Ramaiya Vastavaiya Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Raj Kapoor Nadira Shree 420
In a classic example of a dutch angle, Raj Kapoor recoils from the snake-like Nadira in Shree 420 (1955).

Today we present the lyrics and English translation of the famous “Ramaiya Vastavaiya” from Raj Kapoor’s 1955 blockbuster Shree 420. One of the most priceless gems of India’s Golden Age of Cinema, Shree 420 is a showman’s dream. In an era when the aesthetic of film was still an experimental playground, Raj Kapoor’s Shree 420 is as original and evocative as it was 60 years ago.

Raju, played by Raj Kapoor himself, arrives in Bombay as a patriotic simpleton crooning “Mera Joota Hai Japani.” In a pawnshop, Raju encounters Vidya (played by Nargis, in her final romantic appearance opposite Raj Kapoor under his banner production company), a pretty teacher who is selling her bangles to help pay for her struggling school (and whose name redundantly means “knowledge.”) For the next few weeks, Raju works hard to both earn a decent living at a laundry service and to woo the principled Vidya, dreaming of a simple and happy future family.

However, this utopian simplicity does not last long. When Raju delivers some pressed shirts to a wealthy flat, he meets Maya (whose name significantly means “illusion”), a high society woman who thrives on parties and gambling with the rich. She recognizes Raju’s untapped potential as a cunning cardshark, and lures him to a fancy soiree where she introduces him as Rajkumar, the Prince of Pipalinagar, of all things ridiculous. This brief taste of luxury and easy money leads Raju to agree to form a partnership with the corrupt industrialist Seth Dharamanand, bringing him instant wealth.

But Raju’s whirlwind romance with high Bombay society is stained by the shame Vidhya instills in him for his actions, and one night at the nightclub, he sees Maya and her world of illusion for what they truly are. He runs away in horror back to the slums that once gave him a home. Enter the song “Ramaiya Vastavaiya,” a cute villager number complete with chorus girls in native dress and a heavy-handed reminder that yes, poor people can be happy too.

Nargis Shree 420 ramaiya vastavaiya
Nargis plays a virtuous, impoverished schoolteacher who struggles to give her students a better life in Shree 420 (1955).

Of course, the question you really want answered is, what the heck does “Ramaiya vastavaiya” mean?

It turns out Ramaiya vastavaiya is Telegu for respectfully asking, “Ram, won’t you come?” Legend has it that music composer Shankar Singh Raghuvanshi, who grew up in Hyderabad where Telugu is a dominant language, had been demonstrating his composition to director Raj Kapoor using placeholder Telugu lyrics. When Raj Kapoor heard the tune, he loved it so much, he wanted the Telugu title lyrics to be included in the final version! And perhaps the convenient symbolism did not escape Raj Kapoor–like Lord Ram returning at last to his kingdom, Raju finally comes back to the people who love him and his true home.

But all that aside, the real reason everyone has adored “Ramaiya Vastavaiya” for generations is simply that it’s so darn catchy. If you hear it once, you’ll be humming it all day! We hope you enjoy our English translation to the lyrics of this all-time favorite below. Follow along with the video and let us know in the comments how much your mind was blown like ours by the discovery of Ramaiya vastavaiya‘s Telugu roots.

Ramaiya Vastavaiya Lyrics and English Translation:

Mohammed Rafi:
Ramayyaa vastaavayyaa, ramayyaa vastaavayyaa
Ram, will you return?
Lata Mangeshkar:
Mai.N ne dil tujhko diyaa
I have given you my heart
Chorus:
Haa.N ramayyaa vastaavayyaa, ramayyaa vastaavayyaa
Yes, Ram, will you return?
Mai.N ne dil tujhko diyaa
I have given you my heart

village girl
Dancer Sheela Vaz plays a stock village girl with all the right morals in Shree 420 (1955). While shooting the song, Sheila Vaz, who did not speak Hindi, studied a translation of “Ramaiya Vastavaiya” and faked it till she made it!

