Jaane Woh Kaise Log Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Guru Dutt evokes classic Christ-like imagery in his depiction of Vijay the struggling poet in Pyaasa (1957).

We now present the lyrics and full English translation to one of my all-time favorite Guru Dutt songs “Jaane Woh Kaise” from Pyaasa (1957). I think my undying love for Guru Dutt is pretty evident at this point, but in case you need some convincing to get over the bold Clark Gable ‘stache, start here. Pyaasa is no ordinary film. When released to roaring accolades in 1957, Pyaasa broke precedent upon precedent in both impact and style. Notice how every song in this film seems to flow naturally as a consequence of the plot, as if the lyrics of the songs were a poetic continuation of the spoken dialogue? It was a technique pioneered by Guru Dutt that was later emulated by every great director in Bollywood. And the film hit some hard topics. I discuss more of the political stance of the film and the fascinating struggle Guru Dutt faced behind-the-scenes earlier, but now let us look instead to the classic “Jaane Woh Kaise” hit from the immortal pen of Sahir Ludhviani. It’s a mixture of everything right in the world: Guru Dutt as actor, Hemant Kumar with vocals, S.D. Burman composing, and Sahir in the back with the words of wisdom. This Hemant Kumar gem is truly the industry standard for awkward dinner party songs–even copied in modern times by Mira Nair in her film Vanity Fair (2004)!

Guru Dutt is employed as a dinner party waiter for his rich boss, Rehman, where he is confronted by the reality of his former lover, Mala Sinha, having abandoned him for wealth by marrying none other than the man currently employing him. The injustice of it all gets to him, and by chance, he’s a poet at heart who does what any other tragic poet would do in the situation: drop everything and throw a pity party.

Mala Sinha plays a cold-hearted social climber in Pyaasa (1957).

I love the cinematography in this song–Guru Dutt and his brilliant Director of Photography V.K. Murthy were known for their overblown yet graceful dolly-ins (watch the camera fly in “Waqt Ne Kiya“!), and so too in this song, the camera acts as a silent messenger of emotional turmoil, extracting a beautifully devastating toll on each of the key players in the room. And Guru Dutt holds his ground with arms outstretched as if crucified–a soft-spoken martyr against a background of bookshelves in which his own spoken words will later be immortalized and massacred. Again, you really need to see the film to appreciate the poetic genius of Guru Dutt film-making.

So enough talk, onto the lyrics and English translation of “Jaane Woh Kaise” from Pyaasa (1957)! Check out the picturization on youtube and let us know what you think in the comments!

Jaane Woh Kaise Log Lyrics and Translation

Jaane woh kaise log the jinke pyaar ko pyaar mila
I wonder what kind of people find their love reciprocated
Humne to jab kaliyaa.N maangii kaa.NTo.N kaa haar milaa
Whenever I asked for flowers, I received a garland of thorns

Khushiyo.N kii manzil DhoonDii to gham kii gard milii
I searched for a destination of joy, but I found a circle of sadness
Chaahat ke naghme chaahe to aahe.N sard milii
I desired tales of love, but I received only the coldness of sighs
Dil kii bojh ko duunaa kar gayaa, jo ghamkhwaar milaa
The burdens of my heart only doubled if I met someone meant to relieve my sorrow

BichhaD gayaa har saathii dekar pal do pal kaa saath
Every companion gave me a few moments of company, and left
Kisko fursat hai jo thaame diiwaano.N kaa haath
After all, who has the free time to hold a crazy man’s hand?
Humko apnaa saayaa tak aksar bezaar milaa
Even my own shadow is often weary of me

Isko hii jiina kehte hai.N to yuu.N hii jii le.Nge
If this is what they called life, then I will live like this
Uff na kare.Nge, lab sii lenge, aa.Nsuu pii lenge
I will not sigh, I will seal my lips, and swallow my tears
Gham se ab ghabraana kaisaa, gham sau baar milaa
After all, how can I be concerned by sadness? I have met sadness a hundred times

Humne to jab kaliyaa.N maangii.N kaaTo.N kaa haar milaa
When I asked for flowers, I found a garland of thorns
Jaane woh kaise log the jinke pyaar ko pyaar mila
I wonder what kind of people find their love reciprocated

Glossary:

kali: flower; kaanTaa: thorn; haar: garland; manzil: destination; gham: sadness; gard: circle; chaahat: love, desire; naghma: tale; aah: sigh; sard: chilly, cold; bhoj: burden; duunaa karna: to double; ghamkhwaar: a remover of sadness (note: the w is silent, as in khwaab); bichhaD jaanaa: to become separated; saathi: companion; fursat: free time; haath thaamnaa: to hold hands; saayaa: shadow; bezaar: fed up, weary; lab: lips; aa.Nsuu: tears; gham: sadness: ghabraanaa: to become anxious, concerned

Singing his heart out, Guru Dutt transforms Rehman’s classy dinner gathering into a awkwardly personal pity party in Pyaasa (1957).

