Kar Chale Hum Fida Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Haqeeqat soldier's child photo
A fallen soldier carries a photo of his son during the Indo-China War of 1962 portrayed in the epic film Haqeeqat (1964)

Happy Independence Day, India! To celebrate this day, we recall the sacrifice and service of our men in uniform through the poetic call to action, “Kar Chale Hum Fida,” from the great war film Haqeeqat (1964). Starring Dharmendra, Jayant, Priya Rajvansh, and Balraj Sahni, Haqeeqat was the first film of its kind to bring audiences straight to the battlefield through the eyes of Indian soldiers (an obvious inspiration for its successful modern interpretation Border in 1997). Director Chetan Anand tells a self-described “mosaic” of a war freshly lost by India, but inspires confidence in the morale-shattered audiences with moving heroism and romance. Set in the ethereal realm of Ladakh along the border of India and China, Haqeeqat revives our hopes for the future of the still growing nation and glorifies the righteousness of Indian values even when defeated. The enemy are seen as scrawny, primitive beings with a limited vocabulary while the Indian fighters are tall, gorgeous, eloquent, and noble. Haqeeqat, meaning “reality,” portrays the real losses of the Indian army, complete with stunning battle re-enactments across the Himalayas, however, the poignancy of the film is how it turns losing a war with honor into a vastly more important moral victory.

“Kar Chale Hum Fida” bears a different kind of optimism than the “Mera Joota Hai Japani” anthem of post-independence India–an outlook now tempered by the marvels of technological and cultural advances with which the nascent country sought to keep pace and by the very real threat of encroaching communism. The song classically depicts the motherland as a new bride to be defended and death as a welcome sacrifice to preserve her honor. With godlike bravery and fortitude that surmounts all obstacles, the soldiers in “Kar Chale Hum Fida” transcend from life to death, from idealistic to divine. Hope is derived from the constant refrain that entrusts the responsibility of the nation to the next generation. Written in a flash of inspiration at 1 AM by Kaifi Azmi, the song’s tune arrived equally serendipitously to composer Madam Mohan the same night and was recorded the next morning.

Haqeeqat soldier death wife daydream editing sequence
The brilliant montage of a soldier’s death with his wife turning off their bedroom lamp in Haqeeqat (1964). Trace each shot and its mis-en-scene carefully from left to right to understand the genius of this editing sequence.

Before we further discuss the lyrics to what I believe is certainly one of Kaifi Azmi’s most beautiful poems, I need to talk about a moment earlier in the film that is one of the greatest moments in film history. Note that I wrote “film history,” not merely “Bollywood film history.” This sequence is incredible and deserves a full essay. There are some moments in the human experience that can only truly be expressed through the medium of film. These are rare and a gift to any director. Most stories can be well told in prose or acted in a theatre, but the true magic of cinema lives in moments like these that fuel a film director’s dreams. In this case, film editing is the star, the juxtaposition of distinct images harkens back to Soviet montage theory when filmmakers were first exploring the possibilities of the medium. Let’s walk through this together:

Ram Swaroop plays a soldier sent to the border with a tiny boxful of earth and seeds that his young bride tells him to plant in the barren lands of Ladakh. But he is wounded mortally in the crossfire and falls on his side to the ground in a medium close-up. CUT: A reverse shot* of his wife on their bed reaching to the lamp. She flicks the light off. CUT: Reverse reaction shot of Swaroop lying on the battlefield, he smiles at her. CUT: She smiles in return, flirtatiously switching the lamp back on. She turns it off again and moves closer to him. Her eyes close as if to sleep. CUT: A gunshot is heard and Swaroop falls dead in a close-up. CUT: Wide-shot of a Chinese soldier standing over Swaroop’s body with a warm gun. CUT: Close-up of the box of earth his wife had given to him, flung to the side.

What does it mean? In 2015, we take so much about film and our common constructs for granted. Here, a man and a woman completely separated by time and space are juxtaposed back-to-back and we as an audience immediately understand what is happening. How extraordinary, if you think about it. Swaroop is imagining that he sees his wife, recalling an earlier memory of them lying together in bed. We recognize that he is dying and the symbolism of her lamp flicking on-and-off is suddenly clear. When her lamps turns off and she falls asleep, he will never awaken. It is a tantalizing moment as we are both fearful of this inevitable poetic death, but also hypnotized by her flirtatious smile and playfulness with the light. The brilliance of the editing transports us suddenly from the cold battlefield to the warmth of a bedroom and the intimacy of a couple in love. It’s a reminder of what wars are truly being fought for. We want him to join her almost as much as we need him to remain alive. The close-up of earth after Swaroop’s murder assumes the wife’s logical next position in the editing of the sequence, invoking the classic symbolism of India as a new bride whose honor is worth dying for. This is the only medium that has the power to capture this. Take a second for me with this absolutely stunning sequence and just appreciate film–film as a medium, film as poetry.

