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!
Rajendra Kumar and Saroja Devi in "Teri Pyari Pyari Surat" from Sasural

Teri Pyari Pyari Surat Ko Lyrics & Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Teri Pyari Pyari Surat Sasural film
Rajendra Kumar scores big with the Mohammed Rafi’s chartbuster “Teri Pyari Pyari Surat Ko” from Bollywood film Sasural (1961).

Today we showcase the lyrics and English translation of “Teri Pyari Pyari Surat Ko,” one of Mohammed Rafi’s most romantic hits in honor of Valentine’s Day. Oozing with a dated flirtatious paternalism, Hasrat Jaipuri’s lyrics remind us of the incomparable beauty of the Urdu language. Who else but the great Mohammed Rafi (with that dreamy satin waterfall of a voice) could utter phrases like “chashme badduur” or “zarro.N ki nazar na lage” and induce seizures on the spot? He was awarded the Filmfare Award for Best Playback singer for “Teri Pyari Pyari Surat Ko” in 1961, having remarkably also won the year prior for “Chaudhvin Ka Chand!” Until 1967, male and female singers competed for the same singing award, so keep in mind that he crushed the Mangeshkar sisters twice in a row.

Now you are doubtless wondering, what the heck does “chashme badduur” mean? In Urdu-Hindi vernacular, the word “chashme” is often used for “eyeglasses,” so it seems awkward to start discussing your myopia just as you’re about to praise your crush’s beauty. Derived from Farsi, the phrase “chashme badduur” means literally “keep the evil eye far away.” We more commonly use the term “nazar” in Urdu-Hindi to mean “evil eye,” an omen of someone wishing ill upon you often from jealousy (of your beauty, wealth, achievements, etc). This is complicated by the fact that the term “nazar” in the right context bears no such connotations and could just mean “glance,” frequently employed in Bollywood love songs with poetic abandon. Context clues are everything.

So move past any disbelief in the cultural trope of the “evil eye” (just try winning an argument with your grandparents on this one), and you can appreciate what a sweet compliment it is to say, “chashme badduur.” This simple, respectful phrase conveys a desire to protect as well as admire. I recognize that this line of reasoning can quickly become a slippery slope, but hey, a 1960s romance is what it is. And I bet you’re already feeling lightheaded.

Still not sure what song to sing to your boo on Valentine’s Day? I’ll let the “Teri Pyari Pyari Surat Ko” lyrics do the rest of the talking and I’m confident your confusion will dissipate. Don’t let the mediocre looks of Rajendra Kumar wear you down (he always manages to snag the best Rafi songs–“Yeh Mera Prem Patra“or “Husnwale Tera Jawab Nahin” to name but a few). While everyone loves to hate on Saroja Devi, I think she does everyone a favor by distracting from the bigger on-screen eyesore.

Saroja Devi in Sasural,
As the film’s heroine, Saroja Devi uncomfortably dons the pigtails and bows of a middle-schooler in Sasural (1960). Fully grown women dressing as little girls is so classic of that era. It really deserves a separate conversation.

Teri Pyari Pyari Surat Ko Lyrics & Translation:

Terii pyaarii pyaarii suurat ko, kisii kii nazar na lage
Let no one cast an evil eye upon your lovely face
Chashm-e-badduur
Keep the evil eye far away
MukhaDe ko chhupaa lo aa.Nchal mei.N, kahii.N merii nazar na lage
Hide your face in the drape of your sari, lest I cast an evil eye upon you
Chashme baddur
Keep the evil eye far away

Yuu.N na akele phiraa karo, sab kii nazar se Daraa karo
Do not wander alone like this, be wary of everyone’s gaze
Phuul se zyaadaa naazuk ho tum, chaal sambhal kar chalaa karo
You are more delicate than a flower, be careful of how you walk
Zulfo.N ko giraa lo gaalo.N par, mausam kii nazar na lage
Let your hair fall upon your cheeks, lest the atmosphere cast an evil eye upon you
Chashme baddur
Keep the evil eye far away

