O Mere Shah-e Khuban Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Clad in a tight kimono, Asha Parekh prances about Japan in Love in Tokyo (1966)

Next we will explore the lyrics and translation of the hit song “O Mere Shah-e Khuban” from Love in Tokyo. Shot on location in Japan shortly after the 1964 Olympics, Love in Tokyo (1966) is nothing short of an “exotic” tourist fantasy. The film is one of a trilogy of films I put in this category from the same era with Night in London (1967) and An Evening in Paris (1967). These are movies that dazzled Indian audiences with a glimpse into a lifestyle and culture outside the familiar homeland, and on occasion were almost laughably politically incorrect. Love in Tokyo stars Asha Parekh (playing an Indian woman raised Japanese) and Joy Mukherji who finds himself in Tokyo for reasons almost too complicated to discuss here (or probably anywhere outside a psychiatric ward).

But say what you want about the worth of the film’s plot, Love in Tokyo’s soundtrack is wonderful (the cheesy title song grows on you in spite of its lyrics). The real gem of the album is the love ballad “O Mere Shah-e Khuban”, with music by Shankar-Jaikishen. Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi each sing a version at different points in the film. I naturally prefer Rafi’s because of that deep sublime silky voice, but it’s open for argument. The lyrics have some rare Urdu vocabulary and is an example of probably the only time you will ever hear the “h” in “shaah” actually pronounced because of the “-e-” conjunct that follows! This Hasrat Jaipuri ghazal harkens to a famous couplet of Mughal era poet Momin Khan Momin: “Tum mere paas hote ho goyaa/Jab koi doosraa nahii.N hotaa.” The lines can be interpreted on several levels, literal and spiritual, and are a beautiful example of classical Urdu poetry’s rich legacy in contemporary music.

I loved the intro music to this song so much, I actually featured it in my Harvard thesis film. Enjoy our English translation of “O Mere Shah-e Khuban” below!

O Mere Shah-e Khuban Lyrics and Translation:

O mere shaah-e khubaa.N, o meri jaan-e janaana
Oh my beautiful ruler, the love of my life
Tum mere paas hote ho
You are beside me
Koi doosra nahi.N hota
Let no one else take your place

O mere shaah-e khubaa.N…

Kab khayaalo.N ki dhoop dhalti hai
When the sunlight fades from my thoughts
Har qadam par shamaa si jalti hai
Then with every step there is a light as if from a candle
Mera saayaa jidhar bhi jaataa hai
For wherever my shadow goes
Teri tasveer saath chalti hai
It goes with your image

O mere shaah-e khubaa.N…

Tum ho saharaa mei.N, tum gulistaan mei.N
You are in the desert, you are in the rose gardens
Tum ho zarron mei.N tum biyaabaan mei.N
You are in every particle, you are in the wilderness
Mai.N ne tumko kahaa.N kahaa.N dekha
I have seen you everywhere
Chhupke rehte ho tum rag-e-jaan mei.N
You are hidden within my very veins

O mere shaah-e khubaa.N…

Meri aankho.N ki justaju tum ho
You are that for which my eyes are searching
Iltijaa tum ho, aarzoo tum ho
You are my prayer, and you are my desire
Main kisi aur ko to kya jaanuu.N?
What could I know about anyone else
Meri ulfat ki aabroo tum ho
The honor of my love lies with you

O mere shaah-e khubaa.N…


Shaah: ruler; khubaa.N: radiant, beautiful; janaanaa: beloved; doosra: second, other; dhoop: sunlight; shamaa: light, candle; saayaa: shadow; tasveer: photograph, image; saharaa: desert; gulistaan: rose garden; zar: particle; biyaabaan: wilderness, desert; rag: vein, vessel; justaju: quest, search; iltijaa: request, prayer; aarzoo: desire; ulfat: love; aabroo: honor

As a bizarre bit of trivia, in the film Asha Parekh often does her hair in cutsy ponytails with a beaded elastic. The hairdo became known as “The Love in Tokyo” and was enjoyed a brief period of popularity among the masses. But men, don’t think you’re above this sort of fad–that classy plaid fedora from Jewel Thief? Sold-out in Indian stores across the nation after the film’s release. So let’s just try be grateful for what dignity we have.

Sweet ‘do, Asha. You totally blend in now!

-Mrs. 55