawork, gracefully gliding through the empty studio sets like a beautiful spectre of Dutt’s own shattered desires.

7. Awaara

Awaara Raj Kapoor

Raj Kapoor, 1951

A female lawyer is determined to prove her lover’s innocence in a murder attempt on the life of a respected judge. Structured in medias res, the film’s flashback reveals the injustice of her lover’s past when the very judge who condemns him proves to be his own father: a man who threw his wife onto the streets when he believed a criminal had raped her. Echoing the dark lessons of the ancient Ramayana, Awaara shatters the nature versus nurture debate with a showman’s flair and surrealist fantasy, including the film’s legendary dream sequence evoking a descent into Hell. Awaara launched Raj Kapoor’s famous Chaplin-esque hero for the first time, who resonated immensely across the Soviet Union and Communist China as the voice of a new generation.

8. Sahib, Bibi, Aur Ghulam

Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam Guru Dutt

Guru Dutt/Abrar Alvi, 1962

Desperate to save her marriage, the younger daughter-in-law of a wealthy family sacrifices her moral boundaries to win over her alcoholic husband. A nostalgic glimpse into the decaying Bengali feudal system, Sahib, Bibi, Aur Ghulam unravels a dazzling murder mystery at the heart of its progressive view of societal redemption. Seen from the perspective of a young factory worker lured into a stately mansion as an ally of its young mistress, Sahib, Bibi, Aur Ghulam hauntingly opens the doors to the hollowness of exterior splendor. Spiraling against her will with the collapse of Calcutta’s landed aristocracy, Meena Kumari’s portrayal of the tormented wife is forever considered among the most magnificent on-screen performances of Bollywood history.

9. Aradhana

Aradhana Shakti Samanta

Shakti Samanta, 1971

When her lover dies at war, an unwed mother gives up her son up for adoption, vowing to watch over him in secrecy as he grows up in the house of another. Her poignant worship, or aradhana, of her dead fiancé and their son became immortalized in the Indian cinematic psyche as an audacious struggle of traditional society confronted by changing modern values. Boasting one of the all-time greatest soundtracks of Indian cinema, Aradhana epitomizes the versatility and creativity of the era’s leading music directors. From the youthful romance of “Kora Kaagaz Tha” to the grim Bardic undertones of “Safal Hogi Teri Aradhana” to the notoriously seductive “Roop Tera Mastana,” the film is as much remembered for its luminous performances as for exemplifying the golden age of Bollywood music.

10. Do Bigha Zameen

Do Bigha Zameen Bimal Roy

Bimal Roy, 1953

A farming family fights to save their ancestral land from a cunning mill owner. Do Bigha Zameen follows the father and son’s trip to Calcutta from their idyllic village to earn enough money to pay their debts–only to discover the miseries of urban poverty instead. Inspired by the work of Italian neorealism, Do Bigha Zameen pioneered early parallel cinema with a deliberate attention to the “everyday,” and the feeling of an invisible, unhurried camera whose shots and mis-en-scene are both carefully constructed and effortlessly fluid. Directed by Bengali auteur Bimal Roy, the film’s nationalistic electricity hit a broader audience, becoming the first Indian film to win the Prix Internationale at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival.

11. Bandini

bandini bimal roy

During the British Raj of the 1930s, a prison doctor falls in love with a convict who reveals the story of her tumultuous connection to a freedom fighter.

12. Madhumati

Madhumati Bimal roy

Bimal Roy, 1958

On a rainy night, a man enters an abandoned mansion where he is confronted by unfulfilled visions of his past life.

13. Shree 420

Shree 420 Raj Kapoor

Raj Kapoor, 1955

A country boy travels to Bombay to make his fortune where he is lured from the path of virtue into a thrilling life of deceit.

14. Sholay

sholay ramesh sippy

Ramesh Sippy, 1975

After his family is murdered by a notorious bandit, a former police officer enlists the help of two outlaws to capture him.

15. Ankur

shyam benegal Ankur

Shyam Benegal, 1974

The social hierarchies of rural India are disrupted when a landowner begins an affair with a poor farmer’s wife.

16. Hum Dono

Hum Dono vijay anand

Amarjeet, Vijay Anand (1961)

After returning from war, a soldier begins to lead a double-life when his doppelgänger’s family welcomes him home.

