A Definitive Ranking of Men’s Facial Hair in Classic Bollywood Films

Raj Kapoor in a promotional photograph for Dil Hi To Hai sporting an 'm' mustache.

Raj Kapoor in a promotional photograph for Dil Hi To Hai (1963) sporting a suave ‘m’ mustache.

Happy Movember! This lovely time of year is a month when men around the world grow out their mustaches to change the face of men’s healthcare–such as through raising awareness for prostate and testicular cancer. Read more about the Movember Foundation here!

Inspired by this movement, today we present a definitive ranking of men’s facial hair in classic Bollywood films, a photographic indulgence of every important mustache and beard that hit the silver screens of Bombay and then bounced straight into our souls. And God knows we needed something this in our lives after that f*$&ing insane apocalypse difficult election week. But be forewarned, some of these manes can bite–and others might make you suddenly feel itchy. Most of all, that fluttering sensation in your chest like a fluffy mustache tickling your heart–that’s called love.

A Definitive Ranking of Men’s Facial Hair in Classic Bollywood Films

15. Kishore Kumar’s waxed perfection in Padosan (1968)

kishore-kumar-padosan-mustache

His mustache is basically a pair of angel wings.

14. Shashi Kapoor’s deadly combo in Chor Sipahee (1979)

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Shashi shines in a shaggy beard and a full-bodied mustache with just a hint of delicate curl. Looking bad never looked so good.

13. Amitabh Bachhan’s full coverage in Do Anjaane (1976)

Amitabh Bachhan beard Do Anjaane.jpg

Amitabh goes incognito behind a blanket of his generous wool.

12. Pradeep Kumar’s Mughal-style beard in Taj Mahal (1963)

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The Mughals were champions of many things including the artistry of a man’s face. Note the paintbrush side-burns that complete this regal look.

11. Rishi Kapoor’s bad boy scruff in Laila Manju (1979)

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Rishi may be dying of thirst, but his scruff is on fleek right now.

10. Pran’s proud Pathan mane in Zanjeer (1973)

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Pran is a class act as a Pathan sporting a well-tamed auburn fur coating.

9. Vinod Khanna’s caterpillar mustache in Amar, Akbar, Anthony (1977)

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Something alive might actually be crawling on his face. Something beautiful and shimmering.

8. Shammi Kapoor’s fluffy goatee in Professor (1962)

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While this look should never be tried at home, Shammi’s iconic goatee made men of boys.

7. Jeetendra’s provocative chevron mustache in Parichay (1972)

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The only thing fuzzier than the tuft of fur nestled in the dimple of Jeetendra’s upper lip is his vision through those thick hipster lenses.

6. Dev Anand’s curly mustache in Hum Dono (1961)

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Thoughtful, courteous, and deadly–the curly mustache of Dev Anand is nothing short of a war hero.

5. Manoj Kumar’s patriotic handlebar in Shaheed (1965)

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Because nothing quite says “Inquilab Zindabad” like a well-trimmed mustache.

4. Raj Kapoor’s pyramidal mustache in Awaara (1951)

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Once a classic, always a classic. The Egyptians building Giza had no idea what they were inspiring.

3. Rajesh Khanna’s hipster beard in Do Raaste (1969)

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Be still my beating heart. I bet there’s a dozen plaid shirts in his closet, and that he listens to actual CDs on his walkman because he just wants to be authentic.

2. Guru Dutt’s emotional mustache in Pyaasa (1957)

Guru Dutt pyaasa mustache.jpg

The only thing quivering more than Guru Dutt’s voice is the 4 mm diameter patch of heaven resting on his upper lip

1. WINNER: Rajkumar’s devastating pencil mustache in Pakeezah (1972)

rajkumar-pencil-mustache-pakeezah

I DIE THE SWEET DEATH BY LOVE OF A MUSTACHE. There are few things in life greater than this show-stealing masterpiece of men’s grooming.