Mohammed Rafi:
Naino.N mei.N thii pyaar kii roshnii
In your eyes was the light of love
Teri aankho.N me yeh duniyaadaari na thii
This worldliness was not in your eyes then
Lata Mangeshkar:
Tu aur thaa teraa dil aur thaa
You were different, your heart was different
Tere man mei.N yeh miThi kaTaari na thii
This sweet dagger was not in your heart then
Mohammed Rafi:
Mai.n jo dukh paauu.N, to kyaa? Aaj pachhataauu.N, to kyaa?
If I become sad, so what? If I regret today, so what?
Chorus:
Maine dil tujhko diyaa
I have given you my heart
Oh ramayyaa vastaavayyaa, ramayyaa vastaavayyaa
Oh, Ram, will you return?

Mohammed Rafi:
Us desh mei.N tere pardes mei.N
In that country, in your foreign land
Sone chaa.Ndi ke badle mei.N bhikate hai.N dil
Instead of gold and silver, they sell hearts
Lata Mangeshkar:
Is gaao.N mei.N, dard ki chhaao.N mei.N
In this village, in the shadow of pain
Pyaar ke naam par hii dhaDakte hai.N dil
Hearts beat only in the name of love
Chaand taaro.N ke tale, raat yeh gaatii chale
In the tent of the moon and stars, the night sings this songs
Maine dil tujhko diyaa
I have given you my heart
Chorus:
Oh ramayyaa vastaavayyaa, ramayyaa vastaavayyaa
Oh, Ram, will you return?

Nargis Shree 420 ramaiya vastavaiya
Joining in on the song playing on everyone’s lips in town, Nargis mourns for her lost love in Shree 420 (1955).

Lata Mangeshkar:
Yaad aati rahii dil dukhaati rahii
I still remember you, my hearts still grieves
Apne man ko manaanaa na aayaa hame.N
But I do not know how to conciliate my own mind
Tu na aaye to kyaa? Bhuul jaaye, to kyaa?
If you do not come, so what? If you forget, so what?
Pyaar karke bhulaanaa na aayaa hame.N
But having fallen in love, I do not know how to make myself forget
Wohii se duur se hii, tu bhi yeh keh de kabhii
Even from far away, say this sometime
Maine dil tujhko diyaa
I have given you my heart
Chorus:
Oh ramayyaa vastaavayyaa, ramayyaa vastaavayyaa
Oh, Ram, will you return?
Mukesh:
Maine dil tujhko diyaa
I have given you my heart
Chorus:
Oh ramayyaa vastaavayyaa, ramayyaa vastaavayyaa
Oh, Ram, will you return?

Raj Kapoor Ramaiya Vastavaiya Shree 420
Embodying the return of Lord Ram, Raj Kapoor leaves the glitzy world of Bombay nightlife to engage a captive audience of villagers in Shree 420 (1955).

Mukesh:
Rastaa wohii aur musaafir wohii
The path is the same and the traveler is the same
Ek taaraa na jaane kahaa.N chhup gayaa
But I do not know where that star has hidden itself
Duniyaa wohii duniyaawaale wohii
The society is the same, the citizens are the same
Koi kyaa jaane kiskaa jahaa.N luT gayaa
No one knows whose world has been destroyed
Merii aankho mei.N rahe, kaun jo mujh se kahe?
Who once told me to remain forever in their eyes?
Maine dil tujhko diyaa
I have given you my heart
Chorus:
Oh ramayyaa vastaavayyaa, ramayyaa vastaavayyaa
Oh, Ram, will you return?

