Ek Pyar Ka Nagma Hai Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Nanda runs in two directions at once, coming and leaving, in “Ek Pyaar Ka Naghma Hai” from Shor (1972).

We next present the lyrics and full English translation to the eternal love ode “Ek Pyar Ka Nagma Hai” from Shor (1972). What makes “Ek Pyar Ka Nagma Hai” so timeless? It is on everyone’s list of favorites. Part of it is that the lyrics are some of the best poetry written in accessible language (don’t get me wrong, personally if someone wants to burst into the Urdu-textbook “Mere Mehboob Tujhe,” I’m down for that too!). “Ek Pyar Ka Nagma Hai” is rendered with almost magical emotion by Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh–simultaneously a song of dream-like ecstasy and of tender nostalgia. It’s incomparable. The song speaks to a deep love between two souls undergoing hardship, to cherishing those brief precious moments spent together in happiness, and most of all, to remaining hopeful. The song is simple and evocative–and one of the most beautiful you’ll ever hear.

Manoj Kumar picturizes the famous violin introduction to “Ek Pyaar Ka Naghma” at a family beach outing.

Arriving about midway through the politcally-charged film, Shor, the song is partly told in golden-hued flashback of a family trip to the beach. Manoj Kumar plays a hard-luck activist and single father who’s wife, Nanda, is killed in a train accident.

Now some of you may at first be confused, if not disturbed, by Manoj Kumar’s radical cinematography in this sequence, typical of his edgy style. He experiments with several epigenetic, if you will, modifications at once that create an entirely signature effect: slow-motion, still photography inserts, split mirror screens. It was the 70s, and it was the time to experiment–and he’s one of the few Indian directors who did indeed drizzle these new techniques into his big screen productions. It’s unexpected, but upon closer analysis, I’ll argue works brilliantly. Manoj Kumar is no fool. To picturize a song about ephermal bliss, of prolonging a brief moment–he actually freeze frames his film to highlight the transience and importance of memory. His split frames, showing Nanda walking in and out of the center of the screen, of two halves of the beach merging, capture the duality of life that the lyrics speak of. In context, these techniques actually bring together the reflective themes of the film itself and of the love shared between its protagonists. For it, Manoj Kumar won the Filmfare Award Best Editing in 1972!

Nanda’s own reflection stares back at her as a symbolic representation of past and future in Manoj Kumar’s radical cinematography of Shor (1972).

So follow along below with our English translation of this lovely ode to carpe diem and unconditional devotion, “Ek Pyar Ka Nagma Hai” and watch the youtube version here!

Ek Pyar Ka Nagma Hai Lyrics and Translation

Ek pyaar kaa naghmaa hai
Life is a tale of love
Maujo.N kii ravaani hai
Life is the flowing of waves
Zindagii aur kuch bhi nahii.N, terii merii kahaanii hai
Life is nothing more than your and my story

Kuch paakar khonaa hai
In gaining something, we lose something
Kuch khokar paanaa hai
In losing something, we gain something
Jeevan ka matlab to aanaa aur jaanaa hai
The meaning of life is to come and to go
Do pal ke jeevan se, ek umr churaani hai
From a few moments of existence, we must steal a whole lifetime
Zindagii aur kuch bhi nahii.N, terii merii kahaanii hai
Life is nothing more than your and my story
Ek pyaar kaa naghmaa hai…
Life is a tale of love…

Tu dhaar hai nadiyaa kii
You are the waters of a river
Mai.N teraa kinaaraa hoo.N
I am your shore
Tu meraa sahaaraa hai, mai.N teraa sahaaraa hoo.N
You are my support, I am your support
Aankho.N mei.N samandar hai, aashaao.N ka paanii hai
In my eyes is an ocean, it contains the water of hopes
Zindagii aur kuch bhi nahii.N, terii merii kahaanii hai
Life is nothing more than your and my story
Ek pyaar kaa naghmaa hai…
Life is a tale of love…

Toofaan to aanaa hai
Storms will come
Aakar chale jaanaa hai
But in the end, they will pass
Baadal hai yeh kuch pal kaa, chhaakar dhal jaanaa hai
These clouds are only momentary, after rising they will diminish
Parachhaaiiyaa.N reh jaatii, reh jaatii nishaanii hai
But these shadows remain, these symbols of you remain
Zindagii aur kuch bhi nahii.N, terii merii kahaanii hai
Life is nothing more than your and my story
Ek pyaar kaa naghmaa hai…
Life is a tale of love…

Glossary:

naghma: tale, ravaani: flowing, turning; zindagi: life; kahaanii: story; matlab: meaning; umr: age, lifetime, dhaar: water; nadiyaa: river; kinaaraa: shore; sahaaraa: support; samandar: ocean; aashaa: hope, wish; paanii: water; toofaan: storm; baadal: cloud; parchaaii: shadow; nishaanii: symbol, sign

Manoj Kumar remembers his dead wife and the love she left behind in Shor (1972).

