Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

dilip-kumar-singing-madhuban-mein-kohinoor

Dilip Kumar plays a swashbuckling raja who knows how to carry a tune in Kohinoor (1960).

Today we present the lyrics and English translation to the semi-classical “Madhuban Mein Radhika” from Kohinoor (1960). Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari star in this masala film set during a romanticized period of Indian history when Hindu royalty were constantly engaged in sword-fights with their rivals, playing sitar to the acclamation of their courtiers, and saving damsels in distress on horseback. Kohinoor is remembered today for the brilliant soundtrack and delightful script (read: you will not cringe and die during most of the comic scenes) as well a for the breezy performances by its hero and heroine–both of whom were better known for their serious, even tragic, roles. Meena Kumari giggles more in this film than in any of her other films combined. And Kohinoor‘s costumes could not be more both on point and stereotypically ridiculous than if Nicole Kidman were choosing them for a play set in ancient India for the Moulin Rouge.

Dilip Kumar as the young raja travels to the countryside and happens upon a musical assembly where a talented dancer, played by Kumkum, challenges anyone to perform a song to which she cannot dance. Naturally, our hero is ready with “Madhuban Mein Radhika”  to the delight of his courtiers while Kumkum gracefully dances kathak to his tune. Shakeel Badayuni’s straightforward Radha-Krishna poetry is the basis of a rollicking number that keeps everyone, especially Kumkum, on their toes. “Madhuban Mein Radhika” is a true gem among film songs, drawing heavily upon Hindustani classical traditions that are rare to find executed with such unabashed purism in Bollywood films. It comes as no surprise that the song has maestro Naushad written all over it. To fully appreciate all the ornaments of the piece, I think it’s high time we break for a little vocabulary lesson.

A Brief Hindustani Classical Music Vocabulary Lesson:

Tarana in Hindustani classical music were thought to be invented by the great poet Amir Khusro (1253-1325 CE). Legend has it that a music competition was held by the famous conqueror Alauddin Khilji in which Amir Khusro and Gopal Nayak, court musician to the King of Devagiri were the last men standing. Nayak performed raaga Kadambak in Sanskrit for six evenings straight while Khusro sat enthralled among the courtiers. On the seventh night, Khusro sang the same song, copying each note to perfection, but substituted Persian words and jargon for the lyrics as he did not understand Sanskrit. His amazing performance won him the competition and thus, the tarana was born. Persian couplets and notation for tabla are often intermingled into the tarana, however, the basic phonetics are Farsi-based (eg. yalali, odani, tadeem). The structure consists of a main melody that the performer repeats and elaborates on as well as a second, contrasting melody, that may include higher notes and is introduced once before returning to the main melody. The taranas featured in Lata Mangeshkar’s “Tare Rahiyo” from Pakeezah (1972) and the Pakeezah (1972) Title Music are some of the film’s highlights.

Sargam is the vocalization of the notes that define the raga in which the song is sung. Improvisation ascending and descending the scale allows the audience to understand the raagas range and boundaries, often occurring at the beginning or the end of the piece. The sargam typically incorporates improvisation upon themes to set the tone of the piece. A great example of a beautiful mid-song sargam is in Asha Bhonsle’s “Nigahen Milane Ko” from Dil Hi To Hai (1960).

Alaap is similar to sargam, but does not name the notes, using instead simply the aakaar (“aah” sound) to create music. It frequently opens a piece, but can be interjected in the middle, or at the end for dramatic effect–as well as intermingled among the sargam with artistic license. One of my favorite alaaps from films is Suman Kalyanpur’s heavenly interjection above Hemant Kumar midway through “Na Tum Humen Jano” from Baat Ek Raat Ki (1963). In “Madhuban Mein Radhika,” listen for Mohammed Rafi’s silky alaap to start off the song and entrance his audience.

Taan, is similar to an alaap, but is much more fast-paced and showcases the singer’s vocal abilities. The two taans in this song (picturized on comedic actor Mukri) were sung by Ustad Niyaz Ahmed Khan. Bollywood film songs Kal Nahii.N Paaye Jiya from Chhoti Si Mulaqat (1967)  and Tu Hai Mera Prem Devta from Kalpana (1960) feature multiple beautiful taans punctuating each stanza.

Jugalbandi is a playful competition between two performers in which one mimics the other, and then surpasses. A challenging test of both the ability to perfectly imitate and then improvise, a jugalbandi between two master musicians is absolutely thrilling to witness. This is commonly between two instrumental performers, but as in “Madhuban Mein Radikha,” is briefly showcased as between the singer and the tabla player (note: the lyrics actually reference the Carnatic mridangam, which is a different percussion instrument than the Hindustani tabla, however, a tabla is indeed is picturized in the film). Another fun example of jugalbandi in Bollywood is at the ending of the song Muqabala Humse Na Karo from Prince (1969).

kumkum-dancing-madhuban-mein-kohinoor

Kumkum entrances her audience with a kathak performance based on classic Radha-Krishna imagery in Kohinoor (1960).

Are we all on the same page now? Because I’m fully expecting you to count the taal as you check out the music video here. Follow along with our English translation of the lyrics to “Madhuban Mein Radhika” from Kohinoor (1960) below! How many lovely ornaments of Hindustani classical music can you hear in the song?

Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache Lyrics and Translation:

ALAAP: Aaaah aaaah aaaah

madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re
In the honey gardens, Radha danced
Girdhar kii muraliiya baje re
As the flute of Krishna played

pag mei.N ghuunghar baandhke
With dancing bells tied to her leg
ghuunghaT mukh par daal ke
With a veil placed upon her face
nainan mei.N kajraa lagaake re
With kajal applied to her eyes
madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re
In the honey gardens, Radha danced

Dolat chham-chham kaminii
The beautiful lady swayed and sparkled
Chhamakat jaise daamini
Her sparkle was like lightening
Chhanchal, pyarii chhab laage re
Her face appeared mischievous and lovable
madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re
In the honey gardens, Radha danced

mridang baje…
The drum was played…

Tirikitadhum Tirikitadhum Ta Ta
mridang baje
Tirikitadhum Tirikitadhum

Naachath Chum Chum
ThaThay ThaThay Thatha
Chum Chum ChanaNaNa
Chum Chum ChanaNaNa

Dhan Dhakdan Dhakdan Dha
Dha Dha Dha

madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re…

TAAN: Aaaaaaaah

madhuban mei.N radhikaa…

TAAN: Aaaaaaaah

madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re
madhuban mei.N radhikaa…

SARGAM :

Ni Sa Re Sa Ga Re Ma Ga Pa Ma
Dha Pa Ni Dha SA Ni RE SA
RE SA Ni Dha Pa Ma Pa
Dha Ni SA RE SA Ni Dha Pa Ma Pa
Ga Ma Pa Ma Ga Ma Re Sa
madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re…

SA SA SA Ni Dha Pa
Ma Pa Dha Pa Ga Ma Re Sa Ni Re Sa
Sa Sa Ga Ma Dha Dha Ni Dha SA
madhuban mei.N radhikaa nache re
madhuban mei.N radhikaa…

TARAANAA:

Ode NaDir DiTa NiTa DhaRe Dhim, Dhim Ta Na Na
Nadir DiTa NiTa DhaRe Dhim, Dhim Ta Na Na
Nadir DiTa NiTa DhaRe Dhim, Dhim Ta Na Na

JUGALBANDI:

NaDir DiTa NiTa DhaRe

(tabla response)

ODe Tana Dhir Dhir Tana
Dhir Dhir Dhir Dhir
Thum Dhir Dhir Dhir

(tabla response)

Dha Tirikita Tak , Thum Tirikita Tak
Tirikita Titikita Ta DhaNi

NaDir DiTa NiTa
ODe NaDir DiTa niTa
ODe Nadir Dita NiTa
DhaRe Dhim Dhim Ta Na Na ….

