Chandan Sa Badan Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

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Today, we present the lyrics and English translation for “Chandan Sa Badan” from Saraswatichandra (1968).

Released during the glamorous Technicolor-filled decade of the ’60s, Saraswatichandra (1968) was one of the last black-and-white feature films of its time. Directed by little-known Govind Saraiya, the film is based on an eponymous Gujarati novel set in 19th-century India by author Govardhanam Madhavaram Tripathi. The story revolves around two star-crossed lovers – played by Nutan and Manish in the film – who repeatedly miss out on enjoying the fruits of physical intimacy due to constraining circumstances but remain spiritually and emotionally united for life.

Manish’s performance is largely passable and limited by his uncomfortable stiffness during moments that call for romance in the film.  As always, Nutan shines in a masterful performance by balancing her character’s opposing obligations to society and her love with nuance and a relatable vulnerability.

Kalyanji-Anandji’s National Award-winning soundtrack features a number of memorable songs penned by lyricist Indeewar. “Chandan Sa Badan,” sung in tandem male/female versions by Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh, stands out for its exquisite use of pure Hindi vocabulary. Note the deliberate use of Hindi words instead of more common Urdu alternatives such as chanchal (versus bechain), chitvan (versus nazar), dosh (versus qasuur), nayan (versus aankhe.n) and sundar (versus khuubsuurat).

And, finally, as for who sang it best? Mukesh makes a valiant effort, but he is no match for Lata’s effortless perfection as she croons through yet another one of her timeless masterpieces set to the lilting melody of raga Yaman Kalyan. In my opinion, she is no less than the classical virtuosos when she graces us with her renditions in this majestic and soul-stirring raga. Until next time…

-Mr. ’55

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Chandan Sa Badan (Male): Lyrics and English Translation

chandan-saa badan chanchal chitvan
Your sandalwood-sculpted body, your playful glances,
dhiire se teraa yeh muskaanaa
and your gentle smile
mujhe dosh na denaa jagvaalo
Citizens of the world, do not blame me
ho jaauu.n agar mai.n diivaanaa
if I fall madly in love with you

ye kaam kamaan bhave.n terii
Your eyebrows are arched beautifully like a bow
palko.n ke kinaare kajraare
The edges of your eyelids are lined with kohl
mathhe par sinduurii suurat
The vermillion decoration on your forehead
ho.nTho.n pe dehakte angaare
The smoldering embers on your lips
saayaa bhii jo teraa paD jaaye
Even if your shadow is cast upon it, 
aabaad ho dil kaa viiraanaa
my barren heart is cultivated to full bloom.

tan bhii sundar, man bhii sundar
Your body is beautiful, your mind is beautiful
tuu sundartaa kii muurat hai
You are an idol of beauty
kisii aur ko shayad kam hogii
Although others may not need you as much, 
mujhe terii bahut zaruurat hai
I need you eternally. 
pehle bhii bahut mai.n tarsaa huu.n
I have yearned deeply for you in the past, 
tuu aur na mujhko tarsaanaa
please do not make me yearn any longer.

chandan-saa badan chanchal chitvan
Your sandalwood-sculpted body, your playful glances

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Chandan Sa Badan (Female): Lyrics and English Translation

chandan saa badan chanchal chitvan
Your sandalwood-sculpted body, your playful glances,
dhiire se teraa yeh muskaanaa
and your gentle smile
mujhe dosh na denaa jagvaalo
Citizens of the world, do not blame me
ho jaaye agar dil diivaanaa
if my heart falls madly in love with you

ye vishaal nayan jaise niil gagan
Your large eyes are like the deep blue sky
panchhii ki tarah kho jaauu.n mai.n
Like a bird, I shall get lost with within them 
sirhaanaa jo ho terii baaho.n ko
When my head rests in the embrace of your arms, 
angaaro.n pe so jaauu.n mai.n
I am willing to sleep even on burning embers. 
meraa bairaagii man Dol gayaa
My recluse heart begins to sway with joy 
dekhii jo adaa terii mastaanaa
when I see your intoxicating charm.

tan bhii sundar, man bhii sundar
Your body is beautiful, your mind is beautiful
tuu sundartaa kii muurat hai
You are an idol of beauty 
kisii aur ko shayad kam hogii
Although others may not need you as much, 
mujhe terii bahut zaruurat hai
I need you eternally. 
pehle bhii bahut dil tarsaa hai
My heart has yearned deeply for you in the past, 
tuu aur na dil ko tarsaanaa
please do not make my heart yearn any longer.

