The Top 30 Best Classic Bollywood Soundtracks of All Time

The best music albums from classic Bollywood have been chosen. Which songs made the list of Bollywood’s top 30 greatest?

Raj Kapoor Nargis Iconic BarsaatIntroduction

Welcome to the greatest music of classic Bollywood! We at Mr. and Mrs. 55 – Classic Bollywood Revisited! have compiled our ultimate list of the top 30 best classic Bollywood film soundtracks of all-time. Music is the very soul of classic Bollywood, a legacy of beauty and style that once lit the world. These soundtracks showcase the most talented artists of Bollywood and are as diverse and transformative as the films to which they lent their magic. Long after the cinema lights fade, this music remains in the air, haunting us with desire, sustaining us through tragedy, and enchanting our daily experiences in the world.

Soundtracks of all Hindi films released between the years of 1945 to 1985 were considered and ranked based on the merit of lyrics, musical composition and complexity, historical and cultural value, vocal performance, and accomplishments of the soundtrack elements as an ensemble. Topping our list are composers Sachin Dev Burman, Rahul Dev Burman, Naushad, and the duo Shankarsingh Raghuwanshi and Jaikishan Dayabhai Panchal (often credited as Shankar-Jaikishen) whose works both defined and reinvented Bollywood. Like our enormously popular list of the Top 30 Greatest Classic Bollywood Films of All Time, these soundtracks embrace the unexpected.

The advent of music in Bollywood binds the stormy history of a shackled India emerging from depression and war with the golden age of Hollywood musical film. Many believe that films with de rigeur musical numbers is a unique hallmark of Hindi cinema. However, the early “talkie” pictures of India such as Alam Ara (1931) were heavily influenced by the popular western films like The Jazz Singer (1927) and Showboat (1929) in which the new sound technology instantly propelled musical film as the most profitable genre. Hollywood directors like Busby Berkeley whose signature spectacle was the mass ornament and nimble-footed singer-dancers like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers helped contribute to the hundreds and hundreds of musical films cherished by the western world during the 1930s-1950s. The then universal convention of five to seven musical numbers peppering a film was easily embraced and adapted by Hindi movie directors who introduced Hindustani musical traditions to their work. Playback singers such as Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, and Asha Bhonsle were as celebrated as the actors for whom they lent their voices. Often before a film was released, a Bollywood movie’s soundtrack was played repeatedly on the radio, reaching the hearts of millions across the country who may not have afforded the luxury to see the actual film in theatres.

While Hollywood eventually diverged from the musical film genre by the late 1960s, India was awakening to its own golden era of film in which music dominated the sensory milieu. Perhaps it was the escapism of music with its perfect harmonies and piercing poetry that touched the newly freed country still finding its identity. From solemn hymns of the countryside to feverish cabarets of city nightlife, from extravagant orchestras to solitary sitar solos, and from singers whose voices seem to descend from heaven, these soundtracks unleashed new eras of possibility and romance. The music of classic Bollywood will change you forever. For a few fleeting minutes, the ideals you dreamed of are made real.

Take this journey with us through the best music albums of yesteryear Hindi cinema. This music the way is was meant to be. This is classic Bollywood.

The Top 30 Best Classic Bollywood Soundtracks of All Time:

1. Pakeezah

Pakeezah Meena Kumari Chalte Chalte

Ghulam Mohammed and Naushad, 1971

2. Guide

Guide

S.D. Burman, 1965

  • Din Dhal Jaaye – Mohammed Rafi
  • Aaj Phir Jeene Ki – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Piya Tose – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Tere Mere Sapne – Mohammed Rafi
  • Gaata Rahe Mera Dil – Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi
  • Kya Se Kya Ho Gaya – Mohammed Rafi
  • Saiyan Beiman – Lata Mangeshkar

3. Mughal-e-Azam

Mughal-e-Azam

Naushad, 1960

  • Teri Mehfil Mein Qismat – Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum
  • Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Mohe Pangat Pe – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Mohabbat Ki Jhooti Kahani – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Aye Mohabbat Zindabad – Mohammed Rafi
  • Prem Jogan Ban Ke – Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan
  • Yeh Dil Ki Lagi – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Title Music

4. Nagin

Nagin

Hemant Kumar, 1954

  • Man Dole Mera – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Jadugar Saiyan – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Tere Dwar Khada Ek Jogi – Hemant Kumar
  • Mera Dil Yeh Pukare Aaja – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Sun Ri Sakhi – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Yaad Rakhna Pyar Ki Nishani – Asha Bhonsle and Hemant Kumar

5. Aradhana

Aradhana

S.D. Burman, 1969

  • Roop Tera Mastana – Kishore Kumar
  • Mere Sapnon Ki Rani – Kishore Kumar
  • Kora Kaagaz Tha – Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar
  • Gunguna Rahe Hai Bhanware – Asha Bhonsle and Mohammed Rafi
  • Baghon Mein Bahar Hai – Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar
  • Saphal Hogi Teri Aradhana – S.D. Burman

6. Teesri Manzil

Teesri Manzil

R.D. Burman, 1966

  • Aaja Aaja – Asha Bhonsle and Mohammed Rafi
  • Deewana Mujhsa Nahin – Mohammed Rafi
  • O Haseena Zulfonwali – Asha Bhonsle and Mohammed Rafi
  • O Mere Sona Re – Asha Bhonsle and Mohammed Rafi
  • Tumne Mujhe Dekha – Mohammed Rafi

7. Barsaat

Barsaat

Shankarsingh Raghuwanshi and Jaikishan Dayabhai Panchal, 1949

  • Hawa Mein Udta Jaye – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Chhod Gaye Balam – Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh
  • Jiya Beqarar Hai – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Mujhe Kisise Pyar – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Patli Kamar Hai – Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh

8. Anarkali

Anarkali

C. Ramachandra, 1953

  • Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai – Lata Mangeshkar
  • O Zindagi Ke Denewale – Hemant Kumar
  • O Aasmanwale – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Jaag Dard-e-Ishq – Lata Mangeshkar and Hemant Kumar
  • Mohabbat Aisi Dhadhkan Hai – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Mujhse Mat Pooch – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Aaja Ab To Aaja – Lata Mangeshkar

9. Kati Patang

Kati Patang

R.D. Burman, 1970

  • Jis Gali Mein – Mukesh
  • Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai – Kishore Kumar
  • Na Koi Umang Hai – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Yeh Shaam Mastani – Kishore Kumar
  • Pyaar Diwanaa Hota Hai – Kishore Kumar
  • Aaj Na Chhodenge – Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar

10. Chori Chori

Chori Chori

Shankarsingh Raghuwanshi and Jaikishan Dayabhai Panchal, 1956

  • Panchi Banoon Udti – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Aaja Sanam – Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey
  • Jahan Main Jaati Hoon – Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey
  • Yeh Raat Bheegi Bheegi – Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey
  • Rasik Balma – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Man Bhavan Ke Ghar – Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle

11. Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

Roshan, 1963

12. Hum Dono

Hum Dono Abhi Na Jao Dev Anand Sadhana

Jaidev, 1961

13. Jewel Thief

Jewel Thief

S.D. Burman, 1967

  • Honton Pe Aisi Baat – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Aasman Ke Neeche – Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar
  • Dil Pukare – Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi
  • Rulake Gaya Sapna – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Yeh Dil Na Hota – Kishore Kumar
  • Title Music

14. Caravan

Caravan

R.D. Burman, 1971

  • Piya Tu Ab To – Asha Bhonsle
  • Chadti Jawani – Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi
  • Kitna Pyara Wada – Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi
  • Goriya Kahan – Asha Bhonsle and Mohammed Rafi
  • Ab Jo Mile Hai – Asha Bhonsle

15. Bobby

Bobby Main Shayar To Nahin

Laxmikant Shantaram Kudalkar and Pyarelal Ramprasad Sharma, 1973

  • Main Shayar To Nahin – Shailendra Singh
  • Bahar Se Koi Andhar – Lata Mangeshkar and Shailendra Singh
  • Jhoot Bole Kauwa Kate – Lata Mangeshkar and Shailendra Singh
  • Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai – Lata Mangeshkar and Shailendra Singh
  • Na Mangoon Sona Chandi – Manna Dey and Shailendra Singh

16. Pyaasa

Pyaasa

S.D. Burman, 1957

  • Jaane Woh Kaise – Hemant Kumar
  • Aaj Sajan Mohe – Geeta Dutt
  • Hum Aap Ki Ankhon Mein – Geeta Dutt and Mohammed Rafi
  • Jane Kya Tune Kahi – Asha Bhonsle
  • Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaaye – Mohammed Rafi

17. Abhiman

Abhiman

S.D. Burman, 1973

18. Anand

Anand

Salil Choudhury, 1971

19. Kabhi Kabhi

Kabhi Kabhi

Mohammed Zayur Khayyam, 1976

20. Baiju Bawra

Baiju bawra

Naushad, 1952

  • O Duniya Ke Rakhwale – Mohammed Rafi
  • Man Tarpat Hari Dar – Mohammed Rafi
  • Mohe Bhool Gaye Sanwariya – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Jhoole Mein Pawan Ke – Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi
  • Tu Ganga Ki Mauj – Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi

21. Mother India

Mother India

Naushad, 1957

22. Madhumati

Madhumati

Salil Choudhury, 1958

  • Aaja Re Pardesi – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Dil Tadap Tadap – Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh
  • Suhana Safar – Mukesh
  • Ghadi Ghadi Mora Dil – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Chadh Gayo Papi Bichua – Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey

23. Basant Bahar

Basant Bahar

Shankarsingh Raghuwanshi and Jaikishan Dayabhai Panchal, 1956

  • Duniya Na Bhaye Mohammed Rafi
  • Bhaye Bhanjana – Manna Dey
  • Ja Ja Re Ja – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Main Piya Teri – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Nain Mile Chain Kahan – Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey

24. Aar Paar

Aar Paar

O.P. Nayyar, 1954

  • Babuji Dheere Chalna – Geeta Dutt
  • Sun Sun Sun Zalima – Geeta Dutt and Mohammed Rafi
  • Kabhi Aar Kabhi Par – Shamshad Begum
  • Yeh Lo Main Haari Piya – Geeta Dutt
  • Hoon Abhi Main Jawan – Geeta Dutt

25. Kashmir Ki Kali

Kashmir Ki Kali

O.P. Nayyar, 1964

26. Bandini

Bandini

S.D. Burman, 1963

  • Ab Ke Baras Bhej – Asha Bhonsle
  • O Re Mahji – S.D. Burman
  • Mora Gora Ang Laile – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Jogi Jab Se Tu Aaya – Lata Mangeshkar
  • O Janewale Ho Sake – Mukesh

27. Sangam

Sangam

Shankarsingh Raghuwanshi and Jaikishan Dayabhai Panchal, 1964

28. Yaadon Ki Baraat

Yaadon Ki Baraat

R.D. Burman, 1973

  • Chura Liya Hai – Asha Bhonsle and Mohammed Rafi
  • Aapke Kamre Mein – Asha Bhonsle and Kishore Kumar
  • Lekar Hum Deewana Dil – Asha Bhonsle and Kishore Kumar
  • Meri Soni Meri Tamana – Asha Bhonsle and Kishore Kumar
  • Yaadon Ki Baraat – Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar

29. Amar Prem

Rajesh Khanna Amar Prem

R.D. Burman, 1972

  • Chingari Koi Bhadke – Kishore Kumar
  • Raina Beeti Jaaye – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Kuch To Log Kahenge – Kishore Kumar
  • Yeh Kya Hua – Kishore Kumar
  • Bada Natkhat Hai Yeh – Lata Mangeshkar

30. Umrao Jaan

 

Rekha2_UmraoJaan

Mohammed Zayur Khayyam, 1981

Find out more about these and other classic Bollywood soundtracks on our song pages! Which soundtracks do you consider among classic Bollywood’s all-time best and why? Leave us a comment and let us know!

– Mrs. 55

Advertisements

Naina Barse Rimjhim Rimjhim Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Sadhana

Sadhana excels in her role as the mysterious femme fatale of Woh Kaun Thi? (1964)

Happy Halloween to our readers! What better way to celebrate with a classic ghost song featuring Lata Mangeshkar’s spooky vocals, Sadhana’s haunting beauty, and Madan Mohan’s soul-stirring composition? In the spirit of Halloween, we are sharing the lyrics and English translation to nainaa barse rimjhim rimjhim from Raj Khosla’s suspense thriller Woh Kaun Thi? (1964).

In a previous post, we have discussed how Woh Kaun Thi? is the quintessential example of film noir being adapted for vintage Hindi cinema.  In this film, Dr. Anand (Manoj Kumar) encounters a mysterious woman (Sadhana) on a stormy night and offers to give her a ride in his car. After she makes a strange request to be dropped off at a local cemetery, he hears this woman sing the first part of nainaa barse – a song that continues to haunt him at various points throughout the film. Later in the movie, Dr. Anand is called to see a patient in an old mansion that is rumored to be haunted. When he arrives at this mansion, the patient has already died and she appears to be the same woman that he encountered on the stormy night. In an even more strange turn of events, Dr. Anand’s fiancee is murdered suddenly by a cyanide injection. To alleviate his grief and loneliness, Dr. Anand is set up by his mother to his marry a new woman named Sandhya. Much to his surprise, Dr. Anand finds on his wedding night that his new wife looks exactly like the supposedly dead woman he gave a ride to in the film’s opening scene! Like Dr. Anand, the audience is left confused as they grapple with the film’s eponymous question: Woh kaun thi? Who was she?

Throughout her career, Lata Mangeshkar earned a reputation for her haunting renditions of ghost songs in films. Some of her most influential and beautiful hits are used as ghost songs in their respective movies: aayegaa aanevaalaa from Mahal (1949), tuu jahaa.n jahaa.n chalegaa from Mera Saaya (1966), kahii.n diip jale kahii.n dil from Bees Saal Baad (1962), and gumnaam hai koii from Gumnaam (1965). In an interview for her 80th birthday, the melody queen humorously remarks about her career: mai.n ne sab se zyaadaa gaanaa gaaye hai.n bhuuto.n ke (I have sung the most songs for ghosts!).

An interesting and apt anecdote: when this song was being filmed in Kufri (near Shimla), Lata had not yet had the opportunity to record the song in the studio. Much to the surprise of the crowd that had gathered to watch the filming, actress Sadhana shot her scenes by lip-syncing to a version of this song rendered by music director Madan Mohan himself – perhaps a bit creepy but also a rare treat!

Did you know that Woh Kaun Thi? was inspired by a British play called The Woman In White (1859) written by Wilkie Collins? Raj Khosla’s mentor Guru Dutt had attempted to create a film based on the same story a few years earlier in 1959. He abandoned this project entitled Raaz in which he was supposed to play the male lead while Waheeda Rehman played the female lead. Interestingly, this film was supposed to have been R.D. Burman’s debut as a solo music director.

-Mr. 55
MK

Manoj Kumar plays a confused doctor who is recurrently haunted by a mysterious woman and her song in Woh Kaun Thi? (1964)

Naina Barse Rimjhim Rimjhim (Version 1): Lyrics and Translation

nainaa barse rimjhim rimjhim
My eyes shed tears, drop by drop,
piyaa tore aavan kii aas
in hopes of your return, my beloved.
nainaa barse, barse, barse
My eyes shed tears.

yeh laakho.n gham, yeh tanhaayii
Thousands of sorrows and this solitiude
muhabbat kii yeh rusvaayii
are all part of love’s disgrace. 
kaTii aisii kaii raate.n
I have spent several such nights
na tum aaye na maut aayii
where neither you came to me, nor my death. 
yeh bi.ndiyaa kaa taaraa
The star of my beauty spot
jaise ho a.ngaaraa
burns brightly like an ember.
mahandii mere haatho.n kii udaas
Even the henna on my hands is sullen.

nainaa barse rimjhim rimjhim
My eyes shed tears, drop by drop,
piyaa tore aavan kii aas
in hopes of your return, my beloved.
nainaa barse, barse, barse
My eyes shed tears.

MK

Manoj Kumar’s restrained and understated performance falls short in comparison to Sadhana’s dynamic portrayal of the leading character in Woh Kaun Thi? (1964).  

Naina Barse Rimjhim Rimjhim (Version 2): Lyrics and Translation

nainaa barse rimjhim rimjhim
My eyes shed tears, drop by drop,
piyaa tore aavan kii aas
in hopes of your return, my beloved. 
nainaa barse, barse, barse
My eyes shed tears.

adhuuraa huu.n mai.n afsaanaa
I am an incomplete story. 
jo yaad aauu.n chale aanaa
When you remember me, come back to me. 
meraa jo haal hai tujh bin
The state that I am in without you, 
voh aa kar dekhte jaanaa
come to me and see it for yourself. 
bhiigii bhiigii palke.n
My eyelashes are moist, 
chham-chham aa.nsuu chhalke.n
as my tears drip, sounding like the jingle of an anklet.  
khoyii khoyii aa.nkhe.n hai.n udaas
My eyes are lost and sullen.

nainaa barse rimjhim rimjhim
My eyes shed tears, drop by drop,
piyaa tore aavan kii aas
in hopes of your return, my beloved. 
nainaa barse, barse, barse
My eyes shed tears.