*Note: For the film nerds among us, you’ll note that the shot of Swaroop’s wife is not technically a “reverse shot.” Classical Hollywood cinema and the 180 degree principle of continuity editing tells us that for a true reverse shot, the eye lines of the subjects must match (ie. his wife’s head should in principle be on the right looking to the left), a construct with which Chetan Anand is exceedingly familiar and employed throughout the film. However, he brilliantly chose to break this rule and instead mirrors (both literally and figuratively) the shot preceding it, thus presenting an entirely alternative reality rather than a simple continuation of ideas. Am I too obsessed?

Haqeeqat Prime Minister Nehru
Though criticized for his failure to anticipate Chinese attacks, Prime Minister Nehru himself blesses us with a brief cameo derived from archival footage in the delightfully pro-Indian government film Haqeeqat (1964).

Sorry for that huge stream of consciousness, but the filmmaker in me had to rave (as I simultaneously wipe away tears of appreciation). MOVING ON. Like the heart-wrenching “Aye Mere Watan Ki Logon,” “Kar Chale Hum Fida” effectively celebrates heroism rather than dwell on military strategic failures. We hope you remember some of the men and women in uniform in your life today as we celebrate their sacrifices with the lyrics and English translation of “Kar Chale Hum Fida” below. The video to follow along can be found here. Enjoy!

Kar Chale Hum Fida Lyrics and Translation:

Kar chale hum fidaa jaan-o-tan saathiiyo
We are finished sacrificing our lives and bodies, companions
Ab tumhaare hawaale watan saathiiyo.N
Now we entrust the country to you, companions

Saa.Ns thamtii gayii, nabz jamti gayii, phir bhi baDhte qadam ko na rukhne diyaa
Our breaths kept halting, our pulses kept congealing, but we did not allow our advancing footsteps to pause
KaT gaye sar hamaare to kuch gham nahii.N, sar Himaalaya ka humne na jhukne diyaa
If our heads were cut, we felt no sorrow, for we did not allow the head of the Himalayas to bow
Marte marte rahaa baa.Nkpan saathiiyo
As we died, our chivalry remained, companions
Ab tumhaare hawaale watan saathiiyo
Now we entrust the country to you, companions

Zindaa rahne ke mausam bahut hai.N magar jaan dene ki rut roz aati nahii.N
There are many seasons to live, however, the time to give your life does not come every day
Husn aur ishq dono.N ko ruswaa kare woh jawaanii jo khoo.N mei.N nahaatii nahii.N
What displeases beauty and love are youth that do not bathe in blood
Aaj dhartii bani hai dulhan saathiiyo
Today the earth became our bride, companions
Ab tumhaare hawaale watan saathiiyo
Now we entrust the country to you, companions

Raah qurbaniyo.N kii na viraan ho, tum sajaate hii rehnaa naaye qaafile
Let the path of sacrifice not become barren, you must continue to adorn it with new processions
Fateh ka jashn is jashn ke baad hai zindagii maut se mil rahii hai.N gale
The celebration of victory is after this victory in which life and death are embracing
Baa.Ndh lo apne sar se qafan saathiiyo
Tie the funeral shroud upon your heads, companions
Ab tumhaare hawaale watan saathiiyo.N
Now we entrust the country to you, companions

Khe.Nch do apne khuu.N se zameen par lakeer,* is taraf aane paaye na Raavan koi
Draw out a line upon this earth with your blood and do not let any demons come this way
ToD do haath agar haath uThne lage, chuu.N na paaye na Sitaa kaa daaman koii
Break the enemy’s hand if his hand raises [against you] and let no one dishonor Sita
Raam bhi tum, tum hii Lakshman saathiiyo.N
You are both Ram and Lakshman, companions
Ab tumhaare hawaale watan saathiiyo.N
Now we entrust the country to you, companions

Kar chale hum fidaa jaan-o-tan saathiiyo
We are finished sacrificing our lives and bodies, companions
Ab tumhaare hawaale watan saathiiyo.N
Now we entrust the country to you, companions

Glossary:

kar chalnaa: to depart; fidaa: sacrifice; jaan: life; tan: body; saathii: companion; [kisi ke] hawaale: [in someone’s] care; watan: country; saa.Ns: breath; thhamnaa: to stop; nabz: pulse; jamnaa: to solidify, to freeze; baDhnaa: to advance; qadam: footsteps; [kisi ko] rukhne diyaa: to allow [something] to stop; kaT; cut; sar: head; gham: sorrow; Himaalaay: Himalayan mountains; jhuknaa: to bow; marnaa: to die; baa.Nkpan: chivalry; zindaa rehnaa: to remain living; mausam: season; rut: time, season; roz: every day; husn: beauty; ishq: love; ruswaa: disgrace; jawaanii: youth; khoo.N: blood; nahaanaa: to bathe; dhartii: earth; dulhan: bride; raah: path; qurbaanii: sacrifice; viraa.N: barren, wasteland; sajaanaa: to decorate; qaafile: gathering, procession; fateh: victory; jashn: celebration; [kisi ke] baad: after [something]; maut: death; gale milnaa: to embrace; baa.Ndhnaa: to tie; qafan: funeral shroud; khe.Nchnaa: to pull, to draw; zameen: earth; lakeer: line; taraf: side, toward; raavaan: mythological demon of the Ramayan; toDnaa: to break; haath: hand; uThnaa: to raise; chuu.Nnaa: to touch (in this sense, referring to the dishonorable act of touching Sita’s garments); Sitaa: Queen of Ayodha, wife of Lord Rama; [kisi ka] daaman: end of [someone’s] skirt or garment, [someone’s] company; Raam: Lord Ram, King of Ayodha; Lakshman: brother of Ram, entrusted to protect Sita in the Ramayan