17. Barsaat (1949)

Barsaat raj kapoor

Raj Kapoor, 1949

Two men with different ideals of love search for answers with the coming of the monsoons.

18. Amar Akbar Anthony

Amar Akbar Anthony manmohan desai

Manmohan Desai, 1977

Three brothers are separated in childhood and eventually unite after one is brought up a Christian, one a Hindu, and one a Muslim.

19. Anand

Anand hrishikesh mukherjee

Hrishikesh Mukherjee, 1971

A doctor recounts the story of a terminally ill man who wishes to his live life to the fullest and spread happiness to those around him.

20. Haqeeqat

Haqeeqat chetan anand

Chetan Anand, 1964

A platoon of Indian soldiers leave their homes and loved ones to encounter the harsh realities of battle in the Indo-China War of 1962.

21. Don

Don 1978 chandra barot

Chandra Barot, 1978

A simpleton is trained to infiltrate the underworld by impersonating a criminal leader who has been killed in a police chase.

22. Mahal

Mahal kamal amrohi

Kamal Amrohi, 1949

A young lawyer is haunted by a ghostly woman in his new house, where the builder and his fiancée died shortly after it was built.

23. Sangam

Sangam raj kapoor

Raj Kapoor, 1964

An Indian Air Force Officer leaves for the Kashmiri front, entrusting his wife to the care of his best friend who has secretly always loved her.

24. Dosti

Dosti satyen bose

Satyen Bose, 1964

A penniless orphan makes the unexpected friendship of a blind boy who teaches him survival on the streets of Bombay.

25. Waqt

Waqt yash chopra

Yash Chopra, 1965

Natural disaster separates the members of a close-knit family who re-connect in a series of dramatic entanglements years later.

26. Deewar

Deewar yash chopra

Yash Chopra, 1975

A mother attempts to reunite her two estranged sons: one, a leading criminal of the underworld, and the other, an uprighteous policeman.

27. Kati Patang

Kati Patang shakti samanta

Shakti Samanta, 1970

As a promise to raise the child of her dying friend, a young woman risks starting a new life under a false identity.

28. Aandhi

Aandhi gulzar

Gulzar, 1975

A powerful politician struggles to reconcile her position with secrets from her past.

29. Purab Aur Paschim

Purab Aur Paschim major kumar

Manoj Kumar, 1970

East clashes with West when a traditional Indian student encounters swinging London society for the first time.

30. Bombai Ka Babu

Bombai Ka Babu Raj Khosla

Raj Khosla, 1960

A small-time thief is forced into a deadly web of deception when he gains the trust of his victim’s family.

Read more about these and other classic Bollywood movies on our film pages! Which films do you consider among classic Bollywood’s all-time best and why? Leave us a comment and let us know! Be sure to read our ranking of the top 30 Bollywood movie soundtracks next!

– Mrs. 55

Advertisements

Abhi Na Jao Chod Kar Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Dev Anand croons to Sadhana in a moonlit forest in Hum Dono (1961).
Dev Anand croons to Sadhana in a moonlit forest in Hum Dono (1961).

Next we present the enchanting lyrics and English translation to “Abhi Na Jao” from Hum Dono (1961). When I think of a Bollywood tree song, I think of this. This is where the magical tradition of hopping around a hidden forest and coyly shimmying behind the nearest tree to dodge your lover’s advances all began. Delightful Dev Anand and young Sadhana prance about gently in a quiet grove with slick back-and-forth lyrics that keep us grounded. The essence of the song comes down to this: Boy loves girl. Girl shyly expresses a desire to go home. Boy insists girl stays. Girl fears losing face. Boy takes opportunity to corner girl against a tree. You certainly don’t need anyone else to tell you how to think, but consider what it means that modern day Romeo Shah Rukh Khan voted this picturization as the most romantic song of Hindi cinema! “Abhi Na Jao” is eternal and the embodiment of sweetly innocent Bollywood courtship.

I’ve talked before about my feelings for the Hum Dono recolourization. Frankly, it’s cute, but not worth eliminating the original black-and-white stock. By converting the film from academy ratio to widescreen, you lose a great deal of the movie in exchange for some glitzy editing tricks (watch the colorized version here to see what I mean!). The film, its characters, the music, and the plot are so strong, it does not require any remodeling for wider accessibility. This song comes early in the movie, setting a high key tone for the upcoming embroilment.