Sadhana

Sadhana’s dashing beauty shines against the backdrop of Shimla in the Himalayas in Woh Kaun Thi? (1964)

Naina Barse Rimjhim Rimjhim (Version 3): Lyrics and Translation

nainaa barse rimjhim rimjhim
My eyes shed tears, drop by drop,
piyaa tore aavan kii aas
in hopes of your return, my beloved.
nainaa barse, barse, barse
My eyes shed tears.

voh din merii nigaaho.n me.n
Those days remain in my eyes. 
voh yaade.n merii aaho.n me.n
Those memories remain in my sighs. 
yeh dil ab tak bhaTaktaa hai
This heart still wanders
terii ulfat kii raaho.n me.n
along the paths of your love. 
suunii suunii raahe.n, sahmii sahmii baahe.n
Along those empty paths, with my nervous arms, 
aan.kho.n me.n hai barso.n kii pyaas
my eyes carry a thirst unslaked for years.

nazar tujh bin machaltii hai
My sight wavers without you. 
muhabbat haath maltii hai
My love repents in desperation. 
chalaa aa mere parvaane
Please come to me, my moth. 
vafaa kii shamaa jaltii hai
The candle of faithfulness still burns brightly. 
o mere hamraahii, phirtii huu.n ghabraayii
Oh, my soulmate! I wander about afraid. 
jahaa.n bhii hai, aa jaa mere paas
Wherever you are, please come to me.

nainaa barse rimjhim rimjhim
My eyes shed tears, drop by drop,
piyaa tore aavan kii aas
in hopes of your return, my beloved. 
nainaa barse, barse, barse
My eyes shed tears.

Glossary

nainaa: eyes; barasnaa: to rain; rimjhim: onomatopoeia for the dripping noise of rain; aavan: return, arrival; aas: hope; adhuuraa: incomplete; afsaanaa: story; haal: state, condition; palak: eyelid, eyelash; chham-chham: onomatopoeia for the jingling noise of an anklet; chhalaknaa: to drip; udaas: sullen, gloomy; tanhaayii: solitude; rusvaayii: disgrace; maut: death; bi.ndiyaa: beauty spot; angaaraa: cinder, ember; mahandii: henna, nigaah: eyes; aah: sigh; sahmaa: nervous; baras: year; pyaas: thirst; nazar: glance, sight; machalnaa: to waver; haath malnaa: to repent; parvaanaa: moth; vafaa: faithfulness; shamaa: candle; hamraahii: soulmate, companion; phirnaa: to wander about; ghabraayaa: afraid.

Sadhana

     Those eyes! 

Interview with Bollywood Playback Singer Minoo Purushottam: A Mr. & Mrs. 55 Exclusive!

Minoo Purushottam tanpura

Minoo Purushottam, renowned Hindi film playback singer. Photo: Personal collection of Minoo Purushottam.

Last year, we published a popular post on the career of one of our favorite yesterday playback singers, Minoo Purushottam. In one of those great twists of fate taken straight from a 60s masala flick, shortly afterwards, we received an email from Minoo-ji’s son who re-connected Mrs. 55 with her Hindi classical voice teacher, Minoo-ji herself, from years before! Minoo-ji was gracious enough to grant Mr. and Mrs. 55 – Classic Bollywood Revisited! an exclusive interview about her career. After spending many years in Houston since leaving Bombay, Minoo-ji has now settled into her new home in Illinois near her son where she continues to teach new students and perform at concerts. We are honored to share with you a transcript of our delightful conversation with her that includes reminiscing about her early schooldays when she was first recognized as a musical prodigy, that time Mukesh blew his 16th take during a recording session, and what advice she has for aspiring singers!

MRS. 55: Could you tell us a little bit more about your early music training?

MINOO: I grew up in Bombay. There were music classes in school. A South Indian teacher used to come and teach us the ragas. At that time, I was chosen to lead the school prayers. That was a great time for me, I was not thinking then that I would become a singer when I was at school. I wanted to become a schoolteacher actually. I had very simple ambitions. When suddenly I realized I was a singer, I started seriously practicing, four hours every day, every day, every day. This was because I had to prepare for my exams: 25 ragas for the sangeet visharad in the first year. It was very difficult. But I always loved to teach, and I still love it. Everybody now thinks they can sing without practice. I think karaoke messed things up that way. If you know the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna said we have 4 Vedas, and there is a Samaveda based on music. The whole universe is singing if you carefully listen to it. All the sounds are like singing. It affects one a lot.

MR. 55: Who was your favorite duet partner in the past?

MINOO: All these singers are great humans. I was working all my life with Mohammed Rafi. At that time I was very young and toured with Asha Bhonsle too. But after the great singers were gone, I was not interested in staying in Bombay. With whom should I sing? I was feeling sad. But still I love to work, I love to sing. Even now I practice every day.

Minoo Purushottam and Asha Bhonsle rehearsing

Playback singers Minoo Purushottam and Asha Bhonsle rehearsing together in a recording studio. Photo: Personal collection of Minoo Purushottam.

MRS. 55: Some singers have commented on the difficult of breaking into the industry when it was dominated by a few select singers. How did you overcome that?

MINOO: I didn’t have any difficulty. It seemed that everybody loved me so much, they wanted to give me a chance. I was doing my job well. All the music directors were very happy with me when I was working with them. I never said that, “I want this, I want that.” I never made demands, so I was very easy to work with. At that time music was so great. The stories in the films were so good. You can see those films 100 times. From my childhood, I saw the film Mahal. It’s a very old movie. I can see that film over and over. I love all those songs. I can see it 1000 times. But my time was after that, mostly colour movies.

MR. 55: You worked with many great music directors. What lessons did they teach you?

MINOO: I was working a lot with Madan Mohan. He was my teacher, teaching me ghazals and pronunciation and accent of ghazals. Jaidev was also my teacher.

MRS. 55: I remember when I took lessons from you, you talked fondly about the actors you worked with, especially Sanjeev Kumar.

MINOO: You know, Sanjeev Kumar’s sister is in Houston and used to come to meet me. We were very good friends. But things change a lot. Madhumati was very good friend of mine as well.

Minoo Purushottam and Manna Dey

Bollywood playback singers Minoo Purushottam and Manna Dey. Photo: Personal collection of Minoo Purushottam.

MR. 55: Are there any new artists that you enjoy?

MINOO: I have a habit of listening to old songs from singers like Talat Mehmood. It’s hard to change that. But some students do want to learn new songs, and then I help them. We should be open-minded, it’s a part of the job.

MRS. 55: What is your favorite film song that you sang?

MINOO: I love all of them. You put so much time and effort into each one. You have to concentrate very hard, you can’t play around with it. One should be very serious. Nowadays they can break the song down in pieces to record just the pieces, and then put them together. But in those days, you and all the musicians had to sing it perfectly all the way through. If you make a mistake, you’d be rejected. One day I was sitting for the recording and Mukesh-ji was making so many mistakes! He was on his 16th take and he said, “If I don’t get it right this time, I’m going to forget this song.” I think my voice has changed with age, and it suits bhajans and ghazals now. And anyway, who would compose film music now the way S.D. Burman and C. Ramchandra did? This time people just want to make money, not make real music.

MRS. 55: Is there anything you’d like to tell your fans?

MINOO: If you really want to sing, you must learn something. Find a teacher. But I can tell you, it’s hard to find time to devote just to music. But you must do it.

– Mr. and Mrs. 55

Minoo Purushottam and Mohammed Rafi

Playback singers Minoo Purushottam and Mohammed Rafi often toured together in the 60s and 70s. Photo: Personal collection of Minoo Purushottam.

Kar Chale Hum Fida Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Haqeeqat soldier's child photo

A fallen soldier carries a photo of his son during the Indo-China War of 1962 portrayed in the epic film Haqeeqat (1964)

Happy Independence Day, India! To celebrate this day, we recall the sacrifice and service of our men in uniform through the poetic call to action, “Kar Chale Hum Fida,” from the great war film Haqeeqat (1964). Starring Dharmendra, Jayant, Priya Rajvansh, and Balraj Sahni, Haqeeqat was the first film of its kind to bring audiences straight to the battlefield through the eyes of Indian soldiers (an obvious inspiration for its successful modern interpretation Border in 1997). Director Chetan Anand tells a self-described “mosaic” of a war freshly lost by India, but inspires confidence in the morale-shattered audiences with moving heroism and romance. Set in the ethereal realm of Ladakh along the border of India and China, Haqeeqat revives our hopes for the future of the still growing nation and glorifies the righteousness of Indian values even when defeated. The enemy are seen as scrawny, primitive beings with a limited vocabulary while the Indian fighters are tall, gorgeous, eloquent, and noble. Haqeeqat, meaning “reality,” portrays the real losses of the Indian army, complete with stunning battle re-enactments across the Himalayas, however, the poignancy of the film is how it turns losing a war with honor into a vastly more important moral victory.

“Kar Chale Hum Fida” bears a different kind of optimism than the “Mera Joota Hai Japani” anthem of post-independence India–an outlook now tempered by the marvels of technological and cultural advances with which the nascent country sought to keep pace and by the very real threat of encroaching communism. The song classically depicts the motherland as a new bride to be defended and death as a welcome sacrifice to preserve her honor. With godlike bravery and fortitude that surmounts all obstacles, the soldiers in “Kar Chale Hum Fida” transcend from life to death, from idealistic to divine. Hope is derived from the constant refrain that entrusts the responsibility of the nation to the next generation. Written in a flash of inspiration at 1 AM by Kaifi Azmi, the song’s tune arrived equally serendipitously to composer Madam Mohan the same night and was recorded the next morning.

Haqeeqat soldier death wife daydream editing sequence

The brilliant montage of a soldier’s death with his wife turning off their bedroom lamp in Haqeeqat (1964). Trace each shot and its mis-en-scene carefully from left to right to understand the genius of this editing sequence.

