Yeh Zindagi Usi Ki Hai Lyrics & Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Bina Rai's lovely smile in Anarkali (1953)
Bina Rai’s enchanting smile commands the screen in Anarkali (1953).

Today we present the lyrics and English translation to “Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai” from Anarkali (1953). “Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai” is a true Bollywood legend, one of Lata Mangeshkar’s most iconic numbers picturised upon a nail-biting thriller of historical mythology.

The doomed tale of 16th century Mughal Prince Salim and fabled courtesan Anarkali has been a favorite of the Bollywood film industry dating back to the pre-talkie days. A silent film in 1928 and then a talkie in 1935 starred Sulochana in the title role (who incidentally also plays Queen Jodha in the 1953 version).

In 1944, K. Asif too announced he would remake the film with Nargis as the lead, but unfortunately, the film was put on hold with the partition of India when his producer Shiraz Ali Hakim moved to Pakistan. Almost a decade after Bina Rai’s 1953 version became a blockbuster, K. Asif picked up steam on his “period” project, toyed with casting Nutan before honing in on Madhubala, and eventually released his magnum opus Mughal-e-Azam (1961).

Pradeep Kumar and Bina Rai star in Anarkali 1953.png
Pradeep Kumar and Bina Rai star as Prince Salim and his songstress lover in Anarkali (1953).

In Filmistan’s magnificent 1953 version, the song “Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai” both opens and ends the film. A romantic version starts the movie on a high note (literally) while an ominous version carries the film’s climax as the heroine is entombed alive. The cinematography, particularly of the first iteration, is stunning: dream-like extreme close-ups of Bina Rai lend a lyrical quality to the Salim-Anarkali courtship. Every shot is infused with languid glamour matched by the actress’ complete command of the screen. I remain awestruck by Bina Rai’s performance–she possess that elusive je ne sais quoi, which eclipses beauty or theatrics to make her unquestionably a star. You cannot stop watching her even as the last brick is placed in front of her face (Geeta Bali from that era possesses a similar enchanting appeal).

Let me be clear: no matter how you slice it, the biggest star of this piece is Lata Mangeshkar whose vocals could overpower any Mughal army–from her gorgeous opening alaap to the haunting final farewell. It’s one of those mind-numbing songs that makes me sad when I remember some people live their whole pathetic lives without ever hearing this angel’s voice. Music composer C. Ramachandra famously shafted Geeta Dutt by switching the soundtrack to a pure Lata production halfway through (fortunately, one Geeta Dutt number was salvaged). The expert sitar that punctuates both versions of “Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai” is performed by none other than Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan (yes, the same genius who wowed you in “Madhuban Mein Radhika“).

Now that your cup runneth over with tea, check out the lyrics and our English translation to “Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai” below!

Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai Lyrics & English Translation:

Romantic version:

Yeh zindagii usii kii hai jo kisii ka ho gayaa
This life belongs to only to whomever gives themselves to another
pyaar hii mei.N kho gayaa
To whomever becomes lost in love

Yeh bahaar yeh samaah keh rahaa hai pyaar kar
This spring and this moment are telling us to fall in love
Kisi kii aarzuu mei.N apne dil ko beqaraar kar
They tell us to make ours hearts restless in desire of another
Zindagii hai bewafaa
Life is unfaithful
Zindagii hai bewafaa, luuT pyaar kaa mazaa
Life is unfaithful, so we must steal the pleasures of love
Yeh zindagii usii kii hai…

dhaDak rahaa hai dil, to kyaa? Dil ke dhaDakane.N na gin
So what if my heart is racing? Do not count your heartbeats
Phir kahaa.N yeh fursate.N, phir kahaa.N yeh raat-din
Where again will we have this leisure time, where again will we have these days and nights?
Aa rahii hai yeh sadaa
The call is coming
Aa rahii hai yeh sadaa mastiiyo.N mei.N Duub jaa
The call is coming for us to immerse ourselves in these intoxications
Yeh zindagii usii kii hai..