Dev Anand Abhi Na Jao
Dev Anand looks like a lost sheep as Sadhana coyly sneaks away in “Abhi Na Jao” from Hum Dono (1961).

The signature Dev Anand coiffure is at its puffiest in this song, a welcome reflection of his bursting emotions. So take a seat, grab a snuggle pillow, and enjoy the lyrics and our full English translation to the evergreen duet “Abhi Na Jao Chod Kar” from Hum Dono (1961)!

Abhi Na Jao Chhod Kar Lyrics and Translation

MALE:
Abhi na jaao chhoD kar ki dil abhi bhara nahii.N
Do not go and leave me now, for my heart is not yet filled
Abhi abhi to aayii ho abhi abhi to
You have only just come
Abhi abhi to aayi ho bahaar banke chhaaii ho
You have only just come, you became the Spring as you arrived
Hawaa zaraa mahak to le nazar zara bahak to le
Let the wind spread your fragrance, let your gaze wander
Yeh shaam dhal to le zaraa
Let the night fall a little more
Yeh dil sambhal to le zaraa
Let my heart steady itself
Main thoDi der jii to luu.N nashe ke ghuunT pii to luu.N
Let me live a little longer, let me taste a sip of your intoxication
Nashe ke ghunT pii to luu.N, abhi to kuch kahaa nahii.N
Let me taste a sip of your intoxication, for I have said nothing yet
Abhii to kuch sunaa nahii.N
You have heard nothing yet
Abhii na jaao chod kar ke dil abhi bhara nahii.N
Do not go and leave me now, for my heart is not yet filled

FEMALE:
Sitaare.N jhil milaa uThe
The stars have begun to sparkle
Sitaare.N jhil milaa uThe, chiraag jagmagaa uThe
The stars have begun to sparkle, the lamps have been lit
Bas ab na mujhko Toknaa
Enough, do not scold me now
Bas ab na mujhko Toknaaa, na baDhke raah rokna
Enough, do not scold me now, do not come forward to block my path
Agar mai.N ruk gayii abhii to jaa na paauu.Ngii kabhii
If I stop now, I will never be able to leave
Yehii kahoge tum sadaa ke dil abhii nahii.N bharaa
For you will keep on saying that your heart is not yet filled
Jo khatm ho kisii jagah yeh aisaa silsila nahii.N
This is not the kind of affair that ends easily

MALE:
Abhii nahii.N abhii nahii.N!
Not yet, not yet!

FEMALE:
Nahii.N, nahii.N, nahii.N, nahii.N!
No, no, no, no!

MALE:
Abhi na jaao chod kar ke dil abhi bhara nahii.N
Do not go and leave me now, for my heart is not yet filled

MALE:
Adhuurii aas
Unfulfilled desire
Adhuurii aas chhoDke, adhuurii pyaas chhoD ke
Leaving me with unfulfilled desire, leaving me with unfulfilled thirst
Jo roz yuu.N hii jaaogii to kis tarhaa nibhaaogii
If you go every day like this, then how will you keep your promise?
Ki zindagii kii raah mei.N jawaa.N dilo.N kii chaah mei.N
For in the path of life, in the desire of two young hearts
Kaii maqaam aaye.Nge jo humko aazmaae.Nge
Many challenges will come to test us
Buraa na maano baat kaa, yeh pyaar hai, gilaa nahii.N
Do not be hurt by my words, for they are words of love, not a complaint

FEMALE:
Haa.N, yehii kahoge tum sadaa ki dil abhii bharaa nahii.N!
Yes, but you will keep on saying that your heart is not yet filled!

MALE:
Haa.N, dil abhi bharaa nahii.N
Yes, my heart is not yet filled!

FEMALE:
Nahii.N, nahii.N, nahii.N, nahii.N!
No, no, no, no!

Glossary:

bhara: filled; bahaar: Spring; hawaa: wind; mahak: fragrance; nazar: gaze, bahak: wander; shaam: evening; sambhalnaa: to steady oneself; thoDi der: a little while longer; nashe: intoxication; ghuunT: sip; jhilmilnaa: to sparkle; chiraag: lamp; Toknaa: to scold; raah: path; khatm: finish; jagaah: place; silsilaa: affair; adhuurii: unfulfilled; aas: desire; pyaas: thirst; roz: every day; nibhaanaa: to fulfill [a promise], zindagii: life; jawaa.N: young; chaah: desire, love; maqaam: challenge; aazmaanaa: to test, to try; buraa: hurt; gilaa: complaint

Sadhana Abhi Na Jao Hum Dono
Sadhana worries on a late evening out with her lover in Hum Dono (1961).