Glossary:

Ramya vastavaiyaa: Ram, will you come (Telugu); dil: heart; nain: eyes; pyaar: love; roshnii: light; aankhe.N: eyes; duniyaadaari: wordliness; man: mind; heart; miiThaa: sweet; kaTaarii: small dagger; dukh: sadness; pacchtaanaa: to regret; desh: country (India); pardes: foreign country; sonaa: gold; chaa.Ndii: silver; [kisi ke] badle mei.N: in place of [something]; bhiktaanaa: to sell; gaao.N: village; dard: pain; chaao.N: shadow; naam: name: dhaDaknaa: [the heart] to beat; chaa.Nd: moon; taaraa: star; raat: night; gaanaa: to sing; yaad aanaa: to remember; dukhaanaa: to grieve; manaanaa: to conciliate, to cajole; bhuul jaanaa: to forget; bhuulaanaa: to make [someone] forget; duur: far away; kabhii: sometime; rastaa: path; musaafir: traveler; chhup jaanaa: to hide; duniyaa: society, the world; duniyaawaale: citizens; jahaa.N: world; luT gayaa: destroyed

Lalita Pawar Raj Kapoor Shree420
With motherly affection, Lalita Pawar welcomes Raj Kapoor back to the fold with open arms in Shree 420 (1955).

The moral dilemma that plagues Raju’s existence eventually comes to a climax when Seth Dharamanand, Maya, and Raju are incriminated for swindling money from the poor to build communal houses. Seeking to atone for the past, Raju address the scores of poor people awaiting a home. Perhaps it is impossible to build houses for each person individually, he says, but they are a group of a million people, now united, and if they go to the government and demand land, they have the power to build their own homes with their combined money. The cure to poverty for the nation, he preaches, is not dishonesty, but hard-work and determination. Raju is released from his charges, and returns to the lifestyle of an honest workingman as he began, joined by Vidya who has forgiven him. The film finishes, humbled and hopeful, with the two heading down the road of life together.

Thank you to our fans Mustafa and Onima Thakur for this inspiring request!

-Mrs. 55

P.S. Be sure to watch the music video of this song and appreciate Raj Kapoor’s novel song transitions! Halfway through the song, the camera tracks “Ramaiya Vastavaiya” as it is picked up from the dancing villager’s circle by a passing horse carriage, overheard by a bicyclist, who carries the melody to Nargis sitting alone miles away, thereby fluidly retaining the realism of the sequence. Song transitions were still uncharted territory in this infant age of cinema–and Raj Kapoor, like the the great Guru Dutt, was a genius and pioneer. OK, OK I promise that’s the last thing I’m going to say about this song–but seriously, every scene in this movie is a film-lover’s gold mine!

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Panchhi Banoon Udti Phiroon Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Nargis
Nargis frees a bird from its cage in a symbolic representation of her unfettered joy in Chori Chori (1956)

I have some good news to share with our readers: I was recently accepted to my top-choice medical school and I will be matriculating there this fall! To celebrate this momentous occasion in my life, I am providing the lyrics and English translation to one of Bollywood’s most memorable feel-good numbers from Chori Chori (1956): panchhii banuu.n uDtii phiruu.n. 

Adapted from Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night (1932), Chori Chori (1956) narrates the story of a wealthy socialite (played by Nargis) who flees her home when her father objects to her decision to marry a pilot with a reputation for womanizing and greed. En route to Bangalore, Nargis encounters Raj Kapoor, a journalist hoping to scoop this exciting story about an heiress on the run. Throughout the course of their journey, the initial bickering and animosity between Raj Kapoor and Nargis gradually transforms into love.  This film’s most memorable asset is the on-screen chemistry shared by Raj Kapoor and Nargis, who were involved in a real-life affair that became the talk of the town in the Bollywood industry during this era. 

Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable star in It Happened One Night (1932).

