Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

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Dilip Kumar plays a swashbuckling raja who knows how to carry a tune in Kohinoor (1960).

Today we present the lyrics and English translation to the semi-classical “Madhuban Mein Radhika” from Kohinoor (1960). Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari star in this masala film set during a romanticized period of Indian history when Hindu royalty were constantly engaged in sword-fights with their rivals, playing the sitar to the acclamation of their courtiers, and saving damsels in distress on horseback. Kohinoor is remembered today for the brilliant soundtrack and delightful script (read: you will not cringe and die during most of the comic scenes) as well a for the breezy performances by its hero and heroine. Meena Kumari giggles more in this film than in any of her other films combined!

Dilip Kumar as the young raja travels to the countryside and happens upon a musical assembly where a talented dancer, played by Kumkum, challenges anyone to perform a song to which she cannot dance. Naturally, our hero is ready with “Madhuban Mein Radhika”  to the delight of the court while Kumkum gracefully dances kathak to his tune. Shakeel Badayuni’s straightforward Radha-Krishna poetry is the basis of a rollicking number that keeps everyone, especially Kumkum, on their toes. “Madhuban Mein Radhika” is a true gem among film songs, drawing heavily upon Hindustani classical traditions that are rare to find executed with such unabashed purism in Bollywood films. It comes as no surprise that the song has maestro Naushad written all over it. To fully appreciate all the ornaments of the piece, I think it’s high time we break for a little vocabulary lesson…

A Brief Hindustani Classical Music Vocabulary Lesson:

Tarana in Hindustani classical music were thought to be invented by the great poet Amir Khusro (1253-1325 CE). Legend has it that a music competition was held by the famous conqueror Alauddin Khilji in which Amir Khusro and Gopal Nayak, court musician to the King of Devagiri were the last men standing. Nayak performed raaga Kadambak in Sanskrit for six evenings straight while Khusro sat enthralled among the courtiers. On the seventh night, Khusro sang the same song, copying each note to perfection, but substituted Persian words and jargon for the lyrics as he did not understand Sanskrit. His amazing performance won him the competition and thus, the tarana was born. Persian couplets and notation for tabla are often intermingled into the tarana, however, the basic phonetics are Farsi-based (eg. yalali, odani, tadeem). The structure consists of a main melody that the performer repeats and elaborates on as well as a second, contrasting melody, that may include higher notes and is introduced once before returning to the main melody. The taranas featured in Lata Mangeshkar’s “Tare Rahiyo” from Pakeezah (1972) and the Pakeezah (1972) Title Music are some of the film’s highlights.

Sargam is the vocalization of the notes that define the raga in which the song is sung. Improvisation ascending and descending the scale allows the audience to understand the raagas range and boundaries, often occurring at the beginning or the end of the piece. The sargam typically incorporates improvisation upon themes to set the tone of the piece. A great example of a beautiful mid-song sargam is in Asha Bhonsle’s “Nigahen Milane Ko” from Dil Hi To Hai (1960).

Alaap is similar to sargam, but does not name the notes, using instead simply the aakaar (“aah” sound) to create music. It frequently opens a piece, but can be interjected in the middle, or at the end for dramatic effect–as well as intermingled among the sargam with artistic license. One of my favorite alaaps from films is Suman Kalyanpur’s heavenly interjection above Hemant Kumar midway through “Na Tum Humen Jano” from Baat Ek Raat Ki (1963). In “Madhuban Mein Radhika,” listen for Mohammed Rafi’s silky alaap to start off the song and entrance his audience.

Taan, is similar to an alaap, but is much more fast-paced and showcases the singer’s vocal abilities. The two taans in this song (picturized on comedic actor Mukri) were sung by Ustad Niyaz Ahmed Khan. Bollywood film songs Kal Nahii.N Paaye Jiya from Chhoti Si Mulaqat (1967)  and Tu Hai Mera Prem Devta from Kalpana (1960) feature multiple beautiful taans punctuating each stanza.