Yeh zindagii usii kii hai jo kisii ka ho gayaa
This life belongs to only to whomever gives themselves to another
pyaar hii mei.N kho gayaa
To whomever becomes lost in love

Bina Rai as Anarkali entombed alive
Bina Rai as Anarkali gazes at the audience one final time before she is (in theory) entombed alive in Anarkali (1953).

Sad version:

Yeh zindagii usii kii hai jo kisii ka ho gayaa
This life belongs to only to whomever gives themselves to another
pyaar hii mei.N kho gayaa
To whomever becomes lost in love

Jo dil yahaa.N na mil sake, mile.Nge us jahaa.N mei.N
Those hearts which could not meet here will meet in the other world
Khile.Nge hasrato.n ke phuul, jaa ke aasmaan mei.N
The flowers of our wishes will bloom as they reach heaven
Yeh zindagii chalii gayii…
Even if this life goes away
Yeh zindagii chalii gayii jo pyaar mei.N, to kyaa huaa?
Even if this life goes away, if it was for love, then so what?
Yeh zindagii usii kii hai…

Sunaayegii yeh daastaa.N, shamaa mere mazaar kii
The flame of my shrine will tell this story
Khizaa.N mei.N bhii khilii rahii, yeh kalii anaar kii
This pomegranate flower will keep blooming even in Autumn
Isse mazaar mat kaho…
Do not call this a shrine
Isse mazaar mat kaho, yeh mahal hai pyaar kaa
Do not call this a shrine, this is a palace of love
Yeh zindagii usii kii hai…
This life…

Hai zindagii kii shaam aa, tujhe gale lagaauu.N mai.N
Let the evening of my life come, I would take you in my arms
Tujhii mei.N Duub jaauu.N mai.N
I would immerse myself in you
Jahaa.N ko bhuul jaauu.N mai.N
I would forget the world
Bas ek nazar, mere sanam
Just one last glance from you, my dear

Alviidaah….alviidaah…
Farewell…farewell…
Alviidaah….alviidaah…
Farewell…farewell…
Alviidaah….alviidaah…
Farewell…farewell…
Alviidaah….alviidaah…
Farewell…farewell…

Glossary:

zindagii: life; pyaar: love: kho jaanaa: to become lost; bahaar: Spring; samaa: moment, time; aarzuu: desire; beqaraar: restless; bewafaa: unfaithful; luuTnaa: to steal; mazaa: enjoyment, pleasure; dhaDaknaa: to beat [heart]; dil: heart; ginnaa: to count; fursaat: leisure time; raat-din: night and days; sadaa: call, cry; mastii: intoxication; Duubnaa: to drown, to immerse; hasrat: wish, desire; phuul: flower; aasmaa.N: sky, heaven; sunaanaa: to tell, to make heard; daastaa.N: story; shamaa: light, flame; mazaar: shrine, tomb; khizaa: Autumn; khilnaa: to bloom; kalii: flower; anaar: pomegranate; mahal: palace; shaam: evening; gale lagaanaa: to take in [one’s] arms; bhuulnaa: to forget; nazar: glance; sanam: lover, dear; alviidaah: farewell

Sulochana or Ruby Myers as Anarkali and Queen Jodha
Sulochana (also known as Ruby Myers) was a silent Indian film star of Jewish ancestry who starred in Anarkali (1928) (left) and later played Queen Jodha in the 1953 remake (right).

You are doubtless asking yourself, why did they have to entomb Anarkali alive though? Was there no more humane way of doing things? Okay, fine, the Mughals were not exactly known for their humane war strategies, but sheesh, when Prince Salim arrives at her tomb, don’t you think he would try tearing it down and checking if she’s alive rather than just having a meltdown and crying? Seriously, there had to be enough oxygen in there to last at least a little while longer!

As it turns out, Indian audiences couldn’t get enough of Pradeep Kumar and Bina Rai in a good old Mughal romance so they were cast again ten years later as Shah Jahan (Prince Salim’s real life son) and his queen Mumtaz Mahal in the film Taj Mahal (1963). Check out “Jo Wada Kiya Woh” or “Paao.N choo lene do” for more epic period Urdu poetry!