Men, time to take a hard look in the mirror and evaluate if you’re really bringing your full potential to the world. And remember, just because we all love to see a little facial hair in November, it is NEVER OK to flash your chest hair in public in broad daylight à la Amitabh Bachhan, even if it’s just an unsightly tuft from your too-many-buttons-unbuttoned polo shirt. The 70s are over. These things are not equivocal. I just felt like that had to be said.

You’re welcome.

– Mrs. 55

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!

Yeh Mera Prem Patra Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Yeh Mera Prem Patra Sangam Rajendra kumar vijayantimala

Vijayantimala reads a love letter from her childhood sweetheart Rajendra Kumar in “Yeh Mera Prem Patra” from Sangam (1964).

Happy Valentine’s Day to all our fans! In celebration of this romantic holiday, we present the lyrics and English translation to one of our favorite love songs, “Yeh Mera Prem Patra” from the hit film Sangam (1964). Radha (played by Vijayantimala) and Gopal (played by Rajendra Kumar) play two childhood lovers who have kept their feelings hidden because of Kumar’s best friend, Sundar (played by Raj Kapoor), who has professed his unwavering devotion to Radha for years. Although Radha spurns Sundar’s love, Sundar begs his best friend Gopal to make sure no other man spoils his chances when Sundar is called to serve in the air force on the northern front.

But then! Sundar is killed while serving his country–and in their shared mourning, Radha and Gopal can finally express their undying love for one another. A shining moment in Mohammed Rafi’s career, “Yeh Mera Prem Patra” is their outpouring of uninhibited romance. With a heavenly chorus in the air that highlights the dream-like world in which the two now find themselves, Radha runs across an open meadow to Gopal as he writes her a love letter. In fact, she is so eager to discover what he has written, that her sari falls from her shoulder in her haste, revealing the front of her blouse.

Let’s pause right here. For anyone uninitiated to classic Hindi films, believe me when I say, this NEVER happens. The heroine in classic Bollywood would never let her sari fall so revealingly, and surprisingly, Radha makes NO moves to adjust it. The scene is filmed brilliantly–because of the camera’s position, the sari show is purely for the viewer to ponder–Gopal is facing the audience and cannot see what we have all noticed. It’s as if the director, Raj Kapoor, is telling us that the romance we are witnessing is not purely chaste. And indeed, the like the Radha-Gopal of Hindu mythology, the film’s two lovers are not to be destined for eternal bliss.

Yeh Mera Prem Patra sari tussle

ABOVE: Vijayantimala quietly approaches Rajendra Kumar with her sari having fallen off her shoulder. BELOW: Rajendra Kumar and Vijayantimala tussle for the end of her sari playfully while the low camera height emphasizes the beautiful open skies.

The song references the famous Ganga and Jamuna rivers from whose geographical confluence with the river Saraswati (sangam), the film derives its name. The triangular symbolism and references to the sangam is evoked throughout the film, with each character embodying one of the three ancient rivers. Sangam made history as Raj Kapoor’s first technicolour film and one of the first Bollywood films to be shot in exotic locals such as Venice, Paris and Switzerland.

But beneath all the glitter, did you know there’s actually true love story behind this sweet poem? At the age of 20, the famed Urdu lyricist of “Yeh Mera Prem Patra,” Hasrat Jaipuri, fell in love his own Radha, a young Hindu woman from hometown in Jaipur. Though they never married, she would inspire many of his greatest poems. Jaipuri later recalled fondly in an interview:

“Meri haveli ke samne, ek badi khoobsurat ladki rehti jiska naam tha Radha. Aur ishq ka mahzab se, zaat paat se, koi taaluq nahii.N. Kisi se bhi ho sakta hai, kisi se bhi kiya jaa sakta hai. To mera unse pyaar hua. Taalim maine sher-o-shayari ki, mere naanaa madhoom/manhoom se haasil ki?, lekin ishq ka sabak jo hai, woh Radha ne padhaayaa ki ishq kya cheez hai.”

