Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna Lyrics & Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Manoj Kumar as Bhagat Singh in Shaheed 1965
Manoj Kumar shines as the revolutionist Bhagat Singh who was executed by the British in Shaheed (1965).

In honor of India’s 70th Independence Day celebrations, today we present the lyrics and English translation of “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna.” An Urdu ghazal written in 1921 by Bismal Azimabadi, “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna” became a battle cry of freedom fighters through the 1940s. The poem was adapted for the film Shaheed (1965) starring Manoj Kumar about the life of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh. Known popularly as Mr. Bharat, Manoj Kumar would go on to make a name for himself glorifying the traditional Indian way of life in other patriotic films like Upkar (1967) and Purab Aur Paschim (1970). In Shaheed, Manoj Kumar settles comfortably into his niche, earning the Best Feature Film award.

Revolutionist Ram Prasad Bismil is sometimes incorrectly attributed with having written the ghazal himself, made more confusing by being a writer himself and sharing part of his name with the real poet. Nonetheless, Bismil, along with many other freedom fighters, helped spread the poem’s popularity.

Prem Chopra as Sukhdev in Shaheed 1965
Prem Chopra breaks from his typecast as the urbane villain to portray freedom fighter Sukhdev Thapur in Shaheed (1965).

In Shaheed, “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamannaa” is sung by Mohammed Rafi, Manna Dey, Rajendra Mehta who lend their voices to the characters of freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapur, and Shivaram Rajguru, who were hung for their roles in the Lahore Conspiracy case in 1929. Rich in Urdu ornamentation, “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamannaa” highlights the fighters willingness to die for their country while awaiting execution. The poem describes the gentle, courageous nature of the revolutionists who are proud to rise to the occasion demanded of them by history.

We hope you enjoy the lyrics and English translation of the elegiac ghazal “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna” below. Follow along here with the music video from the film, and for the Urdu-inclined, the complete original poem can be found here!

Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna Lyrics and Translation:

Ek se kartaa nahii.N kyuu.N duusraa kuchh baat-chiit?
Why does no one make conversation with others?
Dekhtaa huu.N mai.N jise woh chhup terii mehfil mei.N hai
Whomever I see is silent in your company
Woh chhup terii mehfil mei.N hai…
They are silent in your company

Sarfaroshii kii tamannaa ab hamaare dil mei.N hai
The desire to sacrifice is now in my heart
Dekhnaa hai zor kitnaa baazu-e-qaatl mei.N hai
I shall see how much strength is in the arms of my assassin

Waqt aane par bataa de.Nge tujhe, O aasmaan
I will tell you when the time comes, O sky
Hum abhii se kyaa bataaye.N kyaa hamaare dil mei.N hai?
What can I tell you now of what is in my heart?
Kyaa humaare dil mei.N hai…
What is in my heart…
Sarfaroshii kii tamannaa ab hamaare dil mei.N hai
The desire to sacrifice is now in my heart

Khai.Nch kar laayii hai sab ko qatl hone kii ummiid
Everyone has been pulled here by the hope of becoming killed
Aashiqo.N kaa aaj jamghaT kuuchaa-e qaatl mei.N hai
A congregation of lovers is in the street of their murderers today
Kuuchaa-e qaatl mei.N hai
They are in the street of their murderers
Sarfaroshii kii tamannaa ab hamaare dil mei.N hai
The desire to sacrifice is now in my heart

Glossary:

baat-chiit karnaa: to make conversation, chit-chat; chhup: silent; mehfil: company, gathering; sarfaroshii: sacrifice [literally: cutting of the head]; tamannaa: desire; dil: heart; zor: strength; baazuu: arms; qaatl: murderer, assassin; waqt: time; aasmaan: sky; khai.Nchnaa: to pull; ummiid: hope; aashiq: lover; aaj: today; jamghat: congregation; kuuchaa: street

It would be remiss to discuss this beautiful Urdu poem and its meaning for Indian independence without an inclusion of its equally profound legacy in Pakistan. Let us never forget that the movements that would eventually separate Pakistan and India during the partition were once far weaker than the hopes that united Hindu and Muslim freedom fighters in brotherhood against the British Raj. The dark shadow of partition that marred the celebration of Independence for thousands in the summer of 1947 is a subject close to my heart that I discuss more here along with the tragic decline of Urdu in Bollywood films.

The real Bhagat Singh who lived from 1907 to 1931 (left), Manoj Kumar in the film Shaheed from 1965 (middle), and Shammi Kapoor (right) in the film Shaheed Bhagat Singh from 1963.
The real Bhagat Singh who lived from 1907 until his execution in 1931 (left), Manoj Kumar in the film Shaheed from 1965 (middle), and Shammi Kapoor (right) in the film Shaheed Bhagat Singh from 1963.

“Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna” was also adapted for the more recent film The Legend of Bhagat Singh starring Ajay Devgan (2002). A charismatic young man whose terroristic methods clashed with the non-violence advocated by Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh has been the subject of numerous Bollywood films, including a portrayal by Shammi Kapoor in Shaheed Bhagat Singh (1963) and Sunny Deol in 23 March 1931: Shaheed (2002).

