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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Koi Jab Tumhara Hriday Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Manoj Kumar Purab Paschim

Manoj Kumar plays the righteous Mr. Bharat wooing a wayward Westernized girl in Purab Aur Paschim (1970).

We now present the lyrics and English translation to the haunting love song “Koi Jab Tumhara Hriday” from Manoj Kumar’s cult classic Purab Aur Paschim (1970). The film was one of many patriotic hits by Manoj Kumar that etched his niche as a fighter of Indian values on screen that no other producer or actor could replace. Shot with an entirely overt pro-India agenda that is really more endearing than offensive, Purab Aur Paschim rides on the righteousness of traditional values over the decay and corruption of societies lost to drugs, sex, and disregard for elders. It’s the anti-thesis to Orientalism–a vibrant, exotic lens coloured by everything India wanted to believe existed in the wild, wild West. It’s a film that only Manoj Kumar in his quiet Nehru coats, quivering upper lip, and a sincere belief in the Indian way of life could truly pull off. While the exaggerations of  London decadence may seem heavy-handed at times, there’s a real heart in this film that will win you over. See our translation of “Mere Desh Ki Dharti” for more!

“Koi Jab Tumhara Hriday” is a haunting Mukesh solo that stands wonderfully alone without fancy back-up music or elaborate picturization. From the plucking of strings that mark its opening to the quietly fading finale, his song has a unique power. Plus, keeping in line with the extremist traditionalism, how often will you find hardcore Sanskrit-based Hindi films in lyrics like “hriday” or “kanwal“?!

All that said, you can’t ignore that the lyrics are borderline groveling–they are sung by a traditional Mr. Bharat who finds himself in “modern” London and unused to the fast and easy ways of the West. Manoj Kumar falls hard for smoking playgirl Saira Banu–blonde wig, miniskirt, and all–to the point that he proclaims he will wait for her until the end to reciprocate after her other lovers grow tired of her. Is this truly what the perfect Indian man is supposed to be? My former Urdu professor used to have a really negative reaction to Manoj Kumar putting up with a girl like that–and found it pathetic he accepted she had so many other men in her life! Is he really pathetic or just blindly in love? Perhaps Manoj Kumar is simply trying to express that the unconditional love and devotion of the Indian way of life will outlast the fickle West shifting back and forth from empty pleasure to pleasure.

Saira Banu Purab Paschim

Saira Banu feigns nonchalance with her painfully fake blonde bouffant in Purab Aur Paschim (1970).

But say what you want about the lyrics, the melody is beautiful and Mukesh’s rendition is filled with emotion that I adore every time. Enjoy our English translation and lyrics to “Koi Jab Tumhara Hriday” below! Follow along here on youtube and let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Koi Jab Tumhara Hriday Lyrics and Translation

Koi jab tumhaaraa hriday toD de
When someone breaks your heart
Tadaptaa huaa jab koii chhoD de
When someone leaves you in suffering
Tab tum mere paas aanaa priye
Then come to me, beloved
Meraa dar khulaa hai, khulaa hii rahegaa tumhaare liye
My door is open, and will always remain open for you
Koi jab tumhaaraa hriday toD de
When someone breaks your heart

Abhii tumko merii zaruurat nahii.N
At the moment you do not need someone like me
Bahut chaahanewaale mil jaaye.nge
You will meet many people who fall in love with you
Abhii ruup ka ek saagar ho tum
For now you are an ocean of beauty
Kanwal jitne chaahoge khil jaaye.Nge
As many lotuses as you desire will bloom for you
Darpan tumhe jab Daraane lage
When your own image in the mirror starts to scare you
Jawaanii bhi daaman chuDaane lage
When your youth begins to leave you
Tab tum mere paas aanaa priye
Then you will come to me, beloved
Meraa sar jhukaa hai, jhukaa hii rahegaa tumhaare liye
My head is bowed to you, and will always bow to you
Koi jab tumhaaraa hriday toD de
When someone breaks your heart

