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

 

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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

Tu Jahan Jahan Chalega Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

SD
Against the stunning backdrop of the Lake Palace in Udaipur, Sunil Dutt mourns the loss of  his deceased wife in Mera Saaya (1966)

Today, we present the lyrics and English translation to the title track from Raj Khosla’s Mera Saaya (1966): tuu jahaa.n jahaa.n chalegaa. This timeless classic is embedded within the hearts of Hindi film music fans as an ode to love and its ability to provide strength and support during the most trying of circumstances.  

Unlike many songs from this era, tuu jahaa.n jahaa.n chalegaa is not used exclusively as a playback song in Mera Saaya. One version of this song plays in the background while a tormented Sunil Dutt sulks in confusion after an accused dacoit resembling his deceased wife (double role played by Sadhana) claims to be his wife weeks after her death. As he trudges around the beautiful Lake Palace (now one of India’s most luxurious and romantic hotels!) in Udaipur, Sadhana is nowhere to be found but we hear this song sung in full by her saayaa (shadow). Later in the film, tuu jahaa.n jahaa.n chalegaa is reprised in full when Sunil Dutt is listening to a record of his wife’s singing and a joyful flashback occurs to a party where Sadhana sings this song for guests along with his accompaniment on the piano. Interestingly, since Sunil Dutt taped his wife’s singing over an existing record, we hear a snippet of vah bhuulii dastaa.n, another haunting Lata-Madan Mohan gem from Sanjog (1961), during this version of the song.  

Mera Saaya (1966) contains some beautiful shots of the Lake Palace in Udaipur, Rajasthan
Mera Saaya (1966) has some beautiful shots of the Lake Palace in Udaipur, Rajasthan.

The title track from Mera Saaya epitomizes the magic that resulted from the collaboration between playback singer Lata Mangeshkar and music director Madan Mohan. An interesting anecdote about this song’s creation really brings this fact to life! After lyricist Raja Mehndi Ali Khan had completed the words, Madan Mohan had great difficulty composing a melody to finish the song. When Lata arrived on the day of this song’s recording, he told her the tune was not yet ready. Lata asked to see the lyrics and after humming a few lines, she said, “bhaiyaa, is me.n nand raag kaa istamaal kyo.n nahii.n karte?” Lata’s suggestion was enough to get Madan Mohan’s creative juices flowing, and he finished composing the tune in a jiffy. Decades later, this exquisite and gentle melody is still remembered as the textbook example of Raga Nand (a.ka. Anandi Kalyan) being used in Hindi film music!

Before tuu jahaa.n jahaa.n chalegaa was recorded, Raj Khosla was planning to release this movie under the name of Saaya. After listening to this song, he was so struck by its poetry that he decided to change the film’s title to Mera Saaya upon Madan Mohan’s suggestion. In my opinion, this type of camaraderie and rapport shared between artists of the Golden Era of Hindi films played a key role in producing cinema and music that has everlasting appeal. 

SD S
In a flashback, Sunil Dutt reminisces fondly about accompanying his wife on the piano to the title track of Mera Saaya (1966).

Does your shadow follow someone special in your life? If so, don’t forget to share this song and translation with that person! Thank you to one of our readers Ayla for sending in a request for this post. Until next time…

-Mr. 55

Tu Jahan Jahan Chalega: Lyrics and Translation

tuu jahaa.n jahaa.n chalegaa, meraa saayaa saath hogaa
Wherever you go, remember that my shadow will be with you.

kabhii mujhko yaad kar ke jo bahe.nge tere aa.nsuu
Whenever you shed tears in my memory,
to vahii.n pe rok le.nge unhe.n aa ke mere aa.nsuu
my tears will come and stop them in their tracks.
tuu jidhar kaa rukh karegaa, meraa saayaa saath hogaa
In whichever direction you face, remember that my shadow will be with you.

