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

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

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

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

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

kabhi kabhi shashi kapoor rakhee 2

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

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

Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein Lyrics and Translation:

Mukesh:

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

Lata:

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

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

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

Mukesh:

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

Lata:

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

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

Mukesh:

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

Glossary:

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

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

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

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

– Mrs. 55

Jayen To Jayen Kahan Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Dev Anand Taxi Driver

Dev Anand stares at the lonely beach in “Jayen To Jayen Kahan” from Taxi Driver (1954).

Next we present the full lyrics and English translation of “Jayen To Jayen Kahan” from Taxi Driver (1954). It’s one of yesteryear star Talat Mehmood’s most beloved solo hits. For anyone in the crowd who is unfamiliar with Talat, I’m truly saddened for your sake, but actually not entirely surprised. He’s one of the great unsung heroes of Bollywood who’s place in musical history was undermined with the rise and domination of Mohammed Rafi and Mukesh by the 60s. At least Hemant Kumar wrote his own film compositions and could conveniently cast himself as singer! But Talat was classy. While largely remembered for his legendary mark in ghazal-dom, Talat actually gave Shammi Kapoor his first hits in the 50s before Mohammed Rafi entered the scene. Yes, Talat was edged out of the business like a budding flower before Autumn. And did I mention he was so incredibly good-looking for a playback singer that he also acted in several films?

Dapper Talat Mehmood sings and acts with Suraiya in Waris (1954). Hottie, right?!

I could go on and on about my love for Talat and his velvety smooth voice, but let’s stay focused. Like later Dev Anand hit CID (1956), Taxi Driver is a really wonderful glimpse at chaotic and quaint 1950s Bombay city life. Told through the creative eyes of Chetan Anand (director and Dev Anand’s brother), the film is forever locked in its own charmingly antiquated society and street life of a bygone era. Most importantly, behind-the-scenes, Dev Anand was falling in love with his sensuous on-screen partner, Kalpana Kartik who would become his wife! It’s one of the few times you’ll see the two together (check out Baazi (1951) or Nau Do Gyarah (1957) for more!) and the juiciness of it all makes the film fun for the whole family. As Kalpana (AKA Mona Anand) later recalled:

I still remember our midnight marriage on the sets of “Taxi Driver” in 1954. Dev was a shy, youthful person, very co-operative and sensitive. We passed six decades together amid a lot of thick and thin. Whenever I heard rumours that he would desert me, I laughed my heart out. I knew that nomadic Dev would always be mine.

Cute, right? The hit philosophical song of the film “Jayen To Jayen Kahan” is sung first by Talat and later by Lata in the reprise–adding a touch of melodrama to the action. It’s beautifully picturized–the Talat version feels like an early Ozu film and carries a heavy weight with it. The careful cinematography allows time to pass slowly in a way that removes the viewer from the material world of the film and completely engulfs them in the philosophical queries of the song. Lyrics are, of course, by the great Sahir Ludhianvi. It’s a must-see for fans of early cinema!

Kalpana Karthik Taxi Driver

Gorgeous Kalpana Karthik and wife of Dev Anand, sings with Grace Kelly style in Taxi Driver (1954).

So without further ado, enjoy the lyrics and English translation to “Jayen To Jayen Kahan“! We’ve got you the male and female versions below (click here for the Talat version video!).

Jayen To Jayen Kahan Lyrics and Translation:

Male:

Jaaye.N to jaaye.N kahaa.N?
If I must go, where could I go?
Samjhegaa kaun yahaa.N dard bhare dil ki zubaa.N?
Who here will understand the words of a heart full of pain?

Mayuusiio.N kaa majamaa hai.N jee mei.N
A crowd of disappointments resides in my soul
Kya reh gayaa hai is zindagi mei.n
What is left for me in this life?
Ruuh mei.N gham, dil mei.N dhuuaa.N
In my soul is sadness, in my heart is smoke

Unka bhi gham hai, apna bhi gham hai
She has her sorrows, I have my own
Ab dil ke bachne kii ummiid kam hai
Now there is little hope of saving my heart
Ek kashTii, sau tuufaa.N
For it is like a single boat against a hundred storms

Jaaye.N to jaaye.N kahaa.N?
If I must go, where could I go?
Samjhegaa kaun yahaa.N dard bhare dil ki zubaa.N?
Who here will understand the words of a heart full of pain?