Before we further discuss the lyrics to what I believe is certainly one of Kaifi Azmi’s most beautiful poems, I need to talk about a moment earlier in the film that is one of the greatest moments in film history. Note that I wrote “film history,” not merely “Bollywood film history.” This sequence is incredible and deserves a full essay. There are some moments in the human experience that can only truly be expressed through the medium of film. These are rare and a gift to any director. Most stories can be well told in prose or acted in a theatre, but the true magic of cinema lives in moments like these that fuel a film director’s dreams. In this case, film editing is the star, the juxtaposition of distinct images harkens back to Soviet montage theory when filmmakers were first exploring the possibilities of the medium. Let’s walk through this together:

Ram Swaroop plays a soldier sent to the border with a tiny boxful of earth and seeds that his young bride tells him to plant in the barren lands of Ladakh. But he is wounded mortally in the crossfire and falls on his side to the ground in a medium close-up. CUT: A reverse shot* of his wife on their bed reaching to the lamp. She flicks the light off. CUT: Reverse reaction shot of Swaroop lying on the battlefield, he smiles at her. CUT: She smiles in return, flirtatiously switching the lamp back on. She turns it off again and moves closer to him. Her eyes close as if to sleep. CUT: A gunshot is heard and Swaroop falls dead in a close-up. CUT: Wide-shot of a Chinese soldier standing over Swaroop’s body with a warm gun. CUT: Close-up of the box of earth his wife had given to him, flung to the side.

What does it mean? In 2015, we take so much about film and our common constructs for granted. Here, a man and a woman completely separated by time and space are juxtaposed back-to-back and we as an audience immediately understand what is happening. How extraordinary, if you think about it. Swaroop is imagining that he sees his wife, recalling an earlier memory of them lying together in bed. We recognize that he is dying and the symbolism of her lamp flicking on-and-off is suddenly clear. When her lamps turns off and she falls asleep, he will never awaken. It is a tantalizing moment as we are both fearful of this inevitable poetic death, but also hypnotized by her flirtatious smile and playfulness with the light. The brilliance of the editing transports us suddenly from the cold battlefield to the warmth of a bedroom and the intimacy of a couple in love. It’s a reminder of what wars are truly being fought for. We want him to join her almost as much as we need him to remain alive. The close-up of earth after Swaroop’s murder assumes the wife’s logical next position in the editing of the sequence, invoking the classic symbolism of India as a new bride whose honor is worth dying for. This is the only medium that has the power to capture this. Take a second for me with this absolutely stunning sequence and just appreciate film–film as a medium, film as poetry.

*Note: For the film nerds among us, you’ll note that the shot of Swaroop’s wife is not technically a “reverse shot.” Classical Hollywood cinema and the 180 degree principle of continuity editing tells us that for a true reverse shot, the eye lines of the subjects must match (ie. his wife’s head should in principle be on the right looking to the left), a construct with which Chetan Anand is exceedingly familiar and employed throughout the film. However, he brilliantly chose to break this rule and instead mirrors (both literally and figuratively) the shot preceding it, thus presenting an entirely alternative reality rather than a simple continuation of ideas. Am I too obsessed?

Haqeeqat Prime Minister Nehru

Though criticized for his failure to anticipate Chinese attacks, Prime Minister Nehru himself blesses us with a brief cameo derived from archival footage in the delightfully pro-Indian government film Haqeeqat (1964).

Sorry for that huge stream of consciousness, but the filmmaker in me had to rave (as I simultaneously wipe away tears of appreciation). MOVING ON. Like the heart-wrenching “Aye Mere Watan Ki Logon,” “Kar Chale Hum Fida” effectively celebrates heroism rather than dwell on military strategic failures. We hope you remember some of the men and women in uniform in your life today as we celebrate their sacrifices with the lyrics and English translation of “Kar Chale Hum Fida” below. The video to follow along can be found here. Enjoy!

Kar Chale Hum Fida Lyrics and Translation:

Kar chale hum fidaa jaan-o-tan saathiiyo
We are finished sacrificing our lives and bodies, companions
Ab tumhaare hawaale watan saathiiyo.N
Now we entrust the country to you, companions

Saa.Ns thamtii gayii, nabz jamti gayii, phir bhi baDhte qadam ko na rukhne diyaa
Our breaths kept halting, our pulses kept congealing, but we did not allow our advancing footsteps to pause
KaT gaye sar hamaare to kuch gham nahii.N, sar Himaalaya ka humne na jhukne diyaa
If our heads were cut, we felt no sorrow, for we did not allow the head of the Himalayas to bow
Marte marte rahaa baa.Nkpan saathiiyo
As we died, our chivalry remained, companions
Ab tumhaare hawaale watan saathiiyo
Now we entrust the country to you, companions

Zindaa rahne ke mausam bahut hai.N magar jaan dene ki rut roz aati nahii.N
There are many seasons to live, however, the time to give your life does not come every day
Husn aur ishq dono.N ko ruswaa kare woh jawaanii jo khoo.N mei.N nahaatii nahii.N
What displeases beauty and love are youth that do not bathe in blood
Aaj dhartii bani hai dulhan saathiiyo
Today the earth became our bride, companions
Ab tumhaare hawaale watan saathiiyo
Now we entrust the country to you, companions

Raah qurbaniyo.N kii na viraan ho, tum sajaate hii rehnaa naaye qaafile
Let the path of sacrifice not become barren, you must continue to adorn it with new processions
Fateh ka jashn is jashn ke baad hai zindagii maut se mil rahii hai.N gale
The celebration of victory is after this victory in which life and death are embracing
Baa.Ndh lo apne sar se qafan saathiiyo
Tie the funeral shroud upon your heads, companions
Ab tumhaare hawaale watan saathiiyo.N
Now we entrust the country to you, companions

Khe.Nch do apne khuu.N se zameen par lakeer,* is taraf aane paaye na Raavan koi
Draw out a line upon this earth with your blood and do not let any demons come this way
ToD do haath agar haath uThne lage, chuu.N na paaye na Sitaa kaa daaman koii
Break the enemy’s hand if his hand raises [against you] and let no one dishonor Sita
Raam bhi tum, tum hii Lakshman saathiiyo.N
You are both Ram and Lakshman, companions
Ab tumhaare hawaale watan saathiiyo.N
Now we entrust the country to you, companions

Kar chale hum fidaa jaan-o-tan saathiiyo
We are finished sacrificing our lives and bodies, companions
Ab tumhaare hawaale watan saathiiyo.N
Now we entrust the country to you, companions

Glossary:

kar chalnaa: to depart; fidaa: sacrifice; jaan: life; tan: body; saathii: companion; [kisi ke] hawaale: [in someone’s] care; watan: country; saa.Ns: breath; thhamnaa: to stop; nabz: pulse; jamnaa: to solidify, to freeze; baDhnaa: to advance; qadam: footsteps; [kisi ko] rukhne diyaa: to allow [something] to stop; kaT; cut; sar: head; gham: sorrow; Himaalaay: Himalayan mountains; jhuknaa: to bow; marnaa: to die; baa.Nkpan: chivalry; zindaa rehnaa: to remain living; mausam: season; rut: time, season; roz: every day; husn: beauty; ishq: love; ruswaa: disgrace; jawaanii: youth; khoo.N: blood; nahaanaa: to bathe; dhartii: earth; dulhan: bride; raah: path; qurbaanii: sacrifice; viraa.N: barren, wasteland; sajaanaa: to decorate; qaafile: gathering, procession; fateh: victory; jashn: celebration; [kisi ke] baad: after [something]; maut: death; gale milnaa: to embrace; baa.Ndhnaa: to tie; qafan: funeral shroud; khe.Nchnaa: to pull, to draw; zameen: earth; lakeer: line; taraf: side, toward; raavaan: mythological demon of the Ramayan; toDnaa: to break; haath: hand; uThnaa: to raise; chuu.Nnaa: to touch (in this sense, referring to the dishonorable act of touching Sita’s garments); Sitaa: Queen of Ayodha, wife of Lord Rama; [kisi ka] daaman: end of [someone’s] skirt or garment, [someone’s] company; Raam: Lord Ram, King of Ayodha; Lakshman: brother of Ram, entrusted to protect Sita in the Ramayan

*This is a reference to the ancient myth of the Ramayana in which Lord Rama draws a white circle in the ground through which his enemy, Ravana, cannot pass. As long as his wife Sita, the embodiment of Indian womanhood, remained behind this line, she would remain safe (of course, she is tricked into leaving it or we wouldn’t have a story). Lakshman, Rama’s brother, protects Sita at her side while Rama is away. Both brothers, the offense and defense, are critical to preserving Sita’s honor in the Ramayana.

Haqeeqat

At the end of Haqeeqat (1964), the film fades to black over the battle-scarred face of a younger generation with the words, “THE END IS NOT YET.” Bold move, title card designer guy. Bold move.