chandan-saa badan chanchal chitvan
Your sandalwood-sculpted body, your playful glances

Glossary

chandan: sandalwood; badan: body; chanchal: fickle, playful; chitvan: glance; muskaanaa: to smile; dosh: blame; jagvaalo: citizens/residents of the world; kamaan: bow; bhave.n: eyebrows; palko.n: eyelids; kinaare: edge, shore; kajraare: kohl; sinduur: vermillion; dehaknaa: to burn; angaare: embers; saayaa: shadow; aabaad: cultivated, inhabited, blossomed; tan: body, man: mind; sundartaa: beauty; muurat: idol; zaruurat: need; tarasnaa: to yearn; tarsaanaa: to make someone yearn (causative form), vishaal: large; nayan: eyes; niil: blue; gagan: sky; sirhaanaa: headrest, headboard; baaho.n: arms, embrace; bairaagii: recluse; Dolnaa: to sway; adaa: charm; mastaanaa: intoxicating.

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Yeh Zindagi Usi Ki Hai Lyrics & Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Bina Rai's lovely smile in Anarkali (1953)
Bina Rai’s enchanting smile commands the screen in Anarkali (1953).

Today we present the lyrics and English translation to “Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai” from Anarkali (1953). “Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai” is a true Bollywood legend, one of Lata Mangeshkar’s most iconic numbers picturised upon a nail-biting thriller of historical mythology.

The doomed tale of 16th century Mughal Prince Salim and fabled courtesan Anarkali has been a favorite of the Bollywood film industry dating back to the pre-talkie days. A silent film in 1928 and then a talkie in 1935 starred Sulochana in the title role (who incidentally also plays Queen Jodha in the 1953 version).

In 1944, K. Asif too announced he would remake the film with Nargis as the lead, but unfortunately, the film was put on hold with the partition of India when his producer Shiraz Ali Hakim moved to Pakistan. Almost a decade after Bina Rai’s 1953 version became a blockbuster, K. Asif picked up steam on his “period” project, toyed with casting Nutan before honing in on Madhubala, and eventually released his magnum opus Mughal-e-Azam (1961).

Pradeep Kumar and Bina Rai star in Anarkali 1953.png
Pradeep Kumar and Bina Rai star as Prince Salim and his songstress lover in Anarkali (1953).

In Filmistan’s magnificent 1953 version, the song “Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai” both opens and ends the film. A romantic version starts the movie on a high note (literally) while an ominous version carries the film’s climax as the heroine is entombed alive. The cinematography, particularly of the first iteration, is stunning: dream-like extreme close-ups of Bina Rai lend a lyrical quality to the Salim-Anarkali courtship. Every shot is infused with languid glamour matched by the actress’ complete command of the screen. I remain awestruck by Bina Rai’s performance–she possess that elusive je ne sais quoi, which eclipses beauty or theatrics to make her unquestionably a star. You cannot stop watching her even as the last brick is placed in front of her face (Geeta Bali from that era possesses a similar enchanting appeal).

Let me be clear: no matter how you slice it, the biggest star of this piece is Lata Mangeshkar whose vocals could overpower any Mughal army–from her gorgeous opening alaap to the haunting final farewell. It’s one of those mind-numbing songs that makes me sad when I remember some people live their whole pathetic lives without ever hearing this angel’s voice. Music composer C. Ramachandra famously shafted Geeta Dutt by switching the soundtrack to a pure Lata production halfway through (fortunately, one Geeta Dutt number was salvaged). The expert sitar that punctuates both versions of “Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai” is performed by none other than Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan (yes, the same genius who wowed you in “Madhuban Mein Radhika“).

Now that your cup runneth over with tea, check out the lyrics and our English translation to “Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai” below!

Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai Lyrics & English Translation:

Romantic version:

Yeh zindagii usii kii hai jo kisii ka ho gayaa
This life belongs to only to whomever gives themselves to another
pyaar hii mei.N kho gayaa
To whomever becomes lost in love

Yeh bahaar yeh samaah keh rahaa hai pyaar kar
This spring and this moment are telling us to fall in love
Kisi kii aarzuu mei.N apne dil ko beqaraar kar
They tell us to make ours hearts restless in desire of another
Zindagii hai bewafaa
Life is unfaithful
Zindagii hai bewafaa, luuT pyaar kaa mazaa
Life is unfaithful, so we must steal the pleasures of love
Yeh zindagii usii kii hai…

dhaDak rahaa hai dil, to kyaa? Dil ke dhaDakane.N na gin
So what if my heart is racing? Do not count your heartbeats
Phir kahaa.N yeh fursate.N, phir kahaa.N yeh raat-din
Where again will we have this leisure time, where again will we have these days and nights?
Aa rahii hai yeh sadaa
The call is coming
Aa rahii hai yeh sadaa mastiiyo.N mei.N Duub jaa
The call is coming for us to immerse ourselves in these intoxications
Yeh zindagii usii kii hai..

Yeh zindagii usii kii hai jo kisii ka ho gayaa
This life belongs to only to whomever gives themselves to another
pyaar hii mei.N kho gayaa
To whomever becomes lost in love

Bina Rai as Anarkali entombed alive
Bina Rai as Anarkali gazes at the audience one final time before she is (in theory) entombed alive in Anarkali (1953).

Sad version:

Yeh zindagii usii kii hai jo kisii ka ho gayaa
This life belongs to only to whomever gives themselves to another
pyaar hii mei.N kho gayaa
To whomever becomes lost in love

Jo dil yahaa.N na mil sake, mile.Nge us jahaa.N mei.N
Those hearts which could not meet here will meet in the other world
Khile.Nge hasrato.n ke phuul, jaa ke aasmaan mei.N
The flowers of our wishes will bloom as they reach heaven
Yeh zindagii chalii gayii…
Even if this life goes away
Yeh zindagii chalii gayii jo pyaar mei.N, to kyaa huaa?
Even if this life goes away, if it was for love, then so what?
Yeh zindagii usii kii hai…

Sunaayegii yeh daastaa.N, shamaa mere mazaar kii
The flame of my shrine will tell this story
Khizaa.N mei.N bhii khilii rahii, yeh kalii anaar kii
This pomegranate flower will keep blooming even in Autumn
Isse mazaar mat kaho…
Do not call this a shrine
Isse mazaar mat kaho, yeh mahal hai pyaar kaa
Do not call this a shrine, this is a palace of love
Yeh zindagii usii kii hai…
This life…

Hai zindagii kii shaam aa, tujhe gale lagaauu.N mai.N
Let the evening of my life come, I would take you in my arms
Tujhii mei.N Duub jaauu.N mai.N
I would immerse myself in you
Jahaa.N ko bhuul jaauu.N mai.N
I would forget the world
Bas ek nazar, mere sanam
Just one last glance from you, my dear

Alviidaah….alviidaah…
Farewell…farewell…
Alviidaah….alviidaah…
Farewell…farewell…
Alviidaah….alviidaah…
Farewell…farewell…
Alviidaah….alviidaah…
Farewell…farewell…

Glossary:

zindagii: life; pyaar: love: kho jaanaa: to become lost; bahaar: Spring; samaa: moment, time; aarzuu: desire; beqaraar: restless; bewafaa: unfaithful; luuTnaa: to steal; mazaa: enjoyment, pleasure; dhaDaknaa: to beat [heart]; dil: heart; ginnaa: to count; fursaat: leisure time; raat-din: night and days; sadaa: call, cry; mastii: intoxication; Duubnaa: to drown, to immerse; hasrat: wish, desire; phuul: flower; aasmaa.N: sky, heaven; sunaanaa: to tell, to make heard; daastaa.N: story; shamaa: light, flame; mazaar: shrine, tomb; khizaa: Autumn; khilnaa: to bloom; kalii: flower; anaar: pomegranate; mahal: palace; shaam: evening; gale lagaanaa: to take in [one’s] arms; bhuulnaa: to forget; nazar: glance; sanam: lover, dear; alviidaah: farewell

Sulochana or Ruby Myers as Anarkali and Queen Jodha
Sulochana (also known as Ruby Myers) was a silent Indian film star of Jewish ancestry who starred in Anarkali (1928) (left) and later played Queen Jodha in the 1953 remake (right).