– Mrs. 55

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Jadugar Saiyan Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Vijayantimala in Nagin (1954)
Vijayantimala gazes at her snake-charmer lover in Nagin (1954)

Today we highlight the lyrics and English translation of the sweet Lata Mangeshkar solo “Jadugar Saiyan” from the hit film Nagin (1954). A lively mandolin solo fades in as a handsome young couple daydream in a jungle grove . There are many reasons why this song is one of Bollywood’s favorites. For me, I think it is because “Jadugar Saiyan” captures that beautiful age of innocence we like believe once existed in Indian romance. This song hearkens us back to a fabricated time when just holding hands could give a man heart palpitations, and all the women sung amazingly just like Lata Mangeshkar.

Mala, played by Vijayantimala, and Sanatan, played by Pradeep Kumar, come from rival spear-throwing adivasi clans whose eclectic livelihood involves capturing live snakes. The feisty, blood-thirsty daughter of the clan chief, Mala, is the definition of bada$$, complete with an intimidating ‘do and a bow-and-arrow ensemble. After hearing the enchanting been melody Sanatan is playing to lure a family of cobras, she falls for him harder than any snake ever had. The feeling is mutual, for even when she later attempts to kill him (he is from a rival family, after all), he’s too hooked to let a minor thing like disregard for human life get between them.

While the lyrics of the song are from the point of view a girl who claims to desperately wish to go home because it’s past her curfew, the tone is completely flirtatious. Throughout the entire song, he does literally nothing to stop her from leaving (unless you count the occasional flex of his bare pectoralis majors), while Mala dances circles around him, initiates impromptu games of tag, and bats her eyelids ferociously. This endearing, almost comical, tension between the girl’s actions and words underscore the wholesome nature of their love affair. I mean, there are probably more scintillating things you could say to entice the man you love other than how your all your besties are going to tease you for being embarrassed later. Mala embodies that purity of intention with just a dash of spice that makes her the quintessential Bollywood heroine.

Vijayantimala pleads with Pradeep Kumar in Jadugar Saiyan from Nagin
Vijayantimala pretends to plead with a shirtless Pradeep Kumar in “Jadugar Saiyan” from Nagin (1954).

At the end of the song, Mala’s father arrives to break up the party, spelling utter disaster for our star-crossed couple. Welcome to 1950s Bollywood, people. Sanatan might be able to kill a poisonous cobra with his bare hands, but there can be no worse fate for our hero than to suffer disapproval from his would-be father-in-law.

With lyrics by Rajinder Krishan and music by Hemant Kumar, the soundtrack from Nagin is one of Bollywood’s all-time best. Be sure to check out Vijantimala’s extra special dance moves in the music video, and we hope you love the lyrics and English translation of this delightful song from Nagin as much as we do!

Jadugar Saiyan Lyrics and English Translation:

jaaduugar, saiyaa.N, chhoDo more bai.Nyaa
Magician, beloved, let go of my wrists
ho gayii aadhii raat, ab ghar jaane do
It is midnight, let me go home

jaane de, O rasiiyaa, mere man basiiyaa
Let me leave, O sweet one, for you reside in my mind
gaao.N meraa baDii duur hai
My village is very far away
terii nagariiyaa.N ruk na sakuu.N mai.N
I cannot stop in your town
pyaar meraa majbuur hai
My love is helpless
zanjiir paDii mere haath, ab ghar jaane do
My hands are shackled, now let me go home

jaaduugar, saiyaa.N, chhoDo more bai.Nyaa
Magician, beloved, let go of my wrist
ho gayii aadhii raat, ab ghar jaane do
It is midnight, let me go home

jhukii jhukii a.Nkhiiyaa.N dekhe.Nge saaDii sakhiiyaa.N
All my friends will see my lowered eyes
de.Nge taanaa tere naam kaa
They will tease me with your name
aise mei.N, mat rok, bedardii
Do not stop me like this, unfeeling one
le vachan kal shaam ka
Accept a promise of tomorrow evening
kal ho.Nge phir ham saath, ab ghar jaane do
Tomorrow we will be together again, now let me go home

jaaduugar, saiyaa.N, chhoDo more bai.Nyaa
Magician, beloved, let go of my wrist
ho gayii aadhii raat, ab ghar jaane do
It is midnight, let me go home