Yes, like many a great Hindi song, this one comes with a tragic reprise. A tender Asha Bhonsle solo, “Jahan Mein Aisa Kaun Hai” is a song of steadfast devotion in the face of impending wartime separation. Sadhana beautifully demonstrates her love to be more than a worthy match for the original duet’s playful warning of a perilous future. We have included the full lyrics and translation of Jahan Mein Aisa Kaun Hai as well below for your edification!

Jahan Mein Aisa Kaun Hai Lyrics and Translation:

Dukh aur sukh ke raaste bane hai sab ke vaaste
The paths of sadness and happiness are made for everyone
Jo gham se haar jaaoge to kis tarah nibhaaoge?
If you lose to sadness and leave, then how will you keep your promise?
Khushii mile hame.N ki gham jo hoga baat le.Nge hum
Whether we are met with happiness or sorrow, let us accept it
Mujhe tum aazmaao to zara nazar milaao to
Test me and meet my eyes
Ye jism do sahii magar dilo.N mei.N faaslaa nahii.N
We may have two bodies, but there is no distance between our hearts

Jahaan mei.N aisaa kaun hai ki jisko gham milaa nahii.N?
Is there anyone in the world who has not had sadness?

Tumhaare pyaar kii qasam tumharaa gham hai meraa gham
I swear by your love that your sorrow is my sorrow
Na yuu.N bhujhe bhujhe raho jo dil ki baat hai kaho
Do not fade away like this, tell me what is in your heart
Jo mujhse bhi chhupaaoge to phir kisse bataaoge?
If you hide those words from me, then whom will you tell?
Mai.N koi ghair to nahii.N dilaaoo.N kis tarah yakeen?
I am no stranger, how can I make you believe me?

Ki tum se mai.N judaa nahii.N, mujhse tum judaa nahii.N
For you are not separated from me, and I am not separated from you

Glossary:

dukh: sorrow; sukh: happiness; raastaa: path; [kisii ke] vaaste: for the sake of; haarnaa: to lose; tarah: type, manner; khushii: joy, happiness; aazmaanaa: to test, to try; nazar milaanaa: to make eye contact; jism: body, faaslaa: distance; qasam: swear; chhupaanaa: to hide; ghair: stranger; yakeen: belief

Can’t get enough? Check out our other translations from the same film like “Main Zindagi Ka Saath” and “Allah Tero Naam” for more!

-Mrs. 55

Allah Tero Naam Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Nanda prays for her husband in the army in Hum Dono (1961).
Nanda prays for her husband in the army in Hum Dono (1961).

Happy New Year’s to all our readers! What an incredible year it’s been for us to write this blog and to have enjoyed discovering so many fellow fans of classic Bollywood cinema! I grew up in a Hindu Punjabi family, and in my house, we always celebrate the New Year’s with a havan the morning of January 1st with friends in the community. There’s something calming and cozy about these annual gatherings–we keep it casual where I’m from while taking a break to reflect on the year behind on us and what lies ahead. In the spirit of auspicious beginnings, we shall present the lyrics and full English translation to one of Bollywood’s greatest bhajansAllah Tero Naam” from Hum Dono (1961). Rendered impeccably by Lata Mangeshkar, “Allah Tero Naam” soars with bi-partisan Hindu-Muslim appeal in a humble call to God for wisdom and strength. The iconic number is one of Lata’s personal favorite Jaidev compositions!

nanda allah tero naam 3
Nanda sings the gentle bhajan “Allah Tero Naam” in Hum Dono (1961) as a special expression of bipartisan devotion in Hindi films.

For me, Hum Dono (1961) is one of the finest films of Dev Anand’s illustrious career: it glows with a constantly-twisting plot and a golden soundtrack that places the film among the legends of cinematic history. Dev Anand was well-known for pushing the envelope of societal norms as a director, and the troubling predicaments his characters find themselves in always astound–whether falling in love with a woman who thinks he’s her brother (Bombay Ka Babu), conducting whirlwind affairs with three women at once (Teen Devian) or romancing another man’s wife who believes he’s her real husband (Hum Dono). The plots are scintillating and the acting invariably superb. Furthermore, did I mention Hum Dono a quasi-twin movie too? Couple that with a war-time theme and you can readily imagine the opportunities for confusion of epic Bollywood proportions. See our earlier translation of “Main Zindagi Ka Saath” from the same film!