Ek jhalak jo paata hai, raahii wahii ruk jaata hai
Upon gaining one look at you, a traveler halts right there in his tracks
Dekh ke teraa ruup salonaa, chaa.Nd bhii sar ko jhukaataa hai
Upon seeing your stunning beauty, even the moon bows its head
Dekhaa na karo tum aaiinaa, kahii.N khud kii nazar na lage
Do not keep looking into the mirror, lest you cast an evil eye upon yourself
Chashme baddur
Keep the evil eye far away

Dil mei.N chhupaa voh tiir ho tum, chaahat kii tasviir ho tum
You are the arrow hidden in my heart, you are the image of my desire
Kaun na hogaa tum se diiwaanaa? pyaar bharii tasviir ho tum
Who would not go mad for you? You are a picture filled with love
Nikalaa na karo tum raaho.N par zarro.N kii nazar na lage
Do not keep coming out upon this path, lest even a particle cast an evil eye upon you
Chashme baddur
Keep the evil eye far away

Terii pyaari pyaari suurat ko, kisii kii nazar na lage
Let no one cast an evil eye upon your lovely face
Chashme badduur
Keep the evil eye far away

 Glossary:

pyaarii: beloved, lovely; suurat: face; nazar: evil eye; chashm-e-badduur: keep the evil eye afar; mukhaDaa: face; chhupaa lenaa: to hide; aa.Nchal: the fancy end of a saarii that drapes over the shoulder; phirnaa: to wander, to revolve; [kisii se] Darnaa: to be afraid [of something]; phuul: flower; [kisii se] zyaadaa: more [than something]; chaal: gait; sambhal karnaa: to be careful; chalnaa: to go; zulfe.N: hair; girnaa: to fall; gaal: cheek; mausam: season, atmosphere; jhalak: glimpse; raahii: traveler; ruk jaanaa: to halt; ruup: beauty; salonaa: gorgeous, stunning; chaa.Nd: moon; sar jhuknaa: to bow [one’s] head; aaiinaa: mirror; khud: self; dil: heart; tiir: arrow; chaahat: love, desire; tasviir: picture; diiwaanaa: mad; bharaa: filled; nikalnaa: to emerge; zarr: particle (see use in “O Mere Shah-e Khuban“)

Rajendra Kumar and Saroja Devi in
Rajendra Kumar and Saroja Devi fall unavoidably in love during the Urdu lover’s paradise that is “Teri Pyari Pyari Surat” from Sasural (1960).

This incredibly apt Mohammed Rafi song was requested by mega-fan Ravi Chandran. Hope you and your special someone love it!

As for me, I wish a Happy Valentine’s Day to my sweet husband who still writes me love letters that would make Hasrat Jaipuri envious! Fortunately, knowing my style, he has entirely avoided mention of the whole “nazar” cliché…

– Mrs. 55

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

O Mere Dil Ke Chain Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Mere jeevan saathi o mere dil ke chain.png
In “Mere Jeevan Saathi” (1972), a film that is peak Rajesh Khanna, our dashing hero serenades us all with “O Mere Dil Ke Chain.”

Today we present the lyrics and English translation to the palpably romantic Kishore Kumar hit “O Mere Dil Ke Chain” from Mere Jeevan Saathi (1972).

Starring silver-screen gold Rajesh Khanna and Tanuja, Mere Jeevan Saathi will scar you  for life if you are not careful. Along with Pakeezah and Kabhi Kabhi, Mere Jeevan Saathi  was one of the favorite films my sister and I watched on the daily as two perfectly normal, socially-adept kids in suburban America. Although often billed as a romantic-comedy, the film at times foreshadows the Stephen King novel “Misery” and in the finale, showcases a miraculous eye surgery with horrific POV shots that is probably the reason I can never wear contacts.

These necessary warnings aside, I highly recommend this film for the sublime music and superstar Rajesh Khanna’s hypnotizing performance, which kept luring me and my sister back despite our PTSD. R.D. Burman’s creative soundtrack with Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar at the helm is precisely the type of music that makes your parents sigh at dinnertime and wonder where the good olden days have gone.

Rajesh Khanna Tanuja o mere dil ke chain.png
Rajesh Khanna’s billowing puffy sleeves fail to deter Tanuja from biting the sweet bait in Mere Jeevan Saathi (1972).