This song is dedicated to my late grandfather, a Major-General in the Indian Army, who became an orphan at the age of 12, survived the Partition of India in 1947, fought on the fronts of the Indo-China War of 1962, and received the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal for his service in the Corps of Military Intelligence during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. He eventually retired with 3 children and 5 grandchildren who still strive to be as elegant and brave a human being as him.

– Mrs. 55

A Guide to the Instruments of Old Bollywood Film Music: from Hindustani to Western (and everything in-between)

Madan Mohan recording studio orchestra

Music director Madan Mohan in his studio circa. 1960s. How many different instruments can you spot in this photo?

Ever find yourself listening to Bollywood film music and feel like your brain is exploding in ecstasy from the rainbow of instruments striking your tympanic membranes? We know the feeling. The history of Bollywood film music goes much deeper than the playback singers who lived in limelight. The incredible talents of Hindi film music directors and musicians are responsible for the compositions we love today. Their risks and creativity were a gift to generations of music-lovers. Without composer Naushad defying his parents to play the harmonium “live” for silent films in the 1930s or R.D. Burman’s daring musical ingenuity in his break-out film Teesri Manzil, Bollywood music as we know it would be radically different.

To truly understand the brilliance of the men and women who shaped Hindi film music, we must learn their tools. From traditional Indian instruments that date to the Vedic age to the orchestral forerunners of Europe to the unsung instruments of Brazil and Africa, the rich mediums of Bollywood music wrote their own rules. We have created a Beginner’s Guide to the Instruments of Classic Hindi Films for whether you’re a newcomer to Bollywood or a veteran, the innovation of these songs and their mechanisms will stun you. To simplify, we divided the instruments into rough categories with several of our favorite examples and links to videos and song translations beneath. And if you ever wonder which instrument was played in a particular song, refer back to this guide for the answer!

A Beginner’s Guide to the Instruments of Classic Hindi Films

String Instruments

Banjo: A plucked 4-5 string instrument with origins in Africa that traveled to America around the 18th century with African-American traditional music and became a staple of country and folk genres.

Ignore how uncomfortable the heroine’s Stockholm Syndrome makes you, and enjoy Meena Kumari’s decent impression of someone who knows how to play the banjo in the film Azaad. This is the only instance of this instrument’s prominent use in a film song that I know. If you have heard others, please leave a comment!

Kitna Haseen Hai Mausam (Azaad 1955)

Cello: A bass 4-stringed instrument dating back to 17th century Italy, the large cello is held against the seated cellist and traditionally played with a horsehair bow.

Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai (Kati Patang 1970)

Zindagi Ke Safar Mein (Aap Ki Kasam 1973)

Kuch To Log Kahenge (Amar Prem 1972)

Panna Ki Tammana (Heera Panna 1973)

Meri Bheegi Bheegi Si (Anamika 1973)

Guitar: A typically 6-string instrument with European roots with a multitude of incarnations, from acoustic to electric, that have influenced every genre from hard rock to reggae.

Bollywood film music saw a revolution with guitar use from the more acoustic versions a la “Tadbeer Se Bigdhi Hui” in the early 50s to the electric guitar riots of the 60s such as in the jolting opening of “Aaja Aaja” from Teesri Manzil (1966).

Aaja Aaja Main Hoon Pyaar Tera (Teesri Manzil 1966)

Chura Liya Hai (Yaadon Ki Baraat 1973)

Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh (Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai 1960)

Tadbeer Se Bigdi Hui (Baazi 1951)

Rulake Gaya Sapna Mera (Jewel Thief 1967)

Mandolin: An evolution from the lute family around 17th century Italy with traditionally 4 courses of double strings that feature prominently in classical European music.

This instrument has had a diverse role in Hindi film music–from an instrument of seduction in C.I.D. (1956) to one of tragedy in “Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki.” Fun fact: the mandolin that is featured in the interlude music “Achaji Main Hari” was played by Laxmikant and Manoharida themselves!

Kahin Pe Nigahen Kahin Pe Nishana (C.I.D 1956)

Achaji Main Hari Chalo (Kala Pani 1958)

Tum Bin Jaoon Kahan (Pyar Ka Mausam 1969)

Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki (Dulari 1949)

Santoor: An ancient Kashmiri instrument of 72-strings that are struck with special mallets and heard in traditional Sufi hymns and folk music of Northern India.

The beautiful, reflective santoor is prominent in many Bollywood films, often as a gentle romantic hint in the score during dialogue or first encounters with love. A great example is in “Mere Mehboob Tujhe” where the santoor is allowed to muse solo as the hero recalls his meeting with a mysterious woman for whom he now searches.

Aye Dil-e-Nadan (Razia Sultan 1983)

Sajna Hai Mujhe (Saudagar 1973)

Mere Mehboob Tujhe (Mere Mehboob 1963)

Sarangi: A bowed short-neck stringed instrument famed in Hindustani classical music for its close imitation of the human voice.

I often associate the sarangi with its great performances in courtesan songs. No better example is the hypnotizing opening of Pakeezah‘s immortal “Chalte Chalte.” The sarangi is a very evocative instrument, conjuring unimaginable sadness as in “Do Hanson Ka JoDa” or a lovely shyness in “Dil Cheez Kya Hai.”

Chalte Chalte (Pakeezah 1972)

Saranga Teri Yaad Mein (Saranga 1961)

Do Hanson Ka Joda (Ganga Jamuna 1961)

Dil Cheez kya Hai (Umrao Jaan 1981)

Aansuu Bhari Hai (Parvarish 1958)

Sarod: A lute-like instrument from Afghanistan that rose to prominence in the Mughal courts.

Like the santoor, the sarod often appears in the film’s score outside of a full-blown song-and-dance sequence. The sarod is highly versatile–when played quickly it can denote excitement and movement, and when plucked slowly it can pull at your heart strings. The mesmerizing battle between sitar and sarod in “Madhuban Mein Radhika” demonstrates this instrument’s power to take your breath away!

Madhuban Mein Radhika (Kohinoor 1960)

Man Re Tu Kahe (Chitralekha 1964)

Suno Chhoti Si Gudiya (Seema 1955)

Sitar: An 18-20 string plucked instrument synonymous with Hindustani classical music that influenced the Western pop world in the 1960s when adopted by The Beatles and Rolling Stones.

The ethereal sitar helped bring Hindustani music to the international stage. Used often in Hindi films to denote the gentle falling of rain (a famous Ravi Shankar composition in Satyajit Ray’s Pathar Panchali captures this brilliantly), sitar music is a classic Bollywood backbone.

O Sajna Barkha (Parakh 1960)

Hum Tere Pyar Mein Saara Aalam (Dil Ek Mandir 1963)

Chandan Sa Badan (Saraswatichandra 1968)

Tere Bina Zindagi Se (Aandhi 1975)

Chori Chori Chupke Chupke (Aap Ki Kasam 1974)

Tanpura: A 4-string instrument to accompany a Hindustani classical vocalist that does not play a melody, but rather provides a harmonic drone throughout the piece.

The beauty of the tanpura is in its relative simplicity. The singer plucks four strings in order continuously, allowing them to focus on their vocal composition while maintaining harmony. Listen carefully for its deep drone in the background of many classical and semi-classical songs!

Duniya Na Bhaaye (Basant Bahar 1956)

Man Tarpat Hari Dar (Baiju Bawra 1952)

Sukh Ke Sab Saathi (Gopi 1970)

Violin: A highly popular bowed 4-string instrument with roots in 16th century Italy that has had global impact, including in orchestral performances of Hindi film music.

Violins are an integral part of film music orchestration. I’ve listed several songs that highlight its use as a solo instrument, or more commonly as part of a large orchestra seen in numerous Hindi film songs from the 1950s onwards (the famous opening of “Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua” being but one of dozens).

Ek Pyar Ka Naghma (Shor 1972)

Mujhe Kisi Se Pyar (Barsaat 1949)

Likhe Jo Khat Tujhe (Kanyadaan 1968)

Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua (1955)

Karvaten Badalte Rahe (Mere Jeevan Saathi 1972)

Wind Instruments

Bansuri: An ancient flute-like instrument with a history dating back to the myths of Lord Krishna and Radha, the bansuri is made from a single shaft of bamboo with 6-7 holes and is associated with pastoral compositions of India.

The lonely bansuri is a common instrument of Hindi films denoting a tragedy, a philosophical side-note, or a quiet village scene. The bansuri of “Chingari Koi Bhadke” represents the second of these themes and will never fail to transport you to a different world of exoticism.

Chingari Koi Bhadke (Amar Prem 1972)

Chahoonga Main Tujhe (Dosti 1964)

Piya Bina (Abhiman 1973)

Na Koi Umang Hai (Kati Patang 1970)

Been (Pungi): An instrument fashioned from a gourd and two reed pipes, the been is the traditional instrument of snake charmers and popular in folk music of South Asia.

The good old been is one of pop cultures favorite instruments, yet is actually only a prominent player in a few classic Bollywood songs. The landmark, of course, is Nagin (1954) where “Man Dole Mera Tan Dole” made been music popular even outside the crowds who gather for snake charmers.

