Aap Ke Haseen Rukh Pe Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

two shot sisters Mala Sinha and Tanuja

Tanuja and Mala Sinha play sisters with opposite personalities who love with the same man in Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi (1966).

Today we highlight the lyrics and English translation of the gorgeous “Aap Ke Haseen Rukh Pe” from Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi (1966). The breathtakingly evocative cinematography of this song steals the show–and that’s a difficult feat with Urdu lyrics dripping with this much beauty. Eminent director Guru Dutt tragically died while directing this film, and it was later finished by Shaheed Latif. As a result, Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi seems to have all the elements of a great work of poetic realism, but lacks all the magic. Dutt’s starring role was eventually replaced by Dharmendra, who is easy on the eyes, but never quite commands the scene like his predecessor.

Dharmendra plays an upright investigative journalist employed by a newspaper company owned by Mala Sinha, a pragmatic entrepreneur fighting for her beliefs in a male-dominated world. Her personal sacrifices have allowed for her younger sister (played by Tanuja) to be raised in a lifestyle of ease and self-indulgence. Mala Sinha begins to fall in love with Dharmendra as his caring manner and flattering attentions opens up the possibility for the romantic fulfillment she had long denied herself. Meanwhile, Tanuja’s girlishly flirtacious advances toward Dharmendra appear not unwanted, completing the dramatic love triangle. Neither sister knows of the other’s intentions, and the audience anxiously awaits the moment when one will discover the truth. Whom will Dharmendra ultimately choose?

At least for the audience, that answer comes during one of the most romantic Mohammed Rafi songs of Bollywood: “Aap Ke Haseen Rukh Pe.” The cinematography of the film is by K.G. Prabhakar (whose strong legacy includes working as assistant camera in Guru Dutt masterpieces Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Kaagaz Ke Phool and Pyaasa). The first thing you might notice about Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi is the (lack of) colour. By 1966, Eastmancolor was by far the norm in Bollywood. Shooting this film in black-and-white stock therefore was a deliberate choice. Guru Dutt never filmed a movie in color (with the exception of a rare scene here and there, eg. “Chaudhvin Ka Chand“), and his films carry a haunting charm. Prabhakar uses creative camera angles and perfectly choreographed movements to convey the message of true love. The exquisite cinematography coupled with a combination of Anjaan’s ornate balladry, the dreamlike piano solo, and Mohammed Rafi’s hypnotically romantic vocals make this song a vision of what film should be.

Tanuja and Mala Sinha eyes

Shots of the two sisters mimic one another throughout “Aap Ke Haseen Rukh Pe,” heightening the dramatic irony. Here, both sisters shyly glance up toward Dharmendra as they each believe lines from his song are sung exclusively for them. Even their cat-eyeliner and penciled eyebrows are in fierce competition.

Early in the song, the camera choices are critical to casting doubt about to whom Dharmendra is truly singing. Prabhakar shoots the siblings’ reactions and movements in parallel, with each sister’s gazes mimicking the other such that even the audience grows uncomfortable, knowing one of them must be mistaken.

master shot compiled

This master shot creates a literal love triangle in the mis-en-scene and defines both their spatial and emotional relationships.

By the middle of the song, both sisters approach Dharmendra so that all three can be captured in the same shot, creating a fascinating opportunity for the cinematographer. In the master shot pictured above, the camera is placed behind Dharmendra’s shoulder, creating a visual triangle formed by the lid of the grand piano to underscore the romantic triangle blossoming before our eyes. This angle also allows a gorgeous moment of symbolism within the mis-en-scene through the placement of the main characters. Tanuja, whose love is confident and eager, leans toward Dharmendra into the light source, while Mala Sinha, whose love is more careful and protected, stands further away in the shadows, avoiding his direct gaze. Sinha is framed by the piano lid at the pinnacle of the triangle, literally surrounded by the music that has changed how she views the world.

ambiguous eyelines compiled

From a profile shot of Dharmendra to a medium reaction shot of Mala Sinha, the eyelines are ambiguous. Is he singing to Tanuja or to Mala Sinha?