Placed into the context of the film, panchhii banuu.n uDtii phiruu.n sung by Lata Mangeshkar is picturized on Nargis as she basks in her newfound freedom after running away from home. Composed by Shankar-Jaikishan and penned by Hasrat Jaipuri, this song is inspired by a traditional Scottish standard calledComin’ Thro’ the Rye.” In addition to its Western influences, Hindustani classical music buffs may also argue that this melody is based on the pentatonic Raga Bhupali. Indeed, the diversity of musical influences found in the Chori Chori soundtrack make this one of Shankar-Jaikishan’s most treasured scores. From classical (“rasik balma“) to folk (“man bhaavan ke ghar“) to Western (“aajaa sanam madhur chaa.ndnii“), the compositions in Chori Chori are remarkable for their technical quality and popular appeal. It is no surprise that Shankar-Jaikishan received a well-deserved Filmfare Award for this soundtrack in 1957.

The exuberant essence of panchii banuu.n uDtii phiruu.n is undeniable: its exaltation of life brings a smile to my face with every listen. As I celebrate my acceptance to medical school, I hope to continue pursuing my dreams in the future with this spirit of joie de vivre always in mind. Until next time…

-Mr. 55
Nargis
The rural landscape accentuates Nargis’s liberated state of mind in Chori Chori (1956).

Panchhi Banoon Udti Phiroon: Lyrics and Translation

panchhii banuu.n uDtii phiruu.n mast gagan me.n
As a bird, I want to fly in the beautiful sky.
aaj mai.n aazaad huu.n duniyaa ke chaman me.n
Today, I have been liberated in the garden of the world.

(hillorii, hillorii)

mere jiivan me.n chamkaa saveraa
The morning light has shined brightly in my life.
miTaa dil se vah gham kaa andheraa
It has removed the darkness of sorrow from my heart. 
hare kheton me.n gaaye koii lahraa
Someone sings, billowing in the green fields. 
yahaa.n dil par kisi kaa na pahraa
Here, no one keeps guard over the heart. 
rang bahaaro.n ne bharaa mere jiivan me.n
The Spring has filled my life with color.
aaj mai.n aazaad huu.n duniyaa ke chaman me.n
Today, I have been liberated in the garden of the world.

dil yah chaahe bahaaro.n se kheluu.n
My heart desires that I play with the Spring. 
gorii nadiyaa ke dhaaro.n se kheluu.n
I shall frolic in the currents of the fair river. 
chaand suuraj sitaaro.n se kheluu.n
I shall play with the Moon, the Sun, and the stars. 
apnii baaho.n me.n aakaash le luu.n
I shall embrace the sky in my arms. 
baDhtii chaluu.n gaatii chaluu.n apnii lagan me.n
I shall forge ahead as I sing to my own tune. 
aaj mai.n aazaad huu.n duniyaa ke chaman me.n
Today, I feel liberated in the garden of the world. 

(hillorii, hillorii)

mai.n to oDhuu.ngii baadal kaa aa.nchal
I shall wear a shawl of clouds.
mai.n to pahnuu.ngi bijlii kii paayal
I shall wear an anklet of lightning rods.
chhiin luu.ngii ghaTaao.n se kaajal
I shall steal some kohl from the dark clouds.
meraa jiivan hai nadiyaa kii halchal
My life is like the movement of a river:
dil se mere lahre.n uThe.n ThanDii pavan me.n
waves arise from my heart in the cool breeze.
aaj mai.n aazaad huu.n duniyaa ke chaman me.n
Today, I have been liberated in the garden of the world.

panchhii banuu.n uDtii phiruu.n mast gagan me.n
As a bird, I want to fly in the beautiful sky.

*Female lines in red are sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Male lines in green are sung by Manna De

Glossary

panchhii: bird; mast: beautiful, incredible; gagan: sky; aazaad: liberated, free; chaman: garden; saveraa: morning; andheraa: darkness; haraa: green; khet: field; lahraanaa: to billow; pahraa: guard; rang bharnaa: to fill with color; goraa: fair; dhaar: current of a river; sitaaraa: star; aakaash: sky; baDhnaa: to advance, move forward; aa.nchal oDhnaa: to wear a shawl; pahnaa: to wear; bijlii: lightning; paayal: anklet; chiin lenaa: to steal; ghaTaa: dark cloud; kaajal: kohl; halchal: bustle, movement; lahar: wave; pavan: breeze, wind.