Man Dole Mera Tan Dole (Nagin 1953)

Ek Pardesi Mera Dil Le Gaya (Phagun 1958)

Parde Mein Rehne Do (Shikar 1968)

Western concert flute: A popular sideblown woodwind instrument that dates back to the 11th century Byzantine Empire and is commonly heard in bands and orchestras.

I love how the flute has been used in Hindi film music. Rethink how you’ve always imagined the flute and take a listen to the evocative solo the opens “Ja Re Ja Re Udi Ja Re Panchi” or the seductive twist of the key flute in “Aao Na Gale Lagalo Na”!

Ja Re Ja Re Udi Ja Re Panchi (Maya 1961)

Ruk Ja O Janewali Ruk Ja (Kanhaiya 1959)

Aao Na Gale Lagalo Na (Mere Jeevan Saathi 1972 – key flute)

O Haseena Zulfonwali Jane (Teesri Manzil 1966)

Harmonica: First appearing in Vienna in the 19th century, the easily portable hand-held harmonica has influenced artists from Blues and jazz genres.

Harmonica plays an important role in classic Bollywood film music, often played by optimistic young heroes with a song in their heart despite having great odds against them.

Jaanewalo Zara (Dosti 1964)

Hai Apna Dil To Awara (Solva Saal 1958)

Mere Sapno Ki Rani (Aradhana 1969)

Saxophone: Fashioned in brass originally in Belgium in the 19th century, the edgy saxophone is a key member of jazz and marching bands.

I was first alerted to the presence of saxophones when I heard the haunting and unexpected interlude music of “Awaaz Deke” (Professor 1962).  Interestingly, I’ve found that in Hindi film music (due in large part to maestro Manohari Singh whose soprano sax sets your heart on fire in “Mehbooba Mehbooba”), it is just as often as a jazzy party-starter as an edgy bridge toward tragedy.

Awaaz Deke (Professor  1962)

Jis Gali Mein Tera Ghar (Kati Patang 1970)

Aage Bhi Jaane Na Tu (Waqt 1965)

Roop Tera Mastana (Aradhana 1969)

Mehbooba mehbooba (Sholay 1975)

Shehnai: A traditional South Asian instrument known for its auspicious melodies at weddings and processions.

This lovely, but almost invariably tragic-sounding instrument is a staple of wedding scenes. The opening shehnai of “Babul Ki Duaaen” feels as if someone is crying, reflecting the sadness of a father’s loss. One of the more innovative melodies I’ve heard with shehnai is in the song “Chal Ri Sajni” (and incidentally among the most perfectly filmed and edited sequences in Bollywood history, but that’s another story…)

Babul Ki Duae.N Leti Jaa (Neel Kama 1968)

Kabhi Kabhi (Kabhi Kabhi 1976,  interlude after ghughat utaa raha hoon main)

Chal Ri Sajni Ab Kya Soche (Bombai Ka Babu 1960)

Trumpet: 3 piston-valves are the hallmark of this 15th century European instrument which has influenced jazz, Latin, and pop music alike.

While a more limited role in Hindi film music, the trumpet moved strictly cabaret club numbers to the beautiful opening of “Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli” where the lifting trumpet solo carries our hopes to the sky with it.

Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli (Anand 1971)

Zuby Zuby Jalembu (An Evening in Paris 1967)

Patli Kamar Hai (Barsaat 1949)

Haal Kaisa Janab Ka (Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi 1958)

Percussion

Bongo-Conga: Afro-Cuban drums (consisting of the smaller hand-held bongos and the larger barrel congas) that are backbones of Latin music, Afro-Cuban jazz, and the mambo music that swept 1950s United States.

Wanna know why “O Mere Dil Ke Chain” is your favorite Rajesh Khanna song and your heart races every time it plays? It’s not (just) his perfect face, it’s the Bongo-Conga! This exotic and uber-fun percussion instrument translates effortlessly from living room romance to an outdoor gypsy party.

O Mere Dil Ke Chain (Mere Jeevan Saathi 1972)

Dilbar Dil Se Pyaare (Caravan 1971)

Gum Hai Kisise Pyar (Rampur Ka Lakshman 1972)

Castanets: A distinct handheld instrument commonly associated with the Spanish Sevillanas folk dance that is played by clicking two small wooden shells together in a quick rattle.

Once you hear this sound in a song, you’ll never forget it. More popular in Bollywood songs of the 50s and early 60s, the castanets add a playful nuance on top of the base percussion provided by a different instrument.

Tere Sur Aur Mere Geet (Goonj Uthi Shehnai 1959)

Yeh Chand Sa Roshan Chehra (Kashmir Ki Kali 1964)

Door Gagan Ki Chaaon (Door Gagan Ki Chaaon Mein 1964)

Aaiye Meharbaan (Howrah Bridge 1958)

Mora Gora Ang Laile (Bandini 1963)

Madal: A hand-drum used in Nepali folk music that made its debut in Bollywood under music director R.D. Burman and Ranjjit Gazmer in the 1970s.

The madal has a fuller more rounded tone than the tabla or bongo, lending itself well to rustic scenes. It was featured heavily in the destination film “Hare Rama Hare Krishna”!

Hum Dono Do Premi (Ajnabee 1974)

Kanchi Re Kanchi Re (Hare Rama Hare Krishna 1971)

Dhol: A exciting Panjabi instrument famous for its influence on bhangra music, the dhol (and its family members the dholak and dholki) is a double-headed drum featured in genres from pop to qawwali.

The dhol is a great instrument for dancing and some of the best Bollywood choreography has featured the upbeat dhol. If you ever doubted Vijayantimala’s rumored legendary dance skills, just watch and listen to the end of “Honton Pe Aisi Baat” with the mind-boggling dhol spinning circles around the other instruments.

Chadti Jawani (Caravan 1971)

Honton Pe Aisi Baat (Jewel Thief 1965)

Jhumka Gira Re (Mera Saaya 1966)

Yamma Yamma (1980)

Jai Jai Shiv Shankar (Aap Ki Kasam 1973)

Duggi: A traditional Uttar Pradesh kettle drum in the tabla family played with two hands.

Popularized by Bollywood musician Homi Mullan, this percussion instrument creates a more rounded tone than the tabla, but is a perfect pastoral compliment to “Ni Sultana Re” as well as the sultry domestic “Bahon Mein Chale Aao.”

Ni Sultana Re (Pyar Ka Mausam 1969)

Bahon Mein Chale Aao (Anamika 1973)

Roop Tera Mastana (Aradhana 1969)

Dekha Na Haye Re Socha Na (Bombay to Goa 1972)

Ghatam (Matka): An ancient percussion instrument from South India, the ghatam is a clay pot with a narrow mouth and is played with bare hands.

It doesn’t get any more traditional than the ghatam, but R.D. Burman figured out how to use it an as unconventional ways as possible. Bet you wouldn’t have guessed that the percussion of hipster hit “Samne Yeh Kaun Aaya” came from a clay pot?

Samne Yeh Kaun Aaya (Jawani Diwani)

Are Kaise Mitti Ki Maadho (Imaan 1974)

Muttu Kudi (Do Phool 1974)

Reco Reco (Reso Reso): A scraped percussion instrument with a distict sound with origins in Brazilian music.

The reco reco is basically a party in a box! The distinct rhythm it creates adds spice to every song that is bold enough to utilize it. Watch how Kishore Kumar in a hilarious scene from Padosan lipsyncs his own actual recorded voice while playing the Reco Reco (who is in turn lipsynced by Sunil Dutt!) in “Mere Samnewali Khidki Mein.”

Mere Samnewali Khidki Mein (Padosan 1968)

Mere Naina Saawan Bhado (Mehbooba 1976)

Mera Naam Hai Shabnam (Kati Patang 1970)

Tabla: A pair of hand drums used commonly in Hindustani classic music composed of two distinct drums with differing roles for each hand.

This is one of the most common percussion instruments used in old Hindi songs and is always to go-to when all else fails. I once took tabla lessons, but quit after 2 weeks because my guru insisted I needed to cut my nails shorter to play the instrument correctly. He was right, of course, but there are sacrifices I’m not willing to make!

Sanam Tu Bewafa (Khilona 1970)

Jurm-e-Ulfat Pe (Taj Mahal 1963)

Baiyan Na Daro (Dastak 1970)

Jaag Dard-e-Ishq (Anarkali 1953)

Inhi Logon Ne (Pakeezah 1971)

Western Drum Kit: A collection of instruments often including a bass drum, a snare drum, and one or more cymbals that became popular with jazz bands in the early 20th century and ushered in rock-and-roll.

Rock-and-roll and nightclub bands have long been a part of Hindi film traditions and the Western drum kit hit the screen with a literal bang, and usually accompanied by a song better suited for “modern” audiences.

Dil Deke Dekho (Dil Deke Dekho 1959)

Ina Mina Dika (Aasha 1957)

Baar Baar Dekho (Chinatown 1962)

Tumne Mujhe Dekha (Teesri Manzil 1966)

Nain Milakar Chain Churana (Aamne Samne 1967)

Other

Accordion: Believed to have been invented in Berlin in the early 19th century, the accordion, like the harmonium, is played by compressing the instrument’s bellows with one hand while playing keys with the other hand.