*This is a reference to the ancient myth of the Ramayana in which Lord Rama draws a white circle in the ground through which his enemy, Ravana, cannot pass. As long as his wife Sita, the embodiment of Indian womanhood, remained behind this line, she would remain safe (of course, she is tricked into leaving it or we wouldn’t have a story). Lakshman, Rama’s brother, protects Sita at her side while Rama is away. Both brothers, the offense and defense, are critical to preserving Sita’s honor in the Ramayana.

Haqeeqat
At the end of Haqeeqat (1964), the film fades to black over the battle-scarred face of a younger generation with the words, “THE END IS NOT YET.” Bold move, title card designer guy. Bold move.

This song is dedicated to my late grandfather, a Major-General in the Indian Army, who became an orphan at the age of 12, survived the Partition of India in 1947, fought on the fronts of the Indo-China War of 1962, and received the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal for his service in the Corps of Military Intelligence during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. He eventually retired with 3 children and 5 grandchildren who still strive to be as elegant and brave a human being as him.

– Mrs. 55

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The History of Kissing in Bollywood: Timeline of a Taboo

Satyam Shivan Sundaram kiss Shashi Kapoor Zeenat Aman
Shashi Kapoor and Zeenat Aman kiss each other and a damp dupatta in Satyam Shivan Sundaram (1977).

Kissing in Bollywood films has been a volatile subject, a heated source of international ridicule and shame, for almost 100 years.  This blog post is likely to horrify just as many readers as it intrigues. What many people do not know is that the taboo of kissing in Hindi films has evolved so dramatically since the birth of film. In its early days, intimacy on-screen was not the heretical offense it later became–in fact, an appropriate diegetic display of affection was once standard fare in Hindi film! But a carefully constructed web of symbolic cinematography and allegorical imagery soon replaced the film industry’s brief encounter with physical romance. Instead generations of Indians grew up in a world where pretty treetops and flowers were more passionate than any human interaction could ever become. We created scores of young men and women like myself who get so uncomfortable when kissing appears on-screen if Indian parents are present, that we actually have to leave the room to relieve tension. And when I first saw Shashi Kapoor sell his soul kissing in a Satyam Shivam Sundaram, I felt my world had come to an end.

Why is there such hype around kissing in Hindi films? After all, we’re all modern citizens of the world, and certainly Indians are some of the most romantic. Kissing in Bollywood films has jumped the spectrum from as liberal as the French in the 1920s to a wave of conservatism brought by the 1950s and again a shift back toward cinema’s early lip-locking roots by the 1990s. We at Mr. and Mrs. 55 hope our descriptive timeline of this fascinating cause célèbre sheds light on this controversial impulse of nature we were all led to believe pure Indian film stars did not possess!

Kohra Waheeda Rehman kiss fish symbolism
Director Biren Nag cleverly cuts from a threatened kissing scene in Kohra (1964) between Waheeda Rehman and Biswajeet to two fish finishing what the married couple started.

1896: The Lumiere Brothers bring cinema to India with a showing at the Watson Hotel in Bombay.

1918: Cinematographic Act is first passed by the country’s legislative council.

This addresses the licensing of cinema houses and the certification of films declared suitable for public exhibition. Boards of Censors would be established within 2 years in all major Indian cities, based on the guidelines of the British Board of Film Censors.

1921: Bilat Ferat, a Bengali silent film directed by Dhirendra Nath Gunguli, displays intimate scenes and kissing galore.

Based on Mahabharata, the film is about two kings who are vying for same hermit’s daughter.

1922: The film Pati Bhakti showcases Lalita Pawar in a serious kiss.

She would later become known for her stock roles in the 1950s and 1960s as the hard-hitting conservative mother figure.

1929: Silent film A Throw of Dice an exciting kiss between actors Seeta Devi and Charu Roy.

1933: Devika Rani locked lips with her real life husband Himanshu Rai on screen in Karma.

The famous lip-lock took 4 minutes and remains the longest onscreen kiss to date.

Devika Rani Karma
Shocking, right? Silent film star Devika Rani kisses her hero like a champ in Karma (1933). I know, I know. Despite myself, I can’t help but feel really, really uncomfortable.

1952: Cinematograph Act is established, ruling on-screen kissing to be indecent.

The Supreme Court of India claims: “Film censorship becomes necessary because a film motivates thought and action and assures a high degree of attention and retention as compared to the printed word. The combination of act and speech, sight and sound in semi darkness of the theatre with elimination of all distracting ideas will have a strong impact on the minds of the viewers and can affect emotions. Therefore, it has as much potential for evil as it has for good and has an equal potential to instill or cultivate violent or bad behaviour. It cannot be equated with other modes of communication.”