In Gandhi’s own words upon Bhagat Singh and his associates’ executions: “These heroes had conquered the fear of death. Let us bow to them a thousand times for their heroism. But we should not imitate their act. In our land of millions of destitute and crippled people, if we take to the practice of seeking justice through murder, there will be a terrifying situation. Our poor people will become victims of our atrocities. By making a dharma of violence, we shall be reaping the fruit of our own actions. Hence, though we praise the courage of these brave men, we should never countenance their activities. Our dharma is to swallow our anger, abide by the discipline of non-violence and carry out our duty.”

As we celebrate our freedoms today, we reflect on these moral dilemmas faced by the oppressed whose sacrifices spared us from knowing them.

-Mrs. 55

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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 best music 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.

In India, 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

3. Mughal-e-Azam

Mughal-e-Azam

Naushad, 1960

4. Nagin

Nagin

Hemant Kumar, 1954

5. Aradhana

Aradhana

S.D. Burman, 1969

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

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.

Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Rajesh Khanna Anand Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli
Dangerously attractive Rajesh Khanna proves that real men wear lavender in Anand (1971).

Next we showcase the lyrics and English translation of “Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli” from the sentimental mega-hit Anand (1971). Diagnosed with terminal lymphosarcoma of the intestine, Rajesh Khanna is determined to raise the spirits of those around him. With a smile, he explains his philosophy to his bewildered physician, Amitabh Bachhan:

“Babumushai, zindagii badii honii chahiye, lambii nahii.N.” [“Babumushai, life should be big, not long.”]

Brimming with rich symbolism from floating balloons to boatmen in the ocean, “Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli” explores the outlook of a man whose journey is approaching its destination. Rajesh Khanna give a tour de force performance as a character at peace with the mysteries of the world.

Rajesh Khanna gives out balloons at Juhu Beach
Rajesh Khanna buys out a lucky balloon-wala in “Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli” from Anand (1971).

The song begins with a distinctive, uplifting trumpet solo, establishing the tone. While other gorgeous songs of Anand such as “Kahin Door Jab Din” are sung by the gentle Mukesh, Manna Dey was chosen for “Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli.” Known better for his masterful Hindustani classical numbers of the 1960s, Manna Dey’s film career began to falter with the rise of Kishore Kumar’s heroic romantic vocals. But his popularity revived in the 70s with Anand when Rajesh Khanna himself asked music director Salil Chaudhary for a chance to lip-sync a Manna Dey song. As Manna Dey recalled in a 2012 interview,

“I loved the way he [Rajesh Khanna] picturised music. The success of a song depends upon how an actor picturises it. He was the number one in picturising songs. I will ever be indebted to him.”

We hope you enjoy the lyrics and English translation of “Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli” from Anand (1971). Follow along with the video here while reflecting on film lyricist Yogesh’s philosophical poetry!

Zindagi Kaisi Paheli Lyrics and Translation:

Zindagii kaisii hai pahelii, haaye!
Oh, what a riddle life is!
Kabhii to ha.Nsaaye kabhi yeh rulaaye
Sometimes it makes us laugh, sometimes it makes us cry

Kabhii dekho man nahii.N jaage, peechhe peechhe sapno.N ke bhaage
Sometimes the mind does not awaken, it chases dreams
Ek din sapno.N ka raahii chalaa jaaye sapno.N ke aage, kahaa.N?
One day that traveler of dreams will go beyond the dreams, but where?

Jin hone sajaaye yahaa.N mele sukh dukh sang-sang jhele
Those who bring people together, they experience joy and sorrow together
Wohii chunkar khaamoshii yuu.N chalii jaaye akele, kahaa.N?
Those same people choose silence and depart alone, but where?

Glossary:

zindagii: life; pahelii: riddle, puzzle; haaye: oh, sigh; ha.Nsaanaa: to make [someone] laugh; rulaanaa: to make [someone] cry; man: mind; jaagnaa: to awaken; peechhe: behind; bhaagnaa: to run; ek din: one day; sapnaa: dream; raahii: traveler; aage: ahead, future; melaa sajaanaa: to arrange a fair (literal), to bring people together; sukh: happiness; dukh: sadness; sang-sang: together; jhelnaa: to experience; chunnaa: to choose; khamoshii: silence; akelaa: alone

Juhu Beach Rajesh Khanna Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli Anand
“Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli” was famously filmed at suburban Bombay’s Juhu Beach, made even more gorgeous by the delicate silhouette of Rajesh Khanna against the shoreline.

It’s hard to believe we lost a legend like Manna Dey 6 months ago, a little more than a year after losing Rajesh Khanna. The singer was 95 years old. This beautiful tribute to those dream chasers we wish were with us, “Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli,” was requested by fan Ajay.

-Mrs. 55

Aye Meri Zohra Jabeen Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

balraj sahni aye meri zohra jabeen waqt
Balraj Sahni plays a wealthy, family-loving merchant whose good fortune takes a disastrous turn in Waqt (1965).