Next, the audience is cleverly teased by the camera with a series of shots that heighten the romantic ambiguity. Prabhakar films a profile shot of Dharmendra singing, so that from the viewer’s perspective, he is just as likely to be making eye contact with Mala Sinha as with Tanuja. He brings the camera into Dharmendra’s seat for Mala Sinha’s reaction so that what we see is as if from Dharmendra’s own perspective. Tension mounts! A reverse shot from Mala Sinha’s position of Dharmendra would close the communicative loop, and we would finally have our answer that the two are definitely looking at one another, and both know it. Alas! Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi is not so simple.

shot reverse shot compiled

The classic over-the-shoulder shot-reverse shot sequence ultimately seals Tanuja as the object of Dharmendra’s affection.

Finally, the camera gives its long-held secret away. At the end of the ballad, two consecutive shots with matching eyelines betray Tanuja and Dharmendra as the primary romantic couple of the film. The camera cuts from an over-the-shoulder shot of Tanuja to a reverse over-the-shoulder shot of Dharmendra. His gaze is now clearly directed at only one sister. Meanwhile, Mala Sinha appears tragically oblivious, wandering to the window to daydream of what we now know is impossible.

We hope you fall in love with the lyrics and our English translation of “Aap Ke Haseen Rukh Pe” below. When words like chuur-chuur and kashish are tossed around lightly in a Bollywood song, you know you’re in for some solidly gorgeous poetry! Follow along with the cinematography of the film here and let us know which sister you were rooting for in the comments!

Aap Ke Haseen Rukh Pe Lyrics and Translation:

aap ke hasee.N rukh pe aaj nayaa nuur hai
Upon your beautiful face today is a new light
meraa dil machal gayaa, to meraa kyaa qusuur hai?
If my heart trembled, what fault is it of mine?
aap kii nigaah ne kahaa to kuch zaruur hai
Your glance said something surely
meraa dil machal gayaa to meraa kyaa qusuur hai?
If my heart trembled, what fault is it of mine?

khulii laTo.N ki chhaao.N mei.N, khilaa khilaa yeh ruup hai
In the shade of your open tresses, this beauty bloomed
ghaTaa se jaise chhan rahii, subaah subaah kii dhuup hai
As if morning sunlight is streaming through a cloud
jidhar nazar muDii ,udhar suruur hii suruur hai
In whichever direction my gaze turns, there is only pleasure upon pleasure
meraa dil machal gayaa to meraa kyaa qusuur hai?
If my heart trembled, what fault is it of mine?

jhukii jhukii nigaah mei.N bhii hai.N balaa ki shokhiyaa.N
In your shy lowered gaze is also a calamity of mischief
Dabii Dabii ha.Nsii mei.N bhii, taDap rahii hai.N bijliiyaa.N
Even in your suppressed laughter, lightening is pulsing
shabaab aap kaa nashe mei.N khud hii chuur-chuur hai
Your youthfulness dissolves itself in intoxication
meraa dil machal gayaa to meraa kyaa qusuur hai?
If my heart trembled, what fault is it of mine?

jahaa.N jahaa.N paDe qaDam, wahaa.N fizaa badal gayii
Wherever your foot falls, there the wind changes
ki jaise sar-basar bahaar aap hii mei.N Dhal gayii
As if the whole of Spring descended into you
kisi mei.N yeh kashish kahaa.N jo aap mei.N huzuur hai?
Where is this allure in anyone that is present in you?
meraa dil machal gayaa to meraa kyaa qusuur hai?
If my heart trembled, what fault is it of mine?

aapke haseen rukh pe aaj naya noor hai
Upon your beautiful face today is a new light
meraa dil machal gayaa to meraa kyaa qusuur hai?
If my heart trembled, what fault is it of mine?

aap kii nigaahon ne kahaa to kuch zaruur hai
Your glances said something surely
meraa dil machal gayaa to meraa kyaa qusuur hai?
If my heart trembled, what fault is it of mine?