For a hot minute,  I was tempted to describe this song as evergreen, and then checked myself. “O Mere Dil Ke Chain” has unquestionable timeless appeal, but the blaring hallmark of the 1970s steamrollered this song. Do I love it even more because of it? Obviously. Jim Morrison himself would have smiled from heaven had he lived to hear R.D. Burman’s genius use of the cathedral-like organ as a primary instrumental. And sure, the size Rajesh Khanna’s shirt collar warrants its own zipcode and maybe Tanuja could easily hide a dead body in the folds of her ginormous wigs, but one smoldering wink is all it ever takes to forgive and forget the excesses of that psychedelic decade.

Rajesh Khanna Tanuja o mere dil ke chain.png
Tanuja’s perfectly wing-tipped eyeliner punctures the romantic tension in “O Mere Dil Ke Chain.”

“O Mere Dil Ke Chain” is undeniably one of Rajesh Khanna’s most seductive and romantic hits, nestling into history amongst the likes of “Roop Tera Mastana” or “Woh Shaam Kuch Ajeeb Thi.” Without further ado, check out the lyrics and English translation of “O Mere Dil Ke Chain” below! And please describe how much you love Tanuja’s cat-eyeliner in the comments!

O Mere Dil Ke Chain Lyrics and English Translation:

O mere dil ke chain
Oh, one who calms my heart
Chain aaye mere dil ko duaa kijiye
Pray that calmness comes to my heart

Apnaa hii saayaa dekh ke tum, jaan-e jahaa.N, sharam aa gaye
Seeing your own shadow, my dear, makes you shy
Abhii to yeh pehlii manzil hai, tum to abhii se ghabaraa gaye
Now is merely the first destination, and you have already become nervous
Mera kyaa hogaa? Socho to zaraa
What will happen to me? Think about that a little bit
Haaye, aise na aahe.N bharaa kijiye
Sigh, do not sigh like this

O mere dil ke chain…
Oh one who calms my heart…

Aap ka armaa.N, aap ka naam, meraa taraanaa aur nahii.N
Your desire and your name, my song is about nothing more than these things
In jhuktii palko.N ke sivaa, dil ka Thikaana aur nahii.N
Beyond these lowered eyelids of yours, my heart has no other dwelling
Jachtaa hii nahii.N, aankho.N mei.N koii
It does not seem right to behold anyone else in my eyes
Dil tumko hii chaahe, to kyaa kijiye?
My heart wants only you, so what should I do?

O mere dil ke chain…
Oh comfort of my heart…

Yuu.N to akelaa bhii aksar, gir ke sambhal saktaa huu.N mai.N
I am alone often, and can steady myself when I fall
Tum jo pakaD lo haath meraa, duniyaa badal saktaa huu.N mai.N
But if you were to hold my hand, I could change the world
Maa.Ngaa hai tumhe, duniyaa ke liye
I asked for you in exchange for the world
Ab khud hii sanam faislaa kijiye
Now you yourself make a decision, my darling

O mere dil ke chain
Oh, one who calms my heart
Chain aye mere dil ko duaa kijiye
Pray that calmness comes to my heart

Glossary:

chain: rest, calmness; duaa: prayer; saayaa: shadow; jaan-e jahaa.N: life of the world [an Urdu-Hindi term of endearment]; sharam aanaa: to become shy, to feel embarrassed; abhii: now; pehlaa: first; manzil: destination; ghabaraanaa: to become nervous, to feel worried; zaraa: a little bit; aah: sigh; armaa.N: desire; naam: name; taraanaa: song; jhuknaa: to lower; palke.N: eyelids; Thikaanaa: shelter; jachtaa: correct; aa.Nkhe.N: eyes; akelaa: alone; aksar: often; girnaa: to fall: sambhalnaa:  to steady [oneself]; haath pakaDnaa: to hold hands; duniyaa: world; badalnaa: to change; maa.Ngnaa: to ask; khud: self; faislaa karna: to make a decision

Tanuja and Rajesh Khanna in Mere Jeevan Saathi
Tanuja feels shy as Rajesh Khanna croons to her in Mere Jeevan Saathi (1972), wondering if anyone noticed her ringlets are the wrong length.

This song was requested by obsessed fans Mohandas and Venkatesan! Thank you both for giving us an excuse to deliver a little extra Rajesh Khanna to people’s lives this holiday season.

-Mrs. 55

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