1954: 13,000 Indian women of Delhi collect a petition to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru that urges him to address the cinema’s wild potential to encourage “precocious sex habits.”

My question is, where were all the Indian men of Delhi?

“Films have an essential part to play in the modern world,” Nehru responded. “At the same time it is true that any powerful medium like motion pictures has a good effect and a bad effect. We have to take care therefore that we emphasise the good aspect of it.”

Incidentally, the biographical movie “The Indian Summer” in production a few years ago featured the story of Prime Minister Nehru during independence. The irony? The Information and broadcasting ministry wanted a scene featuring the kiss between Nehru and Edwina, wife of Lord Mountbatten, to be deleted. The film was ultimately shelved.

1964: The film Kohra displays a super awkward scene between a newlywed couple flirting with each other as wife Waheeda Rehman attempts to wake up her husband Biswajeet in the morning.

Several kisses are creatively implied. While the scene is actually filmed in the couple’s bedroom, two twin beds are shown just in case there could be any confusion.

1969: The song “Roop Tera Mastana” from film Aradhana becomes arguably the steamiest scene ever to hit the Hindi film industry.

See our English translation of “Roop Tera Mastana” for more! The Khosla Committee is established to inquire into the working of the existing procedures for the certification of films for public exhibition and related matters, focusing on the representation of sexuality saying:

“If, in telling the story it is logical, relevant or necessary to depict a passionate kiss or a nude human figure, there should be no question of excluding the shot, provided the theme is handled with delicacy and feeling, aiming at aesthetic expression and avoiding all suggestion of prurience or lasciviousness.”

Yet, many continued to find this attitude “un-Indian,” as the nation grappled with its increasingly important role in the global forum.

Bobby Rishi Kapoor Dimple kapadia kissing
Rishi Kapoor unexpectedly smooches Dimple Kapadia in Bobby (1973).

1973: Dimple Kapadia dresses in fewer items of clothing than ever seen on-screen before and kisses Rishi Kapoor in the film Bobby.

From bikini scenes by a pool, to lounging around the house with her bare midriff and a miniskirt, Dimple Kapadia was careful to leave nothing to the imagination.

1978: The film Satyam Shivam Sundaram showcases Shashi Kapoor and Zeenat Aman locking lips in multiple scenes.

Shashi Kapoor eventually jumps off the kissing deep-end in Merchant-Ivory films becoming known as the Bollywood actor with no boundaries!

1988: Gulzar’s Libaas is banned by the Indian Censor Board and was not released in India until 2014.

The film starring Shabana Azmi and Naseerudin Shah centers on Indian couples having extra-marital relationships. The film was critically acclaimed around the world, but was not allowed a showing for almost 30 years in the country of its origin.

I’m sure the Censor Board’s decision to ban this film prevented tons of men and women from cheating on each other…umm, not.

1996: Raja Hindustani features an awkward minute-long kiss between Amir Khan and Karishma Kapoor.

I still recall the awkwardness of that scene when first seeing this film with my family. Oh, my scarred childhood.

2004: Sharmila Tagore becomes Chair of the Central Board of Film Certification (until 2011).

You might think that would tame things down again, but she subsequently allows all kinds of wildness:

“We see ourselves as more of a certification body than just censor board. We are not into moral policing; we follow a middle path. There are certain things we let go, as we have to be a little more tolerant and mature. Times are changing and we have to change with it.”

Under her watch, kissing in Hindi films hits the jackpot.

“I do believe in censorship and I do believe in freedom of expression, but at the same time there has to be a reasonable restriction. You really can’t go back; the change of being liberal is here to stay for a longer time,” she added.

2005: Rani Mukherjee and Amitabh Bachhan share a cross-generational kiss in the film Black

It’s as weird as you would imagine.

2008: A passionate kiss between Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan in the film Dhoom 2 was asked to be removed by Aishwarya’s father-in-law, Amitabh Bachhan.

After all, she was a married woman now, and that would just be the height of humiliation for her family, right???! Oh, the irony. Isn’t it 2008 already?

2010: Shah Rukh Khan who vowed never to kiss on-screen was “forced” to kiss Katrina Kaif in the film Jab Tak Hai Jaan.

Oh please, Shah Rukh. That didn’t exactly look like extortion to me.

2012: Bombay Talkies displays Bollywood’s first full-out gay kiss, and debuted at the Cannes Film Festival.

We totally love how this is finally making it to the mainstream and stereotypes are getting challenged in India! Thank you Karan Johar for having more guts than most Bollywood directors ever did.

Karan Johar gay kiss Bombay Talkies
Director Karan Johar featured a tender kiss between two men with lots of facial hair in his short segment in Bombay Talkies (2012).

My apologies in advance to all the aunties who were unable to finish their breakfasts because they stumbled across this post. Believe me, it hurts me as much as it hurts you.

One of the reasons we’ve been so out of touch the past few months is because of preparations for my wedding that took place 2 weeks ago! Mr. 55 gave a beautiful piano performance at the sangeet of “Lag Ja Gale” that would have you in tears. Many pictures are forthcoming, but you’ll be interested to note that in classic Bollywood tradition, not a single kiss was planned at the event! But we were tricked as soon after we stepped off the mandap by my husband’s groomsmen yelling in unison to “Kiss the bride!” It was a no-win situation! If we kissed, my Nani was right in the front row and would judge us so hard, but if we didn’t, our friends would think we had some kind of problem.