Hmm hmm hmm…hmm hmm hmm

Glossary:

hasee.N: beautiful; rukh: face; aaj: today; nayaa: new; nuur: light; dil: heart; machalnaa: to quiver, to tremble; qusuur: fault; nigaah: glance; zaruur: surely, of course; khulaa: open; laT: tresses; chhaao.N: shadow, shade; khilnaa: to bloom; ruup: beauty; ghaTaa: cloud; chhannaa: to stream; subaah: morning; dhuup: sunlight; jidhar; in whichever direction; nazar: gaze, eyes; muDnaa: to turn around; udhar: in that direction; suruur: pleasure, addiction; jhuknaa: to bow, to lower; balaa: calamity, misfortune; shokhii: mischief; Dabnaa: to suppress; ha.Nsii: laughter; taDapnaa: to flutter; bijlii: lightening; shabaab: youth; nashaa: intoxication; khud: self; chuur-chuur: pulverized, dissolved; jahaa.N: where; paDnaa: to step; qadam: footstep; wahaa.N: there; fizaa: wind, atmosphere; badalnaa: to change; jaise: like, as if; sar-basaar: entire, whole; bahaar: Spring; Dhalnaa: to set, to descend; kisii mei.N: in someone; kashish: allure, charm; huzuur: present

A brief word on the nuances between English and Urdu-Hindi. I struggled to translate bijliiyaan and shokhiyaan, plurals of the feminine nouns bijlii and shokii respectively. In English, the word lightening does not necessarily imply the number of bolts (singular versus plural), however bijliyaan clear indicates multiple bolts of lightening. Similarly, shokhii, meaning mischief in English, becomes a series of mischievous activities in the plural shokhiiyaan–however there is no simple plural of the word mischief in English (although in and of itself, the word mischief in English can imply plurality, but not necessarily). I also find that when used in Urdu-Hindi, especially romantic songs, shokhii has a much more playful connotation than the potentially negative associations of mischief in English. Isn’t language a wonderful thing?

Mala Sinha window

A stunning dolly shot of Mala Sinha from outside the window represents her emotional imprisonment from which Dharmendra offers a chance at escape.

“Aap Ke Haseen Rukh Pe” was requested by loyal fan Arun. Thank you for reading this  epic essay that came out of your request! For more analysis of great moments in Bollywood cinematography check out our translations of  “Tum Pukar Lo” (Khamoshi 1969) and “Kar Chale Hum Fida” (Haqeeqat 1964).
– Mrs. 55
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Neela Aasman So Gaya Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

AR

Amitabh Bacchan plays a writer who falls for Rekha’s timeless beauty in Silsila (1981)

Directed and produced by Yash Chopra, Silsila (1981) sparked controversy even before it was released. Rumors regarding the film’s casting spread throughout the industry, as its portrayal of a love triangle between Amitabh Bacchan, his wife Jaya Bacchan, and his alleged mistress Rekha was said to mimic reality. Today, we present the lyrics and English translation of a classic romantic ballad from Silsilaniilaa aasmaa.n so gayaa.

This film depicts a passionate romance between Amit (played by Amitabh Bacchan) and Chandni (played by Rekha) that cannot culminate in marriage due to unfortunate circumstances. After his brother (played by Shashi Kapoor) is killed in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Amit marries his brother’s pregnant fiancee in order to save her honor. Unable to pursue her love with Amit, Chandni marries Dr. Anand (played by Sanjeev Kumar). When Amit and Shobha are involved in a car accident (that causes Shobha to lose her baby), they are hospitalized and treated by Dr. Anand. Chandni sees Amit in the hospital, and this encounter triggers memories of their past love. Amit and Chandni give into their temptations and begin to rekindle their romance through clandestine meetings. The plot thickens when an evening rendezvous goes sour: Amit and Chandni must go to the police station after hitting a pedestrian while driving, and officer assigned to their case turns out to be Shobha’s cousin. How long can Amit and Chandni keep their adultery a secret? Will Amit and Chandni leave their spouses to be together? Silsila is worth a viewing to find out!