Glossary:

jaaduugar: magician; saiyaa.N: beloved; chhoDnaa: to let go; moraa: Braj bhasha term for meraa, my; baiyaa.N: wrists; aadhii raat: midnight; ghar: home; jaane denaa: to allow to go; rasiiyaa: sweet one; man basiyaa: one who resides in the mind; gaao.N: village; baDii: very; duur: far; nagariiyaa.N: town; ruknaa: to stop; pyaar: love; majbuur: helpless, weak; zanjiir: chains, shackles; haath: hands; jhuknaa: to lower, to bow; a.Nkhiiyaa.N: eyes; saaDii: all; sakhiiyaa.N: a girl’s other female friends; taanaa: taunt; naam: name; aise: like this; mat; do not [do something] roknaa: to stop [someone/something]; bedardii: unfeeling one, cruel one; vachan: promise; kal: yesterday/tomorrow; shaam: evening; phir: again, then; saath: together

Vijyantimala in Jadugar Saiyan from Nagin 1954
Vijyantimala plays the fearless daughter of an adivasi chief in Nagin (1954).

Will Mala and Sanatan ultimately have a happy snake-charmed life together? Even without the plot, the film is well-worth watching for the songs and an introduction to the fascinating way classic Bollywood portrays India’s tribal communities (which is a whole other discussion). For a glimpse of another famous shirtless actor from the 1950s, check out our translation of “Yeh Raat Yeh Chandni” from Jaal (1952)! You can thank me later.

This song translation was requested by fan Pankaj. Keep these great requests coming!

-Mrs. 55

Jo Wada Kiya Woh Nibhana Padega Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

PK BR
The eternal love story of emperor Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal is presented in Taj Mahal (1963)

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day 2014, we continue our series on Taj Mahal (1963) with the lyrics and English translation to the film’s most popular song: Jo Vada Kiya WohFor our previous posts on this film, please see our translations of khudaa-e-bartar, jurm-e-ulfat pe, and paa.nv chhuu lene do.

As its name suggests, Taj Mahal (1963) directed by M. Sadiq tells one of the greatest love stories in India’s history: how Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (played by Pradeep Kumar) fell in love with his (third!) wife Mumtaz Mahal a.k.a Arjumand Banu Begum (played by Bina Rai) and eventually built the Taj Mahal in her memory following her demise. While the film’s historical — yet often fictional — narrative earned commercial success and critical acclaim, it is mostly remembered today for its soundtrack composed by Roshan and penned by Sahir Ludhianvi.

It is no surprise that this immortal duet sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi earned the well-deserved #1 position in Binaca Geet Mala for the year of 1963. In fact, this song was played for so long on Binaca Geet Mala that the program had to change its rules regarding the maximum number of weeks that a single song could be featured on the list! Ever since, this blockbuster song, tuned to Raga Pahadi, has remained an all-time romantic favorite in Hindi cinema. Although some may consider its charm to be hampered by overexposure, even the most diehard fans may be surprised to learn that this song has two additional versions featuring lyrics that differ from those in the song’s most popular version. Among the three renditions found in the film, my personal favorite is the “sad” version (transcribed as Version 2 below).  I mean, how could you not love that beautiful Lata alaap played as Bina Rai’s spirit descends from the Moon to meet Pradeep Kumar?

Will the romance of this song be enough to charm your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day this year? Share this poetry with that special someone and you’re guaranteed to score some major points from him or her today! Until next time…

-Mr. 55
PK
Pradeep Kumar exudes a regal aura as he plays Shah Jahan in Taj Mahal (1963).