Jugalbandi is a playful competition between two performers in which one mimics the other, and then surpasses. A challenging test of both the ability to perfectly imitate and then improvise, a jugalbandi between two master musicians is absolutely thrilling to witness. This is commonly between two instrumental performers, but as in “Madhuban Mein Radikha,” is briefly showcased as between the singer and the tabla player (note: the lyrics actually reference the Carnatic mridangam, which is a different percussion instrument than the Hindustani tabla, however, a tabla is indeed is picturized in the film). Another fun example of jugalbandi in Bollywood is at the ending of the song Muqabala Humse Na Karo from Prince (1969).

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Kumkum entrances her audience with a kathak performance based on classic Radha-Krishna imagery in Kohinoor (1960).

Are we all on the same page now? Because I’m fully expecting you to count the taal as you check out the music video here. Follow along with our English translation of the lyrics to “Madhuban Mein Radhika” from Kohinoor (1960) below! How many lovely ornaments of Hindustani classical music can you hear in the song?

Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache Lyrics and Translation:

ALAAP: Aaaah aaaah aaaah

madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re
In the honey gardens, Radha danced
Girdhar kii muraliiya baje re
As the flute of Krishna played

pag mei.N ghuunghar baandhke
With dancing bells tied to her leg
ghuunghaT mukh par daal ke
With a veil placed upon her face
nainan mei.N kajraa lagaake re
With kajal applied to her eyes
madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re
In the honey gardens, Radha danced

Dolat chham-chham kaminii
The beautiful lady swayed and sparkled
Chhamakat jaise daamini
Her sparkle was like lightening
Chhanchal, pyarii chhab laage re
Her face appeared mischievous and lovable
madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re
In the honey gardens, Radha danced

mridang baje…
The drum was played…

Tirikitadhum Tirikitadhum Ta Ta
mridang baje
Tirikitadhum Tirikitadhum

Naachath Chum Chum
ThaThay ThaThay Thatha
Chum Chum ChanaNaNa
Chum Chum ChanaNaNa

Dhan Dhakdan Dhakdan Dha
Dha Dha Dha

madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re…

TAAN: Aaaaaaaah

madhuban mei.N radhikaa…

TAAN: Aaaaaaaah

madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re
madhuban mei.N radhikaa…

SARGAM :

Ni Sa Re Sa Ga Re Ma Ga Pa Ma
Dha Pa Ni Dha SA Ni RE SA
RE SA Ni Dha Pa Ma Pa
Dha Ni SA RE SA Ni Dha Pa Ma Pa
Ga Ma Pa Ma Ga Ma Re Sa
madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re…

SA SA SA Ni Dha Pa
Ma Pa Dha Pa Ga Ma Re Sa Ni Re Sa
Sa Sa Ga Ma Dha Dha Ni Dha SA
madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re
madhuban mei.N radhikaa…

TARAANAA:

Ode NaDir DiTa NiTa DhaRe Dhim, Dhim Ta Na Na
Nadir DiTa NiTa DhaRe Dhim, Dhim Ta Na Na
Nadir DiTa NiTa DhaRe Dhim, Dhim Ta Na Na

JUGALBANDI:

NaDir DiTa NiTa DhaRe

(tabla response)

ODe Tana Dhir Dhir Tana
Dhir Dhir Dhir Dhir
Thum Dhir Dhir Dhir

(tabla response)

Dha Tirikita Tak , Thum Tirikita Tak
Tirikita Titikita Ta DhaNi

NaDir DiTa NiTa
ODe NaDir DiTa niTa
ODe Nadir Dita NiTa
DhaRe Dhim Dhim Ta Na Na ….