So we went for it. It was probably the most awkward thing I’ve ever done. Thank you old Bollywood films for making two otherwise completely normal Americans totally unprepared for a public display of affection at their own wedding.

And no, we won’t be posting any pictures of that special moment…for obvious reasons.

– Mrs. 55

 

Mera Joota Hai Japani Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Raj Kapoor Shree 420 Charlie Chaplin
Raj Kapoor in his famous Charlie Chaplin incarnation from hit film Shree 420 (1955)

Today we showcase the lyrics and English translation of “Mera Joota Hai Japani” from Raj Kapoor’s Shree 420 (1955) to mark the occasion of India’s Independence Day! Shree 420 is truly a landmark film in Hindi cinema starring a legendary showman who became known from Bombay to Bulgaria. To understand the film and the ramifications of the enormously popular song of patriotism, “Mera Joota Hai Japani,” we turn to the context of the nation’s not-so-distant past.

When India awakened to independence from British rule in the summer of 1947, the country faced many barriers to united prosperity under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s integrated social programs. While the freedom for which it had fought for generations was now realized, the Partition divided the Northern boundary of the nation between Muslims and Hindus, bolstering a mutual fear and hatred that seeped into the many ethnically diverse major cities. There, in turn, a rapid industrialization ideologically distanced the surrounding villagers from the urbanites, and a booming economy further isolated and redefined the gentry and the working class. While the geographic and cultural bars of much of Southern India allowed for a lesser degree of revolution, the Northern states, especially in the metropolises like Bombay where Bollywood blossomed, underwent a dramatic change that was felt at some level by the majority of inhabitants. Some strove to achieve a balance between the traditions of old and the advantages of Westernization, others the romanticism of rural life versus modern city life, and as always, the penniless lower classes wished to close the widening economic gap between themselves and the teeming wealth of the industrialists. In this maze of contradictions and extremes, Nehru tried nobly to guide the nation into forming a unique identity of its own as it moved into the future.

Raj Kapoor phir bhi dil hair hindustani shree 420
Raj Kapoor famously reminds his audience that “Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani” in Shree 420 (1955).

The elaborate family dramas and mythologicals of pre-independence Bollywood, therefore, no longer completely satisfied the country’s cinematic needs. Raj Kapoor was among the major influential directors and actors that emerged in the early years of independence whose work changed the face of Indian film. With the surfacing of a new middle and lower class audience, he sought to restructure the accessibility and impact of Indian cinema. Raj Kapoor (whose self-proclaimed audience was the underdog and downtrodden) responded to the socio-economic tensions of Nehru’s India through highly stylistic proletariat films that glorified the virtuous poor. His Chaplin-esque comedic appeal and playful optimism made him an iconic figure domestically and across the Middle East and Soviet Union. As a director of many of the era’s greatest hits such as the classic comedy, Shree 420, he established in the 1950s what now seems to be the “formulaic” Bollywood film. His plots mingled wholesome entertainment with social tension, dramatic one-liners, catchy show tunes, and the invariable triumph of Indian purity in the poor over the decadent Westernized ways of the rich.

Shree 420 is the story of a young man, Raju, who wanders from the countryside to find opportunity in city society. With an innocent smile and optimism, he strolls down the street famously singing love for his homeland in “Mera Joota Hai Japani.” His humble cheerfulness and patriotic pride captures the spirit of Nehru’s hopes and ideals for the blooming nation of a newly independent India threatened by corruption. 420, the well-known number from which the film derives its title, is the Indian penal code for fraud and dishonesty, and foreshadows Raju’s discovery of the means to survive in “modern” society.

Raj Kapoor mera joota hai japani
Raj Kapoor hops on a camel with an old guy who doesn’t seem to mind in Shree 420 (1955)

Shree 420 was a milestone production under the R.K. Studios banner that was among the first to be produced, directed, and acted in by Raj Kapoor himself. The son of a widely respected and extremely wealthy actor of the previous era, Prithviraj Kapoor, Raj Kapoor was nurtured in the film industry and had little difficulty in starting his own company with a very liberal amount of freedom. Formed in 1946, R.K. Studios went on to create some of the most successful films of Indian cinema. With lyrics by Shailendra and the soulful voice of Mukesh, we hope you enjoy our English translation of the lyrics to one of the thespian’s most beloved solos, “Mera Joota Hai Japani!”