[“Near my home a very beautiful girl lived named Radha. And neither religion nor caste and creed have any power over love. It can happen with anyone and it can happen to anyone. And so I fell in love with her. I may have trained in poetry from my grandfather, but the lesson of love was taught by Radha.”]

“Yeh Mera Prem Patra” is the very love letter that Jaipuri wrote to his real life Radha–more than 20 years before Raj Kapoor would use the same sweet poem in Sangam! So this Valentine’s Day, we at Mr. and Mrs. 55 recommend you do something old-fashioned and write your special someone a romantic love letter! For inspiration, soak up Hasrat Jaipuri’s shy, tender lyrics and our English translation to the sentimental love letter, “Yeh Mera Prem Patra” below!

Yeh Mera Prem Patra Lyrics and Translation:

Meherbaa.Nlikhuu.N? “Haseenaa” likhuu.N? Yaa “dilruubaa” likhuu.N?
Should I write “compassionate one”? Should I write “beautiful one”? Or should I write “beloved”?
Hairaan huu.N ki aap ko is khat mei.N kyaa likhuu.N
I am puzzled by what to write in this letter to you

Yeh meraa prem patra paDh kar, ki tum naaraaz na honaa
When you read this love letter of mine, may you not be angry
ki tum merii zindagii ho, ki tum merii bandagii ho
For you are my life, for you are my prayer

Tujhe mai.N chaand kehtaa thaa, magar us mei.N bhi daagh hai
I used to call you the moon, but in the moon are blemishes
Tujhe suraj mai.n kehtaa thaa, magar us mei.N bhi aag hai
I used to call you the sun, but in the sun is ablaze
Tujhe itnaa hii kehta huu.N ki mujhko tumse pyaar hai, tumse pyaar hai, tumse pyaar hai
I tell you only this that I love you, I love you, I love you

Tujhe Gangaa mai.N samajhuu.Ngaa, tujhe Jamunaa mai.N samajhuu.Ngaa
I will think of you as the Ganges River, I will think of you as the Jamuna River
Tu dil ke paas hai itnii, tujhe apnaa mai.N samajhuu.Ngaa
You are so close to my heart, I will think of you as my own
Agar mar jaauu.N ruuh bhaTakegii tere intezaar mei.N, intezaar mei.N, intezaar mein
If I die, my soul will wander waiting for you, waiting for you, waiting for you

Yeh meraa prem patra paDh kar, ki tum naraaz na honaa
When you read this love letter of mine, may you not be angry
ki tum merii zindagii ho, ki tum merii bandagii ho
For you are my life, for you are my prayer

Glossary:

meherbaa.N: compassionate one; likhnaa: to write; haseenaa: beautiful lady; dilruuba: lover; hairaan: puzzled, stunned; khat: letter; prem: love; patra: letter; paDhnaa: to read; naaraaz: angry; zindagii: life; bandagii: prayer; chaand: moon; daagh: flaw, blemish; suraj: sun; aag: fire; pyaar: love; Gangaa: Ganges River; Jamunaa: Jamunaa River; dil: heart; [kisi ke] paas: to be nearby [something]; mar jaanaa: to die; ruuh: soul; bhaTaknaa: to wander; intezaar: wait

romance in the garden

Rajendra Kumar and Vijayantimala romance each other in a sunlit garden in Sangam (1964). For once in his life, Rajendra Kumar’s outfit of choice adds to the ambiance rather than destroys.

One of my favorite moments both musically and cinematically in this song comes at the very end when Lata Mangeshkar picks up the chorus over a beautiful wide tracking shot of the lovebirds walking hand-in-hand in the Elysian forest. This heavenly moment can only be seen and heard in the movie, it was tragically cut from the record version we know so well!

Mrs. 55 wedding

As promised, here is a photograph of Mrs. 55 finally marrying her college sweetheart last December!

Mrs. 55 adab arz

Adab arz hai! This love poem is dedicated to my very romantic new husband and personal Bollywood hero!