Glossary:

madhuban: sweet garden, honey garden; Radhikaa: Radha, gopi lover of Krishna; nachnaa: to dance; girdhar: Lord Krishna; muralii: flute; baajnaa: to play; pag: leg; ghuungar: dancing bells; baandhnaa: to bind, to tie; ghuungaT: veil; mukh: face: Daalnaa: to place, to put; nainan: eyes; kajraa: eyeliner; Dolat: sway; chham-chham: sparkling; kaamini: beautiful lady; daamini: lightening; chhanchal: mischievous; pyaarii: loveable; chhab: face; mridangam: traditional Carnatic percussion instrument

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Dilip Kumar jams his sitar with rockstar attitude in Kohinoor (1960).

Dilip Kumar’s performance in Kohinoor (1960) garnered the Filmfare award for Best Actor that year. According to Naushad, Dilip Kumar the perfectionist, supposedly learned how to play the sitar just for this song. While that may seem extreme, anyone who has seen Raj Kapoor fail miserably to pretend play the piano (as much as we love the man) will appreciate how big a difference this makes in any self-respecting musical number.

Wondering what’s up with the snake and the mongoose at the end of the song? Naturally, every self-respecting raja-rani film needs at least one assassination-by-cobra attempt…amiright?

– Mrs. 55

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Teer-e Nazar Dekhenge Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

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Bedecked in a white gown symbolic of her own death, Pakeezah dances at the celebration of her lover’s marriage to another woman in Pakeezah (1971).

We now showcase the lyrics and English translation to Lata Mangeshkar’s “Teer-e Nazar” from the cinematic jewel Pakeezah (1971). One of classic Bollywood’s most iconic and daring song sequences, “Teer-e Nazar” dazzles the audience by the audacity of its stunning visual fabric–the magnum opus of the industry’s greatest artists with a story worthy of their union. In an ironic twist, the film’s heroine Pakeezah is asked to perform a mujraa at the wedding of her lover to another woman. Throughout the striking song that follows, director Kamal Amrohi deliberately transforms our understanding of beauty and love into omens of murder and death.

Lyricist Kaif Bhopali’s title phrase “teer-e nazar,” while otherwise a romantic reference to a lover’s piercing gaze, assumes a sinister implication, a literal means of wounding its target. Pakeezah once more dances a graceful kathak dance, but this time she is dressed for a funeral in all-white. The death she celebrates is her own. Her beautiful dance suddenly re-invents itself when she purposefully smashes a glass chandelier across the pristine white floor. The moment is one of the most shocking in Bollywood history, with a dramatic shift in the room’s dynamics to accompany the jarring musical screech. Before this moment, Pakeezah was a mere witness to the injustice of her society’s prejudices. Now, Pakeezah wields a commanding power, entrancing a captive audience to which she willingly presents herself as a ritual sacrifice in the name of her own unfulfilled love.

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Like a veiled Lady of Shallot, the effervescent Meena Kumari as Pakeezah realizes the show is coming to an end tonight.

Unleashing a passion she had been trained for so long to suppress, Pakeezah dances upon the jagged broken glass with a frenzied energy. Her blood, the bright red of wedding bliss she has been denied, stains the floor with every footstep. As evidenced by the film’s famous dialogue, feet play an important sensual role in Pakeezah. The blood-smeared feet ironically mirror the once dainty red foot paint of a dancer–the vehicle by which Rajkumar first fell in love with Pakeezah in a train compartment, begging her romantically to never allow them to touch the ground. With each step, Pakeezah regains her identity by destroying the constraints of her past.

Director Kamal Amrohi brilliantly shapes the scene through a chaotic editing pattern as fragmented and disturbing as the glass upon which she dances. Below is a short gallery of some of the many gorgeous shots that compose this scene, each more violent than the next.

This iconic song is among Bollywood’s greatest cinematic moments–made even more fascinating by the behind-the-scenes gossip between Meena Kumari and stunt double Padma Khanna who actually dances in this sequence! Follow along with the video, and we hope you enjoy our lyrics and English translation to the awe-inducing “Teer-e Nazar” from Pakeezah (1971) below!