Glossary:

madhuban: sweet garden, honey garden; Radhikaa: Radha, gopi lover of Krishna; nachnaa: to dance; girdhar: Lord Krishna; muralii: flute; baajnaa: to play; pag: leg; ghuungar: dancing bells; baandhnaa: to bind, to tie; ghuungaT: veil; mukh: face: Daalnaa: to place, to put; nainan: eyes; kajraa: eyeliner; Dolat: sway; chham-chham: sparkling; kaamini: beautiful lady; daamini: lightening; chhanchal: mischievous; pyaarii: loveable; chhab: face; mridangam: traditional Carnatic percussion instrument

dilip-kumar-sitar-kohinoor-madhuban-mein

Dilip Kumar jams his sitar with rockstar attitude in Kohinoor (1960).

Dilip Kumar’s performance in Kohinoor (1960) garnered the Filmfare award for Best Actor that year. According to Naushad, Dilip Kumar the perfectionist, supposedly learned how to play the sitar just for this song. While that may seem extreme, anyone who has seen Raj Kapoor fail miserably to pretend play the piano (as much as we love the man) will appreciate how big a difference this makes in any self-respecting musical number.

Wondering what’s up with the snake and the mongoose at the end of the song? Let it suffice to say that every self-respecting raja-rani film needs at least one assassination-by-cobra attempt…amiright?

– Mrs. 55

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Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

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On June 12, 2016, the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history took place at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. This tragedy took the lives of 49 innocent victims and wounded at least 53 more. The majority of victims targeted in this violent massacre were LGBT people of color. We stand in solidarity with Orlando and pay tribute to the lives lost in this hate-fueled tragedy through the translation of a timeless song from Mughal-E-Azam (1960): “pyaar kiyaa to Darnaa kyaa?

Madhubala’s portrayal of Anarkali in Mughal-E-Azam (1960) is widely considered to be her greatest work.

Mughal-E-Azam (1960), directed by K. Asif, narrates the story of forbidden love between Anarkali (played by Madhubala) and Salim (Dilip Kumar). Salim, prince of the Mughal empire, falls in love with Anarkali, a beautiful dancer in the royal court. Emperor Akbar, Salim’s father, is outraged by his son’s relationship with a lowly courtesan. The ensuing conflict between Akbar and Salim, with Anarkali caught in the middle, results in a war between father and son that culminates in a tragic conclusion on all sides.

Although the love story of Salim and Anarkali has been dramatized several times over the decades, this depiction has become immortalized as a masterpiece in the realm of Hindi cinema. This film is considered a crowning glory of the careers for several of the artists involved, especially actress Madhubala, playback singer Lata Mangeshkar, music director Naushad, and lyricist Shakeel Badayuni.

With poignant eloquence, “Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya?” embodies the spirit of bravery in love.  Indeed, this song expresses a universal message that originates from the time of Mughal emperors yet still resonates today. It inspires us to fight for those we love, to have courage in the face of adversity, and to live our lives freely without fear.

In light of the recent tragedy, let it also be a reminder that love can be expressed in many different ways. Those who love differently from the norm should not be afraid of expressing themselves simply for being who they are. By promoting tolerance over hate, we must come together and take a stand against the persecution of the LGBT community in today’s society.

After all, we cannot forget that love is love.

-Mr. ’55

Madhubala brazenly defies societal norms in the royal court of Emperor Akbar in Mughal-E-Azam (1960)

Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya: Lyrics and English Translation

insaan kisii se duniyaa me.n ek baar muhabbat kartaa hai
An individual only falls in love once in this world.
is dard ko lekar jiitaa hai, is dard ko lekar martaa hai 
He lives with this pain, and he dies with this pain.

pyaar kiyaa to Darnaa kyaa?
If I have loved, then why must I be afraid?
pyaar kiyaa koii chorii nahii.n kii
I have simply loved; I have committed no theft.
chhup chhup aahe.n bharnaa kyaa?
Then, why must I heave these sighs of pain in secrecy?

aaj kahe.nge dil kaa fasaanaa
Today, I will narrate the story of my heart,
jaan bhii le le chaahe zamaanaa
even if the world takes my life.
maut vahii jo duniyaa dekhe
If death is only accepted when witnessed by the world,
ghuT ghuT kar yuu.n marnaa kyaa?
then why must I die by suffocating alone?

unkii tamanna dil me.n rahegii
My desire for him will continue to grow in my heart.
shamma isii mahfil me.n rahegii
The flame will continue to burn in this gathering.
ishq me.n jiinaa, ishq me.n marnaa
After living in love and dying in love,
aur hame.n ab karnaa kyaa?
what else remains for me to do?

chhup na sakegaa ishq hamaraa
My love cannot be hidden,
chaaro.n taraf hai unkaa nazaaraa
it can be seen in all four directions.
pardaa nahii.n hai jab koii khudaa se,
If I do not wear a veil in front of God,
bando.n se pardaa karnaa kyaa?
why must my love remain veiled from society?

pyaar kiyaa to Darnaa kyaa?
If I have loved, then why must I be afraid?

Glossary

insaan: person, human; dard: pain; Darnaa: to fear; chorii: theft; aahe.n bharnaa: to heave sighs; fasanaa: story; zamaanaa: society, world; maut: death; ghuTnaa: to suffocate; tamanna: desire; shamma: flame; ishq: love; nazaaraa: sight; pardaa: veil: banda: person, human.

Mughal-E-Azam (1960) became the first Hindi feature film to be digitally colorized for re-release in theaters in 2004.

20 Gorgeous Waltz Songs from Classic Bollywood Films

Guru Dutt Pyaasa not a waltz

Guru Dutt and Mala Sinha are NOT actually waltzing in the iconic song “Hum Aap Ki Ankhon Mein” from Pyaasa (1957).

The waltz is a beautiful dance form with music in triple meter that originated in 16th century Germany. The name is derived from the Latin volvere, describing the ensemble rotations of the dancers. So what place does the waltz have in 20th century Bollywood films? How did this art form cross continents and cultures?

I first starting looking closely at waltz songs in classic Bollywood films when trying to select a song for my husband and my “first dance” at our wedding. I wanted to use an old Bollywood song for this western tradition, and found myself unsure where to start looking. My mind jumped to the most iconic waltz dance from Bollywood I could think of: who doesn’t recall the serene dream sequence from Pyaasa (1957) in which Guru Dutt and Mala Sinha twirl together through the mist? There was just one issue: “Hum Aap Ki Ankhon Mein” was not actually a waltz.

Meena Kumari Kishore Kumar Mere Neendon Mein Tum waltz

Meena Kumari and Kishore Kumar waltz to O.P. Nayyar’s “Mere Neendon Mein Tum” from Naya Andaz (1956).

