Mera Joota Hai Japani Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Raj Kapoor Shree 420 Charlie Chaplin

Raj Kapoor in his famous Charlie Chaplin incarnation from hit film Shree 420 (1955)

Today we showcase the lyrics and English translation of “Mera Joota Hai Japani” from Raj Kapoor’s Shree 420 (1955) to mark the occasion of India’s Independence Day! Shree 420 is truly a landmark film in Hindi cinema starring a legendary showman who became known from Bombay to Bulgaria. To understand the film and the ramifications of the enormously popular song of patriotism, “Mera Joota Hai Japani,” we turn to the context of the nation’s not-so-distant past.

When India awakened to independence from British rule in the summer of 1947, the country faced many barriers to united prosperity under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s integrated social programs. While the freedom for which it had fought for generations was now realized, the Partition divided the Northern boundary of the nation between Muslims and Hindus, bolstering a mutual fear and hatred that seeped into the many ethnically diverse major cities. There, in turn, a rapid industrialization ideologically distanced the surrounding villagers from the urbanites, and a booming economy further isolated and redefined the gentry and the working class. While the geographic and cultural bars of much of Southern India allowed for a lesser degree of revolution, the Northern states, especially in the metropolises like Bombay where Bollywood blossomed, underwent a dramatic change that was felt at some level by the majority of inhabitants. Some strove to achieve a balance between the traditions of old and the advantages of Westernization, others the romanticism of rural life versus modern city life, and as always, the penniless lower classes wished to close the widening economic gap between themselves and the teeming wealth of the industrialists. In this maze of contradictions and extremes, Nehru tried nobly to guide the nation into forming a unique identity of its own as it moved into the future.

Raj Kapoor phir bhi dil hair hindustani shree 420

Raj Kapoor famously reminds his audience that “Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani” in Shree 420 (1955).

The elaborate family dramas and mythologicals of pre-independence Bollywood, therefore, no longer completely satisfied the country’s cinematic needs. Raj Kapoor was among the major influential directors and actors that emerged in the early years of independence whose work changed the face of Indian film. With the surfacing of a new middle and lower class audience, he sought to restructure the accessibility and impact of Indian cinema. Raj Kapoor (whose self-proclaimed audience was the underdog and downtrodden) responded to the socio-economic tensions of Nehru’s India through highly stylistic proletariat films that glorified the virtuous poor. His Chaplin-esque comedic appeal and playful optimism made him an iconic figure domestically and across the Middle East and Soviet Union. As a director of many of the era’s greatest hits such as the classic comedy, Shree 420, he established in the 1950s what now seems to be the “formulaic” Bollywood film. His plots mingled wholesome entertainment with social tension, dramatic one-liners, catchy show tunes, and the invariable triumph of Indian purity in the poor over the decadent Westernized ways of the rich.

Shree 420 is the story of a young man, Raju, who wanders from the countryside to find opportunity in city society. With an innocent smile and optimism, he strolls down the street famously singing love for his homeland in “Mera Joota Hai Japani.” His humble cheerfulness and patriotic pride captures the spirit of Nehru’s hopes and ideals for the blooming nation of a newly independent India threatened by corruption. 420, the well-known number from which the film derives its title, is the Indian penal code for fraud and dishonesty, and foreshadows Raju’s discovery of the means to survive in “modern” society.

Raj Kapoor mera joota hai japani

Raj Kapoor hops on a camel with an old guy who doesn’t seem to mind in Shree 420 (1955)

Shree 420 was a milestone production under the R.K. Studios banner that was among the first to be produced, directed, and acted in by Raj Kapoor himself. The son of a widely respected and extremely wealthy actor of the previous era, Prithviraj Kapoor, Raj Kapoor was nurtured in the film industry and had little difficulty in starting his own company with a very liberal amount of freedom. Formed in 1946, R.K. Studios went on to create some of the most successful films of Indian cinema. With lyrics by Shailendra and the soulful voice of Mukesh, we hope you enjoy our English translation of the lyrics to one of the thespian’s most beloved solos, “Mera Joota Hai Japani!”