Nargis
The color version of this song released by UltraHindi offers modern vibrance to a timeless beauty.

 

The Best Holi Songs of Classic Bollywood Movies

Hema Malini Sholay holi
Hema Malini dances with joyful abandon in Sholay’s famous holi number “Holi Ke Din.”

The festival of Holi is among Bollywood’s favorite celebrations–an occasion at last as colorful as the country of its origin. Indeed Holi, a Hindu spring festival, is commonly known as the Festival of Colors. It is both a religious celebration signifying the triumph of Good over Evil, as well as a cultural one commemorating the onset of a new Spring season. It is marked by the throwing of colorful powders, the lighting of bonfires, and the strengthening of bonds between all individuals in colorful merriment. Its spirited catchphrase “Buraa na maano, Holi hai!” (Don’t bear any ill-feelings, it’s Holi!”) speaks to the underlying theme of the day – the burning of negative forces or ill-will, a sort of spiritual purging. The smearing of colors represents the deconstructing of identities and the breaking of social barriers, as all rejoice and participate together, regardless of social class. At the very least, it is a day to settle old scores and move on. Indeed, everyone is welcome and everyone is pardoned for his or her revelry. Thus, we mortals celebrate Holi today with fun and games, colors and powder, and Bollywood takes this grand opportunity to ignite romance.

Rajesh Khanna asha parekh holi
Rajesh Khanna woos Asha Parekh with color at the Holi celebration of Kati Patang (1970).

There’s something inherent to the playful tag-style nature of Holi that lends itself so conveniently to flirtation and a male-female dichotomy. We discussed the appalling lack of Diwali-associated songs in classic Bollywood previously, and hazarded the guess that the festival is far less conducive to overt flirtation and bumping dance grooves like Holi invariably is. Whether wooing the mourning lover into a literal rainbow of joy or painting your sweetheart with a visible mark of your flirtatious overtures, Holi delivers the goods for Bollywood every time.

Mother India holi
Even the old school epic Mother India takes a drama break for the holi festivities!

Below is our list of the 10 greatest Holi songs of classic Bollywood cinema. Happy Holi to all our readers–and if you’re stuck in a huge snowstorm like we are, here’s hoping Holi will usher in the Spring at last!

1. Rang barse (Silsila 1981)

The ultimate old school Holi hit, this song will force anyone to get in the mood and join the festivities! Say what you want about Amitabh and Rekha’s clandestine affair, this dance number will get you on board in no time!

2. Aaj na chodenge (Kati Patang 1970)

This song is easily my favorite Bollywood holi song! Besides the fact that I grew up on the Kati Patang soundtrack, does it get much better than Rajesh Khanna-Asha Parekh shy seduction? Lata and Kishore are delightful, but don’t get me started on the bizarre chorus act that chops up the number like barbarians on holiday.

3. Holi Aayi Re Kanhaayi (Mother India 1957)

Oh, there’s no school like the old school! Bring it back Nargis-style with this classic song from Mother India that just overflows with romance and sass! The only thing better than a Holi song is a Holi village dance-off.

4. Tan rang lo ji (Kohinoor 1960)

While this royal gem may be shot in black-and-white, you can practically see the colors flying in this fantastic Mohammed Rafi-Dilip Kumar celebration that invites the entire kingdom for a Holi song-and-dance sequence!

5. Holi Ke Din (Sholay 1975)

Retro flirting Queen Hema Malini proves to Dharmendra that she’s more than just a loud mouth in Sholay–her moves and dancing steal the show in this colorful song!

6. Are Ja Re Hat Natkhat (Navrang 1959)

Classical dancer Sandhya wows the audience with this traditional stage performance, alternating as both the male and female character complete with ghungroo! Asha Bhonsle’s Hindustani vocals balance out Mahendra Kapoor’s mainstream sway in a Holi number that is well-known even today for its stunning classical choreography.