tuu agar udaas hogaa to udaas huu.ngii mai.n bhii
Should you ever become sad, then I will also partake in your sorrow.
nazar aauu.n yaa na aauu.n tere paas huu.ngii mai.n bhii
Whether you see me or not, I will always be by your side.
tuu kahii.n bhii jaa rahegaa, meraa saayaa saath hogaa
No matter where you are going, remember that my shadow will be with you.

mai.n agar bichhaD bhii jaauu.n, kabhii meraa gham na karnaa
Should I ever become separated from you, never mourn on my behalf.
meraa pyaar yaad kar ke kabhii aa.nkh nam na karnaa
Never moisten your eyes with tears in memory of my love.
tuu jo muD ke dekh legaa, meraa saayaa saath hogaa
Whenever you turn back to look at me, remember that my shadow will be with you. 

meraa gham rahaa hai shaamil, tere dukh me.n tere gham me.n
My sorrow has always remained present in your sorrow.
mere pyaar ne diyaa hai tera saath har janam me.n
My love has always accompanied you in every birth.
tuu koii janam bhii legaa, meraa saayaa saath hoga
In whichever birth you take, remember that my shadow will be with you.

tuu jahaa.n jahaa.n chalegaa, meraa saayaa saath hogaa
Wherever you go, remember that my shadow will be with you.

Glossary

saayaa: shadow; kisii ke saath honaa: to be with someone; bahnaa: to flow; aa.nsuu: tears; rok lenaa: to stop; rukh karnaa: to face; udaas: sad; nazar aanaa: to be seen; bichhaD jaanaa: to be separated; gham karnaa: to mourn; aa.nkh nam karnaa: to moisten eyes with tears; muD ke dekh lenaa: to turn back and look; shaamil rahnaa: to remain present; dukh: sorrow; kisii kaa saath denaa: to accompany someone;  janam: birth.

SD
Sunil Dutt’s portrayal of a grieving husband haunted by past memories in Mera Saaya (1966) is bold and compelling.

The Art of Urdu in Hindi Films: Losing A Poetic Legacy

Jan Nisar Akhtar and Sahir Ludhianvi
Legendary Bollywood lyricists Jan Nisar Akhtar (far left) and Sahir Ludhianvi (left center) enjoy a birthday celebration.

The language of Hindi films has evolved since the first talkie Alam Ara in 1931, based on a Parsi play.  The Golden Age of Hindi cinema that blossomed with the studio era of the 1950s and ebbed by the late 1970s is one of India’s greatest artistic achievements. During that time, Hindi films could hardly be called Hindi films. Rather, Hindustani, a mixture of Urdu and Hindi, was the lingua franca of the silver-screen—a reflection of a country unified by a fascinatingly diverse heritage with linguistic influences from Sanskrit, Farsi, Bengali, Arabic, Panjabi, and a myriad of others.

To anyone unfamiliar with the distinction between Urdu and Hindi—there are no hard and fast rules. What many call Hindi, others would call Urdu, but most everyone can appreciate their structural and grammatical similarity. Any attempt to divide them is based on the root origins of the vocabulary intermingled with what is generally a highly homologous syntax. “Urdu” vocabulary tends to draw upon words of Farsi or occasionally Arabic and Turkish origin and “Hindi” vocabulary is generally derived from Sanskrit or regional dialects. But don’t be fooled into thinking any word “belongs” to another language (or those of a particular religion)—Hindustani may vary speaker to speaker, community to community, but the language is all-encompassing.

Veteran Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi (left) with his daughter actress Shabhana Azmi (center), who married contemporary lyricist Javed Akhtar, and wife Shaukat Azmi (right).
Veteran Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi (left) with his daughter actress Shabhana Azmi (center), who married contemporary lyricist Javed Akhtar, and wife Shaukat Azmi (right).

The impact of Urdu in the Indian mainstream can be no better summed up by the famous words of our freedom struggle: “Inquilaab zindabaad!” or “Sarfaroshii kii tamanna ab hamaare dil mei.N hai.” Controversial arguments have been made relating the decline in popularity to links with Pakistan, which adopted Urdu as its official language. Yet in Hindi films for decades, the legacy of Urdu poetry continued to flourish in India as the pinnacle of culture and expression.