The film, as in many Manoj Kumar patriotic hits, ends on a defiantly tragic note. Like Shaheed (1965), in which he is martyred with pride, or Upkar (1967) in which he loses his limbs for the glorious cause, in Shor too, Manoj Kumar becomes deaf–a poetic price for his son to gain back his lost voice. The film is a must-see for many reasons, if only to complete your understanding of the role Manoj Kumar played in Bollywood and defining the political tensions of his era. Although Manoj Kumar can no longer hear his late wife sing “Ek Pyar Ka Nagma Hai” to him, and from now on will no longer be able to hear his son, he remains hopeful and comforted by memories of the moments he once spent in happiness.

– Mrs. 55

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Two or Three Things I Know about Mira Nair: Thoughts from a Former Intern

Nargis and Raj Kapoor in one of the most iconic shots of classic Indian cinema from Shree 420 (1955)
A scene from Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding (2001) inspired by Raj Kapoor’s classic

After the summer of my sophomore year, I was fortunate enough to intern with my favorite contemporary director Mira Nair. Both of us had studied film production at Harvard University and incidentally under the same professor! I first met Mira at his film screening at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City when I spotted her in the audience. My heart was beating so fast, I could hardly sit still through the screening. After the show, I gave her my impromptu elevator speech and joined the crew at Mirabai Films that summer!

Intern Mira Nair
Mira Nair and I at the MoMA my sophomore year. Note the glazed look in my eyes. Best day ever!

I was twelve years old when I saw Monsoon Wedding (2001) and have yet to find a movie from my generation that I love more. Mira’s other films include Vanity Fair, Salaam Bombay, The Namesake, Kama Sutra, and Amelia, but what does any of this have to do with old Hindi cinema? I want to talk about a side to her movies that you may not have been familiar with—that is, the impact of classic Bollywood on her work.

Perhaps you can recall that scene from Monsoon Wedding in which the wedding planner marries the housemaid beneath an umbrella. Look familiar? It should! Mira was directly inspired by Raj Kapoor’s famous song “Pyaar Hua Iqrar Hua” in directing this scene. Like Nargis and Raj Kapoor walking together on a rainy night, huddled together beneath an umbrella, Mira’s characters strike the same pose to celebrate their romance at the height of the Indian monsoons.

On-set and behind-the-camera with Hollywood director, Mira Nair.

In the front lobby of Mirabai Films hangs an original hand-painted movie poster of Aurat (1940), Mehboob Khan’s little-known precursor to the later smash-hit Mother India (1959). Its relative obscurity (and the eagerness to explain) brings a pride that can only be known to a fellow old Bollywood fanatic. By her desk is a beautiful and fascinating work of photography taken of the interior of R.K. Studios. Mira once explained how the studio in her photograph seems so unassuming and bland, but there, in an inconspicuous back wall besides an empty soda bottle hangs a small, telling picture of the greatest showman of India—Raj Kapoor himself. Despite his wealth and glamour, he and his colleagues maintained an inspiring sense of humility throughout his career that inspired hers.

If you’re looking for more celebrity interest, there is a great scene in her film, Vanity Fair (2004), in which the heroine (played fearlessly by Reese Witherspoon) makes an ill-received attempt to blend in among a high-class dinner party. Guess what? The scene was inspired by none other that the classic song Jaane Woh Kaise from Guru Dutt’s classic Pyaasa! In fact, Mira love it so much and wanted to make sure she captured Dutt’s spirit so precisely, that she got the whole cast together and watched Pyaasa for a movie night before the shoot. You heard me, people. If you have yet to watch Pyaasa yourself and are still looking for reasons to make the commitment, try this: Reese Witherspoon has seen it and you haven’t. Enough said.

Guru Dutt makes the room incredibly uncomfortable in Pyaasa (1957), an inspiration for Reese Witherspoon’s future character in Vanity Fair (2004).

And did you know Mira was very close friends with bold auteur Satyajit Ray? Mira’s favorite of his films include The Apu Trilogy and Days and Night in the Forest (1970), the latter of which was actually screened at the Harvard Film Archive last year with Sharmila Tagore in person! (I obviously had front row seats, almost underwent cardiac arrest upon seeing Sharmila in person, and begged for an autograph that is now framed on my desk. But that’s neither here nor there.) In fact, after growing up on these films, Mira came to respect Sharmila so much as an actress, and eagerly cast her in one of her first indie films called Mississippi Masala (1991)!

There are a million other ways old Bollywood films have influenced her work, and I have highlighted only a few that I know from working with her personally. Watch her films and let us know which others you can spot! Until then, put Pyaasa on your early Christmas list.

-Mrs. 55