Yup. You and I were both fooled. As I discovered the distinct triple meter of the waltz is not ubiquitous in classic Bollywood, nor can you really fake dancing a waltz to anything else. The 3/4 meter of the waltz bears a similarity to the Hindustani dadra 6/8 meter, paving the way for a transition across continents. You can recognize the distinct rhythm of the waltz by listening for a strong first beat followed by two lighter beats. A common mistake is that many people think when dancing the waltz, the first beat is when both dancers move “up.” In reality, that first strong beat is when the dancers may move downwards in unison, and return to normal height (or on the balls of their feet) for the lighter beats following. There are many variations to this pattern, but generally, it gives the waltz dancers that beautiful wave-like cadence as if they are floating across the floor.

The waltz assumes many unexpected incarnations in classic Bollywood, exemplifying everything from urban glamour to girlish excitement to full-out pity party. The first known appearance of waltz in a Bollywood song is in “Hum Aur Tum Aur Yeh Khushi” from Ali Baba (1940) composed by the legendary Anil Biswas. Music director Naushad, known for his brilliant Hindustani classical compositions, helped usher the waltz rhythm into Bollywood mainstream as early as with the tragic “Tod Diya Dil Mera” from Andaz (1949), “Ab Raat Milan Ki” from Jadoo (1951), and “Tara Ri Yara Ri” from Dastan (1952). S.D. Burman highlighted the waltz in his hit House No. 44 (1955) with amorous ballads “Phaili Hui Hai Sapnon” and”Chhup Hai Dharti.” By the late 1950s, the waltz was adopted by nearly every composer, developing an important place in Bollywood well into the 1970s.

Nargis dil ki girah khol waltz

Nargis’ surprisingly incredible waltz moves school everyone in “Dil Ki Girah Khol Do” from Raat Aur Din (1967). And you thought she was only cut out for the village belle.

In Hindi films, a song with a waltz rhythm need not always portray a couple dancing–in fact, some of the best waltz songs create tension by not showing the couple come together. Other times, such as in Nargis’ incredible performance in Raat or Aur Din (1967), waltzing with ease was a sign of Western sophistication and elitism. The waltz gained a brief romantic revival in the 1990s with the super hit song “Kuch Na Kaho” from 1942: A Love Story (1993). But this song became quickly overdone at every Indian function I attended growing up, so I refused to use it at my own wedding. I needed a list of off-the-beaten-path waltz songs from classic Bollywood that would still make us look stylish.

Raj Kapoor Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh waltz

Raj Kapoor and Nadira dance together singing “Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh,” which begins as a lilting waltz in Shree 420 (1955).

But when I was planning my wedding, I never found that list. It’s as though thousands of men and women out there aren’t actually scrambling to dance to a Mohammed Rafi song in front of all their friends and family. I don’t get it. To the couple out there who wants to have the coolest wedding ever, this list is my gift to you!

20 Waltz Songs from Classic Bollywood Films:

  1. Lag Ja Gale (Woh Kaun Thi? 1964)

  2. Dil Ki Nazar Se (Anadi 1959)

  3. Dil Ki Girah Khol Do (Raat Aur Din 1967)

  4. Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh (Shree 420 1955)

  5. Dil Ke Jharoke (Brahmachari 1968)

  6. Yeh Raaten Yeh Mausam (Dilli Ka Thug 1958)

  7. Mere Neendon Mein Tum (Naya Andaz 1956)

  8. Phoolon Ke Rang Se (Prem Pujari 1969)

  9. Hum Aur Tum Aur Yeh Sama (Dil Deke Dekho 1959)

  10. Udhar Tum Haseen Ho (Mr. and Mrs. ’55 1955)

  11. Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan (C.I.D. 1956)

  12. Jeena Yahan Marna Yahan (Mera Naam Joker 1970)

  13. Main Shayar To Nahin (Bobby 1973)

  14. Phaili Hui Hai Sapnon (House No. 44 1955)

  15. Tod Diya Dil Mera (Andaz 1949)

  16. Chhup Hai Dharti (House No. 44 1955)

  17. Geet Gaata Hoon Main (Lal Patthar 1971)

  18. Tara Ri Yara Ri (Dastan 1950)

  19. Tera Aana Ik Pal Meri (Hum Naujawan 1985)

  20. Aaja Panchi Akela Hai (No Do Gyarah 1957)

Bollywood wedding waltz

My husband and my ‘first dance’ at our wedding: a waltz to Lata Mangeshkar’s “Lag Ja Gale.” When watching the video of us later, it was clear that I was no Nargis, but at least we had fun!

We ultimately decided on the Viennese waltz “Lag Ja Gale” for our first dance, which proved pretty ambitious for two people whose primary dance skills involved interpretive bhangra. Don’t see your favorite Bollywood waltz on our list? Let us know what other Bollywood waltzes you love in the comments!

– Mrs. 55

The Top 30 Best Classic Bollywood Soundtracks of All Time

The best music albums from classic Bollywood have been chosen. Which songs made the list of Bollywood’s top 30 greatest?

Raj Kapoor Nargis Iconic BarsaatIntroduction

Welcome to the greatest music of classic Bollywood! We at Mr. and Mrs. 55 – Classic Bollywood Revisited! have compiled our ultimate list of the top 30 best classic Bollywood film soundtracks of all-time. Music is the very soul of classic Bollywood, a legacy of beauty and style that once lit the world. These soundtracks showcase the most talented artists of Bollywood and are as diverse and transformative as the films to which they lent their magic. Long after the cinema lights fade, this music remains in the air, haunting us with desire, sustaining us through tragedy, and enchanting our daily experiences in the world.

Soundtracks of all Hindi films released between the years of 1945 to 1985 were considered and ranked based on the merit of lyrics, musical composition and complexity, historical and cultural value, vocal performance, and accomplishments of the soundtrack elements as an ensemble. Topping our list are composers Sachin Dev Burman, Rahul Dev Burman, Naushad, and the duo Shankarsingh Raghuwanshi and Jaikishan Dayabhai Panchal (often credited as Shankar-Jaikishen) whose works both defined and reinvented Bollywood. Like our enormously popular list of the Top 30 Greatest Classic Bollywood Films of All Time, these soundtracks embrace the unexpected.

The advent of music in Bollywood binds the stormy history of a shackled India emerging from depression and war with the golden age of Hollywood musical film. Many believe that films with de rigeur musical numbers is a unique hallmark of Hindi cinema. However, the early “talkie” pictures of India such as Alam Ara (1931) were heavily influenced by the popular western films like The Jazz Singer (1927) and Showboat (1929) in which the new sound technology instantly propelled musical film as the most profitable genre. Hollywood directors like Busby Berkeley whose signature spectacle was the mass ornament and nimble-footed singer-dancers like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers helped contribute to the hundreds and hundreds of musical films cherished by the western world during the 1930s-1950s. The then universal convention of five to seven musical numbers peppering a film was easily embraced and adapted by Hindi movie directors who introduced Hindustani musical traditions to their work. Playback singers such as Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, and Asha Bhonsle were as celebrated as the actors for whom they lent their voices. Often before a film was released, a Bollywood movie’s soundtrack was played repeatedly on the radio, reaching the hearts of millions across the country who may not have afforded the luxury to see the actual film in theatres.