Indeed, despite enormous gaps in literacy across the country, some of the most popular songs of that era amazingly contain the most complex Urdu-based vocabulary. Perhaps one reason is that the Hindi film song-writers themselves were trained in the art of Urdu poetry. Many of the finest and most successful poets of Hindi film: Sahir Ludhianvi, Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, Gulzar, Hasrat Jaipuri, Shakeel Badayuni, Kaifi Azmi, Jan Nisar Akhtar, and Majrooh Sultanpuri to name but a few, began their careers in Urdu mushairaas, or poetic symposiums.

Gulzar lyricist
Record-breaking winner of 11 Filmfare awards for best lyrics, poet Gulzar (right) stands with actor Amitabh Bacchan (left) for whom he wrote hits from the dialogue of Anand (1971) to the modern dance number “Kajra Re” from Bunty Aur Babli (2006)

It would seem more than mere coincidence that these artists came to dominate film lyrics. Like many arenas, the Bombay film industry was an old boy network: Sahir Ludhianvi for example was close friends with Jan Nisar Akhtar, who became in-laws with Kaifi Azmi, who was a prominent member of the pre-partition Progressive Writer’s Movement with Majrooh Sultanpuri. And the music directors who often hand-picked their lyricists and made recommendations to film producers were also steeped in similar artistic traditions. Veteran composer Naushad grew up in the heart of Lucknowi culture, and Madan Mohan spent his childhood in the Middle East, eventually getting his break by joining the All India Radio in Lucknow. Yet connections in the film industry account for only part of its success—audiences had to maintain demand as well.

From the epic qawwali “Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai” from Barsaat Ki Raat (1961), the lilting ode, “Aap Ki Nazron Mein Samjha” from Anpadh 1962), to the playful duet “Deewana Hua Badal” from Kashmir Ki Kali (1964), Urdu in films was remarkably accessible—holding a place for any viewer in every genre. True, it is unlikely the entire audience understood each word in those songs. However, in this manner, film and music could be educational for those who did not–a unique way of preserving the culture they reflected back on. As parallel cinema diva Shabana Azmi aptly quipped,

“If you compare today’s songs with the songs of the 1960s and 1970s, then definitely today’s songs are according to the demand. But if you see, Hindi films used to protect the Urdu language as they used it, but it is slowly dying and I feel bad for it.”

The same extended to the dialogues of films themselves–and I don’t refer only to genre films like Pakeezah (1971) or Mughal-e-Azam (1961). Pure Urdu was ubiquitous in classic Hindi cinema, wafting equally through the sets of an urban crime drama and meandering through a village epic. The importance and sheer beauty of Urdu poetry in dialogues is highlighted in one of the most famous film speech’s of yesteryear. The stirring climax of Daag (1973) culminates in a speech given by Rajesh Khanna’s character for an award bestowed to him by his community. Notice how in this and so many other scripts, Urdu is an inextricable poetic catalyst for the Hindi speech:

Rajesh Khanna’s Speech from Daag (1973):

Aap.
Aap kya jaane mujhko samajhte hai.N kyaa?
Mai.N to kuch bhi nahii.N

“You.
I do not know what you make of me
For I am nothing

Is qadar pyaar itnii baDe bheed ka mai.N rakhuu.Ngaa kya?
Is qadar pyaar rakhne ke qaabil nahii.N
Mera dil, merii jaan…
Mujhko itni mohabbat na do, dosto.
Soch lo dosto…
Is qadar pyaar kaise sambhaaluu.Ngaa mai.N?
Mai.N to kuch bhi nahii.N

How can I carry such love from so great a crowd?
I am not worthy of such great love
My heart, my life…
Do not give me so much love, my friends
Think instead.
How will I bear such great love?
For I am nothing.