Koii shart hotii nahii.N pyaar mei.N
There are no conditions in love
Magar pyaar sharto.N pe tum ne kiyaa
But your love is based on conditions
Nazar mei.N sitaare jo chamake zaraa
Those stars in your eyes that glittered for a while
Bujhaane lagii aartii ka diiyaa
They have begun to extinguish the candles of devotion
Jab apnii nazar mei.N hii girne lago
When that image of yourself falls in your own esteem
Andhero.N mei.N apne hii ghirne lago
When your own darkness starts to surround you
Tab tum mere paas aanaa priye
Then you will come to me, beloved
Yeh deepak jalaa hai, jalaa hii rahegaa tumhaare liye
This light is burning, it will always remain burning for you

Koi jab tumhaaraa hriday toD de
When someone breaks your heart
Tadaptaa huaa jab koii chhoD de
When someone leaves you in suffering
Tab tum mere paas aanaa priye
Then come to me, beloved
Meraa dar khulaa hai, khulaa hii rahegaa tumhaare liye
My door is open, and will always remain open for you
Koi jab tumhaaraa hriday toD de
When someone breaks your heart

Glossary

hriday: heart, liver; priya: beloved; dar: door; zaruurat: need; ruup: beauty, saagar: ocean; kanwal: lotus; Darpan: mirror; Daraane: to scare; jawaanii: youth; sar jhuknaa: to bow your head; shart: condition; sitaaraa: star; chamaknaa: to sparkle, to glitter; aartii: a common Hindu devotional prayer; diiyaa: small clay candle; girnaa: to fall; ghirnaa: to cloud, to surround; andheraa: darkness; deepak: light

Note: Take careful note of the use of the verbs ghirnaa and girnaa that are found side-by-side in these lyrics. They sound extremely similar but mean different things!

Saira Banu reformed Purab Paschim

Yes, surprise surprise, Saira Banu reforms her wicked Western ways by the end of the film and bursts into a beautiful Lata rendition of aarti back in the motherland. Oh, looks like you forgot to remove and burn that blonde wig. Woops.

Did you know this song was actually filmed at Oxford University? Watch the video carefully–the trimmed lawns and elegantly gated deer are from none other than Magdalen college! I only wonder what all the hip 60s British college students must have been thinking as they watched the filming take place…

-Mrs. 55

Mere Desh Ki Dharti Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Manoj Kumar Mere Desh Ki Dharti

The glory of India’s ancient heritage is celebrated in Manoj Kumar’s “Mere Desh Ki Dharti” from Upkar (1967).

In honor of the great beauty of India we present the patriotic lyrics and English translation of “Mere Desh Ki Dharti” from Upkar (1967). There are few songs that have attained the kind of beloved immortality found in the lyrics of “Mere Desh Ki Dharti.” A rousing declaration of love for the motherland, this song evokes nostalgia, nationalism, and an unwavering pride in traditional values that director Manoj Kumar advocated throughout his career. The film Upkar (1967) from which the song comes is one of many socially responsible movies pioneered by Manoj Kumar in that era–earning him the nickname Mr. Bharat! Like his other works Shaheed (1965), Purab Aur Paschim (1970), and Roti, Kapada, Aur Makaan (1974), Manoj Kumar sought to remind his audience of the beauty of the Indian way of life, of India’s rich history, and of the dangers Westernized modernity could pose to society.

As an interesting contrast to Dev Anand’s somewhat similarly themed-film Prem Pujari (1970), Upkar explores and glorifies the concept of the farmer-soldier, a loyal citizen who selflessly serves the motherland in any way she needs. The hero captures the spirit of self-sacrifice and patriotism in a way that has remained popular even today.

Manoj Kumar pays homage to the tricolor Indian flag in Upkar (1967).

So sure, it’s obviously a propaganda film (the idea of Upkar was after all modeled on Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shashtri’s slogan, “Jai Jawaan, Jai Kissan!“), but hearing the lyrics to this song rendered stirringly by Mahendra Kapoor, you can feel a true admiration and love for India. Fully understanding a translation of “Mere Desh Ki Dharti” can be quite difficult without some contextual knowledge of Indian history as it is filled with rich allusions and metaphors. I have attempted to explain some of them below each lyric (props to my father for filling in the gaps!) So please enjoy our full English translation to the lyrics of “Mere Desh Ki Dharti” below!