Soon after this song, Sundar surprises the couple by returning from war alive! Sundar then marries Radha because his devoutly loyal friend Gopal is unable to tell him his true feelings (like a typical Bollywood bromance, don’t you just love how the woman has basically ZERO say in all this?). Inevitably, of course, the famous love letter is later discovered and Raj Kapoor is heartbroken. See our English translation of the epic self-pitying “Dost Dost Na Raha” for more of the drama that unfolds!

But let us temporarily forget all that on this lovely Valentine’s Day. This beautiful ode was requested by dedicated fan Inderjit Wassi! Thank you for the poetic request!

– Mrs. 55

Spooky Songs of Classic Bollywood: The 15 Most Haunting Melodies of Yesteryear

Biswajeet Bees Saal Baad film noir kahin deep jale

Biswajeet is haunted by a mysterious voice singing of love and murder in Bees Saal Baad (1962).

Happy Halloween! What better way to give yourself the creeps than with a vintage Hindi film song! Mr. 55 and I once hosted a Spooky Song-themed study break on-campus during which we projected old Hindi film noirs on a large screen, drank rooh afza and jammed nerdily to Lata’s high notes. Was it any surprise the two of us were the only ones really having an awesome time? Join us in our countdown to the spookiest song of classic Bollywood! When I say scary, I’m not referring to Vinod Khanna’s lime green tuxedo in Aan Milo Sajna (although it might give you nightmares). I’m talking about the real deal here. These are songs that will keep you up at night, that will haunt your waking moments as you grapple with the symbolism. And if you see a mysterious woman in a white-sari floating around your house this evening…well, don’t say we didn’t warn you!

The Fifteen Scariest Songs from Old Hindi Films!

15. Tujhko Pukare Mera Pyar (Neel Kamal 1968)

Few things are scarier than being buried alive. Rajkumar haunts his Mughal-era lover through the ages even when she is reborn as a 1960s desperate housewife.

14. Gagan Jhanjhana Rah (Nastik 1954)

This song is a hidden gem. Hemant Kumar actually impersonates God in this song with a voice that booms from the heavens amidst a stormy apocalpyse. The chorus is so darn creepy in this song, you might feel real chills from the wind sound effects mixed into the song!

13. Waqt Ne Kiya (Kaaghaz Ke Phool 1957)

What makes this song so spooky and yet so beautiful? It’s all in the lighting and the spectres lingering in the room–read our translation for more!

12. Jayen To Jayen Kahan (Taxi Driver 1954)

In our translation of this all-time creeper, we discuss the emptiness of the song’s mis-en-scene to heighten a feeling of abandonment, leaving you nothing but Dev Anand’s perfect pompadour to ease the pain.

11. Akele Hain Chale Aao (Raaz 1967)

While the movie Raaz may be a clunk, “Akele Hain” (that is reprised in a male and female version!) will certainly leave you clawing after your security blanket. Insider hint: Rajesh Khanna takes his shirt off later on in the movie if you can sit through the rest of the film.

10. Raat Andheri (Aah 1953)

In this heartbreaking social drama, Raj Kapoor plays a handsome tuberculosis patient unable to marry the girl of his dreams because of his illness. In the throes of self-pity, the minor key music haunts him as his own life slips away. Tragic, yes, but mostly just creepy.

9. Sau Baar Janam Lenge (Ustadon Ke Ustad 1963)

Mohammed Rafi’s unearthly beautiful voice echoes through the mist in this song like a phantom from the other world. The woman in mourning seems ready to commit suicide at any moment during the song, keeping the audience on their toes!

8. Dekhi Zamane Ki Yaari (Kaaghaz Ke Phool 1957)

This gentle song of disillusioned love beckons you in like a tantalizing dream, and then drags you to perdition as you scream over the ethereal chorus. Our earlier translation of Dekhi Zamane discusses the transitions of the song from fantasy to absolute nightmare!

7. Koi Duur Se Aawaz De Chale Aao (Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam 1962)

One of my favorite songs in this genre, Guru Dutt is awakened in the middle of the night by a tender lament floating through the halls of the large empty mansion in which he works. Who is this mysterious and sad woman with the enchanting song? You HAVE to watch this genius star-studded film and find out!