Mera Joota Hai Japani Lyrics and Translation:

Meraa juuta hai Japaanii, yeh patluun Englishtaanii
My shoes are Japanese, these pants are British
Sar pe laal topii Ruusi, phir bhi dil hai Hindustanii
On my head is a red Russian hat, nonetheless my heart is Indian

Nikal paDe hai khulii saDak par, apnaa seenaa taane
I set out upon the wide open road confidently
Manzil kahaa.N, kahaa.N ruknaa hai, uparwaalaa jaane
Where is my destination, where must I stop, only God knows
BaDhte jaaye.N hum sailaanii, jaise ek Dariyaa toofanii
We advance forward relentlessly, as if a hurricane in a river
Sar pe laal topi Ruusi phir bhi dil hai Hindustani
On my head is a red Russian hat, nonetheless my heart is Indian
Mera juuta hai Japaanii…

Uupar-niiche niiche-uupar, leher chale jeevan kii
High to low, low to high, the waves of life flow
Nadaa.N hai jo baiThe kinaare, puuchhe raah watan kii
Those who wait by the shore are naive, ask for the path toward the motherland
Chalna jeevan kii kahaanii, rukna maut kii nishaanii
Going is the story of life while stopping is a sign of death
Sar pe laal topi Ruusi phir bhi dil hai Hindustani
On my head is a red Russian hat, nonetheless my heart is Indian
Mera juuta hai Japaanii…

Ho.Nge raaje rajkanwar ham bigaDe dil shehzaade
I will become the prince of fallen hearts
Ham singhaasan par jaa baithe.N jab jab kare.N iraade.N
I will sit upon a throne whenever I desire
Surat hai jaani-pehchaanii, duniyaa walo.N ko hairanii
My face will become familiar, it will be a surprise to the world
Sar pe laal topi Ruusi phir bhi dil hai Hindustani
On my head is a red Russian hat, nonetheless my heart is Indian
Mera juuta hai Japaanii…

Glossary:

juuta: shoe; Japaanii: Japanese; patluun: pants; Englishtani: British; sar: head; laal: red; topii: hat; Ruusii: Russian; phir bhi: nonetheless; however; dil: heart; Hindustani: Indian; nikal paDnaa: to set out; khulii: open; saDak: road; seenaa taannaa: (literally) to puff out the chest with pride, confidently; manzil: destination; ruknaa: to stop; uparwaalaa: God, he who is above; sailaanii: relentlessly; Dariyaa: river; toofaan: hurricane; uupar: high; niiche: low; leher: wave; jeevan: life; nadaa.N: naive; foolish; baiThnaa: to sit; kinaaraa: shore; raah: path; watan: motherland; country; maut: death; nishaanii: sign, symbol; raajaa: king; rajkanwar: prince; bigaDnaa: to fall; shehzaadaa: prince; singhaasan: throne; iraadaa: desire; surat: face; jaan-pehchaan: familiar; hairaani: surprise

Rural India to city transition
Raj Kapoor elegantly transitions with a cross-fade from rural India to a bustling city at the end of “Mera Joota Hai Japani.”

In the 1960s Raj Kapoor would drop his former image of the lovable proletariat and direct movies that resonated as family dramas of the wealthy, an increasing surrender to commercialism. The socio-political atmosphere of India had changed, and with it, the wants of the people. Movies that emphasized the difficulties of the developing period of the nation, or the unforgiving nature of that society were not the sell-outs they once were. The transition to a new era was over.

– Mrs. 55

camel
My fiance and I camel-spotting à la Raj Kapoor on our journey from New Delhi to Agra in a recent trip! Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani, as they say…

Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

A rare photograph depicting Lata Mangeshkar’s performance of “ai mere vatan ke logo” at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on Republic Day,1963

On behalf of Mrs. 55 and me, I’d like to wish all of our readers a happy Indian Independence Day! In celebration of this holiday, we have provided the lyrics and translation for an all-time patriotic classic: ai mere vatan ke logo. Although this song is not technically a Bollywood song, all of the artists involved in its production are legends of the Hindi film industry: composer C. Ramachandra, poet Kavi Pradeep, and of course, singer Lata Mangeshkar. Kavi Pradeep was inspired to write the lyrics of this poem after being moved by the losses India suffered during the Sino-Indian War of 1962. His tribute to the Indian soldiers who fought in the war has become immortalized in this touching anthem, which is remembered today as one of the finest Hindi songs in the patriotic genre.

Even a song like this, however, was not immune to the drama of the Bollywood industry. It has been reported by journalist Raju Bharatan that C.Ramachandra originally composed this song as a duet between Lata and her younger sister Asha Bhonsle. Allegedly, Lata managed to coax her sister out of the situation using questionable tactics and went on to record the song as a solo because she wanted it for herself. If this story is not merely Bollywood gossip, I certainly don’t condone the lack of sisterly love–but I can say that you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks Lata didn’t do complete justice to this gem.

Kavi Pradeep (left), Lata Mangeshkar (center), C. Ramachandra (right)

In fact, a popular story has been recounted over the years about how Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was moved to tears when Lata debuted this number at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi just two months after the war ended.  Lata narrates this incident in her own words:

Following the Chinese attack on India in 1962, Pradeep ji wrote this song and I sang it for the first time in Delhi on Republic Day on 26th January, 1963. C. Ramchandra conducted the few musicians who were performing on stage with me. That year, many stars and music directors from Bombay were in Delhi, including Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Naushad Ali, Shankar-Jaikishan and Madan Mohan. Once I finished singing, I sat down behind the stage and asked for a coffee.

