Vijayantimala in Jewel Thief Asman Ke Neeche

Aasman Ke Neeche Lyrics & Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Aasman Ke Neeche Dev Anand Jewel Thief
Dev Anand, wearing a deer stalker hat for unclear reasons, hugs Vijantimala during “Aasman Ke Neeche” from Jewel Thief (1967).

Today we showcase the lyrics and English translation to the playful duet “Aasman Ke Neeche” from hit thriller Jewel Thief (1967).

Let me start by saying that Jewel Thief is an incredible film. If I’m being honest amongst friends, not every masala film from the Golden Age stood the test of time. Vijay Anand’s Hitchcockian thriller Jewel Thief makes you its willing hostage by mixing a love triangle with an international crime heist. Throw in Helen posing as a Bond girl in a chicken costume and you have earned my rapt attention on a Friday night. Pun intended, Jewel Thief is a real diamond in the rough.

When “Aasman Ke Neeche” begins, Vijayantimala and Dev Anand relax in a sun-drenched garden on a Spring day. She sings the first few lines of the song and Dev Anand mocks her, twisting her melody into a flat-toned qawwali and calling her song “bogus!” What a dis.

Playful Dev Anand Jewel Thief
Playful Dev Anand teases Vijayantimala in the film Jewel Thief (1967).

Why do people dump on qawwalis so much? Not only are they often just as complicated classical compositions as any Hindustani purist could muster, but they’re a ton of fun. So, at least for me, Dev Anand’s poor attempt backfires. Even he knows it, because he then proceeds to burst into a full blown orchestral (complete with Kishore’s vocals), shutting down the qawwali debacle.

Aasman Ke Neeche” ranks among my favorite classic Hindi film duets. It’s melodic and  flirtatious, chasing the audience through a garden of poetic overtures, thanks to the dynamism of S.D. Burman and Majrooh Sultanpuri. In a musical masterpiece like Jewel Thief, however, the song can be overshadowed by the film’s other show-stealers (“Raat Akeli Hai,” need I say more?) But in any other film, this duet would be THE song for which you anxiously sat through the entire three hours of melodrama.

We hope you enjoy our English translation to the lyrics of “Aasman Ke Neeche” below! Check out the music video here and let us know your favorite song from Jewel Thief in the comments!

Aasman Ke Neeche Lyrics & English Translation:

Asmaa.N ke niiche, ham aaj apne piichhe 
Beneath the sky, today we leave behind us
Pyaar kaa jahaa.N basaa ke chale
A world of love we inhabited as we go
Qadam ke nishaa.N banaa ke chale
We leave our footprints behind as we go

Kishore: Tum chale to phuul jaise aa.Nchal ke rang se saj gayii raahe.N, saj gayii raahe.N
Kishore: You walk and like flowers the colors of your sari decorate the path
Paas aao mai.N pahanaa duu.N chaahat kaa haar yeh khulii khulii baahe.N, khulii khulii baahe.N
Come close to me, and these opens arms will give you a garland of love
Lata: Jiskaa ho aa.Nchal khud hii chaman, kahiye woh kyuu.N haar baahon ke Daale
Lata: The one with the sari is herself a garden, so tell me why would she need a garland from the branches of your arms?
Asmaa.N ke niiche, ham aaj apne piichhe…

Lata: Boltii hai.N aaj aankhe.N kuch bhii na aaj tum kehne do hamko, kehne do hamko
Lata: Today my eyes are speaking, do not let me say anything
Bekhudii baDhatii chalii hai, ab to khaamosh hii rahne do hamko, rahne do hamko
Although my restlessness grows, leave me in silence now
Kishore: Ek baar ek baar mere liye, kah do, khanake laal ho.NTho.N ke pyaale
Kishore: Just once for me, say something and clamor the plates of your red lips
Asmaa.N ke niiche, ham aaj apne piichhe…

Kishore: Saath mere chalke dekho aayii hai.N dhuum se ab kii bahaare.N, ab kii bahaare.N
Kishore: Come with me and see with what an unproar Spring has arrived
Har galii har moD pe woh dono.N ke naam se hum ko pukaare, tum ko pukaare
At every street, at every turn, they call to me, they call to you
Lata: Kah do bahaaro.N se aaye idhar, un tak uThkar ham nahii.N jaanewaale
Lata: Tell the Spring to come here, I am not getting up and going there

Asmaa.N ke niiche, ham aaj apne piichhe
Beneath the sky, today we leave behind us
Pyaar kaa jahaa.N basaa ke chale
A world of love we inhabited as we go
Qadam ke nishaa.N banaa ke chale
We leave our footprints behind as we go

Glossary:

aasmaa.N: sky; niiche: beneath; piichhe: behind; pyaar: love; jahaa.N: world; basaanaa: to inhabit; qadam ke nishaa.N: footprints; phuul: flower; aa.Nchal: drape of a saari; rang: color; sajnaa: to decorate; raah: path; pahanaa: to wear; chaahat: love, desire; haar: garland; baahe.N: arms; khud: self; chaman: garden; Daal: branch; aa.Nkhe.N: eyes; kuch bhii: anything; bekhudii: restlessness*; bhaDaanaa: to grow: khamosh: silence; ek baar: one time; khanaknaa: to clang together, to clamor; pyaalaa: cup, small plates; dhuum: uproar; bahaare.N: Spring; galii: street; moD: turn; naam: name; pukaarnaa: to call out; idhar: this way (as opposed to udhar, that way); uThnaa: to get up

*Bekhudii is a complicated word to explain briefly. See our translation of “Hum Bekhudi Mein,” featuring none other than Dev Anand (in another stellar hat) for a deeper dive!

Vijayantimala in Jewel Thief Asman Ke Neeche
Dev Anand is no match for sass-queen Vijayantimala in Jewel Thief’s “Aasman Ke Neeche.”

Fun grammar gem: Bahaar taken alone means Spring (singular) in Urdu-Hindi. However, it is the plural form, bahaare.N, that is frequently heard in Bollywood poetry, which can be taken to literally mean the Spring season or more liberally, as general blossomings. To further confuse the budding literati, the Hindi word baahar, which means, outside, is technically the realm where bahaar, Spring, occurs!

This delightful duet was requested by megafans Shabyanath Roshan, and Srini! We greatly appreciate this burst of Springtime fever in the middle of our cold Boston winter!

– Mrs. 55

Beacon hill in the winter
A photo on my way to work in snowy Beacon Hill (Boston, Massachusetts) last week!

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

saraswatichandra_1_nutan

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

saraswatichandra_2

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

saraswatichandra_3

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.

Saraswatichandra_4

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

Nutan_Khandan
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
Nutan_SunilDutt_Khandan
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.

Nutan_SunilDutt_Khandan
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