The Lata Mangeshkar solo is one of the film’s many high points, arriving midway through the film as Nanda prays for her husband’s safe return from the war. The time period was arguably when Lata’s voice was at her most angelic, and the graceful, gentle maneuvers of this song will leave you breathless for more!

Perhaps one of the greatest aspects to “Allah Tero Naam” is the Hindu-Muslim crossover lyrics. Reminiscent of “Ishwar Allah Tero Naam” later rendered by Mohammed Rafi in Nayaa Raastaa (1970), this bhajan encompasses an important and unique aspect of Indian spirituality–the transcendence of religious barriers (which holds a particular intrigue in a war-time themed filmed!) You guessed it, the lyrics are penned by that sensitive soul Sahir Ludhiviani, who’s feelings against war and it’s horrors are a theme in many later works (“Khuda-e-bartar,” anyone?). So whether you adore this song for the lyrics, the rendition, or just for Nanda’s emotive eye-batting, we hope you enjoy the lyrics and our English translation to “Allah Tero Naam” and wish you a happy New Year!

Allah Tero Naam Lyrics and Translation:

Allah tero naam, Ishwar tero naam
Your name is Allah, your name is Ishwar
Sab ko sanmatii de, Bhagwan
Bless everyone with equanimity, God

Maango.N kaa sindoor na chhuuTe
Do not let the sindoor disappear from the part of our hair [Let us not be widowed]
Maa.N bahano.N kii aas na TuuTe
Do not shatter the hopes of mothers and sisters
Deha binaa, Daataa
Without a body, Lord…
Deha binaa bhaTake na praan
Let the soul not wander without a body

O saare jag ke rakhwaale
O keeper of the whole world
Nirbal ko bal denewaale
The giver of strength to the weak
Balwaano.N ko
To the strong…
Balwaano.N ko de de gyaan
Bestow wisdom to the strong

Glossary:

Allah: God [Muslim]; Ishwar: God [Hindu]; sanmatii: equanimity, advise; maaNg: the parting line in a woman’s hair; sindoor: red powder worn in a woman’s hair part to signify marriage; maa.N: mother; bahan: sister; aas: hope; TuuTnaa: to break, to shatter; deha: body; Daataa: Lord; bhataknaa: to wander; praan: soul, life; rakhwaalaa: the keeper; nirbal: weak; bal: strength; balwaan: one who is strong, a warrior; denewaalaa: the giver; gyaan: wisdom, knowledge

dev anand hum dono allah tero naam
Dashing as always Dev Anand is torn from his family and caught in a moral dilemma in Hum Dono (1961).

Ever wondered why some songs use the term “tero” instead of “teraa” such as in this devotional? It’s a grammatical exception in the Hindustani language that you’ll only find in a direct address to God! It’s always nice to start a new year with linguistic trivia. Here at Mr. and Mrs. 55, our New Year’s resolution is to blog more often–we’re almost nearing our 100th post!

– Mrs. 55

Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhata Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu Hindi

Dev Anand Hum Dono Main Zindagi Ka Saath
Dev Anand plays a philosophical military officer in Navketan Films’ all-time hit Hum Dono (1961)

We now present the full lyrics and English translation to the evergreen Mohammed Rafi solo, “Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhata” from the film Hum Dono (1961). As we know, Hum Dono was released in colour last year by the late film legend Dev Anand, and newly entitled Hum Dono Rangeen. The film joins a string of recently re-colourized classics such as Mughal-e-Azam (1961) and Naya Daur (1957), riding the wave of India’s general excitement to enter previously unexplored technologies in film-making–from animation to digital special effects. The amount of work that goes into a recolourization of a film is amazing–particularly a 3 hour Hindi epic. Imagine hand-painting a single frame from the film: First, you must decide which colours would best match the director’s intention and the styles of the time. Then painstakingly painting the colours onto the frame that follow to exactly match the hue of the one before, making allowances for natural shifts of shadows and lighting as the actors move. When you remember that it takes 24 frames to make 1 second of a film, you can realize the enormity of the job ahead.