Mera Joota Hai Japani Lyrics and Translation:

Meraa juuta hai Japaanii, yeh patluun Englishtaanii
My shoes are Japanese, these pants are British
Sar pe laal topii Ruusi, phir bhi dil hai Hindustanii
On my head is a red Russian hat, nonetheless my heart is Indian

Nikal paDe hai khulii saDak par, apnaa seenaa taane
I set out upon the wide open road confidently
Manzil kahaa.N, kahaa.N ruknaa hai, uparwaalaa jaane
Where is my destination, where must I stop, only God knows
BaDhte jaaye.N hum sailaanii, jaise ek Dariyaa toofanii
We advance forward relentlessly, as if a hurricane in a river
Sar pe laal topi Ruusi phir bhi dil hai Hindustani
On my head is a red Russian hat, nonetheless my heart is Indian
Mera juuta hai Japaanii…

Uupar-niiche niiche-uupar, leher chale jeevan kii
High to low, low to high, the waves of life flow
Nadaa.N hai jo baiThe kinaare, puuchhe raah watan kii
Those who wait by the shore are naive, ask for the path toward the motherland
Chalna jeevan kii kahaanii, rukna maut kii nishaanii
Going is the story of life while stopping is a sign of death
Sar pe laal topi Ruusi phir bhi dil hai Hindustani
On my head is a red Russian hat, nonetheless my heart is Indian
Mera juuta hai Japaanii…

Ho.Nge raaje rajkanwar ham bigaDe dil shehzaade
I will become the prince of fallen hearts
Ham singhaasan par jaa baithe.N jab jab kare.N iraade.N
I will sit upon a throne whenever I desire
Surat hai jaani-pehchaanii, duniyaa walo.N ko hairanii
My face will become familiar, it will be a surprise to the world
Sar pe laal topi Ruusi phir bhi dil hai Hindustani
On my head is a red Russian hat, nonetheless my heart is Indian
Mera juuta hai Japaanii…


juuta: shoe; Japaanii: Japanese; patluun: pants; Englishtani: British; sar: head; laal: red; topii: hat; Ruusii: Russian; phir bhi: nonetheless; however; dil: heart; Hindustani: Indian; nikal paDnaa: to set out; khulii: open; saDak: road; seenaa taannaa: (literally) to puff out the chest with pride, confidently; manzil: destination; ruknaa: to stop; uparwaalaa: God, he who is above; sailaanii: relentlessly; Dariyaa: river; toofaan: hurricane; uupar: high; niiche: low; leher: wave; jeevan: life; nadaa.N: naive; foolish; baiThnaa: to sit; kinaaraa: shore; raah: path; watan: motherland; country; maut: death; nishaanii: sign, symbol; raajaa: king; rajkanwar: prince; bigaDnaa: to fall; shehzaadaa: prince; singhaasan: throne; iraadaa: desire; surat: face; jaan-pehchaan: familiar; hairaani: surprise

Rural India to city transition

Raj Kapoor elegantly transitions with a cross-fade from rural India to a bustling city at the end of “Mera Joota Hai Japani.”

In the 1960s Raj Kapoor would drop his former image of the lovable proletariat and direct movies that resonated as family dramas of the wealthy, an increasing surrender to commercialism. The socio-political atmosphere of India had changed, and with it, the wants of the people. Movies that emphasized the difficulties of the developing period of the nation, or the unforgiving nature of that society were not the sell-outs they once were. The transition to a new era was over.

– Mrs. 55


My fiance and I camel-spotting à la Raj Kapoor on our journey from New Delhi to Agra in a recent trip! Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani, as they say…

Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

kabhi kabhi shashi kapoor rakhee 3

Shashi Kapoor and Rakhee celebrate their wedding night with song in Kabhi Kabhi (1976).

Happy Valentine’s Day! In honor of the occasion, we present the lyrics and full English translation to one of the great love poems of Hindi films: “Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein” from the 1976 star-studded mega-hit Kabhi Kabhi.

Penned by that evergreen poet Sahir Ludhianvi, “Kabhi Kabhi” remains on top of any list of Bollywood love songs. The lyrics are written from the heart in adoration of a woman on a couple’s wedding night. The song is reflective and gentle, but bursting with a beautiful excitement of what lies ahead. Kabhi Kabhi revolves around the love affairs of the protagonists and their effects on the next generation. The ageless devotion expressed in this song continues to evolve and evoke new meanings as the film progresses from one revelation to the next.