Pyaar.
Pyaar ek shakhs ko agar mil sake to badii cheez hai zindagi ke liye
Aadmi ko magar yeh bhi milta nahii.n
Yeh bhi milta nahii.n
Mujhko itni mohabbat milii aap se,
Mujhko itni mohabbat milii aap se…
Yeh mera haq nahii.N, merii taqdiir hai.
Mai.N zamaane ki nazro.N mei.N kuch bhi na thaa.
Merii ankho.N mei.N ab tak woh tasveer hai

Love.
If a man can receive love, it is a great thing in life
Yet many men do not even receive this
They do not even receive this
I have received so much love from you,
I have received so much love from you
This is not my right, it is my fate
I was once nothing in the eyes of the world
And in my eyes, that image remains

Izzate.N, shauharate.N, chaahate.N, ulfate.N, koi cheez duniya mei.N rehtii nahii.N
Aaj mai.N huu.N jahaa.N, kal koi aur thaa.
Yeh bhi ek daur hai, woh bhi ek daur thaa…

Respect, fame, desire, love, nothing remains in the world permanently
Today where I am, yesterday there was someone else
This is one generation, that was another generation…

Aaj itni mohabbat na do dosto.
Ki mere kal kii khatir ka kuch bhi rahe
Aaj ka pyaar thoDa bacha kar rakho
Aaj ka pyaar thoDa bacha kar rakho, mere kal ke liye

Today do not give me so much love, my friends
So that there may be some left for me tomorrow
Today, save some of that love
Today save some of that love for my days ahead

Kal.
Kal jo gumnaam hai
Kal jo sunsaan hai
Kal jo anjaan hai
Kal jo viiraan hai

Tomorrow.
Tomorrow which is anonymous
Tomorrow which is silent
Tomorrow which is unknown
Tomorrow which may be barren

Main to kuch bhi nahii.N huu.N
Mai.N to kuch bhi nahii.n”

I am nothing at all
I am nothing at all.”

With every thoughtfully chosen word, the pervasive Urdu “qaaf” is pronounced as delicately as the gentle “khe,” and the lines are delivered with the poetic overtures of a song lyric. These dialogues were written with poetry in mind, and indeed many song lyricists eventually took to writing entire film scripts (the script of Daag was written by immortal Urdu poet Akhtar ul Iman of Waqt and Gumraah fame).

Immortal lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri (right) with music director R.D. Burman and film director Nasir Hussain at a 1983 recording session.
Famed lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri (right) with music director R.D. Burman (center) and film director Nasir Hussain (left) at a 1983 recording session.

It would be impossible to summarize the incredible work of these poets in one post (hence why we’ve devoted much of our blog to it!). A small sampling of Filmfare award-winning lyrics are below:

“Chaudhvin ka chaand ho, ya aftaab ho? Jo bhi ho tum khudaa ki qasam laa-jawaab ho…” –Shakeel Badayuni (Chaudhvin Ka Chand 1961)

“Chaahuu.Ngaa mai.N tujhe saa.Nj saveN.re. Phir bhi kabhi ab naam ko tere awaaz mai.N na doo.Ngaa…”--Majrooh Sultanpuri (Dosti 1965)

“Bahaaro.N phool barsaao, meraa mehboob aayaa hai. Hawaao.N raagini gaao, meraa mehboob aaya hai…”--Hasrat Jaipuri (Suraj 1967)

“Kabhi kabhi mere dil mei.N khayaal aataa hai ki jaise tujhko baanaayaa gaya hai mere liye…” –Sahir Ludhianvi (Kabhi Kabhi 1977)

“Aanewaalaa pal jaanewaalaa hai. Ho sake to is mei.N zindagii biTaado pal jo yeh jaanewalaa hai…” — Gulzar (Gol Maal 1980)

I was fortunate to have the chance to learn to read and write in Urdu from my grandparents who moved to New Delhi after the partition of Punjab. But this opportunity is so rare that I found after my grandfather passed away, I know few people to whom I can still write in Nasta’liq. Urdu is a language of romance—more beautiful than French and Italian, and more intricate than superficial political divides. The legacy of Urdu will continue to add to the allure and nostalgia of old films for generations to come. For the loss of Urdu is more than the mere loss of vocabulary. Without Urdu in Hindi films, we have lost our own andaaz–the manner with which we once communicated our thoughts and feelings, our decorum, and a rich, meaningful ornamentation in expressing ourselves that can never be replaced.