6. Jane Kahan Gaye Woh Din (Mera Naam Joker 1970)

Good thing I don’t have a fear of clowns or this song would have permanently wrecked my childhood. Raj Kapoor plays a circus performer who has lost all those he has ever loved. He enters a private Hell in which he is bound to perform in his clown garb to an unfeeling audience, always smiling on the outside and crying on the inside. Brace yourself for several attempts at artsy camera tricks to make him float that could not be more creepy.

5. Gumnaam Hai Koi (Gumnaam 1965)

Based on the Agatha Christie novel “And Then There Were None,” Gumnaam is a kitsch-lovers delight. Drop-dead gorgeous (literally) Lata Mangeshkar’s voice haunts a group of travelers as they meander through a nameless forest. Newsflash! The “ghost” of this song actually chimes in with a high-pitch thrill when the music goes quiet, so listen carefully!

4. Naina Barse (Woh Kaun Thi? 1964)

One of the best examples of a femme fatale in Hindi films, “Naina Barse” is sung by a ghostly woman haunting her lover from a former lifetime. Her flowing white sari against the endless, crisp white snow of a Simla winter set the perfect stage for a nightmare. The woman in a white sari is a classic cliche–read more about its meaning here!

3. Kahin Deep Jale Kahin Dil (Bees Saal Baad 1964)

This song hardly needs an introduction, so famous is its eerie tune. One of the most brilliant shots is the slow crane down from above the chandelier to Biswajeet’s horrified stare at the piano. But has anyone else ever noticed the film version has the interlude violins playing an entire octave lower than in the recorded version?? It totally blew my mind when watching the film–and both ways are equally horrifying!

2. Jhoom Jhoom Dhalti Raat (Kohra 1964)

Stylistic symbolism sets this creepster apart from its competitors. My favorite moment in this song is when the shadow figures do an interpretive dance in the sand, acting out the “choDo piyaa mera, choDo haath” line. I get chills every time I watch this–the cinematography is genuinely brilliant and haunting!

1. Aayega Aanewala (Mahal 1949)

Welcome to the spookiest song of Bollywood! Nothing will ever top the song that officially taught Bollywood everything it needed to know about horror. Don’t expect any corpses to pop out of the closet–this song is way to classy for that. See our translation of this unbeatable classic for more!

So…I know I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight. What are your favorite spooky songs from Bollywood films? Tell us the scenes that have haunted your waking hours for years (think Sadhana declaring “Mujhe khoon achha lagtaa hai” on a rainy night)! Mr. 55 and I both hope you have a very Happy Halloween!

– Mrs. 55

Mrs. 55 in her go-to gypsy girl costume. When all else fails...

Mrs. 55 in her go-to gypsy girl costume. When all else fails…tie a chunni on your head.

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

Raj Kapoor Shree 420 Charlie Chaplin

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

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

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

Raj Kapoor phir bhi dil hair hindustani shree 420

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

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

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

Raj Kapoor mera joota hai japani

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

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

Mera Joota Hai Japani Lyrics and Translation:

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

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

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

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

Glossary:

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

Rural India to city transition

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

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

– Mrs. 55

camel

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

The Top 30 Greatest Classic Bollywood Films of All Time

The top 30 greatest classic Bollywood films have been selected. Which films made the list of Bollywood’s best?

Greatest Bollywood Films of All Time Guru Dutt Waheeda Rehman

Introduction

Mr. and Mrs. 55 – Classic Bollywood Revisited! at last present our definitive list of the Bollywood classics you absolutely must see before you die. Hundreds of films were scored and ranked across multiple dimensions of Bollywood cinema including: story, direction, performances, musical composition, as well as cultural impact and legacy. We included Hindi-language films made between the period of 1949-1979 on our list of the best classic Bollywood films ever made. Some on the list are beloved favorites of the industry, while others may surprise you.

