The Immortal Dialogue of Pakeezah and English Translation

Now we will explore some classic Pakeezah dialogue, quotes and their English translations from the timeless 1971 film. I think it’s pretty clear that we’re obsessed with this movie. We’ve discussed the making of the film and its songs, but let’s take a moment to appreciate Pakeezah’s dialogue for which there is truly no comparison outside of the ode to spoken Urdu poetry that is Mughal-e-Azam (1960).

Aapke paaoo.N dekhe. Bahut haseen hai.N. Inhe zameen par mat utariiyega. Mele ho jaaye.Nge –Aapkaa ek humsafar…”

[“I have seen your feet. They are beautiful. Please do not place them on the ground. They will become dirty. –A fellow traveler…”]

I have to give a caveat: although we have provided a full English translation of these Pakeezah dialogues, I think the true poetry is lost outside of the Urdu language. Written by Kamal Amrohi himself, the exquisite dialogue of Pakeezah transports you to a languid surrealist fantasy. Among other questions, you may ask did people really talk like that? Do men as devastatingly charming as Raajkumar exist in real life? How fake is that blonde wig from the opening scene, seriously?

Although some of these will remain unanswered, let us now look closer at 3 of my favorite gems of Pakeezah dialogue and English translations that will be sure to get your heart rate up.

Ek har raat, teen baje. Ek rail gaadi apni patriyon se utar gayii, aur meri dil se guzarti hai...

[“Every night, when the clock strikes 3, a train leaves its rails and passes through my heart…”]

The first dialogue comes days after Pakeezah has received Rajkumar’s love letter. She is restless and can no longer focus on her work. Pakeezah confesses the reason for her behavior to her friend, who reacts famously against indulging such dreams. It’s a heartbreaking scene made artful by the grace of the Urdu language. Also please look at those sets and tell me there are architects in America who know how to build them.

PAKEEZAH: Bahut dino.N se, mujhe aisaa kuch lagtaa hai jaise mai.N badaltii jaa rahii hoo.N. Jaise mai.N kisi anjaane safar mei.N hoo.N aur kahii.N jaa rahii hoo.N. Sab kuch chuuTa jaa raha hai. Sahib Jaan bhi mujhse chuuT rahe hai.N, aur mai.N Sahib Jaan se duur hoti jaa rahi hoo.N.

[PAKEEZAH: For many days now, I feel as if I am changing. As if I am on an unknown journey and going somewhere. Everything is going away from me. Sahib Jaan is even leaving me, and I am going far from Sahib Jaan.]

SAHELI: Kaun hai yeh?

[SAHELI: Who is he?]

PAKEEZAH: Kaun?

[PAKEEZAH: Who?]

SAHELI: Yehii. Jisse mai.N pooch rahi hoo.N. Bataao!

[SAHELI: Him, whom I am asking about. Tell me!]

PAKEEZAH: Kya bataaoo.N kaun hai? Ek ajiib waaqaaya hai.

[PAKEEZAH: What should I say about who he is? It is a strange tale.]

SAHELI: Kya?

[SAHELI: What?]

 

PAKEEZAH: Ek har raat. Teen baje. Ek rail gaadi apni patriyon se utar gayii, aur meri dil se guzarti hai. Aur mujhe ek paighaam de jaati hai.

[PAKEEZAH: Every night at three o’ clock, a train leaves its rails and passes through my heart. And it gives me a message.]

SAHELI: Sahib Jaan, yeh paighaam tere liye nahii.N.

[SAHELI: Sahib Jaan, this message is not for you.]

PAKEEZAH: Kyaa? Nahii.N, nahii.N. Yeh mere hii liye hai. Is se mai.N ne apni hi paaoo.N mei.N rakhaa huaa payaa tha.

[PAKEEZAH: What? No, no, this is for me. It had been placed on my feet.]

SAHELI: Haa.N. Lekin us waqt tere paaoo.N mei.N ghungroo bandhe hue nahii.N ho.Nge. Agar ghungroo bandhe hue hote, to yeh kaise koi kahta ki paaoo.N ko zameen par mat rakhna? Maile ho jaaye.Nge? Merii jaan, yeh paighaam to hai. Lekin bhatak gayaa hai.

[SAHELI: Yes. But at that time, you’re feet were not bound by ankle bells. If they had been bound in ankle bells, how could anyone say “do not place your feet on the ground”? “They will become dirty”? My dear, this is certainly a message, but it is misguided.]

Tragic, right? My next favorite scene comes when Pakeezah has inadvertently landed inside Rajkumar’s own tent. She senses him approaching, and pretends to be asleep. Rajkumar bursts in with an appropriate flush of theme music to accompany him.