You are doubtless asking yourself, why did they have to entomb Anarkali alive though? Was there no more humane way of doing things? Okay, fine, the Mughals were not exactly known for their humane war strategies, but sheesh, when Prince Salim arrives at her tomb, don’t you think he would try tearing it down and checking if she’s alive rather than just having a meltdown and crying? Seriously, there had to be enough oxygen in there to last at least a little while longer!

As it turns out, Indian audiences couldn’t get enough of Pradeep Kumar and Bina Rai in a good old Mughal romance so they were cast again ten years later as Shah Jahan (Prince Salim’s real life son) and his queen Mumtaz Mahal in the film Taj Mahal (1963). Check out “Jo Wada Kiya Woh” or “Paao.N choo lene do” for more epic period Urdu poetry!

– Mrs. 55

Tum Hi Mere Mandir Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

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Nutan embodies the essence of an archetypal pativrata wife in Khandaan (1965)

Today, we present the lyrics and English translation to “Tum Hi Mere Mandir” from Khandaan (1965).

In light of the ongoing #MeToo movement that has now made its way to the echelons of Bollywood elite, perhaps this song was not the most timely choice. Let me be clear: I do not support the misogynistic undertones of husband-worshipping expressed in this song. I do, however, love this song for Ravi’s delicately crafted tune that has been rendered to perfection by Lata Mangeshkar in her all-time prime.

Viewed with modern eyes, Rajendra Krishan’s words can certainly be construed as misogynstic and downright cringeworthy. However, appreciating these lyrics in the context of the story depicted in Khandaan adds a bit of tempering nuance. In this film, Sunil Dutt plays a man with special needs who feels that he is not a worthy partner to his wife. To strengthen his spirit, the ever-graceful Nutan comforts him with a serenade of this lilting gem. The lyrics of “Tum Hi Mere Mandir” take on a more egalitarian meaning in this context: instead of espousing blind subservience, marital love is portrayed as a divine commitment that should not be weakened by judging our partners for their flaws and imperfections.

This iconic song took home some of the big prizes at the Filmfare Awards Ceremony of 1966. Ravi won Best Music Director, Rajendra Krishan won Best Lyricist, and Lata Mangeshkar received a well-deserved Best Singer award (her third of four total). I mean, it can’t just be my heart that skips a beat as Lata begins to hum that lullaby in the third stanza?

-Mr. ’55
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Nutan comforts her husband Sunil Dutt with this iconic love song in Khandaan (1965)

Tum Hi Mere Mandir: Lyrics and English Translation

tum hii mere mandir, tum hii merii puujaa
You are my temple, you are my prayer.
tum hii devtaa ho
You are my God.
koii merii aa.nkho.n se dekhe to samjhe
If someone were to see through my eyes, they would understand
ki tum mere kyaa ho
what you mean to me.

jidhar dekhtii huu.n, udhar tum hii tum ho
Wherever I look, I see you and only you.
na jaane magar kin khayaalo.n me.n gum ho
But I do not know what thoughts you are lost in.
mujhe dekh kar tum zaraa muskuraa do
Show me a smile when you glance at me,
nahii.n to mai.n samjhuungii mujh se khafaa ho
or else I will think that you are angry with me.

tum hii mere maathe kii bindiyaa kii jhilmil
You are the sparkle of the bindi on my forehead.
tum hii mere haatho.n ke gajaro.n kii manzil
You are the destination of the flower garlands in my hands.
mai.n huu.n ik chhotii-sii maaTii kii guDiyaa
I am just a little clay doll.
tum hii praaN mere, tum hii aatmaa ho
You are my life, you are my soul.

bahut raat biitii chalo mai.n sulaaa duu.n
It is late in the night; come, let me put you to sleep.
pavan chheDe sargam, mai.n lorii sunaa duu.n, mmmm….
The wind carries a tune, while I sing you a lullaby.
tumhe.n dekh kar yeh khayaal aa rahaa hai
When I look at you, I feel that I am watching
ki jaise farishtaa koii so rahaa ho
an angel in peaceful slumber.

tum hii mere mandir, tum hii merii puujaa
You are my temple, you are my prayer.
tum hii devtaa ho
You are my God.

Glossary

mandir: temple; puujaa: prayer; devtaa: God; gum: lost; muskuraanaa: to smile; khafaa: angry; bindiyaa: decorative mark worn in middle of forehead by Indian women; jhilmil: sparkle; gajraa: flower garland; manzil: destination; maaTii: clay; guDiyaa: doll; praaN: life; aatmaa: soul; sulaanaa: to put to sleep; pavan: breeze, wind; sargam: melody, tune; lorii: lullaby; farishtaa: angel.