7. Piya Tose Naina (Guide 1965)

Looking for something a little classier? Go no further than this Waheeda Rehman semi-classical piece from the great philosophical Guide. Watch her prance around with so much joie de vivre, you’ll ignore how gaudy the stage is decorated and your feelings for high-pitched female choruses of the 1960s.

8. Nadiya Se Dariya (Namak Haram 1973)

This song is just plain cute. While not a roaring shoulder-shaking dance off like some of these others, the song is playful and full of shy passion for Rajesh Khanna, which we always approve of.

9. Baghi Re Bhagi Brij Bala (Rajput 1982)

I think this hidden jewel is under-appreciated by historians. While something of a repeat of previous Hema Malini-Dharmendra magic, Vinod Khanna holds his own in this fast-paced duet that once again brings an entire kingdom to the palace to party Holi-style!

10. Kaikhe Paan Banaraswala (Don 1978)

OK, so this isn’t technically a Holi song per se, but it’s arguably the unofficial anthem! There’s something about a traditional, rich beat coupled with Kishore’s absolutely unabashed vocals that set the tone of a celebration and throwing inhibitions to the wind!

While Holi was born in India, it’s popularity was carried across the diaspora and is celebrated around the world each year with full force! The picture below is from my freshman year at Harvard where Holi was played on the Mac quad! Can you spot me in the pigtails with the orange-yellow face?

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– 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

Lata:

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

Mukesh:

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

Lata:

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

Glossary:

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

The 15 Best Bollywood Rain Songs: Evolution of a Classic Genre

Rajesh Khanna and Rakhee Rain Song Bollywood
Rajesh Khanna and Rakhee express their sizzling love in the rain in Shehzada (1972).

It’s monsoon season again in India and, naturally, love is sparkling in the air. At last we present our list of the best rain songs from classic Bollywood! We all adore these moments–the iconic cuddling beneath an umbrella, the splashing around in a wet garden, or of course, Zeenat Aman in a drenched saari. It seems now that singing in the rain is the epitome of Bollywood romance, and a marvelous way to introduce a new song. But this phenomena did not occur overnight, and indeed, the meaning of rain itself in a film has shifted over the years with shifting cultural expectations. Let’s take a look at rain songs in Bollywood over the years!

Shree 420 Raj Kapoor Nargis Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua Rain Song Bollywood
Raj Kapoor and Nargis huddle close together beneath an umbrella in Shree 420 (1955).

We being in the earlier days of cinematic magic. As India awoke to freedom and liberty in the 1950s, so too did the country rapidly begin to shift gears away from pure agriculture and toward industrialization. Many of the best rain songs from that era embody a sense of wonder in urban environments and, matching the film censorship boards, an innocent just-got-struck-by love. In these songs, rain seems to act as that enchantment in the air–that driving force bringing a loved one into contact or sight. Rain too acted as that shimmering veil of restraint that both parties hesitate to cross. “Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhaagi Si” from Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958) is one of the most beloved rain songs of that era!

Raj Kapoor Dum Dum Diga Diga Chhalia
Raj Kapoor prances about the city streets singing “Dum Dum Diga Diga” from Chhalia (1960).

With the advent of the 60s, came a new meaning of being caught in a rainstorm. No longer was rain an innocent effector of love at first sight, but rather a clever and well-understood pretext for full out passion. To clarify, by passion, I mean, symbolic wet dancing that means much more than actual physical contact. The Bollywood rain songs of the 60s exude a sense of joy, independence and confidence. The onset of a rainstorm had an understood implication for overt displays of affection that both parties are eager to demonstrate. Say hello to bouffant hairdos, tight and wet salwar qameezes, and men doing some very special attempts at a courtship dance.