The accordion produces a harsher sound than the harmonium, but is often more exciting as in the epic performance in “Anhoni Ko Honi” or the drama-filled “Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega”!

Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega (Sangam 1964)

Awaara Hoon (Awaara 1951)

Sab Kuch Seeka Humne (Anari 1959)

Anhoni Ko Honi Karde (Amar Akbar Anthony 1977)

Jeena Yahan Marna Yahan (Mera Naam Joker 1970)

Heavy Breathing and Grunting: An R.D. Burman signature that marks any classic Bollywood song as particularly racy and is served by both men and women with an extra scoop of awkward sauce.

Yeah, I had to throw this in. Don’t pretend like it doesn’t exist, and definitely don’t pretend that you don’t love it. Awkward breathing and grunting nosies are a strange but important hallmark of many of our favorite classic Bollywood cabaret numbers. They really just have to be heard to understand (and to believe). Now before you start to blush, these noises are actually pretty complicated to make–it takes great breathing control and just the right amount of oomph. Seriously, try these exercises at home when no one’s around to judge. You’ll give your lungs a run for their money!

Piya Tu Ab To Aaja (Caravan 1971)

Duniya Mein Logon Ko (Apna Desh 1972)

Mera Naam Hai Shabnam (Kati Patang 1970)

Aa Jaane Ja (Intaqam 1969)

Lekar Hum Deewana Dil (Yaadon Ki Baraat 1973)

Harmonium: A type of hand-pumped accordion often used as melodic accompaniment in Hindustani vocals as well as qawwali and folk music.

The harmonium is one of Hindustani classical music’s best modern friends and a great accompanist to everything from a layman’s love ode (a la “Bahut Shukriya”) to semi-classical qawwalis (as seen in Nutan’s one-man-show “Nigahen Milane”).

Leke Pehla Pehla Pyaar (C.I.D. 1956)

Bahut Shukriya (Ek Musafir Ek Hasina 1962)

Nigahen Milane Ko (Dil Hi To Hai 1963)

Kajra Mohabbatwala (Kismat 1968)

Yashomati Maiya Se (Satyam Shivam Sundaram 1978)

Manjira: A small pair of hand cymbals that traditionally accompanied bhajans with roots in ancient temple music.

Although manjira are traditionally used as accompaniments to bhajans, I ADORE how they were used in the romantic “Chhupa Lo Yun Dil” to underscore the devotional imagery to a couple’s love for each other.

Chhupa Lo Yun Dil Mein (Mamta 1966)

Na Main Dhan Chaahoon (Kala Bazaar 1960)

Kanhaiya Kanhaiya Tujhe Aana Padega (Maalik 1972)

Piano: One of the world’s most familiar musical instruments, the piano is played through a keyboard that strikes strings connected to a soundboard.

You’ll be the classiest guy in the room if you can burst into song with your own piano accompaniment at a party. Or so classic Bollywood tells us. Piano songs are essentially their own genre in the world of Hindi films. Once the piano comes out, it gets fancy and emotional in a hurry.

Pyar Diwana Hota Hai (Kati Patang 1970)

Dil Ke Jharoke Mein (Brahmachari 1968)

Aji Rooth Kar Ab (Aarzoo 1965)

Dheere Dheere Machal (Anupama 1966)

Dost Dost Na Raha (Sangam 1964)

Shankh (conch shell): An ancient instrument fashioned from the shells of large snails that are typically featured in Hindu religious hymns.

This occasionally heard instrument is usually only found in highly religious songs, but can also be heardwhen our heroes make a trip to a temple or when someone is praying for justice in the world. A powerful example comes during the climax of aarti in Purab Aur Paschim!

Om Jai Jagdish (Purab Aur Paschim 1970)

Mose Mora Shaam Roota (Johnny Mera Naam 1970)

What a whirlwind! We hope our introductory guide to the instruments of old Bollywood is a useful tool as you immerse yourself in the incredibly diverse music of our favorite films! All I have to say after reviewing my list is that I really could have used more cowbell.

Just kidding (in fact, listen to “Kitne Bhi Tu Kar Le Sitam” from Sanam Teri Kasam for some actual Bollywood cowbell action). What other instruments played in your favorite classic Bollywood songs have we left off our list? Leave us a comment with an old film song you wish you knew more about and we’ll try to tell you which instruments are featured!

-Mrs. 55

 

 

 

 

Yeh Duniya Yeh Mehfil Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Priya Rajvansh Heer Raanjha

Priya Rajvansh, as Heer, displays her usual limited range of emotion as a beautiful Panjabi maiden in Heer Raanjha (1970).

Today we showcase the full lyrics and English translation to “Yeh Duniya Yeh Mehfil” from Heer Raanjha (1970). Heer Raanjha tells the famous story of two star-crossed lovers, immortalized by the epic poem by Panjabi Sufi Waris Shah (1722-1798) . So handsome it hurts, Rajkumar is a perfect romantic hero as the charming Ranjha of the tale. When he falls for Heer, the daughter of a wealthy Jat family from a neighboring village (played by Priya Rajvansh), jealous relatives scheme to end their courtship. As she is married off against her will to another man, Rajkumar is overcome with devastation.

Like other great poems steeped in the Sufi tradition, Heer Ranjha has multiple layers of interpretation, one of which is man’s eternal quest for God. This is exemplified by the film’s most famous song, “Yeh Duniya Yeh Mehfil” sung by the great Mohammed Rafi. At once a song of lament for the love he has lost as well as an ode to yogic renunciation, “Yeh Duniya Yeh Mehfil” manages to express a yearning for a connection while embracing the search for a higher meaning.

The beautifully-written story of Heer Ranjha is a fundamental part of classical Panjabi literature, a poem my grandparents growing up in pre-partition Panjab were made to read and analyze in school. Waris Shah’s detailed and authentic description of rural Panjabi life around the turn of the 16th century is a pleasure to study today. To convert this leviathan of a poem to film was a daunting challenge met by the great modern Urdu poet, Kaifi Azmi. He wrote the entire script for the 1970 film entirely in verse. Every line gleams with ornamentation, and only Rajkumar with his characteristically mesmerizing dialogue delivery can lend it the stateliness it deserves. One of my favorite verses from the film is below:

Us se kehna ki tum meraa ek khwab ho, jo chamakta hai dil mei.N woh mahataab ho. [Tell her that you are a dream of mine, that you are the moonlight glittering in my heart.]

Us se kehna ki gehuyo.N ke kheto.N ka rang, tilmatii huii titliyo.N kii umang. [Tell her that she is the is the color of wheat fields, that she is the joy of the fluttering butterflies.]

Us se kehna ki jharno.N kaa chanchal shabaab, ghat ki taazgii, aabroo-e-janaab. [Tell her that she is the the playful youth of the waterfalls, the freshness of a mountain pass, and the honour of our elders.]

Us se kehna ki jhoolo.N kii angdaiyaa.N aur uDhte dupatto.N kii shenaiyaa.N. [Tell her that she is the movement of swings and the music of flying dupattas.]

Us se kehna ki chakki ke geeto.N kii aag, ladkhadatii jawaanii, machaltaa suhaag. [Tell her that she is the fire of the song of the mills, the trembling youth, the excitement of a wedding night.]

Us se kehna ki dulhano.N ke kaajal kii pyaas, pehle bauchhaar kii garam aur Thandii miithaas. [Tell her that she is the thirst of a bride’s kajal and the hot and cold sweetness of the first rain.]

Itnii ra.Nginiyo.N ko jab ek jaa kiyaa, Heer kudrat ne tab tujhko paida kiyaa. [When all this colors were made into one, then nature created you, Heer.]

Your heart’s fluttering, right? “Yeh Duniya Yeh Mehfil” also a brilliant example of the classic Bollywood cliche about men’s facial hair. The more manscaping that needs to be done, the more the hero has fallen out of touch with reality. Check it out:

Rajkumar 5 o'clock shadow

At first Ranjha displays an appropriately  manly 5 o’clock shadow. However, his depression takes a nosedive from bad…


Rajkumar lumbarjack beard

…to worse with a full on lumberjack look. This get-up quickly transitions to…


Rajkumar yogi beard

…WHAT THE…where did Ranjha go??!

But before you rush to give your own facial hair a much-needed trim, allow us to share our English translation and lyrics of “Yeh Duniya Yeh Mehfil” below! Follow along with the video and let us know how much you love a good song of self-pity in the comments!