Dev Anand Sadhana Hum Dono
Dev Anand imagines Sadhana appearing next to his reflection in a pool of water.

Additionally, apart from adding a splash of colour, it would seem the new editors also altered the aspect ratio of the film into a widescreen presentation. Throughout some of the songs, you’ll also see Dev Anand had added fancy fades to and from black, which are definitely classy. However, I mourn the loss of the original aspect ratio–because the film is now made for the widescreen, a portion of the frame’s top and bottom have been cut off. A bit of the magic was cut too.

But even without these external alterations, the original beauty of the film has shone for decades. Hum Dono is a war film, but the story is not strictly about war. Dev Anand plays a dual role in the film and faces a moral dilemma when he impersonates the identity of his look-alike after the latter’s presumed death. Every action he makes has spiraling and exciting ethical repercussions. The film is one of the finest Bollywood has ever produced, and like most Dev Anand films, boldly explores difficult social themes and relationships. My only regret is that it’s obviously a twin story that no one bothered to explicitly state in the script. It’s a big gripe of mine about Bollywood twin movies, and for one of the worst examples of it, Haseena Maan Jaayegi, see our previous post on Bekhudi Mein Sanam!

Dev Anand hum Dono Main Zindagi Ka Saath 2
Dev Anand in full military dress from Hum Dono (1961)

But the greatest achievement of Hum Dono is in its music by Jaidev. Every single song in its soundtrack is pure gold, from the Rafi-Asha love duet “Abhi Na Jaao ChoD Kar” to the majestic Lata devotional “Allah Tero Naam.” The sweet melodies of Hum Dono have remained popular today, and amongst them is the sentimental mood-lifter “Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhata Chala Gaya.” In it, Dev Anand expresses many of the philosophies that would present in his later films such as Guide (1965). The Vedic-inspired line “gham aur khushi ke farq na mehsuus ho jahaan” allows the hero a carefree outlook that is unusual and refreshing for a jaded military officer. Because of it, this song has retained its popularity over the years. Of interesting note, Hindi movies were not allowed to use authentic Indian Army officer outfits for their costumes. So for anyone familiar with period military wear in India, you’ll notice the epaulette on the shoulder has been adjusted so it is not an exact replicate of what was actually worn!

Check out the youtube link here, and follow along with us below for full lyrics and English translation of “Main Zindagi Ka Saath“!

Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhata Lyrics and Translation

Mai.N zindagii ka saath nibhaataa chalaa gayaa
I faithfully followed wherever life took me
Har fikr ko dhuei.N mei.N uDaataa chalaa gayaa
I blew every worry into a mist of smoke

Barbaadiyo.N ka shok manaanaa fizuul tha
It was pointless to grieve about my destruction,
Barbaadiyo.N ka jashn manaataa chalaa gayaa
So I kept making a celebration of my destruction!
Har fikr ko dhuei.N mei.N uDaataa chalaa gayaa
I blew every worry into a mist of smoke

Jo mil gayaa usii ko muqaddar samajh liyaa
Whatever came my way I considered to be my destiny
Jo kho gayaa mei.N usko bhulaataa chalaa gayaa
Whatever was lost to me, I kept putting out of my mind.
Har fikr ko dhuei.N mei.N uDaataa chalaa gayaa
I blew every worry into a mist of smoke

Gham aur khushi mei.N farq na mehsuus ho jahaa.N
That state where happiness and sorrow are indistinguishable
Mai.N dil ko us muqaam pe laataa chalaa gayaa
That realm is where I kept pushing my heart
Har fikr ko dhuei.N mei.N uDaataa chalaa gayaa
I blew every worry into a mist of smoke

Glossary:

zindagii: life; fikr: worry; dhuuei.N; smoke; barbaad: destruction; shok manaanaa: grieve; fizul: pointless; jashn: celebration; muqaddar: destiny, fate; bhulaanaa: to forget gham: sadness; khushi: happiness; farq: difference mehsuus: feeling; muqaam: realm

Dev Anand Hum Dono Main Zindagi Ka Saath
Dev Anand blows all his worries away in a puff of smoke in Hum Dono (1961)

The gentle chiming at the beginning of the song can also be found at the very end of “Abhi Na Jaao ChoD Kar” from the same film. Nice, Jaidev. Nice. This song translation was made by special request from our fan Bhuvesh! We always welcome requests from our readers, so don’t forget to drop us a line!

– Mrs. 55