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Nutan serenades Sunil Dutt on a casual bedroom jhoola in Khandaan (1965).
Rajesh Khanna Aradhana mountain echo

Kora Kaagaz Tha Lyrics & English Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Rajesh Khanna Sharmila Tagore Aradhana kora kagaz
Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore clasp hands against the beautiful Darjeeling countryside in the film Aradhana (1969).

Today we present the lyrics and English translation of one of Bollywood’s favorite love duets “Kora Kaagaz Tha” from Aradhana (1969). The song is a welcome introduction to Autumn, filmed on location on the hilltops of Darjeeling where the only thing cozier than a view of the snow-capped mountains in the distance is Rajesh Khanna in a red turtleneck.

Aradhana has rightfully earned widespread acclaim as a monumental Bollywood masala flick that really epitomizes India’s Golden Age of filmmaking. Songs like “Kora Kaagaz Tha” remind us how romance could once be spun from the magic in the air rather than from the dwindling lengths of the heroine’s skirt or from 6,000,000 back-up dancers bumping to an added techno beat. Very few love duets get everything right like this one does, immersing their audience in the beauty of India’s natural landscapes while allowing the Urdu and music to speak for themselves. Sharmila Tagore with her dimpled smile and Rajesh Khanna winking his legendary wink are pure, no-added-hormones or preservatives-required bliss.

I can think of a few other songs that defrost my lifeless heart similarly: “Deewana Hua Badal” from Kashmir Ki Kali (1964) and “Abhi Na Jao Chhod” from Hum Dono (1961) come to mind.

Sharmila Tagore Aradhana kora kagaz
Sharmila Tagore’s spotlight-hogging wig takes no prisoners in Aradhana (1969).

Film director Shakti Samanta famously recalled that after pitching the brief summary of Aradhana to lyricist Anand Bakshi, Bakshi was inspired to write the lyrics to “Kora Kaagaz Tha” within seconds. Who would’ve guessed almost 50 years later, those same poetic ideas would be resurrected in mainstream American pop music with Taylor Swift’s popular “Blank Space“? (OK, maybe T. Swizzle has never seen Aradhana before…but I bet if she did, her eyeliner would drip onto the floor from happy tears.)

The best advice I can give you is to put on your best plaid flannel, wrap a wool throw around you and the one you love, and take a long sip of apple cider before starting this one. I have your back, trust me. As you listen, soak in the full glory of the Urdu “ghain” that punctuates Kishore Kumar’s “kaaghaz” or the blissful pop of the Urdu “qaaf,” adorning Lata Mangeshkar’s “mulaaqaat.” These are elegant linguistic subtleties that are fast disappearing from Bollywood music today. Lyrics and English translation to “Kora Kaagaz Tha” are below!

Kora Kaagaz Tha Lyrics & English Translation:

KISHORE: Hey hey (hey hey) aahaa hmm hmm (hmm hmm) aahaa haa (haa) haa haa (hmm hmm)

Koraa kaaghaz thaa yeh man meraa (meraa meraa)
My mind was a blank sheet of paper 
Likh liiyaa naam is pe teraa (teraa teraa)
Until I wrote your name upon it

Koraa kaaghaz thaa yeh man meraa
My mind was a blank sheet of paper
Likh liiyaa naam is pe teraa
Until I wrote your name upon it

LATA: Suunaa aa.Ngan thaa jiivan meraa
My life was a lonely courtyard
Bas gayaa pyaar is mei.N teraa
Until your love resided within it

KISHORE: TuuT na jaaye sapne mai.N Dartaa huu.N
I am afraid that my dreams may shatter
Nis din sapno.N mei.N dekhaa kartaa huu.N
I keep seeing you in my dreams all day and night
Nainaa kajraa re, matvaale yeh ishaare
Oh, those kaajal-lined eyes, those intoxicating signals
Khaalii Darpan thaa yeh man meraa
My mind was an empty mirror
Rach gayaa ruup is mei.N teraa
Until your beauty manifested within it

LATA: Koraa kaaghaz thaa yeh man meraa
My soul was a blank sheet of paper
Likh liiyaa naam is pe teraa
Until I wrote your name upon it