Mere Desh Ki Dharti Lyrics and Translation:

Mere desh ki dharti, sonaa ugale, ugale hiire, moti
The soil of my country is made of gold, diamonds, and pearls
Mere desh ki dharti…


Bailo.N ke gale mei.N jab ghungaruu, jeevan kaa raag sunaate hai
The bells around the necks of the bullocks chime to the melody of life
Gham kos duur ho jaataa hai, khushiio.N ke kamal musakaate hai.N
Sadness and regret go away, and joyous lotuses smile
Sun ke rahaT ki aawaaze, yuu.N lage kahii.N shahanaaii baje
Listening to the sounds of the waterwheels, it seems as if auspicous flutes are playing somewhere
Aate hii mast bahaaro.N ke dulhan ki tarah har khet saje
Every field adorns itself like a bride when the thrill of spring arrives
Mere desh ki dharti…

Jab chalte hai.N is dharti pe hal, mamtaa angadaaiiyaa.N leti hai.N
When ploughs till this land, the love of its mother is activated
Kyu.N na puje is maaTii ko, jo jeevan ka sukh deti hai?
Why would we not worship this soil that gives us the joy of life?
Is dharti pe jis ne janam liyaa, usne hii paayaa pyaar teraa
Whoever was born on this land, obtained your love
Yahaa.N apnaa paraayaa koii nahii.N, hai.N sab pe, Maa.N, upkaar teraa
Here there is no difference between a stranger and one of our own, for Mother, you are benevolent to all
Mere desh ki dharti…

Ye baagh hai.N Gautam Naanak ka, khilte hai.N aman ke phool yahaa.N
This is the garden of Bhudda and Guru Naanak, here bloom the flowers of peace
Gandhi, Subhaash, Tagore, Tilak, aise hai.N chaman ke phool yahaa.N
Gandhi, Subhash, Tagore, Tilak–these are the kinds of flowers of this garden
Rang haraa Hari Singh Nalwe se, rang laal hai Lal Bahadur se
Its green color is from Hari Singh Nalwa , and its red color is from Lal Bahadur
Rang banaa basanti Bhagat Singh, rang aman ka viir Jawaahar se
The color became saffron with Bhagat Singh and the color of peace (white) is from the brave Jawaahar
Mere desh ki dharti…

Glossary:

dharti: soil; hiire: diamonds; moti: pearl [in this case, a metaphor for agricultural treasures]; bail: bullock, ghungruu: bells; kamal: lotus; rahat: waterwheels; dulhan: bride; khet: field; hal: plough; maaTi: soil; paraayaa: stranger; upkaar: benevolence; baagh: garden; guatam: Buddha; Naanak: Guru Nanaak; aman: peace; Gandhi: Mahatma Gandhi; Subhaash: Subhash Chandra Bose; Tagore: Rajindernath Tagore; Tilak: Bal Gangadhar Tilak; rang: color [here is he describing the colors of the Indian Flag]; haraa: green; Hari Singh Nalwa: the commander in chief of the Sikh Emperor, Ranjit Singh; Lal Bahadur: Lal Badur Shastri, one of India’s late Prime Ministers; viir: brave; Jawaahar: Jawaaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister

As a brief aside to anyone learning Urdu-Hindi, defining the word “angaDaaii” can be complicated when taken out of context (besides also being hard to pronounce if you’re a non-native speaker!). AngaDaaii can be the stretch you take when you wake up in the morning, it can be the way a traditional wrestler slaps his thighs before hopping into a match. In essence, an angaDaaii is any kind of preparatory movement or action you would take before some event. It’s used quite loosely in Hindi songs and must be read in context to understand the full meaning of the line, so watch out for this trickster.

For more patriotic songs from classic Bollywood films, check out our English translation of “Aye Mere Pyare Watan” from Kabuliwala (1961) and “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna” from Shaheed (1963)!

– Mrs. 55