-Mrs. 55

Lag Ja Gale Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Maybe only a hardcore fanatic like me would know this, but today (September 28th) is Lata Mangeshkar’s birthday! Mrs 55 and I would like to wish our favorite melody queen many happy returns of the day as she turns 83 years young.

Lata Mangeshkar (1929- )

Given this special occasion, I have decided to share one of my all-time favorite songs sung by Lata Mangeshkar: lag jaa gale from Raj Khosla’s classic film noir Woh Kaun Thi? (1964). I am often asked to name my favorite Lata song, but I find this request to be challenging because there are simply too many gems to narrow it down to one choice. Instead, I feel compelled to produce a list and I can say that this song consistently makes my top ten compilation of personal favorites rendered by India’s beloved nightingale.

Sadhana displays an ethereal beauty in Woh Kaun Thi? (1964)

Penned by Raja Mehndi Ali Khan and composed by Madan Mohan, this song has been immortalized as a veritable gem of the Hindi film music industry. Through an expression of carpe diem philosophy, these lyrics encourage listeners to live in the moment and cherish their loved ones now before the opportunity escapes in the future. The beautiful simplicity of these lyrics is enhanced by a sublime melody crafted by Madan Mohan–one of his career’s finest. Lata Mangeshkar’s voice is also at its heavenly best here, and her flawless rendition takes this song to the next level. It is certainly no mystery why this song has survived the test of time as one of Bollywood’s most cherished musical numbers. As you follow along with our translation and glossary below, I hope that you enjoy this masterpiece whose beauty has brought joy to countless listeners (myself included!) over the years.

-Mr. 55

Lag Ja Gale: Lyrics and Translation

lag jaa gale ki phir yah hasii.n raat ho na ho
Embrace me, for this beautiful night may come no more. 
shayad phir is janam me.n mulaaqaat ho na ho
Perhaps, in this life, we may never meet again.

ham ko milii hai.n aaj ye ghaDiyaa.n nasiib se
We are fortunate to share these moments today.
jii bhar ke dekh liijiye ham ko qariib se
Wholeheartedly take a look at me from up close,
phir aap ke nasiib me.n yah baat ho na ho
As your fate may never hold this opportunity again.
shayad phir is janam me.n mulaaqaat ho na ho
Perhaps, in this life, we may never meet again. 

paas aaiye ki ham nahii.n aaye.nge baar baar
Come close to me, for I will not return again and again.
baahe.n gale me.n Daal ke ham ro le.n zaar-zaar
Wrapping my arms around your neck, I will continue to weep. 
aa.nkho.n se phir yah pyaar kii barsaat ho na ho
My eyes may never shed such a storm of love again. 
shayad phir is janam me.n mulaaqaat ho na ho
Perhaps, in this life, we may never meet again.

lag jaa gale ki phir yah hasii.n raat ho na ho
Embrace me, for this beautiful night may come no more. 

Glossary

gale lag jaanaa: to embrace; hasii.n: beautiful; janam: birth, life; mulaaqaat: meeting;  ghaDiyaa.n: moments; nasiib se: fortunately; nasiib: fate, destiny; jii bhar ke: wholeheartedly; qariib se: up close; baahe.n: arms; galaa: neck; zaar-zaar ro lenaa: to weep continuously; barsaat: storm.

Sadhana enchants Manoj Kumar with her mysterious allure in Woh Kaun Thi? (1964)