Although Silsila is not the first Bollywood film to depict extra-marital love, it is ground-breaking in its concrete portrayal of the consummation of adultery.  Indeed, this film compelled Indian audiences to think about extra-marital affairs and whether they can be cinematically romanticized in a way that appeals to the masses. Silsila offers some justification for the relationship between Amit and Chandni because they were a couple before Amit sacrificed his love to uphold his duty to his brother. However, the film portrays the tumultous decline of their extra-marital romance, eventually depicting Amit and Chandni as disloyal adulterers instead of righteous lovers. The uncomfortable subject matter is presumably the reason why this film failed to be a box office success. Regarding the audience’s reaction to Silsila, Yash Chopra has said:

 “The film had inherent tensions because of the casting coup. If I was confident of the project, it was because all the three artistes had individually assured me that there would be no problems at their end. And they kept their word. It was a film on extra-marital relationships and call it moral and societal pressures, but at the last minute, I developed cold-feet and thought that maybe the hero should come home to his wife. The original ended differently. When and why I changed the ending I don’t know, but I did so because I felt that the audience wasn’t ready. But the audience didn’t accept what we gave them either.”

Although audiences may not have reacted positively to its thematic content, the film has left a legacy of controversy that is still remembered today. The release of Silsila marked the end of the alleged affair between Rekha and Amitabh, but those associated with the Bollywood industry still discuss their love story more than 25 years later. At public events such as award functions, the media is unforgiving in keeping a close eye on how Amitabh, Jaya, and Rekha interact with each other!

Aside from its controversy, this film is also remembered for a number of special debuts. In Silsila, Yash Chopra introduced Shiv (santoor maestro Pt. Shivkumar Sharma) and Hari (flute maestro Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia) for the first time as composers of Hindi film music. Moreover, Javed Akhtar penned his first lyrics for a Hindi film in Silsila. The soundtrack for Silsila has a number of popular hits such as dekhaa ek khvaab and rang barse, but “niilaa aasmaa.n so gayaa is especially noteworthy for its use of Amitabh Bacchan as a playback singer. Amitabh showcases his versatility as a performer by doing his own singing, which defied the conventions that had been established in the industry for years. Although he lacks the refinement of musical training, Mr. Bacchan can certainly hold a tune in his version of this ballad. A little bit past her prime, Lata Mangeshkar also offers a melancholic interpretation of the same song picturized on Rekha. Listen to both as you follow along with our translations, and let us know which version you prefer in the comments! Until next time…

-Mr. 55
AR

The first version of niilaa aasmaa.n showcases the passionate on-screen chemistry shared by Rekha and Amitabh Bacchan in Silsila (1981)

Neela Aasman So Gaya: Lyrics and Translation (Male)

niilaa aasmaa.n so gayaa
The blue sky has fallen into slumber.

os barse.n, raat bhiige, ho.nTh thharraaye.n
Dew falls, the night becomes drenched, and my lips quiver.
dhaDkane.n kuchh kahnaa chaahe.n, kah nahii.n paaye.n
Although my heartbeats desire to say something, they are unable to.
havaa kaa geet maddham hai
The breeze sings softly,
samay kii chaal bhii kam hai
while the time passes slowly.

merii baaho.n me.n sharmaate lajaate aise tum aaye
You came into my arms, shying away in embarassment, 
ki jaise baadalo.n me.n chaa.nd dhiire dhiire aa jaaye
like the Moon cautiously slipping into the clouds.
yah tanhaayii, yah mai.n aur tum
This solitude, you, and me. 
zamii.n bhii ho gayii gumsum
Even the Earth has fallen silent.

niilaa aasmaa.n so gayaa
The blue sky has fallen into slumber.