Rajkumar stares at sleeping Meena Kumari in Pakeezah (1971)

Pakeezah panics and the audience enters into her thoughts as she narrates her feelings in this beautiful moment of love and fear.

Pakeezah is unable to look at the mysterious man she loves in Pakeezah (1971)

“Allah! Woh mere paas khade hai.N. Aur meri jaan nikal jaa rahi hai. Aap yuu.N hii hairaan hairaan mujhe dekhte rehe.Nge. Mai.N taraste taraste, bina aapko ek nazar dekhe, mar jaaoo.Ngii. Aap hi ke samne, aap hi ke bistar par khatam ho jaaoo.Ngii. Zara muu.N phenk lijiye. Mai.N ek saa.Ns leloo.N! Ek chalak aapke dhekh loo.N!”

[“God! He is standing near me. And I feel as if I am dying. You will continue to stare at me in surprise, and I will slowly die without glancing at you even once. Beside you, on your bed itself, I will be finished. Please turn your face away so that I can take a breath! Let me take just a glimpse of you!’]

I can’t get enough of this scene–her words are so poetically expressed, but so vividly capture the anxiety of the moment!

Wondering what all the hype is about? Here are Meena Kumari’s exquisite feet in Pakeezah (1971)

“Afsos ki log duudh se bhi jal jaate…”

[“How unfortunate that people are burned even by mere milk…”]

The last epic dialogue I’ll discuss comes when Rajkumar brings Meena Kumari home for the first time. Do arguments really happen like that? In my house, an argument never devolves into an Urdu poem–but then again, we don’t have those outfits on.

D.K. Sapru plays a very scary Hakim Sahib in Pakeezah (1971)

HAKIM SAAB: Salim, woh kaun hai?

[HAKIM SAAB: Salim, who is this?]

SALIM: Woh ek gumnaam ladki hai.

[SALIM: She is a lost girl.]

HAKIM SAAB: To woh tumhaare saath hai?

[HAKIM SAAB: She is with you?]

SALIM: Jii.

[SALIM: Yes.]

HAKIM SAAB: Yaani?

[HAKIM SAAB: Meaning?]

SALIM: Yeh kaun hai, mai.N bhi nahii.N jaantaa. Yeh ek mazluum ladki ki jo apni aadaash kho chukhi hai. Aur itefaaqan woh meri panaah mei.N aa gayii hai.

[SALIM: Who she is, even I don’t know. She is an oppressed girl who had lost her memory. And by chance, she came into my care.]

HAKIM SAAB: Lekin, tumhaare is bayaan par, kaun yaqeen karegaa?

[HAKIM SAAB: But who will believe this tale of yours?]

Unnaturally handsome Rajkumar stands his ground against his family in Pakeezah (1971)

SALIM: Mujhe iski parva nahii.N

[SALIM: I am not worried about that.]

HAKIM SAAB: Tumhe nahii.N, lekin hame.N iski parva hai. Jo log duudh se jal jaate. Woh chaas bhi phoonk phoonk kar piite.

[HAKIM SAAB: You may not be, but I am. Those people who are burned by milk, drink even the froth with caution.

SALIM: Afsos ki log dhuudh se bhi jal jaate.

[SALIM: How unfortunate that people are burned even by mere milk.] Oh my God, such a good comeback! So poetic, so simple. I die.

HAKIM SAAB: Tum humse bahaz karna chaahte ho? Humse bahaz karne ki zaruurat nahii.N. Aisii ladkii jiskaa koi naam nahii.N, pathaa nahii.N, woh kyuu.N tumhaare saath hai?

[HAKIM SAAB: You want to argue with me? There is no need to argue. A girl with no name, no address, why is she with you?]

SALIM: Isliye ki woh merii panaah mei.N aayii. Aur yeh koi gunaah nahii.N.

[SALIM: Because she came under my care. And that is no crime.]

Meena Kumari grows more and more uncomfortable as she eavesdrops their argument.

HAKIM SAAB: Gunaah to nahii.N. Lekin ismei.N hamaarii badnaami hai.

[HAKIM SAAB: It is not a crime. But I could be dishonored from it.]

SALIM: Jii nahii.N, agar is mei.N koi badnaamii hai, to merii hai.

[SALIM: No, if anyone is dishonored, it is me.]

HAKIM SAAB: Tum kaun ho? Kya humko tumhaara koi rishtaa nahii.N?

[HAKIM SAAB: Who are you? Do you have no relation with me?]

SALIM: Jii hai. Lekin is maumle se aapkaa koi taluk nahii.N.

[SALIM: Yes, I do. But this matter does not concern you.]