Jo Wada Kiya Woh Nibhana Padega (Version 1): Lyrics and Translation

jo vaadaa kiyaa vah nibhaanaa paDegaa
You must fulfill the promise that you made.
roke zamaanaa chaahe, roke khudaayii
Should society or divinity attempt to stop you,
tum ko aanaa paDegaa
you must still come to me. 

tarastii nigaaho.n ne aavaaz dii hai
My pining eyes have called out to you.
muhabbat kii raaho.n ne aavaaz dii hai
The paths of love have called out to you.
jaan-e-hayaa, jaan-e-adaa, chhoDo tarsaana
Oh beloved, please stop tormenting me.
tum ko aanaa paDegaa
You must come to me.
jo vaadaa kiyaa vah nibhaanaa paDegaa
You must fulfill the promise that you made.

yah maanaa hame.n jaa.n se jaanaa paDegaa
I accept that I must leave this life.
par yah samajh lo tum ne jab bhii pukaaraa
But understand this: whenever you call out to me,
ham ko aanaa paDegaa
I must come to you.
jo vaadaa kiyaa vah nibhaanaa paDegaa
I must fulfill the promise that I made. 

ham apnii vafaa pe na ilzaam le.nge
I will not tolerate accusations concerning my fidelity. 
tumhe.n dil diyaa hai, tumhe.n jaa.n bhii de.nge
I have given you my heart, and I can offer you my life too. 
jab ishq kaa saudaa kiyaa, phir kyaa ghabraanaa?
When I have already bargained with love, what is there to fear?
ham ko aanaa paDegaa
I must come to you.
jo vaadaa kiyaa vah nibhaanaa paDegaa
I must fulfill the promise that I made.

chamakte hai.n jab tak yah chaa.nd aur taare.n
As long as the Moon and stars continue to shine,
na TuuTe.nge ahd-o-paimaa.n hamaare
our promises and pledges will not be broken.
ek-duusraa jab de sadaa hoke diivaanaa
When one of us calls the other in the pangs of love,
ham ko aanaa paDegaa
we must come to each other.
jo vaadaa kiyaa vah nibhaanaa paDegaa
We must fulfill the promise that we made.

Moon
Bina Rai’s spirit descends from the heavens to come meet Pradeep Kumar in his old age in Taj Mahal (1963).

Jo Wada Kiya Woh Nibhana Padega (Version 2): Lyrics and Translation

jo vaadaa kiyaa vah nibhaanaa paDegaa
You must fulfill the promise that you made. 
roke zamaanaa chaahe, roke khudaayii
Should society or divinity attempt to stop you,
tum ko aanaa paDegaa
you must still come to me.

sabhii ahal-e-duniyaa yah kahte hai.n ham se
All the people of the world tell me that
ki aataa nahii.n hai koi muD ke adam se
no one returns from the next world.
aaj zaraa shaan-e-vafaa dekhe zamaanaa
Today, let this world see the splendor of faithfulness.
tum ko aanaa paDegaa
You must come to me. 
jo vaadaa kiyaa vah nibhaanaa paDegaa
You must fulfill the promise that you made.

yah maanaa hame.n jaa.n se jaanaa paDegaa
I accept that I must leave this life.
par yah samajh lo tum ne jab bhii pukaaraa
Yet, understand this: whenever you call out to me,
ham ko aanaa paDegaa
I must come to you.
jo vaadaa kiyaa vah nibhaanaa paDegaa
I must fulfill the promise that I made.

ham aate rahe hai.n, ham aate rahe.nge
I have been coming to you, and I will continue to do so eternally.
muhabbat kii rasme.n nibhaate rahe.nge
I will continue to fulfill the duties of love.
jaan-e-vafaa, tum do sadaa phir kyaa Thikanaa?
Oh beloved, at which dwelling shall we meet when you call? 
ham ko aanaa paDegaa
I must come to you. 
jo vaadaa kiyaa vah nibhaanaa paDegaa
I must fulfill the promise that I made. 

BR
Bina Rai stars as the elegant Mumtaz Mahal a.k.a Arjumand Banu Begum.