Among the winners are directors Guru Dutt, Bimal Roy and Raj Kapoor–names synonymous with masterpiece Indian cinema–each with multiple films among Bollywood’s all-time greatest. Always wondered why a couple of young Harvard students like us love old Indian films so passionately? No matter what you think you know about Bollywood, the movies on this list will change your understanding of Indian films like never before. From village epics that grapple with our national identity to the nostalgic poetry of sudden disillusionment, classic Bollywood films transport us from the enchanting glamour of Bombay nightlife to the majestic gardens of Kashmir. They carry our souls through hardship and loss and revive our spirits with redemption.

This is cinema the way it was meant to be. This is classic Bollywood.

The top 30 Films from 30 years of classic Hindi cinema (1949-1979):

1. Pyaasa

Pyaasa Guru Dutt

Guru Dutt, 1957

Pyaasa, or “thirst,”is the story of one man’s search for compassion in the cold cynicism of post-independence Indian society. Vijay is an unpublished poet, dismissed by his own family and scorned by socialites and his colleagues. After befriending a prostitute who shelters him, Vijay is believed dead and his poetry “posthumously” lionized. He becomes an overnight sensation, mourned by fans across the country, and the true Vijay is labeled an imposter. India entered its golden age of filmmaking in the 1950s when its long-awaited freedom from England and the hopes of a new government created a social tinderbox of great expectations and disillusionment. Pioneering the technique of utilizing song lyrics as direct extensions of the film’s dialogue, Guru Dutt as the writer-producer-director-star paints a stirring portrait of the commodification of humanity.

2. Mughal-e-Azam

Mughal-e Azam K. Asif

Karimuddin Asif, 1961

At the turn of the 17th century, Prince Salim falls in love with the court dancer Anarkali and wages war against his own father, Emperor Akbar, in order to marry her. Director K. Asif’s enormous cast, opulent sets, intricately designed costumes and extravagantly staged battle scenes made the film the most expensive ever produced in India at the time. But despite of all the grandeur, the film has a warm heart, and the dangers of the romance between Salim and Anarkali are infused into each glance they share. Although the love story is the backbone of the film, it is Emperor Akbar, from whom the film derives its name (“the Great Mughal”), who takes center stage as he is torn between love for his only son and the unforgiving demands of the Mughal Empire. Every line of dialogue is written with the ornamentation of poetry, casting an elegance to Mughal-e Azam‘s thunderous power.

3. Pakeezah

Pakeezah Kamal Amrohi

Kamal Amrohi, 1971

In the grandeur of Muslim Lucknow at the turn of the century, Pakeezah is a courtesan and dancer who dreams of leaving her life behind when a stranger falls in love with her in a train compartment, not knowing her true profession. With swirling romanticism and languid, dream-like cinematography, Pakeezah instantly became one of the most extraordinary musicals ever made. Perfectionist director Kamal Amrohi, who also wrote the script and some of the lyrics, effectively transports the viewer into a wistful age of bygone formality and luxury. Each of Pakeezah‘s popular semi-classical songs illustrates the duality of a courtesan’s poetry, at once glamorizing the elaborate rituals of love and destroying the institutions that upheld them.

4. Mother India

Mother India Mehboob Khan

Mehboob Khan, 1957

With tragedy strikes her family, newlywed village belle Radha is determined to weather a crucible of social and personal adversities without compromising her honor. In doing so, she reinvents herself as a heavy-handed symbol of India’s own pride as an ancient culture and a new democracy. A defining film in the history of Bollywood, director Mehboob Khan’s iconic Mother India set the pattern for the more than 60 years of Bollywood film that followed it. A mythologization of traditional values and an homage to the beauty of Indian heritage, Mother India‘s unabashedly epic glorification of self-sacrifice and female empowerment was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1958.