An interesting aspect of this song is that it is sung from a male perspective by a female heroine (after all, the song was dedicated to her in the first place by Amitabh Bachchan!) Lines like “Suhaag raat hai, ghunghaT uTaa rahaa hoo.N mai.N” evoke tragic irony as Rakhee feels her veil lifted by a man she does not love. Similarly, the final line “Mai.N jaantaa huu.N ki tuu gher hai, magar yuu.N hii” can be interpreted as both as an understanding that husband and wife still must get to know one another, but also as Amitabh Bachhan accepting that Rakhee now belongs to someone else. And just further to wring your heart, blind-to-reality Shashi Kapoor insists to her that if they ever meet the great poet who wrote these words, they must thank him for being with them on their wedding night. (Naturally, they all do meet up somehow–and it’s every bit a circus you can imagine!)

kabhi kabhi shashi kapoor rakhee 2

Rakhee sings from the anthology of poems written by a former lover in Kabhi Kabhi (1976).

You don’t need to know or appreciate the background of this song to fall head over heels for its melody and blissful lyrics. So celebrate the love in your life and enjoy our English translation of “Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein” below!

Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein Lyrics and Translation:


Kabhi kabhi mere dil mei.N khayaal aataa hai
Sometimes this thought enters my heart


Kabhi kabhi mere dil mei.N khayaal aataa hai
Sometimes this thought enters my heart
Ki jaise tujhko banaayaa gaya hai mere liye
That you were created only for me
Tu ab se pehle sitaaro.n mei.N bas rahii thii kahii.N
Before now you lived somewhere among the stars
Tujhe zameen pe bulaayaa gayaa hai mere liye
You were called to earth only for me

Kabhi kabhi mere dil mei.N khayaal aataa hai
Sometimes this thought enters my heart
Ki yeh badan, yeh nigaahe.N merii amaanat hai.N
That this body and these eyes belong to me
Yeh gesuuo.N kii ghanii chaao.N hai.N merii khaatir
These dark shadows of your hair are for me alone
Yeh honTh aur yeh baahe.N meri amaanat hai.N
These lips and these arms belong to me

Kabhi kabhi mere dil mei.N khayaal aataa hai
Sometimes this thought enters my heart
Ki jaise bajatii hai shahanaaiiaa.N sii raaho.N mei.N
As if wedding music is being played in the streets


Suhaag raat hai, ghunghaT uTaa rahaa huu.N mai.N
It is our wedding night, I am lifting your veil


Suhaag raat hai, ghunghaT uTaa rahaa huu.N mai.N
It is our wedding night, I am lifting your veil
SimaT rahii hai tuu sharmaake apne baaho.N mei.N
You shyly blush as I wrap you in my arms

Kabhi kabhi mere dil mei.N khayaal aataa hai
Sometimes this thought enters my heart
Ki jaise tuu mujhe chaahegii umr bhar yuu.N hii
That you will love me forever like this
UThegii merii taraf pyaar kii nazar yuu.N hii
That you will always lift this loving gaze to me


Mai.N jaantaa huu.N ki tuu gher hai magar yuu.N hii
I know you are still a stranger, however
Kabhi kabhi mere dil mei.N khayaal aataa hai
Sometimes this thought enters my heart


kabhi kabhi: sometimes, from time to time; khayaal: thought; sitaaraa: star; zameen: earth; badan: body; nigaahe.N: glances, eyes; amaanat: property; gesuu: hair; ghanii: dark; chaao.N: shadow; [kisii kii] khatir: [for someone’s] sake; honTh; lips; baahe.N: arms; amaanat: belonging; shahanaaii: a wind instrument usually played at weddings; raah: path, streets; suhaag raat: wedding night; ghunghaT: veil; sharmaanaa: to become shy; umr bhar: whole life; [kisii kii] taraf: [in someone’s] direction; gher: stranger

kabhi kabhi shashi kapoor rakhee 4

By the end of “Kabhi Kabhi”, the already awkward suhaag raat scene inevitably becomes more awkward.