Mehboob Sahib came rushing to me and said: ‘Lata! Where is Lata? Panditji is calling you.’ I followed him outside and when Pandit ji saw me, he stood up. Indira ji and many leading politicians were there too.

Mehboob Sahib introduced me saying: ‘This is Lata Mangeshkar.’ He said: ‘beTii, tum ne aaj mujhe rulaa diyaa’ [Child, you have brought tears to my eyes today].

Given the occasion, we hope that you’ll take a moment to listen to this evergreen patriotic anthem and commemorate the brave heroes who have fought to protect the freedom of our beloved motherland over the years. Jai Hind!

–Mr. 55

Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo: Lyrics and Translation

ai mere vatan ke logo, tum khuub lagaa lo naaraa
Oh, my fellow citizens! Chant slogans in praise of our country.
yah shubhdin hai ham sab kaa, laharaa lo tiiranga pyaaraa
This is an auspicious day for us all,  so fly our beloved tri-color flag.
par mat bhuulo siimaa par viiro.n ne hai praan ga.nvaaye
Yet, do not forget that brave soldiers have lost their lives on our borders.
kuchh yaad unhe.n bhii kar lo, jo laut ke ghar na aaye
Remember those who have not returned home.

ai mere vatan ke logo, zaraa aa.nkh me.n bhar lo paani
Oh, my fellow citizens! Shed a few tears.
jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaanii
Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs.
tum bhuul na jaao unko, is liye suno yah kahaanii
Listen to this story so that you do not forget them.
jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaani
Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs.

jab ghaayal huaa himaalay, khatre me.n paDii aazaadii
When the great Himalayas were wounded and our freedom was in danger,
jab tak thii saa.ns laDe ve, phir apnii laash bichha dii
They fought until their last breath and then laid their corpses to the ground.
sangiin pe dhar kar maatha, so gaye amar baliidaanii
Resting their heads on bayonets, these immortal martyrs fell into an eternal sleep.
jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaanii
Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs. 

jab desh me.n thii diivaalii, ve khel rahe the holii
When our country celebrated Diwali, they were playing Holi on the battlefield.
jab ham baiThe the gharo.n me.n, ve jhel rahe the golii
As we sat comfortably in our homes, they were firing bullets.
the dhanya javaan ve apane, thii dhanya vah unkii javaanii
Blessed were those soldiers, and blessed was their youth.
jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaanii
Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs.

koii sikh koii jaaT maraaThaa, koii gurkhaa koii madaraasii
Some were Sikh, Jaat, or Marathi; some were Gurkha or Madrasi.
sarhad par marnevaala har viir thaa bhaaratvaasii
But each man who died on the border was an Indian,
jo khuun giraa parvat par, wah khuun thaa hindustaanii
And the blood that stained the mountainside was Indian blood.
jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaanii
Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs. 

thii khuun se lathpath kaayaa, phir bhii banduuk uThaa ke
Although their bodies were soaked in blood, they still raised their guns.
das das ko ek ne maaraa, phir gir gaye hosh ga.nvaa ke
Each man shot tens of enemy soldiers and then fell unconscious to the ground.

jab ant samay aayaa to kah gaye ki ab marte hai.n
When the final moment came, they said: “Now we shall die.
khush rahnaa desh ke pyaaro, ab ham to safar karte hai.n
My beloved countrymen, stay happy. We now begin our final journey to the afterlife.”
kyaa log the ve diivaane, kyaa log the ve abhiimaanii
They displayed such passion and dignity.
jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaani
Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs.

tum bhuul na jaao unko, is liye kahii yah kahaanii
This story has been recounted so that you do not forget them.
jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaani
Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs.

jai hind, jai hind kii senaa
jai hind, jai hind, jai hind!
Victory to India and its armed forces!

Glossary

vatan: motherland; naaraa: slogan; shubhdin: auspicious day; tiirangaa: tri-color; siimaa: boundary; viir: brave; praan: life; shahiid: martyr; qurbanii: sacrifice; ghaayal: wounded; khatre me.n: in danger; aazaadii: freedom; laash: corpse; bichhanaa: to lay; sangiin: bayonet; amar: immortal; balidaanii: martyr; golii jhelnaa: to fire a bullet; dhanya: blessed; sarhad: border; khuun: blood; lathpath: soaked; kaayaa: body; hosh: senses, conscious; abhimaanii: dignified; senaa: army.

Mere Desh Ki Dharti Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Manoj Kumar Mere Desh Ki Dharti
The glory of India’s ancient heritage is celebrated in Manoj Kumar’s “Mere Desh Ki Dharti” from Upkar (1967).

In honor of the great beauty of India we present the patriotic lyrics and English translation of “Mere Desh Ki Dharti” from Upkar (1967). There are few songs that have attained the kind of beloved immortality found in the lyrics of “Mere Desh Ki Dharti.” A rousing declaration of love for the motherland, this song evokes nostalgia, nationalism, and an unwavering pride in traditional values that director Manoj Kumar advocated throughout his career. The film Upkar (1967) from which the song comes is one of many socially responsible movies pioneered by Manoj Kumar in that era–earning him the nickname Mr. Bharat! Like his other works Shaheed (1965), Purab Aur Paschim (1970), and Roti, Kapada, Aur Makaan (1974), Manoj Kumar sought to remind his audience of the beauty of the Indian way of life, of India’s rich history, and of the dangers Westernized modernity could pose to society.