While Hollywood eventually diverged from the musical film genre by the late 1960s, India was awakening to its own golden era of film in which music dominated the sensory milieu. Perhaps it was the escapism of music with its perfect harmonies and piercing poetry that touched the newly freed country still finding its identity. From solemn hymns of the countryside to feverish cabarets of city nightlife, from extravagant orchestras to solitary sitar solos, and from singers whose voices seem to descend from heaven, these soundtracks unleashed new eras of possibility and romance. The music of classic Bollywood will change you forever. For a few fleeting minutes, the ideals you dreamed of are made real.

Take this journey with us through the best music albums of yesteryear Hindi cinema. This music the way is was meant to be. This is classic Bollywood.

The Top 30 Best Classic Bollywood Soundtracks of All Time:

1. Pakeezah

Pakeezah Meena Kumari Chalte Chalte

Ghulam Mohammed and Naushad, 1971

2. Guide

Guide

S.D. Burman, 1965

  • Din Dhal Jaaye – Mohammed Rafi
  • Aaj Phir Jeene Ki – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Piya Tose – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Tere Mere Sapne – Mohammed Rafi
  • Gaata Rahe Mera Dil – Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi
  • Kya Se Kya Ho Gaya – Mohammed Rafi
  • Saiyan Beiman – Lata Mangeshkar

3. Mughal-e-Azam

Mughal-e-Azam

Naushad, 1960

  • Teri Mehfil Mein Qismat – Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum
  • Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Mohe Pangat Pe – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Mohabbat Ki Jhooti Kahani – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Aye Mohabbat Zindabad – Mohammed Rafi
  • Prem Jogan Ban Ke – Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan
  • Yeh Dil Ki Lagi – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Title Music

4. Nagin

Nagin

Hemant Kumar, 1954

  • Man Dole Mera – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Jadugar Saiyan – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Tere Dwar Khada Ek Jogi – Hemant Kumar
  • Mera Dil Yeh Pukare Aaja – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Sun Ri Sakhi – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Yaad Rakhna Pyar Ki Nishani – Asha Bhonsle and Hemant Kumar

5. Aradhana

Aradhana

S.D. Burman, 1969

  • Roop Tera Mastana – Kishore Kumar
  • Mere Sapnon Ki Rani – Kishore Kumar
  • Kora Kaagaz Tha – Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar
  • Gunguna Rahe Hai Bhanware – Asha Bhonsle and Mohammed Rafi
  • Baghon Mein Bahar Hai – Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar
  • Saphal Hogi Teri Aradhana – S.D. Burman

6. Teesri Manzil

Teesri Manzil

R.D. Burman, 1966

  • Aaja Aaja – Asha Bhonsle and Mohammed Rafi
  • Deewana Mujhsa Nahin – Mohammed Rafi
  • O Haseena Zulfonwali – Asha Bhonsle and Mohammed Rafi
  • O Mere Sona Re – Asha Bhonsle and Mohammed Rafi
  • Tumne Mujhe Dekha – Mohammed Rafi

7. Barsaat

Barsaat

Shankarsingh Raghuwanshi and Jaikishan Dayabhai Panchal, 1949

  • Hawa Mein Udta Jaye – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Chhod Gaye Balam – Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh
  • Jiya Beqarar Hai – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Mujhe Kisise Pyar – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Patli Kamar Hai – Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh

8. Anarkali

Anarkali

C. Ramachandra, 1953

  • Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai – Lata Mangeshkar
  • O Zindagi Ke Denewale – Hemant Kumar
  • O Aasmanwale – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Jaag Dard-e-Ishq – Lata Mangeshkar and Hemant Kumar
  • Mohabbat Aisi Dhadhkan Hai – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Mujhse Mat Pooch – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Aaja Ab To Aaja – Lata Mangeshkar

9. Kati Patang

Kati Patang

R.D. Burman, 1970

  • Jis Gali Mein – Mukesh
  • Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai – Kishore Kumar
  • Na Koi Umang Hai – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Yeh Shaam Mastani – Kishore Kumar
  • Pyaar Diwanaa Hota Hai – Kishore Kumar
  • Aaj Na Chhodenge – Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar

10. Chori Chori

Chori Chori

Shankarsingh Raghuwanshi and Jaikishan Dayabhai Panchal, 1956

  • Panchi Banoon Udti – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Aaja Sanam – Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey
  • Jahan Main Jaati Hoon – Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey
  • Yeh Raat Bheegi Bheegi – Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey
  • Rasik Balma – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Man Bhavan Ke Ghar – Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle

11. Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

Roshan, 1963

12. Hum Dono

Hum Dono Abhi Na Jao Dev Anand Sadhana

Jaidev, 1961

13. Jewel Thief

Jewel Thief

S.D. Burman, 1967

  • Honton Pe Aisi Baat – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Aasman Ke Neeche – Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar
  • Dil Pukare – Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi
  • Rulake Gaya Sapna – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Yeh Dil Na Hota – Kishore Kumar
  • Title Music

14. Caravan

Caravan

R.D. Burman, 1971

  • Piya Tu Ab To – Asha Bhonsle
  • Chadti Jawani – Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi
  • Kitna Pyara Wada – Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi
  • Goriya Kahan – Asha Bhonsle and Mohammed Rafi
  • Ab Jo Mile Hai – Asha Bhonsle

15. Bobby

Bobby Main Shayar To Nahin

Laxmikant Shantaram Kudalkar and Pyarelal Ramprasad Sharma, 1973

  • Main Shayar To Nahin – Shailendra Singh
  • Bahar Se Koi Andhar – Lata Mangeshkar and Shailendra Singh
  • Jhoot Bole Kauwa Kate – Lata Mangeshkar and Shailendra Singh
  • Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai – Lata Mangeshkar and Shailendra Singh
  • Na Mangoon Sona Chandi – Manna Dey and Shailendra Singh

16. Pyaasa

Pyaasa

S.D. Burman, 1957

  • Jaane Woh Kaise – Hemant Kumar
  • Aaj Sajan Mohe – Geeta Dutt
  • Hum Aap Ki Ankhon Mein – Geeta Dutt and Mohammed Rafi
  • Jane Kya Tune Kahi – Asha Bhonsle
  • Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaaye – Mohammed Rafi

17. Abhiman

Abhiman

S.D. Burman, 1973

18. Anand

Anand

Salil Choudhury, 1971

19. Kabhi Kabhi

Kabhi Kabhi

Mohammed Zayur Khayyam, 1976

20. Baiju Bawra

Baiju bawra

Naushad, 1952

  • O Duniya Ke Rakhwale – Mohammed Rafi
  • Man Tarpat Hari Dar – Mohammed Rafi
  • Mohe Bhool Gaye Sanwariya – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Jhoole Mein Pawan Ke – Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi
  • Tu Ganga Ki Mauj – Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi

21. Mother India

Mother India

Naushad, 1957

22. Madhumati

Madhumati

Salil Choudhury, 1958

  • Aaja Re Pardesi – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Dil Tadap Tadap – Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh
  • Suhana Safar – Mukesh
  • Ghadi Ghadi Mora Dil – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Chadh Gayo Papi Bichua – Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey

23. Basant Bahar

Basant Bahar

Shankarsingh Raghuwanshi and Jaikishan Dayabhai Panchal, 1956

  • Duniya Na Bhaye Mohammed Rafi
  • Bhaye Bhanjana – Manna Dey
  • Ja Ja Re Ja – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Main Piya Teri – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Nain Mile Chain Kahan – Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey

24. Aar Paar

Aar Paar

O.P. Nayyar, 1954

  • Babuji Dheere Chalna – Geeta Dutt
  • Sun Sun Sun Zalima – Geeta Dutt and Mohammed Rafi
  • Kabhi Aar Kabhi Par – Shamshad Begum
  • Yeh Lo Main Haari Piya – Geeta Dutt
  • Hoon Abhi Main Jawan – Geeta Dutt

25. Kashmir Ki Kali

Kashmir Ki Kali

O.P. Nayyar, 1964

26. Bandini

Bandini

S.D. Burman, 1963

  • Ab Ke Baras Bhej – Asha Bhonsle
  • O Re Mahji – S.D. Burman
  • Mora Gora Ang Laile – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Jogi Jab Se Tu Aaya – Lata Mangeshkar
  • O Janewale Ho Sake – Mukesh

27. Sangam

Sangam

Shankarsingh Raghuwanshi and Jaikishan Dayabhai Panchal, 1964

28. Yaadon Ki Baraat

Yaadon Ki Baraat

R.D. Burman, 1973

  • Chura Liya Hai – Asha Bhonsle and Mohammed Rafi
  • Aapke Kamre Mein – Asha Bhonsle and Kishore Kumar
  • Lekar Hum Deewana Dil – Asha Bhonsle and Kishore Kumar
  • Meri Soni Meri Tamana – Asha Bhonsle and Kishore Kumar
  • Yaadon Ki Baraat – Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar

29. Amar Prem

Rajesh Khanna Amar Prem

R.D. Burman, 1972

  • Chingari Koi Bhadke – Kishore Kumar
  • Raina Beeti Jaaye – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Kuch To Log Kahenge – Kishore Kumar
  • Yeh Kya Hua – Kishore Kumar
  • Bada Natkhat Hai Yeh – Lata Mangeshkar

30. Umrao Jaan

 

Rekha2_UmraoJaan

Mohammed Zayur Khayyam, 1981

Find out more about these and other classic Bollywood soundtracks on our song pages! Which soundtracks do you consider among classic Bollywood’s all-time best and why? Leave us a comment and let us know!

– Mrs. 55

A Guide to the Instruments of Old Bollywood Film Music: from Hindustani to Western (and everything in-between)

Madan Mohan recording studio orchestra

Music director Madan Mohan in his studio circa. 1960s. How many different instruments can you spot in this photo?

Ever find yourself listening to Bollywood film music and feel like your brain is exploding in ecstasy from the rainbow of instruments striking your tympanic membranes? We know the feeling. The history of Bollywood film music goes much deeper than the playback singers who lived in limelight. The incredible talents of Hindi film music directors and musicians are responsible for the compositions we love today. Their risks and creativity were a gift to generations of music-lovers. Without composer Naushad defying his parents to play the harmonium “live” for silent films in the 1930s or R.D. Burman’s daring musical ingenuity in his break-out film Teesri Manzil, Bollywood music as we know it would be radically different.

To truly understand the brilliance of the men and women who shaped Hindi film music, we must learn their tools. From traditional Indian instruments that date to the Vedic age to the orchestral forerunners of Europe to the unsung instruments of Brazil and Africa, the rich mediums of Bollywood music wrote their own rules. We have created a Beginner’s Guide to the Instruments of Classic Hindi Films for whether you’re a newcomer to Bollywood or a veteran, the innovation of these songs and their mechanisms will stun you. To simplify, we divided the instruments into rough categories with several of our favorite examples and links to videos and song translations beneath. And if you ever wonder which instrument was played in a particular song, refer back to this guide for the answer!

A Beginner’s Guide to the Instruments of Classic Hindi Films

String Instruments

Banjo: A plucked 4-5 string instrument with origins in Africa that traveled to America around the 18th century with African-American traditional music and became a staple of country and folk genres.

Ignore how uncomfortable the heroine’s Stockholm Syndrome makes you, and enjoy Meena Kumari’s decent impression of someone who knows how to play the banjo in the film Azaad. This is the only instance of this instrument’s prominent use in a film song that I know. If you have heard others, please leave a comment!

Kitna Haseen Hai Mausam (Azaad 1955)

Cello: A bass 4-stringed instrument dating back to 17th century Italy, the large cello is held against the seated cellist and traditionally played with a horsehair bow.

Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai (Kati Patang 1970)

Zindagi Ke Safar Mein (Aap Ki Kasam 1973)

Kuch To Log Kahenge (Amar Prem 1972)

Panna Ki Tammana (Heera Panna 1973)

Meri Bheegi Bheegi Si (Anamika 1973)

Guitar: A typically 6-string instrument with European roots with a multitude of incarnations, from acoustic to electric, that have influenced every genre from hard rock to reggae.

Bollywood film music saw a revolution with guitar use from the more acoustic versions a la “Tadbeer Se Bigdhi Hui” in the early 50s to the electric guitar riots of the 60s such as in the jolting opening of “Aaja Aaja” from Teesri Manzil (1966).

Aaja Aaja Main Hoon Pyaar Tera (Teesri Manzil 1966)

Chura Liya Hai (Yaadon Ki Baraat 1973)

Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh (Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai 1960)

Tadbeer Se Bigdi Hui (Baazi 1951)

Rulake Gaya Sapna Mera (Jewel Thief 1967)

Mandolin: An evolution from the lute family around 17th century Italy with traditionally 4 courses of double strings that feature prominently in classical European music.

This instrument has had a diverse role in Hindi film music–from an instrument of seduction in C.I.D. (1956) to one of tragedy in “Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki.” Fun fact: the mandolin that is featured in the interlude music “Achaji Main Hari” was played by Laxmikant and Manoharida themselves!

Kahin Pe Nigahen Kahin Pe Nishana (C.I.D 1956)

Achaji Main Hari Chalo (Kala Pani 1958)

Tum Bin Jaoon Kahan (Pyar Ka Mausam 1969)

Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki (Dulari 1949)

Santoor: An ancient Kashmiri instrument of 72-strings that are struck with special mallets and heard in traditional Sufi hymns and folk music of Northern India.

The beautiful, reflective santoor is prominent in many Bollywood films, often as a gentle romantic hint in the score during dialogue or first encounters with love. A great example is in “Mere Mehboob Tujhe” where the santoor is allowed to muse solo as the hero recalls his meeting with a mysterious woman for whom he now searches.

Aye Dil-e-Nadan (Razia Sultan 1983)

Sajna Hai Mujhe (Saudagar 1973)

Mere Mehboob Tujhe (Mere Mehboob 1963)

Sarangi: A bowed short-neck stringed instrument famed in Hindustani classical music for its close imitation of the human voice.

I often associate the sarangi with its great performances in courtesan songs. No better example is the hypnotizing opening of Pakeezah‘s immortal “Chalte Chalte.” The sarangi is a very evocative instrument, conjuring unimaginable sadness as in “Do Hanson Ka JoDa” or a lovely shyness in “Dil Cheez Kya Hai.”

Chalte Chalte (Pakeezah 1972)

Saranga Teri Yaad Mein (Saranga 1961)

Do Hanson Ka Joda (Ganga Jamuna 1961)

Dil Cheez kya Hai (Umrao Jaan 1981)

Aansuu Bhari Hai (Parvarish 1958)

Sarod: A lute-like instrument from Afghanistan that rose to prominence in the Mughal courts.