This special Valentine’s day post is dedicated to my fiancé! It’s been two years since we’ve been together and I’ve loved every moment. Thank you for putting up with my singing old Lata songs outside my range while you’re trying to study, and for finally appreciating the epicness that is Mughal-e-Azam!


My adorable fiancé and I met at as undergrads at Harvard where he was in the class ahead of me. He proposed two years later, and now we’re busy planning the wedding!

– Mrs. 55

Dam Bhar Jo Udhar Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Raj Kapoor and Nargis Awara Dum Bhar Jo Udhar

Raj Kapoor and Nargis huddle together on a love-boat in Awaara (1951).

Our next lyrics and English translation is of the great love duet “Dum Bhar Jo Udhar” from the film Awaara (1951). It’s practically impossible to not love this song. Raj Kapoor plays an underworld criminal who falls for the wealthy ward of a rich judge played by his favorite leading lady Nargis. The film launched both of their careers to mega-stardom and for good reason. Packed with musical gems like the evergreen “Awaara Hoon” or “Ghar Aaya Mera Pardesi,” the film is a scathing social drama that weaves Raj Kapoor’s own respectable father, Prithviraj Kapoor, into the heart of its scandalous and surprising twist. The film was so well-received and brilliantly made that it was nominated for a Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1953! Propelled by a tempting bad-boy with a tragic past storyline, the film arguably contains the greatest performance of Raj Kapoor’s career. Awaara is a historical and artistic must-see!

Dum Bhar Jo Udhar” is a Mukesh-Lata duet sung on a small boat in the middle of the night. Shailendra’s lyrics embody a theme common in Hindi films, which emphasizes the shyness of the woman and the boldness of the man. Both man and woman address the only other witness to their tryst–the beautiful moon above. However, the woman begs the moon to look away and not make her feel shy, while the man eagerly urges the moon to shine upon him and witness their love blossom. The importance of moon imagery in Urdu-Hindi poetry is legendary–most often taking the form of a feminine metaphor that epitomizes beauty. In this case, however, the playful moon evokes the male gaze as a trusty ally to the hero and a source of embarrassment to the heroine. It’s so adorable I could squirm.

Nargis Awaara Dum Bhar Jo Udhar

The eternally lovely Nargis glows in the moonlight in Awaara (1951).

Here are the full lyrics and English translation to “Dum Bhar jo Udhar” from Awaara (1951). Enjoy our interpretation of the song’s meaning and follow along on youtube with this link!

Dam Bhar Jo Udhar Lyrics and Translation


Dam bhar jo udhar muu.N phere, O Chandaa
O Moon, if you would turn your face away for one moment
Mai.N unse pyaar kar luu.Ngii
I will make love to him
Baate.N hazaar kar luu.Ngii
I will say a thousand things to him

Dil kartaa hai pyaar ke sajade
My heart has prayed for such love
Aur mai.N bhii unke saath
And now I am with him
Chaand ko chandaa roz hii dekhe
The moon sees moonlight every day
Merii pehlii raat, ho, merii pehlii raat
But this is my first night, oh, this is my first night!
Baadal mei.N ab chhup jaa re! O Chandaa
Now go hide in the clouds, O Moon!
Mai.N unse pyaar kar luu.Ngii
For I will make love to him
Baate.N hazaar kar luu.Ngii
I will say a thousand things to him


Dam bhar jo idhar muu.N phere, O Chandaa
O Moon, if you would turn your face here for one moment
Mai.N unse pyaar kar luu.Ngaa
I will make love to her
Nazare.N do-chaar kar luu.Ngaa
I will steal a few glances from her

Mai.N chor hoo.N kaam hai chorii
I am a thief, and my job is to steal
Duniyaa mei.N hoo.N badnaam
I am dishonored in society
Dil ko churaataa aayaa hoo.N mai.N
I have come to steal your heart
Yehii meraa kaam, ho, yehii meraa kaam
This alone is my job
Aanaa tuu gavaahi dene, O Chandaa
You must come and be a witness, O Moon
Mai.N unse pyaar kar luu.Ngaa
For I will make love to her
Nazare.N do chaar kar luu.Ngaa
I will steal a few glances from her