HAKIM SAAB: Humaare koi taluk nahii.N?? Agar hamaaraa koi taaluk nahii.N. To phir tum apnii yeh badnaamii hamaare ghar kyuu.N le aaya ho?

[HAKIM SAAB: It does not concern me?? If it does not concern me, then why have you brought this dishonorable girl to my house?]

Rajkumar checks out Pakeezah for some inspiration and proceeds to storm out of the room in a flurry of Urdu poetry.

SALIM: Beshak mujhse ghalati huii. Mai.N bhuul hi gayaa tha. Is ghar ke insaano.N ko har saa.Ns ke baad doosre saa.Ns lene ki ijaazat aapse lenii padhtii hai. Aur aapki aulaad khuda ki banaaii hui zameen par nahii.N chaltii, aapki hatheli par rehti hai.N

[SALIM: Undoubtedly, I have made a mistake. I had forgotten that in his house, after every breath people must ask your permission to take the second. And that your children do not walk on the earth that God made, but live in the palm of your hand.]

Whoa. How do metaphors that awesome just come to you like that? I need to re-evaluate how I insult people. Why do these kinds of situations never happen to me?

As a small note, I just think the one-liner the head aunt says before the song “Chalte Chalte” is pretty sweet. When no one else shows up that night because the rich client has scared them all off, she graciously says to him,

“Log nahiin.N aaye, to na sahii. Sitaaron ki raat se, ek chaandni raat mei.N to kai zyaadaa roshni hoti hai.”

[“Other people did not come, so be it. In a moonlit night there is more radiance than in a night of stars.”]

Wah wah! The movie is teeming with pearls like this!

What is YOUR favorite dialogue from Pakeezah? Let us know in the comments! For more dialogues, check out our post on the beauty of Urdu in classic Bollywood film!

-Mrs. 55

Chalte Chalte Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Meena Kumar shines as Pakeezah in the beloved mujra song "Chalte Chalte."

Meena Kumar shines as the golden-hearted Pakeezah in the beloved mujra song “Chalte Chalte.”

For our next song, we provide an English translation of the timeless lyrics of Pakeezah’sChalte Chalte.” The film Pakeezah (1971) instantly reached legendary Bollywood status upon its release, due in part to the ethereal musical score, brilliant Urdu dialogue, lavish sets, but also from its star Meena Kumari’s untimely death within a week of the premiere. This song is known everywhere, and the beauty of Meena and Lata’s performance truly speaks for itself. My parents have old home videos of 4-year-old me draping a chunni on my head and attempting to dance and sing along with her during this song. It’s hard to put that kind of impact into words, but you can tell it’s profound.

Anyway.

Meena Kumari dazzles her audience with “Chalte Chalte” in Pakeezah (1971)

An interesting facet of this song is the interwoven theme of the train ride. For anyone familiar with film theory, “the train” has a fascinating and critically important role in cinematic history across the globe. Likened to films themselves, the train transports you to a different world and takes you on a brief journey that can leave you different from when you started. It is a theme heavily explored by early French filmmakers first experimenting with the medium (you may remember the loving references to the Lumiere brother’s Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station (1895) in Hugo!), and in Indian cinema, trains play no less an important role. Like Satyajit Ray’s famous Pather Panchali (1955) which pivoted on the introduction of a train whistle across the quiet sugarcane fields, so too does the world of Pakeezah hinge on the sound of a distant train whistle incorporated into the score at the end of the song. For trains can represent that journey from tradition to modernity, from reality to fantasy, and for Pakeezah as well as Kamal Amrohi’s viewers entering a hidden, dying world of ornamentation, the train is a vehicle of escape.

Gesturing to the moon, Meena Kumari waits for her mysterious admirer to find her again in Pakeezah (1971)

“Chalte Chalte” will absolutely leave you wishing for more, so make sure you watch the movie if you ever want to claim cultural competency. To read more about this film, check out our post on behind-the-scenes Pakeezah trivia! Enjoy our full lyrics and English translation to “Chalte Chalte” below!

Chalte Chalte Lyrics and Translation:

Chalte chalte yuu.N hii koi mil gaya tha
I met someone by chance while walking
Sare raah chalte chalte
Walking around the path
Wohii thamke rah gayii hai
The night suddenly came to a standstill
Meri raat dhalte dhalte
Just as it was about to fade away

Jo kahii gayii na mujhse
What I was unable to voice
Woh zamaanaa keh rahaa hai
The world is now saying
Ki fasaanaa ban gayii hai
That a fable has been created
Meri baat talte talte
From those words which evaded me

Shab-e-intezaar aakhir kabhi hogi mukhtasar bhi
That night of waiting will after all shorten soon
Yeh chiraag bhuj rahi hai
These lamps are dying
Mere saath jalte jalte
As they burn alongside me

Glossary:

raah: path; zamaanaa: the world; fasaanaa: fable, legend; baat: words, incident, matter; talna: to evade, to escape; shab-e-intezaar: night of waiting; mukhtasar: short, soon; chiraag: flame

The production value of this film is ridiculous.