R

Rekha wallows in sorrow during the second version of niilaa aasmaa.n after Amitabh tells her that they cannot marry each other in Silsila (1981).

Neela Aasman So Gaya: Lyrics and Translation (Female)

niilaa aasmaa.n so gayaa
The blue sky has fallen into slumber. 

aa.nsuuo.n me.n chaa.nd Duubaa, raat murjhaayii
In my tears, the Moon has set and the night has withered. 
zindagii me.n duur tak phailii hai tanhaayii
Solitude has spread far into my life. 
jo guzre ham pe vah kam hai
What has happened to me thus far is a small beginning,
tumhaare gham kaa mausam hai
for I have just entered the season of sorrow for you.

yaad kii vaadii me.n guu.nje biite afsaane
Tales of the past resonate in the valley of memories. 
hamsafar jo kal the ab Thahare ve begaane
Yesterday’s companion is now a stranger. 
muhabbat aaj pyaasii hai
My love remains unquenched today.
baDii gahrii udaasii hai
I am overcome by a very deep sorrow.

niilaa aasmaa.n so gayaa
The blue sky has fallen into slumber.

Glossary

niilaa: blue; aasmaa.n: sky; os: dew; bhiignaa: to become drenched; tharraanaa: to quiver; dhaDkan: heartbeat; havaa: wind, breeze; maddham: dim, soft; samay: time; chaal: movement, passing; sharmaanaa: to shy away; lajaanaa: to be embarrassed; baadal: cloud; dhiire dhiire: cautiously; tanhaayii: solitude; gumsum: silent; murjhaanaa: to wither; phailnaa: to spread; yaad: memories; vaadii: valley; guu.njnaa: to resonate; afsaanaa: tale, story; hamsafar: companion: begaanaa: stranger; pyaasii: unquenched; gahraa: deep; udaasii: sorrow.

AJ

Amitabh Bacchan sacrifices his love for Rekha to marry his late brother’s pregnant fiance Jaya Bacchan in Silsila (1981).

 

Dost Dost Na Raha Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Raj Kapoor sings about betrayal in love and friendship at the piano in Sangam (1965)

Our next translation comes from Sangam (1965), a film starring Raj Kapoor as Sundar, Vijayntimala as Radha, and Rajendra Kumar as Gopal in a classic love triangle story gone wrong. The plot of Sangam is somewhat complex, but it can be boiled down to a few key points:

  • From a young age, Sundar has been attracted to his childhood friend Radha. However, Radha only has eyes for another friend Gopal and persistently rejects Sundar’s advances.  In secret, Gopal reciprocates Radha’s feelings for him.
  • To prove his worthiness as a man and impress Radha, Sundar enlists in the Indian Air Force. Before his departure, Sundar asks Gopal to make sure no man comes in between him and Radha while he is gone.
  • One day, Gopal and Radha receive the terrible news that Sundar is presumed dead after a plane crash. Although they are deeply saddened, this news means that Gopal and Radha can pursue their feelings for each other with a clear conscience. During their courtship, Gopal writes an unsigned love letter to Radha that will become important later in the story.
  • Much to Gopal and Radha’s surprise, Sundar returns happy and healthy from the Air Force–the rumors of his death were inaccurate. The self-sacrificing Gopal keeps his word and steps out of the picture so that Sundar can woo Radha.
  • Eventually, Radha and Sundar get married. It is difficult for Radha to reject Sundar now because his heroic accomplishments in the Air Force have elevated his status to that of a worthy suitor. The newly wedded couple have an extravagant European honeymoon.
  • After their return, the couple enjoy marital bliss. Yet, their happiness is short-lived: Sundar finds the unsigned love letter and assumes that Radha has been an unfaithful wife (although she has stopped all relations with Gopal post-marriage).
  • In the days that follow, Sundar becomes insane with jealousy and makes Radha’s life miserable with constant threats and aggression. Radha flees to Gopal’s house for refuge without knowing that Sundar will end up doing the same thing.
  • The three characters now have a dramatic confrontation where Gopal admits that he is the author of  the unsigned love letter. Tensions flare, and to avoid giving too much away, I’ll just say that the movie ends with a tragic death….

