Raat Ke Humsafar Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi


Sharmila Tagore and Shammi Kapoor enjoy the magic of Paris at night in An Evening In Paris (1967).

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

This quote by Ernest Hemingway is perhaps my favorite description of Paris, the quintessential city of lights and love. Being in Paris is truly a feast for all senses, but it is an opportunity that the average citizen in 1960s India would never receive. Not in person, at least.

In the 1960s, the advent of a new escapist genre of films allowed Indian audiences to be transported to exotic cosmopolitan locales through cinema. Films like Love in Tokyo (1966) and Night in London (1967) offered Indian movie-goers the chance to catch a glimpse of foreign culture from the comfort of their seats in a movie theater. In these tourist fantasies, consistency in plot and character development was not important; the real star of the show was the international destination being featured in the film.  The lyrics and English translation that we have provided today come from one of this genre’s most well-known examples: Shakti Samanta’s An Evening in Paris (1967) starring Sharmila Tagore and Shammi Kapoor.

The soundtrack for this film, composed by Shankar-Jaikishan and penned by Shailendra/Hasrat Jaipuri, contains a number of memorable hits. Yet, in my opinion, “raat ke hamsafar stands out from the rest for its beautiful melody, poetic lyrics, and passionate rendition by Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhonsle. This romantic duet reflects a strong Western musical influence, which is enhanced by the gorgeous strings-centered orchestration and the non-traditional modulations in Rafi and Asha’s voices.

To bring an interesting perspective that may not be known to all fans of this song, there is a story behind its making that has been narrated by Nandu Chawathe, a musician in Shankar-Jakishan’s troupe. In a tragic turn of events, composer Shankar’s mother died the same morning that a musical sitting was planned for “raat ke hamsafar.”  Jaikishan, Shammi Kapoor, and others were waiting for Shankar, but most of the group left after hearing the news under the assumption that Shankar would like to take the day off. When Shankar arrived late, he asked Nandu Chawathe why everyone had left before the sitting occurred. Shankar was angry when he realized everyone had left and canceled the sitting without telling him when it was his mother who had died. An evening sitting was rescheduled the same day. When Shankar arrived, he turned off all the lights and lit a candle, much to everyone’s surprise. He hummed the opening line of “raat ke hamsafar,” and everyone was stunned instantly. The first line of the mukhDaa was even Shankar’s own words! Shammi Kapoor approved the composition, Shailendra finished out the rest of the lyrics, and a treasured gem of Hindi film music was born.

French onion soup!

Sharmila Tagore and Shammi Kapoor snuggle in a Parisian cafe as they enjoy a late-night snack–French onion soup!

Raat Ke Humsafar: Lyrics and Translation

raat ke hamsafar thak ke ghar ko chale.n
Oh companion of the night, let us wander home wearily,
jhuumtii aa rahii hai subaah pyaar kii
as the dawn of love arrives, swaying about.
dekh kar saamne ruup kii raushnii
After encountering the light of your beauty,
phir luTii jaa rahii hai subaah pyaar kii
the dawn of love is being stolen away.

sonevaalo.n ko ha.ns kar jagaanaa bhii hai
Those who are sleeping are to be awakened with a smile.
raat ke jaagato.n ko sulaanaa bhii hai
Those who have stayed awake tonight are to be lulled to sleep.
detii hai jaagne kii sadaa saath hii
Though it also gives the call to awaken,
loriyaa.n gaa rahii hai subaah pyaar kii
this dawn of love evokes calm by singing lullabies.

raat ne pyaar ke jaam bhar kar diiye
The night has filled our wine goblets of love.
aankho.n-aankho.n se jo mai.ne tum ne piiye
You and I drank from them with our eyes.
hosh to ab talak jaa ke lauTe nahii.n
After leaving us, our consciousness has yet to return.
aur kyaa laa rahii hai subaah pyaar kii?
What else does this dawn of love have in store?

kyaa kyaa vaade hue, kis ne khaayii qasam?
What promises were made tonight? Who has sworn to new vows?
is nayii raah par ham ne rakhe qadam
Upon this new path, we have taken our first steps.
chhup sakaa pyaar kab? ham chhupaaye.n to kyaa?
When could our love be hidden? Even if we could, so what?
sab samajh paa rahii hai subaah pyaar kii
This dawn of love is able to understand everything.

raat ke hamsafar thak ke ghar ko chale.n
Oh companion of the night, let us wander home wearily,
jhuumtii aa rahii hai subaah pyaar kii
as the dawn of love arrives, swaying about.


hamsafar: companion; thaknaa: to be tired, weary; jhuumnaa: to sway; subaah: dawn; ruup: beauty; raushnii: light; luTaa jaanaa: to be stolen away; jaagat: one who is awake; sulaanaa: to lull to sleep; sadaa: call; saath hii: also; lorii: lullaby; jaam: wine goblet; hosh: consciousness; ab talak: yet; vaadaa: promise; qasam khaanaa: to take a vow; qadam rakhnaa: to take steps; chhupaanaa: to hide; samajh paanaa: to be able to understand.


Sharmila Tagore and Shammi Kapoor float away into the night on the Seine.

As an aside, I thought that I would say a word about the time that I spent in Paris during the summer of 2011! I was fortunate enough to receive a fellowship to conduct a research internship for three months in a cancer immunology laboratory at the Institut Curie. Besides the academic opportunities presented to me in the lab, my summer in Paris was a formative experience in terms of cultural enrichment and personal growth. I always look back fondly upon the time I spent in Paris, and the memories of that summer have stayed with me ever since. In keeping with the theme of this post, a couple of my pictures of Paris by night are presented below. Enjoy! À bientôt!

-Mr. 55

An early evening view of the Seine river.


Enjoying the Eiffel Tower with friends on a Parisian summer night.

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

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

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

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

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

O Mere Shah-e Khuban Lyrics and Translation:

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

O mere shaah-e khubaa.N…

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

O mere shaah-e khubaa.N…

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

O mere shaah-e khubaa.N…

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

O mere shaah-e khubaa.N…


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

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

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

-Mrs. 55