Like the santoor, the sarod often appears in the film’s score outside of a full-blown song-and-dance sequence. The sarod is highly versatile–when played quickly it can denote excitement and movement, and when plucked slowly it can pull at your heart strings. The mesmerizing battle between sitar and sarod in “Madhuban Mein Radhika” demonstrates this instrument’s power to take your breath away!

Madhuban Mein Radhika (Kohinoor 1960)

Man Re Tu Kahe (Chitralekha 1964)

Suno Chhoti Si Gudiya (Seema 1955)

Sitar: An 18-20 string plucked instrument synonymous with Hindustani classical music that influenced the Western pop world in the 1960s when adopted by The Beatles and Rolling Stones.

The ethereal sitar helped bring Hindustani music to the international stage. Used often in Hindi films to denote the gentle falling of rain (a famous Ravi Shankar composition in Satyajit Ray’s Pathar Panchali captures this brilliantly), sitar music is a classic Bollywood backbone.

O Sajna Barkha (Parakh 1960)

Hum Tere Pyar Mein Saara Aalam (Dil Ek Mandir 1963)

Chandan Sa Badan (Saraswatichandra 1968)

Tere Bina Zindagi Se (Aandhi 1975)

Chori Chori Chupke Chupke (Aap Ki Kasam 1974)

Tanpura: A 4-string instrument to accompany a Hindustani classical vocalist that does not play a melody, but rather provides a harmonic drone throughout the piece.

The beauty of the tanpura is in its relative simplicity. The singer plucks four strings in order continuously, allowing them to focus on their vocal composition while maintaining harmony. Listen carefully for its deep drone in the background of many classical and semi-classical songs!

Duniya Na Bhaaye (Basant Bahar 1956)

Man Tarpat Hari Dar (Baiju Bawra 1952)

Sukh Ke Sab Saathi (Gopi 1970)

Violin: A highly popular bowed 4-string instrument with roots in 16th century Italy that has had global impact, including in orchestral performances of Hindi film music.

Violins are an integral part of film music orchestration. I’ve listed several songs that highlight its use as a solo instrument, or more commonly as part of a large orchestra seen in numerous Hindi film songs from the 1950s onwards (the famous opening of “Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua” being but one of dozens).

Ek Pyar Ka Naghma (Shor 1972)

Mujhe Kisi Se Pyar (Barsaat 1949)

Likhe Jo Khat Tujhe (Kanyadaan 1968)

Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua (1955)

Karvaten Badalte Rahe (Mere Jeevan Saathi 1972)

Wind Instruments

Bansuri: An ancient flute-like instrument with a history dating back to the myths of Lord Krishna and Radha, the bansuri is made from a single shaft of bamboo with 6-7 holes and is associated with pastoral compositions of India.

The lonely bansuri is a common instrument of Hindi films denoting a tragedy, a philosophical side-note, or a quiet village scene. The bansuri of “Chingari Koi Bhadke” represents the second of these themes and will never fail to transport you to a different world of exoticism.

Chingari Koi Bhadke (Amar Prem 1972)

Chahoonga Main Tujhe (Dosti 1964)

Piya Bina (Abhiman 1973)

Na Koi Umang Hai (Kati Patang 1970)

Been (Pungi): An instrument fashioned from a gourd and two reed pipes, the been is the traditional instrument of snake charmers and popular in folk music of South Asia.

The good old been is one of pop cultures favorite instruments, yet is actually only a prominent player in a few classic Bollywood songs. The landmark, of course, is Nagin (1954) where “Man Dole Mera Tan Dole” made been music popular even outside the crowds who gather for snake charmers.

Man Dole Mera Tan Dole (Nagin 1953)

Ek Pardesi Mera Dil Le Gaya (Phagun 1958)

Parde Mein Rehne Do (Shikar 1968)

Western concert flute: A popular sideblown woodwind instrument that dates back to the 11th century Byzantine Empire and is commonly heard in bands and orchestras.

I love how the flute has been used in Hindi film music. Rethink how you’ve always imagined the flute and take a listen to the evocative solo the opens “Ja Re Ja Re Udi Ja Re Panchi” or the seductive twist of the key flute in “Aao Na Gale Lagalo Na”!

Ja Re Ja Re Udi Ja Re Panchi (Maya 1961)

Ruk Ja O Janewali Ruk Ja (Kanhaiya 1959)

Aao Na Gale Lagalo Na (Mere Jeevan Saathi 1972 – key flute)

O Haseena Zulfonwali Jane (Teesri Manzil 1966)

Harmonica: First appearing in Vienna in the 19th century, the easily portable hand-held harmonica has influenced artists from Blues and jazz genres.

Harmonica plays an important role in classic Bollywood film music, often played by optimistic young heroes with a song in their heart despite having great odds against them.

Jaanewalo Zara (Dosti 1964)

Hai Apna Dil To Awara (Solva Saal 1958)

Mere Sapno Ki Rani (Aradhana 1969)

Saxophone: Fashioned in brass originally in Belgium in the 19th century, the edgy saxophone is a key member of jazz and marching bands.

I was first alerted to the presence of saxophones when I heard the haunting and unexpected interlude music of “Awaaz Deke” (Professor 1962).  Interestingly, I’ve found that in Hindi film music (due in large part to maestro Manohari Singh whose soprano sax sets your heart on fire in “Mehbooba Mehbooba”), it is just as often as a jazzy party-starter as an edgy bridge toward tragedy.

Awaaz Deke (Professor  1962)

Jis Gali Mein Tera Ghar (Kati Patang 1970)

Aage Bhi Jaane Na Tu (Waqt 1965)

Roop Tera Mastana (Aradhana 1969)

Mehbooba mehbooba (Sholay 1975)

Shehnai: A traditional South Asian instrument known for its auspicious melodies at weddings and processions.

This lovely, but almost invariably tragic-sounding instrument is a staple of wedding scenes. The opening shehnai of “Babul Ki Duaaen” feels as if someone is crying, reflecting the sadness of a father’s loss. One of the more innovative melodies I’ve heard with shehnai is in the song “Chal Ri Sajni” (and incidentally among the most perfectly filmed and edited sequences in Bollywood history, but that’s another story…)

Babul Ki Duae.N Leti Jaa (Neel Kama 1968)

Kabhi Kabhi (Kabhi Kabhi 1976,  interlude after ghughat utaa raha hoon main)

Chal Ri Sajni Ab Kya Soche (Bombai Ka Babu 1960)

Trumpet: 3 piston-valves are the hallmark of this 15th century European instrument which has influenced jazz, Latin, and pop music alike.

While a more limited role in Hindi film music, the trumpet moved strictly cabaret club numbers to the beautiful opening of “Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli” where the lifting trumpet solo carries our hopes to the sky with it.

Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli (Anand 1971)

Zuby Zuby Jalembu (An Evening in Paris 1967)

Patli Kamar Hai (Barsaat 1949)

Haal Kaisa Janab Ka (Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi 1958)

Percussion

Bongo-Conga: Afro-Cuban drums (consisting of the smaller hand-held bongos and the larger barrel congas) that are backbones of Latin music, Afro-Cuban jazz, and the mambo music that swept 1950s United States.

Wanna know why “O Mere Dil Ke Chain” is your favorite Rajesh Khanna song and your heart races every time it plays? It’s not (just) his perfect face, it’s the Bongo-Conga! This exotic and uber-fun percussion instrument translates effortlessly from living room romance to an outdoor gypsy party.