5. Guide

Guide Vijay Anand

Vijay Anand, 1965

A corrupt businessman is transformed into a spiritual guide after a misunderstanding that leads to his idolization by a village besieged by drought. Based on the R.K. Narayan novel of the same name and bolstered by a stunning soundtrack, Guide explores a fundamental Vedic transformation from materialism to a release from worldly attachments in an extremely unlikely hero. A scandalous love story settles into the background as director Vijay Anand boldly deconstructs social taboos, from adultery and non-traditional gender roles to religious fraud, in a film that stirringly evolves into a philosophical awakening greater than the circumstances it portrays–a brilliant reflection of the double entendre intended by its title.

6. Kaaghaz Ke Phool

Kaagaz Ke Phool Guru Dutt

Guru Dutt, 1959

In the 1950s at the height of India’s golden age of film-making, a celebrated movie director feels uninspired by the tinsel-lined glitz of studio era Bollywood. When he discovers a new actress, innocent to the corruption of the industry, he believes he has found a muse to ease his restlessness. A elegiac behind-the-scenes film about film-making, Kaaghaz Ke Phool became a cult classic following the eerie semi-autobiographical death of its director Guru Dutt. Trapped in a world of pretense, Guru Dutt illustrates a kind of yearning that softly and slowly erodes the soul–a desperate hunt for a human connection. The real triumph is in the film’s stunning camerawork, gracefully gliding through the empty studio sets like a beautiful spectre of Dutt’s own shattered desires.

7. Awaara

Awaara Raj Kapoor

Raj Kapoor, 1951

A female lawyer is determined to prove her lover’s innocence in a murder attempt on the life of a respected judge. Structured in medias res, the film’s flashback reveals the injustice of her lover’s past when the very judge who condemns him proves to be his own father: a man who threw his wife onto the streets when he believed a criminal had raped her. Echoing the dark lessons of the ancient Ramayana, Awaara shatters the nature versus nurture debate with a showman’s flair and surrealist fantasy, including the film’s legendary dream sequence evoking a descent into Hell. Awaara launched Raj Kapoor’s famous Chaplin-esque hero for the first time, who resonated immensely across the Soviet Union and Communist China as the voice of a new generation.

8. Sahib, Bibi, Aur Ghulam

Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam Guru Dutt

Guru Dutt/Abrar Alvi, 1962

Desperate to save her marriage, the younger daughter-in-law of a wealthy family sacrifices her moral boundaries to win over her alcoholic husband. A nostalgic glimpse into the decaying Bengali feudal system, Sahib, Bibi, Aur Ghulam unravels a dazzling murder mystery at the heart of its progressive view of societal redemption. Seen from the perspective of a young factory worker lured into a stately mansion as an ally of its young mistress, Sahib, Bibi, Aur Ghulam hauntingly opens the doors to the hollowness of exterior splendor. Spiraling against her will with the collapse of Calcutta’s landed aristocracy, Meena Kumari’s portrayal of the tormented wife is forever considered among the most magnificent on-screen performances of Bollywood history.

9. Aradhana

Aradhana Shakti Samanta

Shakti Samanta, 1971

When her lover dies at war, an unwed mother gives up her son up for adoption, vowing to watch over him in secrecy as he grows up in the house of another. Her poignant worship, or aradhana, of her dead fiancé and their son became immortalized in the Indian cinematic psyche as an audacious struggle of traditional society confronted by changing modern values. Boasting one of the all-time greatest soundtracks of Indian cinema, Aradhana epitomizes the versatility and creativity of the era’s leading music directors. From the youthful joy of “Mere Sapno Ki Rani” to the grim Bardic undertones of “Safal Hogi Teri Aradhana” to the notoriously seductive “Roop Tera Mastana,” the film is as much remembered for its luminous performances as for exemplifying the golden age of Bollywood music.

10. Do Bigha Zameen

Do Bigha Zameen Bimal Roy

Bimal Roy, 1953

A farming family fights to save their ancestral land from a cunning mill owner. Do Bigha Zameen follows the father and son’s trip to Calcutta from their idyllic village to earn enough money to pay their debts–only to discover the miseries of urban poverty instead. Inspired by the work of Italian neorealism, Do Bigha Zameen pioneered early parallel cinema with a deliberate attention to the “everyday,” and the feeling of an invisible, unhurried camera whose shots and mis-en-scene are both carefully constructed and effortlessly fluid. Directed by Bengali auteur Bimal Roy, the film’s nationalistic electricity hit a broader audience, becoming the first Indian film to win the Prix Internationale at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival.