Placed into the context of this film,  Sundar pours his heart out by singing “dost dost na rahaa” after discovering the unsigned love letter that Radha has hidden from him.  With heart-wrenching lyrics penned by Shailendra and a touching melody based on Raga Bhairavi composed by Shankar-Jaikishan, this song is Bollywood’s quintessential anthem for those who have been betrayed in love or friendship. Mukesh’s pathos-laden voice is perfectly suited to express the pain that Sundar must feel after he comes to believe that his two closest companions in life have been unfaithful to him. The intensity of emotion is heightened by this song’s picturization: the camera captures close-up shots of facial expressions when Sundar sings the antara addressed to Gopal followed by the one addressed to Radha.  From watching this scene, it seems like you can cut the tension in the air with a knife! Although no one should ever have to endure being spurned like this in real life, we hope that the lyrics and English translation provided below will allow you to acquire a greater appreciation for one of Hindi cinema’s finest expressions of angst and betrayal that is still a fan-favorite today.

-Mr. 55

Vijayantimala quietly endures Raj Kapoor’s misguided accusations of infidelity in Sangam (1965)

Dost Dost Na Raha: Lyrics and Translation

dost dost na rahaa, pyaar na pyaar rahaa
My friend no longer remains a friend; my love no longer remains love.
zindagii, hame.n teraa aitbaar na rahaa 
Life, I have lost my faith in you.

amaanate.n mai.n pyaar kii gayaa thaa jisko sau.np kar
The one to whom I entrusted my belongings of love,
vah, mere dost, tum hii the, tum hii to the 
My friend, you were him. Only you.
jo zindagii kii raah me.n bane the mere hamsafar 
The one who had become my fellow traveler in the journey of life,
vah mere dost tum hii the, tum hii to the 
My friend, you were him. Only you.
saare bhed khul gaye, raazdaar na rahaa 
All my secrets are now exposed, the secret-bearer no longer remains.
zindagii, hame.n teraa aitbaar na rahaa
Life, I have lost my faith in you.

gale lagii saham saham, bhare gale se boltii
The one who embraced me fearfully while speaking in a somber voice,
vah tum na thii.n to kaun thaa? tum hii to thii.n
If she wasn’t you, then who was she? It was only you. 
safar ke vaqt me.n palak pe motiyo.n ko toltii 
The one who shed tears of pearls at the parting hour,
vah tum na thii.n to kaun thaa? tum hii to thii.n 
If she wasn’t you, then who was she? It was only you. 
nashe kii raat Dhal gayii, ab khumaar na rahaa
The night of intoxication is over, the inebriation no longer remains.
zindagii, hame.n teraa aitbaar na rahaa
Life, I have lost my faith in you.

vafaa kaa leke naam jo dhaDak rahe the har ghaDii
The one who beat each moment in the name of faithfulness
vah, mere nek nek dil, tum hii to ho
My good heart, you are it.
jo muskuraake rah gaye zahar kii jab suii gaDii
The one who continued to smile when pierced with a needle of poison
vah, mere nek nek dil, tum hii to ho
My good heart, you are it.
ab kisii kaa, mere dil, intazaar na rahaa
Now, my heart, I am not waiting for anyone.
zindagii, hame.n teraa aitbaar na rahaa
Life, I have lost my faith in you.

dost dost na rahaa, pyaar na pyaar rahaa
My friend no longer remains a friend; my love no longer remains love.