Jo Wada Kiya Woh Nibhana Padega (Version 3): Lyrics and Translation

jo vaadaa kiyaa vah nibhaanaa paDegaa
You must fulfill the promise that you made. 
roke zamaanaa chaahe, roke khudaayii
Should society or divinity attempt to stop you,
tum ko aanaa paDegaa
you must still come to me.

yah maanaa hame.n jaa.n se jaanaa paDegaa
I accept that I must leave this life.
par yah samajh lo tum ne jab bhii pukaaraa
Yet, understand this: whenever you call out to me,
ham ko aanaa paDegaa
I must come to you.
jo vaadaa kiyaa vah nibhaanaa paDegaa
I must fulfill the promise that I made to you.

hamarii kahaanii tumhaaraa fasaanaa
My story and your tale
hameshaa hameshaa kahegaa zamaanaa
will be narrated eternally by the world.
kaisii balaa kaisii sazaa, ham ko hai aanaa
Whatever misfortune or punishment falls upon me, I must come.
ham ko aanaa paDegaa
I must come to you.
jo vaadaa kiyaa vah nibhaanaa paDegaa
I must fulfill the promise that I made.

jo vaadaa kiyaa vah nibhaanaa paDegaa
You must fulfill the promise that you made.
roke zamaanaa chaahe, roke khudaayii
Should society or divinity attempt to stop you,
tum ko aanaa paDegaa
you must still come to me.

*Female lines in red are sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Male lines in green are sung by Mohammed Rafi. Lines in black are sung together by Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi.  

Glossary

vaadaa nibhaanaa: to fulfill a promise; roknaa: to stop; zamaanaa: society, world; khudaayii: divinity; tarasnaa: to pine; nigaah: eyes; aavaaz denaa: to call out; muhabbat: love; raah: path; jaan-e-hayaa: beloved; jaan-e-adaa: beloved; tarsaanaa: to torment; maanna: to accept; jaha.n: world; samajh lenaa: to understand; pukaarnaa: to call out; vafaa: fidelity, faithfulness; ilzaam: accusations; ishq; love; saudaa karnaa: to bargain; ghabraanaa: to fear; chamaknaa: to shine;  TuuTnaa: to break; ahd-o-paimaa.n: promises and pledges; sadaa denaa: to call; diivaanaa: mad, crazy in love; ahal-e-duniyaa: people of the world; muD ke aanaa: to return; adam: non-existence, the next world; shaan-e-vafaa: splendor of faithfulness; rasm: duty, rule; jaan-e-vafaa: beloved; Thikaanaa: dwelling, place; kahaanii: story; fasaanaa: tale; hameshaa: always, eternally; balaa: misfortune, calamity; sazaa: punishment.

PK BR
Pradeep Kumar and Bina Rai remain united in love through both life and death in Taj Mahal (1963).

Ab Kya Misal Doon Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Pradeep Kumar Aarti 1962
Pradeep Kumar sings an Urdu love poem to Meena Kumari in Aarti (1962)

The next English translation in our series is of the poetic lyrics to “Ab Kya Misal Doon” from Aarti (1962). This timeless song is one of Bollywood’s most beloved romantic odes by Mohammed Rafi. Pradeep Kumar, Meena Kumari, and Ashok Kumar star in Aarti, a family drama of love, debts, and vengeance. Ashok Kumar plays a wealthy surgeon and the villain of the film, vowing revenge when his betrothed, Meena Kumari, marries another man, Pradeep Kumar. An exacting dilemma of the film comes when ironically Ashok Kumar must decide whether or not to push aside his emotional battles and perform surgery on his own rival Pradeep Kumar to save his life. Of course, Meena Kumari throws in some more drama into the bargain–and her quiet beauty steals the show yet again. Aarti has a number of great songs written by Majrooh Sultanpuri, but unarguably the greatest is the sweet Mohammed Rafi ballad “Ab Kya Misal Doon.”