O Mere Dil Ke Chain (Mere Jeevan Saathi 1972)

Dilbar Dil Se Pyaare (Caravan 1971)

Gum Hai Kisise Pyar (Rampur Ka Lakshman 1972)

Castanets: A distinct handheld instrument commonly associated with the Spanish Sevillanas folk dance that is played by clicking two small wooden shells together in a quick rattle.

Once you hear this sound in a song, you’ll never forget it. More popular in Bollywood songs of the 50s and early 60s, the castanets add a playful nuance on top of the base percussion provided by a different instrument.

Tere Sur Aur Mere Geet (Goonj Uthi Shehnai 1959)

Yeh Chand Sa Roshan Chehra (Kashmir Ki Kali 1964)

Door Gagan Ki Chaaon (Door Gagan Ki Chaaon Mein 1964)

Aaiye Meharbaan (Howrah Bridge 1958)

Mora Gora Ang Laile (Bandini 1963)

Madal: A hand-drum used in Nepali folk music that made its debut in Bollywood under music director R.D. Burman and Ranjjit Gazmer in the 1970s.

The madal has a fuller more rounded tone than the tabla or bongo, lending itself well to rustic scenes. It was featured heavily in the destination film “Hare Rama Hare Krishna”!

Hum Dono Do Premi (Ajnabee 1974)

Kanchi Re Kanchi Re (Hare Rama Hare Krishna 1971)

Dhol: A exciting Panjabi instrument famous for its influence on bhangra music, the dhol (and its family members the dholak and dholki) is a double-headed drum featured in genres from pop to qawwali.

The dhol is a great instrument for dancing and some of the best Bollywood choreography has featured the upbeat dhol. If you ever doubted Vijayantimala’s rumored legendary dance skills, just watch and listen to the end of “Honton Pe Aisi Baat” with the mind-boggling dhol spinning circles around the other instruments.

Chadti Jawani (Caravan 1971)

Honton Pe Aisi Baat (Jewel Thief 1965)

Jhumka Gira Re (Mera Saaya 1966)

Yamma Yamma (1980)

Jai Jai Shiv Shankar (Aap Ki Kasam 1973)

Duggi: A traditional Uttar Pradesh kettle drum in the tabla family played with two hands.

Popularized by Bollywood musician Homi Mullan, this percussion instrument creates a more rounded tone than the tabla, but is a perfect pastoral compliment to “Ni Sultana Re” as well as the sultry domestic “Bahon Mein Chale Aao.”

Ni Sultana Re (Pyar Ka Mausam 1969)

Bahon Mein Chale Aao (Anamika 1973)

Roop Tera Mastana (Aradhana 1969)

Dekha Na Haye Re Socha Na (Bombay to Goa 1972)

Ghatam (Matka): An ancient percussion instrument from South India, the ghatam is a clay pot with a narrow mouth and is played with bare hands.

It doesn’t get any more traditional than the ghatam, but R.D. Burman figured out how to use it an as unconventional ways as possible. Bet you wouldn’t have guessed that the percussion of hipster hit “Samne Yeh Kaun Aaya” came from a clay pot?

Samne Yeh Kaun Aaya (Jawani Diwani)

Are Kaise Mitti Ki Maadho (Imaan 1974)

Muttu Kudi (Do Phool 1974)

Reco Reco (Reso Reso): A scraped percussion instrument with a distict sound with origins in Brazilian music.

The reco reco is basically a party in a box! The distinct rhythm it creates adds spice to every song that is bold enough to utilize it. Watch how Kishore Kumar in a hilarious scene from Padosan lipsyncs his own actual recorded voice while playing the Reco Reco (who is in turn lipsynced by Sunil Dutt!) in “Mere Samnewali Khidki Mein.”

Mere Samnewali Khidki Mein (Padosan 1968)

Mere Naina Saawan Bhado (Mehbooba 1976)

Mera Naam Hai Shabnam (Kati Patang 1970)

Tabla: A pair of hand drums used commonly in Hindustani classic music composed of two distinct drums with differing roles for each hand.

This is one of the most common percussion instruments used in old Hindi songs and is always to go-to when all else fails. I once took tabla lessons, but quit after 2 weeks because my guru insisted I needed to cut my nails shorter to play the instrument correctly. He was right, of course, but there are sacrifices I’m not willing to make!

Sanam Tu Bewafa (Khilona 1970)

Jurm-e-Ulfat Pe (Taj Mahal 1963)

Baiyan Na Daro (Dastak 1970)

Jaag Dard-e-Ishq (Anarkali 1953)

Inhi Logon Ne (Pakeezah 1971)

Western Drum Kit: A collection of instruments often including a bass drum, a snare drum, and one or more cymbals that became popular with jazz bands in the early 20th century and ushered in rock-and-roll.

Rock-and-roll and nightclub bands have long been a part of Hindi film traditions and the Western drum kit hit the screen with a literal bang, and usually accompanied by a song better suited for “modern” audiences.

Dil Deke Dekho (Dil Deke Dekho 1959)

Ina Mina Dika (Aasha 1957)

Baar Baar Dekho (Chinatown 1962)

Tumne Mujhe Dekha (Teesri Manzil 1966)

Nain Milakar Chain Churana (Aamne Samne 1967)

Other

Accordion: Believed to have been invented in Berlin in the early 19th century, the accordion, like the harmonium, is played by compressing the instrument’s bellows with one hand while playing keys with the other hand.

The accordion produces a harsher sound than the harmonium, but is often more exciting as in the epic performance in “Anhoni Ko Honi” or the drama-filled “Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega”!

Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega (Sangam 1964)

Awaara Hoon (Awaara 1951)

Sab Kuch Seeka Humne (Anari 1959)

Anhoni Ko Honi Karde (Amar Akbar Anthony 1977)

Jeena Yahan Marna Yahan (Mera Naam Joker 1970)

Heavy Breathing and Grunting: An R.D. Burman signature that marks any classic Bollywood song as particularly racy and is served by both men and women with an extra scoop of awkward sauce.

Yeah, I had to throw this in. Don’t pretend like it doesn’t exist, and definitely don’t pretend that you don’t love it. Awkward breathing and grunting nosies are a strange but important hallmark of many of our favorite classic Bollywood cabaret numbers. They really just have to be heard to understand (and to believe). Now before you start to blush, these noises are actually pretty complicated to make–it takes great breathing control and just the right amount of oomph. Seriously, try these exercises at home when no one’s around to judge. You’ll give your lungs a run for their money!

Piya Tu Ab To Aaja (Caravan 1971)

Duniya Mein Logon Ko (Apna Desh 1972)

Mera Naam Hai Shabnam (Kati Patang 1970)

Aa Jaane Ja (Intaqam 1969)

Lekar Hum Deewana Dil (Yaadon Ki Baraat 1973)

Harmonium: A type of hand-pumped accordion often used as melodic accompaniment in Hindustani vocals as well as qawwali and folk music.

The harmonium is one of Hindustani classical music’s best modern friends and a great accompanist to everything from a layman’s love ode (a la “Bahut Shukriya”) to semi-classical qawwalis (as seen in Nutan’s one-man-show “Nigahen Milane”).