Glossary

aitbaar: trust, faith; amaanat: property, belongings; sau.npnaa: to entrust, hand over; hamsafar: traveler, companion; bhed: secret; raazdaar: secret-bearer; gale lagnaa: to embrace; saham: fearfully; bharaa galaa: somber voice; palak: eyelid; motiyaa.n: pearls; tolnaa: to weigh; nashaa: intoxication; khumaar: inebriation; vafaa: faithfulness; dhaDaknaa: to beat; nek: good, worthy; zahar: poison, suii: needle; gaDnaa: to pierce, thrust in; intazaar: wait.

Rajendra Kumar, with a distressed and guilty expression, listens to Raj Kapoor’s allegations of disloyalty during this song from Sangam (1965).

Phool Ahista Phenko Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Mumtaz is at her sassy finest on screen during this blazing duet from Prem Kahani (1975)

Our next translation comes from Prem Kahani (1975), a hit film set during the peak of India’s struggle for freedom from British rule that stars Mumtaz, Rajesh Khanna, and Shashi Kapoor in  another take on the archetypal Bollywood love triangle. Rajesh Khanna plays the role of an apolitical poet with aspirations of teaching literature who becomes involved in a revolutionary freedom fighter movement to avenge his brother’s murder during a peace protest. He engages in a passionate romance with Mumtaz; however, when she boldly asks to marry him, he turns her down. The reason? Knowing the risks that he will face as a revolutionary, he does not want Mumtaz to be subjected to the cruelties of becoming widowed. Deeply hurt by this rejection,  Mumtaz agrees to marry the man of her father’s choosing. In the mean time, Rajesh kills his brother’s murderer and becomes a fugitive highly sought after by the police. One day, while visiting his sister-in-law’s house, he is shot by police who arrive to search the premises. In order to recover from his wound, Rajesh flees to seek refuge at his best friend Shashi Kapoor’s place. When Rajesh arrives, he finds that it is the day of Shashi’s wedding! Rajesh meets the new bride, and — you guessed it — it is none other than Mumtaz.

In this context, the meaning of the lyrics in “phuul aahistaa phe.nko” come truly alive. The tension at home between Mumtaz and Rajesh Khanna is painfully palpable, and in the midst of this mess, the clueless Shashi calls for the start of an informal mushaira (poetry recital).  If you’re interested in the poetry preceding this song, you can listen to the back-and-forth of the witty retorts between Rajesh and Mumtaz at this link here.  The poetry leads seamlessly into the introduction of this memorable Lata-Mukesh duet, which was composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal and penned by Anand Bakshi. This gem is a perfect example of how songs in Bollywood films can be used  to express emotions that cannot be described as gracefully with dialogue alone.

Through these lyrics, Rajesh takes the opportunity to express his sorrow for letting Mumtaz go and playing with her heart. Mumtaz, with some sassy lines of her own, chides Rajesh for the way that he treated her. In order to fully understand these lyrics, it is important note that the thematic message of this song revolves around a key metaphor: the roses discussed here represent womankind. Like flowers, Indian women must grapple with a delicate and fragile fate as they endure the pain inflicted by the thorns of society’s constraining norms.  Thus, when Rajesh claims in the mukhDaa that roses must be plucked gently (phuul aahistaa phe.nko, phuul baDe naazuk hote hai.n), Mumtaz sarcastically questions the sincerity of his politesse during her antara (baDii khuubsuurat shikaayat hai yah, magar sochiye kyaa sharafat hai yah?). In her heart, she wishes Rajesh had not been overly concerned with her well-being so that their marriage could have occurred (in spite of her prospects of becoming widowed).  By channeling her emotions into anger, Mumtaz now hopes that the same kind of pain will ultimately afflict Rajesh so that he can understand the heartbreak she was forced to endure because of his decisions (jo rulaate hai.n logo.n ko ek din khud bhii rote hai.n).