Shammi Kapoor Dil Tera Deewana Hai Sanam Mala Sinha
Shammi Kapoor and Mala Sinha get drenched in Dil Tera Deewana Hai Sanam (1960)

Gone were the days of “Do Bigha Zameen” style agricultural celebration! While the setting of the village recurred, rain ceased to be a blessing for economic survival–instead, it brought the blessing of love between newly liberated men and woman of a new age. Check out our translation of “O Sajna Barkha Bahar” from Parakh (1960) and listen how music directors cleverly incorporated native Indian instruments into creating the sounds and moods of rain. Indeed, the trickling melodies of sitar have graced the introductions of many a great rain sequence–even famously with Ravi Shankar’s solo for Satyajit Rai’s Aparajito!

Asha Parekh Aaya Saawan Jhoom Ke
Dressed as a village belle, Asha Parekh delights in the first rain of the season in “Aaya Sawan Jhoom Ke” (1969).

At last the 70s arrived, and the Bollywood rain song explored new territory. Yes, Zeenat Aman in a wet white saari is crossing some obvious lines and certainly deserves a mention on this list, but the rain song did not merely degenerate into a male fantasy. Instead, as the political atmosphere changed, the rain song adopted a meaning to suit its people. With government dissatisfaction in the air, rain songs were (while maintaining something of a romantic undertone), also a means of escape and hope.

Jeetendra Haye Re Haye Humjoli
Jeetendra and Leena Chandavarkar exhibit some of the strangest and wildest dance moves to date in the famous rain love song of Humjoli (1970)

Did you know in the early days of cinema, rain scenes were not actually filmed in the rain? Because of the nature of unforgiving black-and-white film stock, even heavy pounding natural rain does not appear clearly in the camera–much less the gentle puhaare of many a romantic Bollywood setting. As such, the production staff needed to literally dump buckets of water or spray dozens of hoses above the set for “rain” to actually appear so on screen! So the next time you watch these songs, just imagine the total chaos going on outside the frame among the frantic, water-pouring production assistants!

Zeenat Aman sets the rain on fire in “Haye Haye Yeh Majboori” from Shor (1972).

But enough talk. Now that you know the history, here is our list in chronological order of Bollywood’s greatest rain songs! These all-time classic give an entirely new meaning to “Singin’ in the Rain!”

The Best Rain Songs of Classic Bollywood

  1. Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua (Shree 420 – 1955)
  2. Yeh Raat Bheegi Bheegi (Chori Chori – 1956)
  3. Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhagi Si (Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi – 1958)
  4. Dil Tera Deewana Hai Sanam (Dil Tera Deewana – 1960)
  5. Dum Dum Diga Diga (Chhalia -1960)
  6. O Sajna Barkha Bahar Aayi (Parakh -1960)
  7. Rim Jhim Ke Tarane (Kala Bazaar – 1960)
  8. Zindagi Bhar Nahin Bhoolegi (Barsaat Ki Raat – 1960)
  9. Chhup Gaye Saade Nazare (Do Raaste – 1969)
  10. Aaya Saawan Jhoom Ke (Aaya Saawan Jhoom Ke – 1969)
  11. Ang Lag Ja Balma (Mera Naam Joker – 1970)
  12. Haye Re Haye (Humjoli – 1970)
  13. Bheegi Bheegi Raaton Mein (Ajnabi – 1972)
  14. Paani Re Paani (Shor – 1972)
  15. Haye Haye Yeh Majboori (Roti Kapada Aur Makaan – 1974)
Rajesh Khanna Zeenat Aman Bheegi Bheegi Raaton Mein
Rajesh Khanna cuddles Zeenat Aman to keep warm in the spicy rain song “Bheegi Bheegi Raaton Mein” in Ajnabi (1974).

And there you have it, the 15 best classic Bollywood rain songs over the ages! What are YOUR favorite rain songs from classic Bollywood–and tell us how they’ve influenced your own love stories!

– Mrs. 55