LATA: Chain ga.Nvaayaa mai.N ne, ni.Ndiiyaa ga.Nvaayii
I lost all peace of mind, I lost sleep
SaaDii saaDii raat jaaguu.N, duu.N mai.N duhaayii
I remain awake all night long and I pray
Kahuu.N kyaa mai.N aage? Nehaa laage, jee na laage
What should I say next? I have fallen in love, my soul is restless
Koii dushman thaa yeh man meraa
My soul was an enemy
Ban gayaa miit jaa ke teraa
Until it became your beloved

KISHORE: Koraa kaaghaz thaa yeh man meraa
My soul was a blank sheet of paper
Likh liiyaa naam is pe teraa
Until I wrote your name upon it

KISHORE: Baagho.N mei.N phuulo.N ke khilne se pehle
Before the flowers bloomed in the gardens
LATA: Tere mere naino.N ke milane se pehle
Before your and my eyes met
KISHORE: Kahaa.N thii yeh baate.N?
Where were words like these?
LATA: mulaaqaate.N?
Meetings like these?
KISHORE: aisii raate.N?
Night like these?
LATA: TuuTaa taaraa thaa yeh man meraa
My soul was a shooting star
KISHORE: Ban gayaa chaa.Nd hoke tera
It turned into a moon when I became yours

BOTH: Koraa kaaghaz thaa yeh man meraa
My soul was a blank sheet of paper
Likh liiyaa naam is pe teraa
Until I wrote your name upon it

LATA: Aa aa aaa aa
KISHORE: Aaa aa aaa
LATA: O hooo hoo hoo
KISHORE: O hooo hoo hoo
LATA: Hmm hmm mmm mmm
KISHORE: Hmm hmm mmm mmm

Glossary:

koraa: blank; kaaghaz: piece of paper; man: mind; likhnaa: to write; naam: name; suunaa: lonely, empty; aa.Ngan: courtyard; jiivan: life; basnaa: to reside, to settle; pyaar: love; TuuTnaa: to break; sapnaa: dream; Darnaa: to be afraid; nis-din: day and night; nainaa: eyes, kajraa: black eye-liner, re: an expression of emphasis, such as “oh!”; matvaalaa: intoxicated; ishaaraa: signal; khaalii: empty, Darpan: mirror; rachnaa: to create, to manifest; ruup: beauty; chain: peace of mind; ga.Nvaanaa: to waste, to ruin; ni.Ndiiyaa: sleep; saaDii: entire, whole; jaagnaa: to awaken; duhaaii denaa: to pray, to request; aage: next, future; nehaa: love; dushman: enemy; miit: loved one; baagh: garden; phuul: flower; khilnaa: to blossom; milnaa: to meet; baat: words; mulaaqaat: meeting; TuuTaa taaraa: shooting star; chaa.Nd: moon

Rajesh Khanna Aradhana mountain echo
Why, hello, cozy red turtleneck. Rajesh Khanna (of perfect human being fame) induces a sense of lightheadedness that the mountain’s altitude could never achieve alone.

Aradhana takes a turn for the spicy a few scenes later with Kishore Kumar’s solo “Roop Tera Mastana” because, after all, you can’t make a masala film without the masala. But those who would forever rather stick to the old fashioned tree-frolicks of classic Bollywood, stay here in safe territory with me as long as the season lasts.

– Mrs. 55

Ek Radha Ek Meera Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Mandakini
Mandakini made her controversial debut as the heroine in Ram Teri Ganga Maili Ho Gayi (1985).

Today, we present the lyrics and English translation to ek radhaa ek miiraa from Ram Teri Ganga Maili Ho Gayi (1985), the last film directed by the legendary actor-director Raj Kapoor.

Ram Teri Ganga Maili Ho Gayi served as the debut for actress Mandakini, who was featured in two controversial scenes that raised eyebrows at the time of the film’s release. In true Raj Kapoor fashion, one of these scenes depicts a scantily clad Mandakini under a waterfall in a transparent white sari. Given all of the recent controversy over Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavat (2018), it makes you wonder what Raj Kapoor had to do to get such a scene approved by the Censor Board?