Yeh Duniya Yeh Mehfil Lyrics and Translation:

Yeh duniyaa yeh mehfil mere kaam ki nahii.N
This world and these people are not for me

Kisko sunaaoo.N haal dil-e-beqaraar kaa?
Whom should I tell the state of my restless heart?
Bujhtaa huaa chiraagh hoo.N apne mazaar kaa
I am the extinguished flame of my own mausoleum
Aye kaash bhool jaaoo.N, magar bhooltaa nahii.N
If only I could forget, but I am unable to forget
kis dhoom se uthaa thaa janaazaa bahaar kaa
with what uproar marched the funeral of Spring

Apnaa pataa mile, naa khabar yaar kii mile
I know neither my own whereabouts nor have I heard news from friends
Dushman ko bhii naa aisii sazaa pyaar kii mile
Even enemies do not receive such a punishment for love
Unko khudaa mile hai.N khudaa kii jinhe talaash
Others meet the God for whom they have searched
Mujhko bas ek jhalak mere dildaar kii mile
Let me have just one glance from my beloved

Saharaa mei.N aake bhii, mujhki Thikaanaa na milaa
Even as I enter the wilderness, I found no shelter
Gham ko bhoolaane kaa koii bahaanaa naa milaa
I found no pretense to erase the memory of my sadness
Dil tarase jis mei.N pyaar ko, kyaa samajhoo.N us sansaar ko?
What can I understand about the world in which my heart remains longing for love?
Ek jiitii baazii haar ke, mai.N DhuunDhuu.N bichhaDe yaar ko
Upon losing a winning gamble, I must search for my lost friend

Duur nigaaho.N se aa.Nsuu bahaataa hai.N koii
Far from my gaze, someone is shedding tears
Kaise na jaaoo.N mai.N, mujhko bulaataa hai.N koii
How can I resist going when someone calls to me?
Yaa TuuTe dil ko joD do, yaa saare bandhan toD do
Either let me mend this broken heart or let me break all ties
Aye parbat, rastaa de mujhe! Aye kaanto.N, daaman chhoD do!
Oh mountains, show me the path! Oh thorns, let go of my embrace!

Yeh duniyaa yeh mehfil mere kaam ki nahii.N
This world and these people are not for me

Glossary:

duniyaa: world, society; mehfil: company, gathering of people; haal: state, health; dil: heart; beqaraar: restless; bhujnaa: to extinguish; chiraagh: lamp; mazaar: mausoleum; kaash: if only, would that; bhoolnaa: to forget; dhoom: noise, uproar; janaazaa: funeral; bahaar: Spring; pathaa: whereabouts, address; khabar: news; yaar: friend; dushman: enemy; sazaa: punishment; pyaar: love; khudaa: God; [kisii kii] talaash: in search [of someone]; jhalak: glance; dildaar: beloved; saharaa: wilderness; Thikaanaa: shelter; gham: sadness; [kisi ko] bhoolaanaa: to make [something] forgotten; bahaanaa: excuse, pretense; [kisi ko] tarasnaa: to long [for something], samajhnaa: to understand; sansaar: world; baazi: a hand (ie. in a game of cards or a gamble); haarnaa: to lose; DhuunDhnaa: to search; bichhaDnaa: to be separated; duur: far; nigaahe.N: gaze; aa.Nsuu bahaanaa: to shed tears; bulaanaa: to call; yaa: either, or; TuuTaa: broken; joDnaa: to mend, to bring together; bandhan: tie, knot; toDnaa: to break; parbat: mountain; rastaa: path; kaa.Ntaa: thorn; daaman: embrace; chhoDnaa: to leave, to let go

Rajkumar yogi heer raanjha

Rajkumar goes rogue and renounces the world as a yogi upon learning that his beloved has married another. Epic shots like these earned Jal Mistry the Filmfare Award for Best Cinematography in 1971!

The line “mere kaam ki nahii.N” is particularly difficult to translate. The word “kaam” is in its simplest form translated as “work.” However, the word has numerous subtleties in Hindustani. With this line, Kaifi Azmi is expressing his dissatisfaction with and inability to function in the world and society as he has experienced them.

This song was requested by our fan Raju! Thank you for the brilliant Urdu treat!

– Mrs. 55

 

Shokh Nazar Ki Bijliyan Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Manoj Kumar Shokh Nazar Ki Woh Kaun Thi ice skating

Looking extra-special in a French beret, Manoj Kumar goes for a spin on the ice in “Woh Kaun Thi” (1964).

Today we present the lyrics and English translation to the playful wintertime number “Shokh Nazar Ki Bijliyaan” in honor of the Winter Olympics 2014 figure skating competition! My life goes on temporary hold when the Winter Olympics rolls around. I always root vehemently for Team USA, especially in my favorite of all Olympic competitions: Women’s Figure Skating! Have you ever asked why India never participates in figure skating? Today’s showcased song “Shokh Nazar Ki Bijliyan” will prove that it’s not because India lacks talent!

After suffering a series of severe shocks as the hero of Woh Kaun Thi? (1964), Manoj Kumar takes a trip to Simla with his co-worker Praveen Chaudhary to forget his woes. Praveen Chaudhary, who is not-so-secretly in love with him, takes the opportunity to seduce her man with a pair of skates in a way no woman had dared before. Enter Bollywood On Ice!

Praveen Chaudhary Manoj Kumar Woh Kaun Thi ice skating

Praveen Chaudhary playfully pushes Manoj Kumar around the Simla Ice Skating Club in Woh Kaun Thi (1964).

After watching her B-grade flirtatious efforts in this song and comparing them to heroine Sadhana’s subtle performance in “Lag Ja Gale” from the same film, it’s easy to discern which lucky lady Manoj Kumar ultimately chooses. To drive the point home, did you further notice how Praveen is wearing a garish “Western” outfit while Sadhana consistently dresses in saaris? Manoj Kumar may be no Evgeni Plushenko, but his moves always seemed to get all the girls!

“Shokh Nazar Ki Bijliyan” was actually picturised on a famous ice-skating rink, the Simla Ice Skating Club, that is still popular in downtown Simla today! In fact, my own father fondly recalls his childhood in Simla, skating at this very rink where evidently they used to blast the gramophone record of Woh Kaun Thi through their speakers so the songs could be heard for miles around! My father also claims that the kid who adorably falls down in the middle of the song is none other than my own uncle, but this has been vehemently rebuked at many a family reunion.

random kids shokh nazar ki bijliyan woh kaun thi ice skating

Kid, if you ever stumble across this blog, write to us! Did you grow up to become a famous cardiothoracic surgeon? Are you a spoken word poet? Do you sell aloo-puri along the roads of Himachal Pradesh? I NEED TO KNOW what happened to you.

But enough chat. Join us in the spirit of the Winter Olympics with a little romantic ice-skating brought to you by Asha Bhonsle and music composer extraordinaire Madan Mohan. Watch the gold medal-worthy performance here, and follow along with our full English translation and lyrics to “Shokh Nazar Ki Bijliyaan” below!

Shokh Nazar Ki Bijliyaan Lyrics and English Translation:

Shokh nazar ki bijliyaa.N dil pe mere giraaye jaa
Let the lightening bolts of your mischievous glances fall upon my heart
Meraa na kuch khayaal kar, tu yuu.N hii muskuraaye jaa
Do not worry about me, you keep on smiling

Jaag uThii hai aarzuu jaise chiraagh jal paDe
My desire has arisen as if a lamp has been lit
Ab to wafaa ki raah pe hum tere saath chal paDe
Now I have stumbled upon the path of loyalty with you
Chaahe ha.Nsaaye jaa hame.N, chaahe hume.N rulaaye jaa
If you want, you can keep making me laugh or you can keep making me cry

Chain kahii.N kisii ghaDii aaye na tere bin mujhe
Without you, I find no peace anywhere at any moment
Kaash mai.N is jahaa.N se chhiin luu.N ek din tujhe
If only I could steal you away from this world one day
Main tere saath saath hoon, chahe nazar bachaaye jaa
I am by your side, even if you keep avoiding eye contact

Manzil-e ishq duur hai, duur hi bahut duur hai
The destination of our love is far away, very far away
Aa meraa haath thaam le, ruuh thakan se chuur hai
Come, take my hand, my spirit is broken by fatigue
Apne jahaa.N ko chhoD kar, mere jahaa.N pe chaaye jaa
Leave your world, and keep staying in mine

Glossary:

shokh: mischievous, playful; nazar: glance, eyes; bijli: lightening; dil: heart; giraanaa: to let fall; khayaal: thought: yuu.N hii: in this manner, like this; muskuraanaa: to smile; jaag uThnaa: to wake up, to arise; aarzuu: desire; chiraagh: lamp, flame; wafaa: loyalty, faith; raah: path; [kisii ke] saath: by [someone’s] side, together; ha.Nsaanaa: to make laught; rulaanaa: to make cry; chain: peace of mind; ghaDii: moment; kaash: if only; jahaa.N: world; ek din: one day; manzil: destination; ishq: love; duur: far away; haath thaamnaa: to take [someone’s] hand; ruuh: spirit, soul; thakan: exhaustion; chuur: broken

mrs 55 ice skating rockefeller center nyc

Practicing my triple Lutz at the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink in New York City!

ice skatin grockefeller center

Me and some of my roommates (soon to be bridesmaids!), holding up ice skating rink traffic.

You may notice that there’s a discrepancy between the lyrics of the version you see in the video and the ones you may hear on your audio version. Each one has a different second stanza! This comes back to an old sore point I’ve made before about how record companies short-changed Hindi film songs when making the final LP!

-Mrs. 55