In Aankhon Ki Masti Ke Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Rekha gives a career-defining performance as a courtesan and poetess in Umrao Jaan (1981)

I recently rewatched Muzaffar Ali’s masterpiece Umrao Jaan (1981), a film that is so brilliantly crafted that it deserves multiple posts on this blog like Pakeezah and Mughal-e-AzamThe film is based on an Urdu novel written by Mirza Muhammad Hadi Ruswa that recounts the life of one of South Asia’s most influential literary figures: Umrao Jaan. Born in Faizabad, a young girl named Amiran is kidnapped and sold to a brothel in Lucknow. As she grows older, Amiran is grooomed by the brothel’s madam until she becomes Umrao Jaan (played by Rekha), one of Lucknow’s most desirable courtesans.  Misfortune after misfortune falls upon Umrao Jaan, but the film ultimately portrays her as a resilient woman whose beautiful mujras and poetry serve as a lasting legacy to her indomitable spirit.

In addition to Rekha’s stunning performance as the tawaif Umrao Jaan, this film is especially memorable for its portrayal of the richness of Lucknow’s cultural heritage. The indulgent life of nawaabs around the turn of 20th century is visually apparent in the film’s costumes, artwork, and set design, but the luxurious atmosphere in the film is taken to a new level by the soundtrack composed by Khayyam and penned by Shahryar. Here, I’ve chosen to translate one of the unforgettable mujra numbers from this film: in aa.nkho.n kii mastii.

She’s not lying when she says her eyes are intoxicating…

In this song, Umrao Jaan engages in some self-indulgent vanity. She mildly chides her lover Nawab Sultan (played by Farooq Shaikh) by saying there are thousands of other madmen in Lucknow that admire her charm and beauty. In the third verse, she continues to brag by saying that all the taverns in the world cannot serve wine as intoxicating as the wine that she serves from her glances. Finally, in the last verse, Umrao makes a warning against those that attempt to suppress her grandeur using a common symbol found in Urdu-Hindi poetry: the moth. Like moths to a flame, she claims that there are thousands of admirers in the city who would sacrifice their lives to protect her. The poetry in this song is not overly complex, but there is a subtle beauty to it that is enhanced by Asha Bhonsle’s beautiful rendition and Rekha’s graceful expressions on screen. I managed to find a very high-quality print of this song on YouTube, so please do watch the link provided above and follow along with the translation/glossary–enjoy!

–Mr. 55

P.S. Whatever you do, please do not waste three hours of your life (like I did) watching J.P. Dutta’s 2006 remake of this movie starring Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bacchan. It is a travesty of a film that completely disrespects the beauty of the original. I think one of the worst parts is the atrocious Urdu pronunciations. I mean, even I can get the guttural khe sound right when I say “khudaa haafiz,” and they don’t pay me the big bucks. Why can’t Aishwarya or Abhishek? And let’s not even get started on Anu Malik’s tired and stale soundtrack…

The camera adds to the meaning of the lyrics here by bringing candles into the shot when Rekha sings “is shamm-e-farozaa.n…

In Aankhon Ki Masti Ke Lyrics and Translation

in aa.nkho.n kii mastii ke mastaane hazaaro.n hai.n
The intoxicating beauty of these eyes attracts thousands of admirers. 
in aa.nkho.n se vaabastaa afsaane hazaaro.n hai.n
Indeed, there are thousands of stories associated with these eyes. 

ek tum hii nahii.n tanhaa ulfat me.n merii rusvaa
You are not the only one disgraced by your love for me, 
is shahar me.n tum jaise diivaane hazaaro.n hai.n
There are thousands of madmen like you in this city.

ek sirf ham hii mai ko aa.nkho.n se pilaate hai.n
It is only I who can serve you wine with my eyes, 
kahne ko to duniyaa me.n maikhaane hazaaro.n hai.n
Though it is said that there are thousands of taverns in this world.

is shamm-e-farozaa.n ko aa.ndhii se Daraate ho
Although you attempt to scare this bright candle with a storm,
is shamm-e-farozaa.n ke parvaane hazaaro.n hai.n
The light from this candle attracts thousands of moths. 

in aa.nkho.n kii mastii ke mastaane hazaaro.n hai.n
The intoxicating beauty of these eyes attracts thousands of admirers. 