We now present the lyrics and English translation to “Aye Mere Zohra Jabeen” from Waqt (1965). Young at heart Balraj Sahni plays a loving father of three young children who celebrates his business success with pomp and splendor. So overjoyed by where he believes Fate is taking his family, he dedicates a love song to his wife at a party. The film’s hit opening number “Aye Mere Zohra Jabeen” brims with a sense of carpe diem in the lives of a couple whose youth is coming to an end. Achala Sachdev plays the gentle wife fittingly embarrassed by the attention, but clearly loving the compliments. Their picture-perfect world is too wonderful to last–and before the night is over, tragedy strikes that separates the family. And from there unfolds one of the best Hindi masala films of the 60s!

The well-known opening line carries the Urdu vocabulary lover’s favorite, “zohra jabeen.” The meaning of this term has confused many a Hindi film goer over the ages. Actually a combination of two separate words, zohra and jabeen, the term is used loosely to mean “beautiful one,” but the true definition is far more fascinating. Zohra is the Arabic term for the Roman goddess of beauty, Venus, and also the planet easily identifiable as a shining star in the sky. Jabeen translate literally as forehead, a delicate part of the woman’s face to which praise has been given for centuries of Urdu ghazalry. So when addressing your sweetheart as zohra-jabeen, you are implying that her face shines with the beauty of Venus! Pretty flattering, right?

shy achala sachdev aye meri zohra jabeen
With the coyness of a young bride, Achala Sachdev blushes at her husband’s public display of affection in Waqt (1965).

In an interview on Bangalore’s Radio City in 2005, Manna Dey recalls being requested for the number by music director Ravi with surprise:

“When Ravi called me to sing “Aye meri zohra-jabeen” for Waqt, I asked him, ‘Why me? You use only Rafi or Mahendra Kapoor.’ Ravi said it was Balraj Sahni’s personal request that I sing.”

Although Mahendra Kapoor and Rafi do indeed sing the other fabulous songs of the film, none ever became as famous than this Manna Dey chart-buster. Sung at almost any sangeet or wedding, “Aye Meri Zohra Jabeen” endears listeners across generations with excitement and sentimentality. Although often categorized as a qawwali, the song does not quite fit into the genre–despite its best attempts at synchronized group clapping. Check out the video to see class act Balraj Sahni get into character and witness one of the only Bollywood love songs uniquely targeted at couple of any age! Cutie-pie Achala Sachdev would later play Kajol’s grandmother’s in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge where the song was memorably revived!

We hope you enjoy the evergreen Sahir Ludhianvi lyrics and our full English translation to “Aye Meri Zohra Jabeen” below:

Aye Meri Zohra Jabeen Lyrics and English Translation:

Aye merii zohra-jabeen
Oh, my beautiful one
Tujhe ma’aluum nahii.N
You are not aware
Tuu abhii tak hai hasii.N
that you are still lovely
Aur mai.N jawaa.n!
and I am still young!
Tujhpe qurbaan merii jaan merii jaan!
I would sacrifice my life for you!

Yeh shokhiyaa.N yeh baa.Nkpan jo tujh mei.N hai kahii.N nahii.N
This coyness, this attractiveness of yours is nowhere else
Dilo.N ko jiitne kaa fan jo tujh me hai kahii.N nahii.N
The art of winning hearts that you possess is nowhere else
Mai.N terii! maii.N terii aankho.N mei.N paa gayaa do jahaa.N!
In your eyes, I have found my heaven and earth!
Aye merii zohra jabeen…

Tuu miiThe bol, jaan-e-man, jo muskuraake bol de
If you speak sweet words to me, my love, and smile
To dhaDakano.N mei.N aaj bhii sharaabii ra.Ng ghol de
Then even today, you infuse my heartbeats with an intoxicating colour
O sanam! O sanam mai.N teraa aashiq-e-jaavedaan!
Oh darling, I am your lover for eternity!
Aye merii zohra jabeen…

Glossary:

zohra-jabeen: beautiful (literally zohra: Venus and jabeen: forehead = beautiful one with the face that glows like Venus); ma’aluum: aware, information; hasii.N: beauty; jawaa.N: youth; qurbaan: sacrifice; jaan: life; shokhiyaa.N: coyness; baa.Nkpan: attractiveness; fan: art; do jahaa.N: two worlds, heaven and earth, realm; miiThaa: sweet; bol: words; jaan-eman: beloved; muskuraanaa: to smile; dhaDkan: heartbeat; sharaabii: intoxicating, drunken; ra.Ng: colour; ghol: mixture, infusion; sanam: beloved; aashiq: lover; jaavedaan: eternal, never-ending

handkerchiefs waqt
When the flirty handkerchiefs come out, there’s really no going back. I think we all have uncles who have pulled this flamboyant dance move at parties, much to their wives’ chagrin.

Aye Meri Zohra Jabeen” is actually based on a musical composition by Afghanistan’s Abdul Ghafoor Breshna (1907-1974), a famous painter, poet, director, and musician who also composed the national anthem for the Republic of Afghanistan just before his death. “Aye Meri Zohra Jabeen” was requested by two fans, Kuldip Babbar and Hema Fonseka! Thanks for the fantastic suggestion, and keep those requests coming!

– Mrs. 55