Guru Dutt revives the martyr-style mis-en-scene in the reprise of “Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaaye” at the famous finale of the film! The scene has got to be one of the all-time greatest of Hindi cinematic history. For this and about a million other reasons, Pyaasa is absolutely mandatory classic Bollywood viewing!

-Mrs. 55

Two or Three Things I Know about Mira Nair: Thoughts from a Former Intern

Nargis and Raj Kapoor in one of the most iconic shots of classic Indian cinema from Shree 420 (1955)

A scene from Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding (2001) inspired by Raj Kapoor’s classic

After the summer of my sophomore year, I was fortunate enough to intern with my favorite contemporary director Mira Nair. Both of us had studied film production at Harvard University and incidentally under the same professor! I first met Mira at his film screening at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City when I spotted her in the audience. My heart was beating so fast, I could hardly sit still through the screening. After the show, I gave her my impromptu elevator speech and joined the crew at Mirabai Films that summer!

Intern Mira Nair

Mira Nair and I at the MoMA my sophomore year. Note the glazed look in my eyes. Best day ever!

I was twelve years old when I saw Monsoon Wedding (2001) and have yet to find a movie from my generation that I love more. Mira’s other films include Vanity Fair, Salaam Bombay, The Namesake, Kama Sutra, and Amelia, but what does any of this have to do with old Hindi cinema? I want to talk about a side to her movies that you may not have been familiar with—that is, the impact of classic Bollywood on her work.

Perhaps you can recall that scene from Monsoon Wedding in which the wedding planner marries the housemaid beneath an umbrella. Look familiar? It should! Mira was directly inspired by Raj Kapoor’s famous song “Pyaar Hua Iqrar Hua” in directing this scene. Like Nargis and Raj Kapoor walking together on a rainy night, huddled together beneath an umbrella, Mira’s characters strike the same pose to celebrate their romance at the height of the Indian monsoons.

On-set and behind-the-camera with Hollywood director, Mira Nair.

In the front lobby of Mirabai Films hangs an original hand-painted movie poster of Aurat (1940), Mehboob Khan’s little-known precursor to the later smash-hit Mother India (1959). Its relative obscurity (and the eagerness to explain) brings a pride that can only be known to a fellow old Bollywood fanatic. By her desk is a beautiful and fascinating work of photography taken of the interior of R.K. Studios. Mira once explained how the studio in her photograph seems so unassuming and bland, but there, in an inconspicuous back wall besides an empty soda bottle hangs a small, telling picture of the greatest showman of India—Raj Kapoor himself. Despite his wealth and glamour, he and his colleagues maintained an inspiring sense of humility throughout his career that inspired hers.

If you’re looking for more celebrity interest, there is a great scene in her film, Vanity Fair (2004), in which the heroine (played fearlessly by Reese Witherspoon) makes an ill-received attempt to blend in among a high-class dinner party. Guess what? The scene was inspired by none other that the classic song Jaane Woh Kaise from Guru Dutt’s classic Pyaasa! In fact, Mira love it so much and wanted to make sure she captured Dutt’s spirit so precisely, that she got the whole cast together and watched Pyaasa for a movie night before the shoot. You heard me, people. If you have yet to watch Pyaasa yourself and are still looking for reasons to make the commitment, try this: Reese Witherspoon has seen it and you haven’t. Enough said.

Guru Dutt makes the room incredibly uncomfortable in Pyaasa (1957), an inspiration for Reese Witherspoon’s future character in Vanity Fair (2004).

And did you know Mira was very close friends with bold auteur Satyajit Ray? Mira’s favorite of his films include The Apu Trilogy and Days and Night in the Forest (1970), the latter of which was actually screened at the Harvard Film Archive last year with Sharmila Tagore in person! (I obviously had front row seats, almost underwent cardiac arrest upon seeing Sharmila in person, and begged for an autograph that is now framed on my desk. But that’s neither here nor there.) In fact, after growing up on these films, Mira came to respect Sharmila so much as an actress, and eagerly cast her in one of her first indie films called Mississippi Masala (1991)!

There are a million other ways old Bollywood films have influenced her work, and I have highlighted only a few that I know from working with her personally. Watch her films and let us know which others you can spot! Until then, put Pyaasa on your early Christmas list.

-Mrs. 55