Leke Pehla Pehla Pyaar (C.I.D. 1956)

Bahut Shukriya (Ek Musafir Ek Hasina 1962)

Nigahen Milane Ko (Dil Hi To Hai 1963)

Kajra Mohabbatwala (Kismat 1968)

Yashomati Maiya Se (Satyam Shivam Sundaram 1978)

Manjira: A small pair of hand cymbals that traditionally accompanied bhajans with roots in ancient temple music.

Although manjira are traditionally used as accompaniments to bhajans, I ADORE how they were used in the romantic “Chhupa Lo Yun Dil” to underscore the devotional imagery to a couple’s love for each other.

Chhupa Lo Yun Dil Mein (Mamta 1966)

Na Main Dhan Chaahoon (Kala Bazaar 1960)

Kanhaiya Kanhaiya Tujhe Aana Padega (Maalik 1972)

Piano: One of the world’s most familiar musical instruments, the piano is played through a keyboard that strikes strings connected to a soundboard.

You’ll be the classiest guy in the room if you can burst into song with your own piano accompaniment at a party. Or so classic Bollywood tells us. Piano songs are essentially their own genre in the world of Hindi films. Once the piano comes out, it gets fancy and emotional in a hurry.

Pyar Diwana Hota Hai (Kati Patang 1970)

Dil Ke Jharoke Mein (Brahmachari 1968)

Aji Rooth Kar Ab (Aarzoo 1965)

Dheere Dheere Machal (Anupama 1966)

Dost Dost Na Raha (Sangam 1964)

Shankh (conch shell): An ancient instrument fashioned from the shells of large snails that are typically featured in Hindu religious hymns.

This occasionally heard instrument is usually only found in highly religious songs, but can also be heardwhen our heroes make a trip to a temple or when someone is praying for justice in the world. A powerful example comes during the climax of aarti in Purab Aur Paschim!

Om Jai Jagdish (Purab Aur Paschim 1970)

Mose Mora Shaam Roota (Johnny Mera Naam 1970)

What a whirlwind! We hope our introductory guide to the instruments of old Bollywood is a useful tool as you immerse yourself in the incredibly diverse music of our favorite films! All I have to say after reviewing my list is that I really could have used more cowbell.

Just kidding (in fact, listen to “Kitne Bhi Tu Kar Le Sitam” from Sanam Teri Kasam for some actual Bollywood cowbell action). What other instruments played in your favorite classic Bollywood songs have we left off our list? Leave us a comment with an old film song you wish you knew more about and we’ll try to tell you which instruments are featured!

-Mrs. 55

 

 

 

 

Bekas Pe Karam Kijiye Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Madhubala

Shackled by chains, Madhubala pleas for mercy by singing a naat in Mughal-e-Azam (1960)

Today, we present the lyrics and English translation to a treasured gem from the regal soundtrack of K. Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam (1960): bekas pe karam kiijiye. Imprisoned by Emperor Akbar for falling in love with Prince Salim, Anarkali sings this song as a plea for mercy and delivery from her troubles. This composition is an example of a naat — a song in praise of the Prophet Mohammed — and it remains one of the most beautiful naats to grace Bollywood’s silver screen to this day.

For the soundtrack of Mughal-e-Azam, Naushad and Shakeel Badayuni teamed up to create a lyrical and musical masterpiece whose iconic splendor shines brightly in the annals of Hindi cinema. In particular, this composition has been tuned skillfuly by Naushad to the lilting notes of Raga Kedar, an ancient and revered raga named after Lord Shiva that is known for its complex melodic phrases and evocation of the shanta (tranquil) rasa. The tranquil piety of this song has been expressed most beautifully by melody queen Lata Mangeshkar, whose artistic genius is featured prominently throughout this film’s soundtrack. Not surprisingly, for a special record released in 1967 on the occasion of her silver jubilee in playback singing, Lata selected bekas pe karam kijiye as one of the top ten favorite songs of her career. Take a listen to a live version of this song from Lata’s famous Royal Albert Hall debut (London, UK) in 1974. Flawless as usual!

The poetry of this song employs a number of phrases and metaphors that are traditionally found in naats and other Muslim prayer songs. Specifically, Mohammed is referred to as mushkil-kushaa.n (remover of difficulties) and sarkaar-e-madiinaa (leader of the holy city Medina). The city of Medina occupies a revered position in Muslim history because it is believed that the migration of Mohammed and his followers from Mecca to Medina to escape perseuction in the year 622 A.D marks the beginning of the Islamic Era. In addition, this song employs two common metaphors used in religious songs to describe tragedy and misfortune: an ark stranded in a whirlpool (bha.nvar me.n safiina) and the sinking boat (Duubtii kashtii). Along with Madhubala’s devastating portrayal of Anarkali, such lyrics throughout the soundtrack of Mughal-E-Azam provide additional poignancy and artistry to the narration of this tragic epic. 

See our translation of Teri Mehfil Mein Qismat Aazmaakar for more discussion about Mughal-E-Azam, and stay tuned as we translate the rest of the songs from this monumental film. Until next time…

-Mr. 55
Madhubala

Even during imprisonment, Madhubala’s beauty shines in this classic scene from Mughal-e-Azam (1960)

Bekas Pe Karam Kijiye: Lyrics and Translation

ai mere mushkil-kushaa.n fariyaad hai
Oh, my savior! Please heed this complaint.
aap ke hote hue duniyaa merii barbaad hai
Although I remain devoted to you, my world is being destroyed.

bekas
pe karam kiijiye, sarkaar-e-madiinaa

Please have mercy upon this wretched soul, oh leader of the holy city.
gardish me.n hai taqdiir, bha.nvar me.n safiinaa
My fate revolves in a vicious cycle, while my ark is stranded in a whirlpool.

hai vaqt-e-madad, aaiye bigaDii ko banaane
As the time for aid has arrived, please come and resolve my troubles.
poshiidaa nahii.n aap se kuchh dil ke fasaane
I keep no tales of my heart hidden from you.
zakhmo.n se bharaa hai kisii majbuur kaa siinaa
This helpless devotee’s chest is marked by many wounds.

chhaayii hai musiibat kii ghaTaa gesuuo.n vaale
The dark lock-like clouds of misfortune have cast upon me.
lilaah merii Duubtii kashtii ko bachaa le.n
May the Lord rescue my sinking boat.
tuufaan ke aasaar hai.n, dushvaar hai jiinaa
With signs of an impending storm, my life is in danger.

bekas pe karam kiijiye, sarkaar-e-madiinaa
Please have mercy upon this wretched soul, oh leader of the holy city.

 

Glossary

mushkil-kushaa.n: remover of difficulties, savior; fariyaad: complaint; barbaad: destroyed; bekas: wretched, destitute; karam karnaa: to have mercy; sarkaar-e-madiinaa: leader of Medina (holy city of Islam), God; gardish: cycle; taqdiir: fate; bha.nvar: whirlpool; safiinaa: ark; vaqt-e-madad: time for aid; bigaDii banaanaa: to resolve troubles; poshiidaa: hidden; fasaanaa: tale; zakhm: wound; majbuur: helpless; siinaa: chest; musiibat: misfortune; ghaTaa: cloud; gesuuo.n: locks, hair; lilaah: Allah, God; kashtii: boat; tuufaan: storm; aasaar: signs; dushvaar: difficult, arduous.

Madhubala

The heavy chains used during the shooting of this song took a physical toll on Madhubala, who was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition known as Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) or colloquially as a “hole in the heart”.