Pradeep Kumar plays “the other man” in the film–a good-hearted, but unemployed poetic dreamer who croons softly to Meena Kumari in this number. It would put any girl in a tough position: the poetry of the song is exquisite, without overwhelming anyone with an Urdu vocabulary exam. It has just the right blend of tenderness, lyricism, and adoration made magical by the unequivocal talent of Mohammed Rafi. Follow along on youtube here and enjoy our English translation of this poetic masterpiece!

Meena Kumari in Aarti 1962
Meena Kumari blushes as she hears Pradeep Kumar singing her praises in Aarti (1962)

Ab Kya Misal Doon: Lyrics and Translation

Ab kyaa misaal doon mei.N tumhaare shabaab ki
What can I now compare to your lustre?
Insaan ban gayee hai kiran mahtaab kii
You are a ray of the moon in human form

Chehre mei.N ghul gayaa hai haseen chaandni ka noor
The beautiful light of the moon has melted upon your face
Aankho.N mei.N hai chaman ki jawaan raat ka suroor
In your eyes is the garden of the early night’s joy
Gardan hai ek jhuki hui daali gulab kii
Your neck is like a lowered branch of a rose flower
Ab kyaa misaal doon…
What can I compare now…

Gesu khule to shaam ke dil se dhuan uThe
When your hair was let open, then the smokiness of night emerged from my heart
Chhule qadam to jhuk ke na phir aasmaan uThe
When your feet hit the ground, the sky bowed down would not raise itself again
Sau baar jhilmilaaye shamaa aftaab kii
The light of this sun sparkled a hundred times
Ab kyaa misaal doon…
What can I compare now…

Deewar-o-dar kaa rang, yeh aanchal, yeh pairhan
The end of your saarii and your robes are the colours of my refuge
Ghar kaa mere chiraagh hai boota sa yeh badan
The lamp of my house is this slender plant-like body
Tasveer ho tumhii mere jannat ke khwaab kii
You are the image of the paradise of my dreams
Ab kyaa misaal doon…
What can I compare now…

Glossary:

misaal: example, comparison; shabaab: glory, lustre; insaan: human; kiran: ray, mahtaab: moon; chehra: face; noor: light; chaman: garden; suruur: joy, exhilaration; gardan: neck; daalii: branch; gulaab: rose flower; gesuu: hair; dhuaan: smoke; qadam: footsteps; aasmaan: sky; sau baar: a hundred times; jhilmilaanaa: to sparkle, to shine; aftaab: sun; deewar-o-dar: walls and doors, refuge; rang: colour; aanchal: the end draping of a saarii; pairhan: robe; ghar: house; chiraagh: light; boota: small plant; badan: body; tasveer: image, picture; jannat: paradise; khwaab: dream

Meena Kumari filmfare awards 1962
Meena Kumari poses with Ashok Kumar and actress Shashikala at the 1962 Filmfare Awards.

Did you know in 1962, Meena Kumari was the only nominee at the Filmfare Awards for Best Actress? She was nominated for Aarti, Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Main Chhup Rahuungi. Talk about a walk-over. She took it home for Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962).

-Mrs. 55

Sansaar Se Bhaage Phirte Ho Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Meena Kumari stars as an enchanting courtesan in Chitralekha (1964)

Sahir Ludhianvi’s lyrical genius as an Urdu poet is widely known, but his poetry in pure Hindi is considerably less prolific. While Sahir churned out gem after gem of Urdu shayari in films such as Taj Mahal and Gumraah, his output in pure Hindi is limited to a handful of films. Sahir’s first foray into the field of Hindi poetry occurred in the soundtrack for Chitralekha (1964), a film directed by Kidar Sharma based on a novel by the same name written by Bhagawati Charan Verma in 1934. The story revolves around the protagonist Chitralekha (played by Meena Kumari), a widowed courtesan who seduces men to their doom with her beauty in the court of King Chandragupta Maurya. Prince Bijgupt (played by Pradeep Kumar) is one of her many admirers, and his lust for Chitralekha prevents him from fulfilling his royal duties. Kumar Giri (played by Ashok Kumar) is a conflicted holy man whose spirituality wavers when faced with the temptation of Chitralekha’s physical charms. Overall, the film questions the philosophical significance of sin and virtue by tracing Chitralekha’s development from being a haughty courtesan to a humble ascetic. Despite this film’s compelling narrative and exploration of uncoventional themes, it failed to achieve success at the box office, especially when compared to its 1941 predecessor (the second highest grossing film of the year!). The mediocre box office performance has been attributed to miscasting of the main characters and a poorly written script.