It’s always slightly bothered me that after the first antra the two back-up dancers start twirling, and after the second turn, get completely off-sync since the genius on the right goes a little too fast for the music. Kamal Amrohi cuts quickly to the next shot when this starts happening, so you might say it’s not a huge deal per se, but for someone who was such a neurotic perfectionist, how did this slip by him? It just gets to me every time. Or am I over-thinking this?

-Mrs. 55

Making the Cut in Pakeezah: Behind-the-scenes of one of Bollywood’s most elaborate musicals

The ethereal Meena Kumari in Pakeezah (1971)

Few films have more behind-the-scenes gossip and excitement than Pakeezah (1971). If you know anything about classic Hindi film songs, you’ve probably heard some part of the Pakeezah soundtrack from director Kamal Amrohi’s 1971 legend. The film stars tragedy queen Meena Kumari as Pakeezah and gorgeous, gravely-voiced Raajkumar in a story of unforgiving traditional values that collide with the forbidden love of a pure-hearted courtesan. In an ironic twist, Pakeezah is revealed at the climax to be the hero’s long lost cousin, thus at last sanctioning their marriage (the ethical complexities of this kicker are a whole different issue.) But the movie itself is pure cinematic magic–Kamal Amrohi was notorious for his artistry and attention to detail. Pakeezah’s breath-taking production design, Ghulam Muhammed’s haunting semi-classical thumris, and the effortless poetry of the film’s dialogue is like entering one long, opium-induced dream.

But what was happening beneath the surface? A whole lot of drama.

Director Kamal Amrohi married Meena Kumari when she was 19 years old in 1952. They began filming Pakeezah within a few years–in fact, the song Inhi Logon Ne (raga Yaman) was filmed and edited before Amrohi switched to coloured film stock. The 1956 black-and-white version of the song was never used, but many of the shots are extremely similar to the final version. Notice how different young Lata’s voice sounds in this song compared to parts of the soundtrack recorded years later. Even more interestingly, Inhi Logon Ne was originally taken from the film Himmat (1941) in a version sung by none other than Shamshad Begum!

My favorite non-Lata song from the film is, Nazariyan Ki Maari, sung by 1930s playback singer Rajkumari Dubey. During production, when Naushad spotted Rajkumari singing in his chorus to make ends meet (and this is a woman who had been first female playback singer of India!), he reportedly caused an uproar and gave his former collaborator her own solo. This is why we love Naushad.

Pakeezah took over 14 years to complete, mainly because of the famously tumultuous relationship between Kamal and Meena (and her eventual alcoholism). Rumor has it that Meena was such a hot mess during the filming of Chalo Dildar Chalo, Amrohi cut her out and reworked the shot list so that her face is actually never seen in the song. Her condition became so bad that during the filming of the grueling emotional mujraa “Teer-e Nazar,” Meena Kumari collapsed. A body double, none other than filmi vamp Padma Khanna, was recruited to replace her! Meena Kumari personally trained her for the scene, and the song was filmed with the majority of the dancing done with an opaque chunni hiding Padma’s face! I would’ve killed to be a yes-man on that set and drink in all the gossip.

A very convenient camera angle…

Speaking of which, did you know the beautiful Mohammed Rafi-Lata Mangeshkar duet, Chalo Dildar Chalo (raga Pahadi), was actually also recorded as a female solo? Intended for use as a dancing number, the fascinating solo version was cut from both the film and record releases, although in my opinion, coupling the theme of romantic freedom in the lyrics with the close-up imagery of a ghungroo-bound Pakeezah could have been beautiful filmic irony. But it just didn’t make the cut.

And you know what else got cut from this film? I mean, literally, cut off. Turns out Meena Kumari was actually missing her left pinky from an accident that occurred around the time of her marriage! For a film that is so heavily focused on music and dancing, you can imagine that structuring every tiny shot and dance move to hide the left hand was tricky–but if you watch the film closely, Amrohi does a meticulous job of making sure her left hand stays hidden. And Meena Kumari’s right hand works such graceful magic, I dare you to find a prettier dancer with all 10 fingers.

For more information on the classic film, check out our page dedicated to the immortal dialogue from Pakeezah and the songs from Pakeezah!

– Mrs. 55