Teer-e Nazar Dekhenge Lyrics and Translation:

Aaj hum apnii du’aao.n kaa asar dekhe.Nge
Today I shall behold the image of my prayers
Teer-e nazar dekhe.Nge, zakhm-e jigar dekhe.Nge
I shall see arrows from your glances, I shall see the wounds of my heart

Aap to aa.Nkh milaate hue sharmaate hai.N
Upon meeting my eyes, you feel embarrassed
Aap to dil ke dhaDakne se bhi Dar jaate hai.N
You are even afraid of your own heartbeat
Phir bhi yeh zidd hai ki ham zakhm-e jigar dekhe.Nge
Nonetheless I remain stubborn to witness the wounds of my heart
Teer-e nazar dekhe.Nge, zakhm-e jigar dekhe.Nge
I shall see arrows from your glances, I shall see the wounds of my heart

Pyaar karna dil-e betaab buraa hotaa hai
It is unfortunate for a weak heart to fall in love
Sunte aaye hai ki yeh khwaab buraa hota hai
I have heard that this dream of mine is also cursed
Aaj is khwaab ke taabiir magar dekhe.Nge
But today I will interpret the meaning of that dream
Teer-e nazar dekhe.Nge, zakhm-e jigar dekhe.Nge
I shall see arrows from your glances, I shall see the wounds of my heart

Jaan levaa hai mohabbat ka samaa aaj ki raat
Tonight this atmosphere of love feels fatal
Shamaa ho jaayegii jal jal ke dhuaa.N aaj ki raat
Tonight the lamps shall burn into smoke
Aaj ki raat bache.Nge to sahar dekhe.Nge
If I escape tonight, then I shall see the dawn
Teer-e nazar dekhe.Nge, zakhm-e jigar dekhe.Nge
I shall see arrows from your glances, I shall see the wounds of my heart

Aaj hum apnii du’aao.n kaa asar dekhe.Nge
Today I shall behold the image of my prayers
Teer-e nazar dekhe.Nge, zakhm-e jigar dekhe.Nge
I shall see arrows from your glances, I shall see the wounds of my heart

Glossary:

du’aa: prayer; asar: sign, image; teer: arrow; nazar: glance; zakhm: wound; jigar: heart; aankh milaanaa: to make eye contact; sharmaanaa: to become embarrassed, to be shy; dhaDaknaa: to beat [heart]; Dar jaanaa: to become afraid; zidd: stubborness, firm; betaab: weak; buraa: bad, unfortunate; khwaab ke taabir: interpretation of a dream; jaan levaa: fatal; mohabbat: love; samaa: atmosphere; shamaa: lamp; dhuaa.N: smoke; sahar: dawn

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Oh, Meena Kumari, will there ever live a woman so breathtakingly classy again?

This fantastic Pakeezah hit was requested by fans VintageBollywood and Moosa Desai! Thank you for the epic request!

Arguably, Pakeezah’s wild dance following the chandelier shattering contains the most thrilling music (composed by the great Ghulam Mohammed) in the entire film. But there’s a big unsolved mystery here. Does the ambiguity of the diegetic soundscape in this sequence bother anyone else but me? Think about it: If Pakeezah had just smashed a chandelier to the ground, ruffling the entire audience, and then starts bleeding all over the party floor, is it likely that the band would carry on as usual? But on the other hand, if the music is, in fact, non-diegetic, what are the odds her dance movements are still so perfectly coordinated to the beat? Is she in theory really dancing like a maniac to a silent room while the furious strings Kamal Amrohi added are for the film viewers’ ears alone? This is going to keep me awake at night.

For lighter moments from the iconic film, check out our translations of Pakeezah‘s immortal Chalte Chalte, Mausam Hai Aashiqaana, and Inhi Logo.N Ne!