Glossary

mastii: intoxication; mastaane: admirers; vaabasta: associated with; ulfat: love; rusvaa: disgraced; mai: wine; maikhaane: taverns; shamm-e-farozaa.n: bright candle; aa.ndhii: storm; parvaane: moths.

Farooq Shaikh, as Nawab Sultan, watches the mujra in admiration.

Chalte Chalte Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Meena Kumar shines as Pakeezah in the beloved mujra song "Chalte Chalte."

Meena Kumar shines as the golden-hearted Pakeezah in the beloved mujra song “Chalte Chalte.”

For our next song, we provide an English translation of the timeless lyrics of Pakeezah’sChalte Chalte.” The film Pakeezah (1971) instantly reached legendary Bollywood status upon its release, due in part to the ethereal musical score, brilliant Urdu dialogue, lavish sets, but also from its star Meena Kumari’s untimely death within a week of the premiere. This song is known everywhere, and the beauty of Meena and Lata’s performance truly speaks for itself. My parents have old home videos of 4-year-old me draping a chunni on my head and attempting to dance and sing along with her during this song. It’s hard to put that kind of impact into words, but you can tell it’s profound.

Anyway.

Meena Kumari dazzles her audience with “Chalte Chalte” in Pakeezah (1971)

An interesting facet of this song is the interwoven theme of the train ride. For anyone familiar with film theory, “the train” has a fascinating and critically important role in cinematic history across the globe. Likened to films themselves, the train transports you to a different world and takes you on a brief journey that can leave you different from when you started. It is a theme heavily explored by early French filmmakers first experimenting with the medium (you may remember the loving references to the Lumiere brother’s Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station (1895) in Hugo!), and in Indian cinema, trains play no less an important role. Like Satyajit Ray’s famous Pather Panchali (1955) which pivoted on the introduction of a train whistle across the quiet sugarcane fields, so too does the world of Pakeezah hinge on the sound of a distant train whistle incorporated into the score at the end of the song. For trains can represent that journey from tradition to modernity, from reality to fantasy, and for Pakeezah as well as Kamal Amrohi’s viewers entering a hidden, dying world of ornamentation, the train is a vehicle of escape.

Gesturing to the moon, Meena Kumari waits for her mysterious admirer to find her again in Pakeezah (1971)

“Chalte Chalte” will absolutely leave you wishing for more, so make sure you watch the movie if you ever want to claim cultural competency. To read more about this film, check out our post on behind-the-scenes Pakeezah trivia! Enjoy our full lyrics and English translation to “Chalte Chalte” below!

Chalte Chalte Lyrics and Translation:

Chalte chalte yuu.N hii koi mil gaya tha
I met someone by chance while walking
Sare raah chalte chalte
Walking around the path
Wohii thamke rah gayii hai
The night suddenly came to a standstill
Meri raat dhalte dhalte
Just as it was about to fade away

Jo kahii gayii na mujhse
What I was unable to voice
Woh zamaanaa keh rahaa hai
The world is now saying
Ki fasaanaa ban gayii hai
That a fable has been created
Meri baat talte talte
From those words which evaded me

Shab-e-intezaar aakhir kabhi hogi mukhtasar bhi
That night of waiting will after all shorten soon
Yeh chiraag bhuj rahi hai
These lamps are dying
Mere saath jalte jalte
As they burn alongside me

Glossary:

raah: path; zamaanaa: the world; fasaanaa: fable, legend; baat: words, incident, matter; talna: to evade, to escape; shab-e-intezaar: night of waiting; mukhtasar: short, soon; chiraag: flame

The production value of this film is ridiculous.

It’s always slightly bothered me that after the first antra the two back-up dancers start twirling, and after the second turn, get completely off-sync since the genius on the right goes a little too fast for the music. Kamal Amrohi cuts quickly to the next shot when this starts happening, so you might say it’s not a huge deal per se, but for someone who was such a neurotic perfectionist, how did this slip by him? It just gets to me every time. Or am I over-thinking this?

-Mrs. 55