As you can tell, this song is power-packed with emotional intensity and some beautifully crafted poetry–I highly recommend a listen if you have not received the opportunity to hear it yet. Follow along with our translation and glossary below, and as always, remember to send in your requests to themrandmrs55@gmail.com!

–Mr.55

Rajesh Khanna recites poetry that expresses deep regret for letting his beloved Mumtaz slip away in Prem Kahani (1975)

Phool Ahista Phenko: Lyrics and Translation

kahaa aap kaa yah bajaa hii sahii
What you have said is entirely correct: 
ki ham beqadar, bevafaa hii sahii
I am insensitive and unfaithful. 
bade shauq se jaaiye chhoD kar
With pleasure, you may leave me and go away.
magar sahan-e-gulshan se yuu.n toD kar
But, from the rose garden,

phuul aahistaa phe.nko, phuul baDe naazuk hote hai.n
Gently pluck the roses, for they are very delicate. 
vaise bhii to ye badqismatnok pe kaa.nto.n kii sote hai.n
Indeed, these ill-fated flowers must reside on the tips of thorns.

baDii khuubsuurat shikaayat hai yah
You have expressed quite a lovely grievance,
magar sochiye, kyaa sharaafat hai yah?
but please consider whether it is mere politesse.
jo auro.n kaa dil toDte rahte hai.n
Those who continue to break others’ hearts 
lage choT unko to yah kahte hai.n ki
say this when they become hurt themselves: 
phuul aahistaa phe.nko, phuul baDe naazuk hote hai.n
Gently pluck the roses, for they are very delicate. 
jo rulaate hai.n logo.n ko ek din khud bhii rote hai.n
Those who make others cry shed their own tears one day.

kisii shauk ko baagh kii sair me.n
During a stroll in the garden,
jo lag jaaye kaa.nTaa koii pair me.n
when a thorn pierces your foot,
khafaa husn phuulo.n se ho kis liye?
why do you become angry with the roses, oh beautiful one?
ye maasuum hai.n, bekhataa is liye
They are innocent and faultless.
phuul aahistaa phe.nko, phuul baDe naazuk hote hai.n
Gently pluck the roses, for they are delicate.
ye kare.nge kaise ghaayal? ye to khud ghaayal hote hai.n 

How can they hurt others? They are wounded themselves.

gulo.n ke baDe aap hamdard hai.n
You are quite sympathetic to the beauty of these roses.
bhalaa kyo.n na ho? aap bhii mard hai.n
And why not? You are also a man!
hazaaro.n savaalo.n kaa hai ek javaab
A thousand questions have this one answer.
fareb-e-nazar yah na ho, ai janaab
My dear, don’t let your eyes deceive you.
phuul aahistaa phe.nko, phuul baDe naazuk hote hai.n

Gently pluck the roses, for they are delicate.
sab jise kahte hai.n shabnam, phuul ke aa.nsuu hote hai.n
What people call dew drops are, in fact, the tears shed by roses

*Female lines sung by Lata Mangeshkar are denoted in red. Male lines sung by Mukesh are denoted in black.

Glossary

bajaa: correct; beqadar: insensitive; bevafaa: unfaithful; shauq se: with pleasure; sahan: courtyard; gulshan: rose garden; phe.nknaa: to pluck, throw; aahistaa: slowly, gently; naazuk: delicate; badqismat: ill-fated; nok: tip; shikaayat; grievance; sharaafat: politesse, decency; choT: injury, wound; shauk: thorn; baagh: garden; sair: promenade, stroll; khafaa: angry; maasuum: innocent; bekhataa: faultless; gul: rose; hamdard: sympathetic; fareb-e-nazar: delusion of sight; shabnam: dew drops.  

The handsome yet clueless Shashi Kapoor is unaware of the tumultuous history between his wife Mumtaz and best friend Rajesh Khanna in Prem Kahani (1975).