Dil ko churaake kho mat jaanaa
Do not steal my heart and then become lost
Raah na jaanaa bhool
Do not forget your way back to me
In qadmo.n se kuchal na denaa
Do not crush with your footsteps
Mere dil kaa phool, ho, mere dil kaa phool
The flower of my heart, oh, the flower of my heart!
Yeh baat unhe.N samjhaa de, O Chanda
You make him understand this, O Moon
Mai.N unse pyaar kar luu.Ngii
I will make love to him
Baate.N hazaar kar luu.Ngii
I will say a thousand things to him


dam bhar: one full moment; udhar: in that direction; muu.N: face; pherna: to turn; hazaar: a thousand; pehlii; first; baadal: clouds; idhar: in this direction, here; do-chaar: a few; badnaam: a person of ill-repute; gavaahi denaa: to serve as witness; raah: path, way; qadam: footsteps; kuchal dena: to crush; phool: flower; samjhaa denaa: to make [someone] understand

Now before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, let’s just talk briefly about the phrase “Mai.N unse pyaar kar luu.Ngii” and what that really means. I have translated it somewhat literally for simplicity’s sake as “I will make love to him,” but that phrase in English carries with it more physical connotations than what it means in this context. Although the verb “pyaar karna” means simply “to love” as in the general English sense, the way it is used in this song carries a more immediate sense of both action and personal gain–by adding the coloring verb “lena” (“to take”), the phrase now implies that the girl is about to do something for her own benefit. We can safely say that these lyrics are not a prelude to actual Victorian “love-making” on that rocky boat of theirs, but rather an expression of desire and courtship. When she says, “Mai.N unse pyaar kar luu.Ngii,” I argue that this means no more than whispering sweet nothings, holding hands, stealing glances, and other forms of expressing tenderness and passion short of actually “making love.” See my point? And don’t let Nargis’ pole dancing throw you off.

Nargis pole dancing awaara

Yeah, no seriously I wasn’t kidding. Nargis takes the phrase “pole-dance” to a whole new level in Awaara (1951).

You know what’s really great about this movie? The fact that ages before women were given anything close to social equality, Nargis plays a powerful lawyer who ends up bringing justice to her lover Raj Kapoor. She stands strong in a court filled with men, and really makes us all proud. Granted, she’s really rich and let’s Raj Kapoor SLAP her in a different scene (kill me now), but we can appreciate what she stood for at least in that regard. It’s one of the best courtroom scenes of the industry! This song was requested by die-hard fan lalten–hope you enjoyed!

– Mrs. 55

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


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

Diwali Songs from Classic Bollywood

Happy Diwali! For all our readers and fans observing the occasion, what could be better than a list of 10 classic Bollywood Diwali songs to enjoy over the celebrations today? For a country of over 1 billion Hindus and an industry that absolutely loves to celebrate any kind of occasion with song and dance, Bollywood has a surprisingly low number of Diwali songs in its films. I mean, think about it–Diwali is the country’s largest national holiday, lends itself brilliantly to poetry (festival of lights imagery, the story of the Ramayan, etc.), and is practically bound to succeed by virtue of having very little with which to compete. People are aching for these songs, yet they hardly exist–much less ones worth hearing over and over.

Dharmendra Jugnu Diwali

Dharmendra celebrates Diwali with fireworks and song in Jugnu (1973).

To be sure, plenty of great Diwali bhajans exist outside the realm of Bollywood (look no further than Tulsidas classic “Shri Ram Chandra”), many of which have excellent covers by our favorite playback singers. But within the films? The pickings are slim. I’ve got a theory as to why this might be the case. Let us consider the example of Christmas as we know it in America. When we think of great Christmas jingles, the songs we name predominantly come from hit singers or church traditions–with only a few actually having made it to popular culture from films, despite Hollywood having had a long and successful musical film movement (Judy Garland’s gorgeous “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” comes to mind).

So perhaps Bollywood is no different. Because singing a song about Diwali actually requires Diwali to be a major part of the plot, the happy coincidence rarely occurred–much less with the good fortune of also having been a brilliant composition. Furthermore, celebrations like Holi, for which we can name at least a handful of terrific Bollywood songs, actually lend themselves much better to an upbeat and colorful party on-screen–so musical composition could be a bit more relaxed. With Diwali, you’re treading on sacred ground–and why mess with something that non-filmi bhajans do way better anyway?