As an interesting contrast to Dev Anand’s somewhat similarly themed-film Prem Pujari (1970), Upkar explores and glorifies the concept of the farmer-soldier, a loyal citizen who selflessly serves the motherland in any way she needs. The hero captures the spirit of self-sacrifice and patriotism in a way that has remained popular even today.

Manoj Kumar pays homage to the tricolor Indian flag in Upkar (1967).

So sure, it’s obviously a propaganda film (the idea of Upkar was after all modeled on Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shashtri’s slogan, “Jai Jawaan, Jai Kissan!“), but hearing the lyrics to this song rendered stirringly by Mahendra Kapoor, you can feel a true admiration and love for India. Fully understanding a translation of “Mere Desh Ki Dharti” can be quite difficult without some contextual knowledge of Indian history as it is filled with rich allusions and metaphors. I have attempted to explain some of them below each lyric (props to my father for filling in the gaps!) So please enjoy our full English translation to the lyrics of “Mere Desh Ki Dharti” below!

Mere Desh Ki Dharti Lyrics and Translation:

Mere desh ki dharti, sonaa ugale, ugale hiire, moti
The soil of my country is made of gold, diamonds, and pearls
Mere desh ki dharti…


Bailo.N ke gale mei.N jab ghungaruu, jeevan kaa raag sunaate hai
The bells around the necks of the bullocks chime to the melody of life
Gham kos duur ho jaataa hai, khushiio.N ke kamal musakaate hai.N
Sadness and regret go away, and joyous lotuses smile
Sun ke rahaT ki aawaaze, yuu.N lage kahii.N shahanaaii baje
Listening to the sounds of the waterwheels, it seems as if auspicous flutes are playing somewhere
Aate hii mast bahaaro.N ke dulhan ki tarah har khet saje
Every field adorns itself like a bride when the thrill of spring arrives
Mere desh ki dharti…

Jab chalte hai.N is dharti pe hal, mamtaa angadaaiiyaa.N leti hai.N
When ploughs till this land, the love of its mother is activated
Kyu.N na puje is maaTii ko, jo jeevan ka sukh deti hai?
Why would we not worship this soil that gives us the joy of life?
Is dharti pe jis ne janam liyaa, usne hii paayaa pyaar teraa
Whoever was born on this land, obtained your love
Yahaa.N apnaa paraayaa koii nahii.N, hai.N sab pe, Maa.N, upkaar teraa
Here there is no difference between a stranger and one of our own, for Mother, you are benevolent to all
Mere desh ki dharti…

Ye baagh hai.N Gautam Naanak ka, khilte hai.N aman ke phool yahaa.N
This is the garden of Bhudda and Guru Naanak, here bloom the flowers of peace
Gandhi, Subhaash, Tagore, Tilak, aise hai.N chaman ke phool yahaa.N
Gandhi, Subhash, Tagore, Tilak–these are the kinds of flowers of this garden
Rang haraa Hari Singh Nalwe se, rang laal hai Lal Bahadur se
Its green color is from Hari Singh Nalwa , and its red color is from Lal Bahadur
Rang banaa basanti Bhagat Singh, rang aman ka viir Jawaahar se
The color became saffron with Bhagat Singh and the color of peace (white) is from the brave Jawaahar
Mere desh ki dharti…

Glossary:

dharti: soil; hiire: diamonds; moti: pearl [in this case, a metaphor for agricultural treasures]; bail: bullock, ghungruu: bells; kamal: lotus; rahat: waterwheels; dulhan: bride; khet: field; hal: plough; maaTi: soil; paraayaa: stranger; upkaar: benevolence; baagh: garden; guatam: Buddha; Naanak: Guru Nanaak; aman: peace; Gandhi: Mahatma Gandhi; Subhaash: Subhash Chandra Bose; Tagore: Rajindernath Tagore; Tilak: Bal Gangadhar Tilak; rang: color [here is he describing the colors of the Indian Flag]; haraa: green; Hari Singh Nalwa: the commander in chief of the Sikh Emperor, Ranjit Singh; Lal Bahadur: Lal Badur Shastri, one of India’s late Prime Ministers; viir: brave; Jawaahar: Jawaaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister

As a brief aside to anyone learning Urdu-Hindi, defining the word “angaDaaii” can be complicated when taken out of context (besides also being hard to pronounce if you’re a non-native speaker!). AngaDaaii can be the stretch you take when you wake up in the morning, it can be the way a traditional wrestler slaps his thighs before hopping into a match. In essence, an angaDaaii is any kind of preparatory movement or action you would take before some event. It’s used quite loosely in Hindi songs and must be read in context to understand the full meaning of the line, so watch out for this trickster.

For more patriotic songs from classic Bollywood films, check out our English translation of “Aye Mere Pyare Watan” from Kabuliwala (1961) and “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna” from Shaheed (1963)!

– Mrs. 55