In this film, the River Ganges serves as a metaphor for the corruption of Indian society, as it flows from the pure heights of the Gangotri Glacier down to the devastatingly polluted banks of Calcutta. When the film’s heroine (naturally named Ganga) makes her journey from Gangotri to Calcutta, her honor is symbolically tainted at every step – by a woman who leads her to a brothel, a priest who attempts to ritually rape her, and a blind man who coerces her into life as a courtesan. In parallel to the pollution of the River Ganges, Ganga’s innocence is sullied by behavior that reflects the darkest facets of human nature.

The film’s soundtrack composed by Ravindra Jain features several hits by Lata Mangeshkar and Suresh Wadkar, but the Raga Kirwani-based ek radhaa ek miiraa is arguably the most memorable song of the group.  This song highlights a common trope employed in the realm of Hindi films: the mythological juxtaposition of Lord Krishna’s consort Radha against 16th-century mystic poet Meera Bai. Although both women are known for their utmost devotion to Lord Krishna, the lyrics of this song beautifully capture the nuances that set their feelings apart.

One more song that depicts the Radha versus Meera juxtaposition is another Ravindra Jain favorite shyam terii bansii pukare radhaa naam sung by Arati Mukherjee in Geet Gata Chal (1975).

At the end of the day, we’re dying to know one thing: are you #TeamMeera or #TeamRadha? Tell us in the comments!

-Mr. ’55
Mandakini
Born Yasmeen Joseph, she was given the stage name Mandakini by Raj Kapoor for her  film debut.

Ek Radha Ek Meera: Lyrics and English Translation

ik raadhaa ik miiraa, dono.n ne shyaam ko chaahaa
Radha and Meera both loved Krishna.
antar kyaa dono.n kii chaaha me.n bolo?
What was the difference in their love?
ik prem divaanii, ik daras diivaanii
One desired his love, the other desired his glance.

raadhaa ne madhuban me.n DhuunDaa
Radha searched for Krishna in the honey gardens,
miiraa ne man me.n paayaa
while Meera found him in her heart.
raadhaa jise kho baiThii voh govind
When Radha lost Krishna, 
miira haath bik aaya
he fell into Meera’s hands. 
ik murlii ik paayal, ik paglii ik ghaayal
One flute and an anklet, one madwoman and a wounded lover.
antar kyaa dono.n kii priit me.n bolo?
What was the difference in their love?
ik suurat lubhaanii, ik muurat lubhaanii
One desired his beautiful face, the other admired his idol.

miira ke prabhuu girdhar naagar, raadhaa ke manmohan
Krishna was Meera’s Lord and Radha’s beloved consort

sa ga ma pa dha, pa dha ma pa re ma ga
ga re sa ni dha re
re ga ma, ga ma pa, ma pa dha, pa dha sa, ni sa re, aa…

miira ke prabhuu girdhar naagar, raadhaa ke manmohan
Krishna was Meera’s Lord and Radha’s beloved consort
raadhaa nit shringaar kare aur miiraa ban gayii jogan
While Radha adorned herself with ornaments, Meera became an ascetic.  
ik raanii ik daasii, dono harii prem kii pyaasii
One queen and one maid, both longed for Krishna’s love.
antar kyaa dono.n kii triptii me.n bolo?
What was the difference in their fulfillment?
ik jiit na maane, ik haar na maane
One could not accept victory, the other could not accept defeat.

ik raadhaa ik miiraa dono.n ne shyaam ko chaahaa
Radha and Meera both loved Krishna.

Glossary:

raadhaa: Lord Krishna’s mythological consort; miiraa: 16th-century Hindu mystic poet and devotee of Lord Krishna; shyaam: dark-skinned one, a name for Lord Krishna; antar: difference; daras: glimpse, glance; madhuban: honey garden; khonaa: to lose; govind: a name for Lord Krishna; murlii: flute; paayal: anklet; paglii: madwoman, ghaayal: wounded; suurat: face; lubhaanaa: to desire, admire; muurat: idol; prabhuu: lord; girdhar: one who lifts the mountain, a name for Krishna; manmohan: one who pleases the mind, a name for Lord Krishna; nit: always; shringaar karnaa: to adorn, often with ornaments; jogan: female ascetic; raanii: queen; daasii: maid, slave; harii: a name of Lord Krishna; triptii: fulfillment, satisfaction; jiit: victory; haar: defeat, loss.

Rajiv Kapoor
Rajiv Kapoor, Raj Kapoor’s youngest son, stars as the hero who falls in love with Mandakini in Ram Teri Ganga Maili Ho Gayi (1985).