Meena Kumari sings the line “apaman rachetaa kaa hogaa, rachnaa ko agar Thukraaoge” amidst a setting of flowers, which symbolize the natural beauty of creation.

Given the lackluster audience reception at the time of its release, this film is generally remembered today for its soundtrack composed by Roshan and penned by Sahir Ludhianvi. The two songs that are the most well known from this film are the Rafi solo “man re tu kaahe na dhiir dhare” and “sa.nsaar se bhaage phirte ho,” the Lata solo that I’ve chosen to translate today. Based on Raga Yaman Kalyan, this song is a  beautifully crafted statement against spiritual hypocrisy. Through his words, Sahir rejects the conception of sin and virtue established by organized religions in favor of a philosophy of universal hedonism. In context of the film, Chitralekha uses this song to mock Kumar Giri’s ascetism after he patronizes her with a sermon about giving up her sinful lifestyle in order to attain spiritual enlightenment. My favorite part of this song is probably when Chitralekha sings the clever and incisive line: “apaman rachetaa kaa hogaa, rachnaa ko agar Thukraaoge” (It will be an insult to the Creator himself, if you reject the act of creation). This song is full of feisty one-liners like this, so please take a listen to the song and follow along with translation/glossary below if you’d like to hear more. To conclude, I think we can all agree that Sahir does not disappoint here and proves his versatility poet who is equally comfortable writing lyrics in shuddh Hindi as he is in Urdu. Very impressive, indeed–enjoy!

-Mr. 55

Meena Kumari stumbles under the intoxication of wine in the company of her harem.

Sansar Se Bhage Phirte Ho Lyrics and Translation

sa.nsaar se bhaage phirte ho, bhagvaan ko tum kyaa paaoge?
As you flee from society, how will you find God?
is lok ko apnaa na sake, us lok me.n bhii pachataaoge.
You didn’t consider this world as your own, and you will repent it in that world. 

 ye paap hai.n kyaa, ye punya hai.n kyaa? riito.n par dharm kii mohare hai.n
What is sin and what is virtue? Religion uses such traditions as mere facades. 
har yug me.n badalte dharmo.n ko kaise aadarsh banaaoge?
How will you idealize the changing religions of every age?

yeh bhog bhii ek tapsaya hai, tum tyaag ke maare kyaa jaano?
This suffering is also a form of penance; what would you know, you renunciation-stricken fool?
apaman rachetaa kaa hogaa, rachnaa ko agar Thukraaoge.
It will be an insult to the Creator himself, if you reject the act of creation. 

ham kahte hai.n yah jag apnaa hai, tum kahte ho jhuuTha sapna hai.
I claim that this world is mine; however, you consider it a false dream.
ham janam bitaa kar jaaye.nge, tum janam gavaa kar jaaoge.
I will live life to the fullest, but you will waste yours in vain. 

sa.nsaar se bhaage phirte ho, bhagvaan ko tum kyaa paaoge?
As you flee from society, how will you find God?

Glossary 

sa.nsaar: society; bhagvaan: God; pachataanaa: to repent, regret; lok: world; paap: sin; punya: virtue; riit: tradition; dharm: religion; mohara: front, facade; aadarsh banaanaa: to idealize; bhog: suffering;  tapasya: penance; tyaag ke maare: struck with renunciation; apaman: insult; rachetaa: the Creator; rachnaa: to create; Thukraanaa: to reject, disapprove;  jag: world.

Ashok Kumar plays the role of the conflicted holy man Kumar Giri in Chitralekha (1964)