-Mrs. 55

Dil Cheez Kya Hai Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Rekha stars as a courtesan and poetess in Umrao Jaan (1981), based on an Urdu novel by Mirza Muhammad Hadi Ruswa

Today, we continue our series on Umrao Jaan (1981) by providing the lyrics and English translation to what is arguably the film’s most popular song: dil chiiz kyaa hai?  Based on Mirza Muhammad Hadi Ruswa’s novel Umrao Jaan Ada, this film narrates the tragic tale of a young girl who is kidnapped and forced to become a tawaif (courtesan).

Through the course of this film, we witness the transformation of an innocent young girl Amiran as she becomes Umrao Jaan Ada, one of Lucknow’s most sought after courtesans. At the brothel, young Amiran receives training in classical voice, Kathak dance, and Urdu poetry–a forbidden world of art and education that the average Indian girl of this time period would never get the chance to explore. When the brothel’s madam Khanum feels that she has been sufficiently groomed, Umrao Jaan begins performing and attracting the attention of wealthy patrons all over Lucknow. Umrao’s first public performance as a courtesan is marked by the song dil chiiz kyaa hai?

This gem is considered to be one of Asha Bhonsle’s career-defining songs, and she was awarded a National Film Award for her performance of this ghazal along with the rest of her contributions to this soundtrack. Khayyam bagged a well-deserved National Film Award for his compositions in this film, and Rekha took home the National Film Award for Best Actress. From her performance in this mujra in particular, it is clear that Rekha is worthy of all the critical acclaim she received for her work in Umrao Jaan.  Although she may lack the technical precision of a trained Kathak dancer, she compensates with her compelling on-screen presence and natural elegance. With eyes like hers, would any man in Lucknow be able to resist the charms of Umrao Jaan Ada?

What is your favorite song from the Umrao Jaan soundtrack? Share with us in the comments! Until next time…

-Mr. 55

Rekha’s mujras in this film, especially dil chiiz kyaa hai?, are fan-favorites to this day.

Dil Cheez Kya Hai: Lyrics and Translation

dil chiiz kyaa hai? aap merii jaan liijiye
What is the heart worth? Take my life instead!
bas ek baar meraa kahaa maan lijiye
But just once, please accept what I say.

is a.njuman me.n aap ko aanaa hai baar baar
You must return to this gathering time and time again.
diivaar-o-dar ko ghaur se pahchaan liijiye
So, learn to recognize these surroundings carefully.

maanaa ki dosto.n ko nahii.n dostii kaa paas
I admit that friends may not always hold friendship in high regard.
lekin yah kyaa ki ghair kaa ahsaan liijiye?
Yet, does this mean you should accept kindness from strangers?

kahiye to aasmaa.n ko zamii.n par utaar laaye.n
If you ask for it, I shall bring down the sky to the ground. 
mushkil nahii.n hai kuchh bhii agar Thaan liijiye
No task is difficult if you pursue it firmly.

dil chiiz kyaa hai? aap merii jaan liijiye
What is the heart worth? Take my life instead!
bas ek baar meraa kahaa maan liijiye
But just once, please accept what I say.

Glossary

maan lenaa: to accept; anjuuman: gathering; diivaar-o-dar: walls and doors, surroundings; ghaur se: carefully; pahchaan lenaa: to recognize; dostii: friendship; paas: regard, consideration; ghair: stranger; ahsaan: favor, kindness; utaar laanaa: to bring down; Thaan lenaa: to pursue firmly.

A quick note regarding the word paas. Those of you familiar with its common use in the phrase kisii ke paas (next to someone/something) may be confused by the line “maana ki dosto.n ko nahii.n dostii kaa paas.” Here, a less common use of the word paas is used to mean regard or consideration. So, there is no relation to proximity here; the whole line would be translated as: “I admit that that friends may not always hold friendship in high regard.” Tricky, tricky.

As Umrao Jaan, Rekha seduces wealthy men in Lucknow with her most tempting asset: her eyes!

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

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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