Still, a few intrepid pioneers prevailed, and while some are more memorable than others, you’ll find plenty of hidden gems! Below find our list of 10 classic Bollywood Diwali songs that will get the festivities started old-school style! Click the song names to get to the link to youtube.

10 Classic Bollywood Diwali Songs:

1. Kaise Diwali Manaye Lala (Mohammed Rafi, Paigham 1959)

Be prepared from some ridiculous Johnny Walker antics, but a fun dance beat to get your spirits up!

2. Aayi Ab Ke Saal Diwali (Lata Mangeshkar, Haqeeqat 1965)

On a somber note, this haunting Lata Mangeshkar melody from war epic Haqeeqat is a stark reminder of families in grieving this time of year.

3. Is Raat Diwali Kaise (Mohammed Rafi, Shamshad Begum, & Asha Bhonsle, Sabse Bada Rupaiya 1955)

Oh, what?! A Diwali qawwali?! SIGN ME UP! A peppy song describing Diwali festivities sung in traditional qawwali style that gets you clapping along.

4. Laakhon Taare Aasman Mein (Mukesh and Lata, Hariyali Aur Raasta 1962)

Another tragic lovers-separated-on-Diwali-night song starring Manoj Kumar and Mala Sinha, but the melody is sweet and watching Manoj Kumar mope is never such a bad thing. The Lata-Mukesh chemistry works well as always!

5. Jagmati Diwali Ki Raat Aa Gayi (Asha Bhonsle, Stage 1951)

We’re really getting old-school with this one. It’s a rare early song that sounds more like Geeta Dutt than Asha Bhonsle to me. It builds to a frenzy at the end that’s kind of exciting!

6. Deep Diwale Ke (Kishore Kumar, Jugnu 1973)

This may be one of the more popular Diwali songs on our list–sung by lively Kishore Kumar and picturized on Dharmendra with a bunch of happy school kids, you can’t go wrong!

7. Ek Woh Bhi Diwali Thi (Mukesh, Nazrana 1961)

For some balance, here’s another sad song by the inimitable Mukesh-Raj Kapoor duo. Everyone is having a grand time outside partying with sparklers, while moody Raj Kapoor broods upon the days that once were.

8. Deep Jalenge Deep Diwali Aayi Ho (Geeta Dutt, Paisa 1957)

As a connoisseur of Geeta Dutt obscurities, I love this song. With a joyous melody and that gentle lulling voice, it’s one of the better gems on this list!

9. Mele Hain Chiragon Ke Rangeen Ki Diwali Hai (Lata, Nazrana, 1961)

This would be the “happy version” counterpoint to the Raj Kapoor tragedy from earlier. You can see why Raj Kapoor is sad these days are over–everyone’s having a grand old time and it doesn’t hurt to have the voice of a goddess Lata to back you up!

10. Aayi Hai Diwali (Geeta Dutt and Shamshad Begum, Sheesh Mahal 1950)

Another early period Diwali song–and a duet no less! The whole household is bustling with activity and women all over join the chorus for the celebrations!

Even sexy song siren Helen puts on her serious face for a Diwali moment in Lahu Ke Do Rang (1979).

Here are two bonus tracks for extra thrills:

11. Aayi Diwali (Zohrabai Ambalewali, Rattan 1944)

The oldest song on our list! And of course, it’s a Greek tragedy–but rare and exciting for any fans of early early Bollywood. Before the days of Lata Mangeshkar, 1940s playback singer Zohrabai Ambalewali turned music director Naushad into an overnight sensation with this hit!

12. Jyot Se Jyot Jagate Chalo (the exciting Lata version! Sant Gyaneshwar, 1964)

OK, so this song might not be *technically* a Diwali song per se, but it’s thematically spot-on! And I just discovered the Lata Mangeshkar version to compliment the Mukesh version, which I had thought existed in isolation. I can’t believe I did not know about this sooner, I’m so happy right now!

This Diwali special was brought in by request from one of our favorite readers muskaan. We wish everyone a joyous Diwali and a prosperous year ahead!

– Mrs. 55