11. Bandini

bandini bimal roy

During the British Raj of the 1930s, a prison doctor falls in love with a convict who reveals the story of her tumultuous connection to a freedom fighter.

12. Madhumati

Madhumati Bimal roy

Bimal Roy, 1958

On a rainy night, a man enters an abandoned mansion where he is confronted by unfulfilled visions of his past life.

13. Shree 420

Shree 420 Raj Kapoor

Raj Kapoor, 1955

A country boy travels to Bombay to make his fortune where he is lured from the path of virtue into a thrilling life of deceit.

14. Sholay

sholay ramesh sippy

Ramesh Sippy, 1975

After his family is murdered by a notorious bandit, a former police officer enlists the help of two outlaws to capture him.

15. Ankur

shyam benegal Ankur

Shyam Benegal, 1974

The social hierarchies of rural India are disrupted when a landowner begins an affair with a poor farmer’s wife.

16. Hum Dono

Hum Dono vijay anand

Amarjeet, Vijay Anand (1961)

After returning from war, a soldier begins to lead a double-life when his doppelgänger’s family welcomes him home.

17. Barsaat (1949)

Barsaat raj kapoor

Raj Kapoor, 1949

Two men with different ideals of love search for answers with the coming of the monsoons.

18. Amar Akbar Anthony

Amar Akbar Anthony manmohan desai

Manmohan Desai, 1977

Three brothers are separated in childhood and eventually unite after one is brought up a Christian, one a Hindu, and one a Muslim.

19. Anand

Anand hrishikesh mukherjee

Hrishikesh Mukherjee, 1971

A doctor recounts the story of a terminally ill man who wishes to his live life to the fullest and spread happiness to those around him.

20. Haqeeqat

Haqeeqat chetan anand

Chetan Anand, 1964

A platoon of Indian soldiers leave their homes and loved ones to encounter the harsh realities of battle in the Indo-China War of 1962.

21. Don

Don 1978 chandra barot

Chandra Barot, 1978

A simpleton is trained to infiltrate the underworld by impersonating a criminal leader who has been killed in a police chase.

22. Mahal

Mahal kamal amrohi

Kamal Amrohi, 1949

A young lawyer is haunted by a ghostly woman in his new house, where the builder and his fiancée died shortly after it was built.

23. Sangam

Sangam raj kapoor

Raj Kapoor, 1964

An Indian Air Force Officer leaves for the Kashmiri front, entrusting his wife to the care of his best friend who has secretly always loved her.

24. Dosti

Dosti satyen bose

Satyen Bose, 1964

A penniless orphan makes the unexpected friendship of a blind boy who teaches him survival on the streets of Bombay.

25. Waqt

Waqt yash chopra

Yash Chopra, 1965

Natural disaster separates the members of a close-knit family who re-connect in a series of dramatic entanglements years later.

26. Deewar

Deewar yash chopra

Yash Chopra, 1975

A mother attempts to reunite her two estranged sons: one, a leading criminal of the underworld, and the other, an uprighteous policeman.

27. Kati Patang

Kati Patang shakti samanta

Shakti Samanta, 1970

As a promise to raise the child of her dying friend, a young woman risks starting a new life under a false identity.

28. Aandhi

Aandhi gulzar

Gulzar, 1975

A powerful politician struggles to reconcile her position with secrets from her past.

29. Purab Aur Paschim

Purab Aur Paschim major kumar

Manoj Kumar, 1970

East clashes with West when a traditional Indian student encounters swinging London society for the first time.

30. Bombai Ka Babu

Bombai Ka Babu Raj Khosla

Raj Khosla, 1960

A small-time thief is forced into a deadly web of deception when he gains the trust of his victim’s family.

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

– Mrs. 55

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.