Female:

Jaaye.N to jaaye.N kahaa.N?
If I must go, where could I go?
Samjhegaa kaun yahaa.N dard bhare dil ki zubaa.N?
Who here will understand the words of a heart full of pain?

O jaanewaale daaman chhuDaake
Oh traveler who is leaving my embrace
mushkil hai jeenaa tujhko bhuulaake
Forgetting you and continuing to live is difficult
Is se to hai maut aasaan
Even death is easier than this

Seene.N mei.N shole, saa.Nso.N mei.N aahe.N
In my chest are embers, in my breaths are sighs
Is zindagii se kaise nibhaaye
What is there for me to fulfill in this life?
Har jazabaat hai viiraan
My every emotion is empty

Jaaye.N to jaaye.N kahaa.N?
If I must go, where could I go?
Samjhegaa kaun yahaa.N dard bhare dil ki zubaa.N?
Who here will understand the words of a heart full of pain?

Glossary:

dard: pain; zubaa.N: words, language; mayuusii: disappointment; majamaa: crowd; ruuh: soul; gham: sadness; dhhuuaa.N: smoke; ummiid: hope; kashTii: boat; tuufaa.N: storm; mushkil: difficult; maut: death; ahsaan: easy; seenaa: chest; shole: embers; saans: breath; aah: sigh; jazabaat: emotion; viraan: empty, wasted

I think the most important question here is, who sang it better: Lata or Talat? At the risk of being strangled by Mr. 55, I think it’s pretty clear the answer is Talat. It’s one of the few songs that just was not written for Lata–it sounds a little strained coming from her, if I dare say so. Talat, meanwhile, sounds like an effortless dream as always. A Talat Mehmood hit was requested by reader Suman! Send us a message if you’ve got a request too!

An adorable early rare photograph of Dev Anand with his wife Kalpana Kartik.

An adorable early rare photograph of Dev Anand with his wife Kalpana Kartik.

-Mrs. 55

Jaane Woh Kaise Log Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Guru Dutt evokes classic Christ-like imagery in his depiction of Vijay the struggling poet in Pyaasa (1957).

We now present the lyrics and full English translation to one of my all-time favorite Guru Dutt songs “Jaane Woh Kaise” from Pyaasa (1957). I think my undying love for Guru Dutt is pretty evident at this point, but in case you need some convincing to get over the bold Clark Gable ‘stache, start here. Pyaasa is no ordinary film. When released to roaring accolades in 1957, Pyaasa broke precedent upon precedent in both impact and style. Notice how every song in this film seems to flow naturally as a consequence of the plot, as if the lyrics of the songs were a poetic continuation of the spoken dialogue? It was a technique pioneered by Guru Dutt that was later emulated by every great director in Bollywood. And the film hit some hard topics. I discuss more of the political stance of the film and the fascinating struggle Guru Dutt faced behind-the-scenes earlier, but now let us look instead to the classic “Jaane Woh Kaise” hit from the immortal pen of Sahir Ludhviani. It’s a mixture of everything right in the world: Guru Dutt as actor, Hemant Kumar with vocals, S.D. Burman composing, and Sahir in the back with the words of wisdom. This Hemant Kumar gem is truly the industry standard for awkward dinner party songs–even copied in modern times by Mira Nair in her film Vanity Fair (2004)!

Guru Dutt is employed as a dinner party waiter for his rich boss, Rehman, where he is confronted by the reality of his former lover, Mala Sinha, having abandoned him for wealth by marrying none other than the man currently employing him. The injustice of it all gets to him, and by chance, he’s a poet at heart who does what any other tragic poet would do in the situation: drop everything and throw a pity party.

Mala Sinha plays a cold-hearted social climber in Pyaasa (1957).

I love the cinematography in this song–Guru Dutt and his brilliant Director of Photography V.K. Murthy were known for their overblown yet graceful dolly-ins (watch the camera fly in “Waqt Ne Kiya“!), and so too in this song, the camera acts as a silent messenger of emotional turmoil, extracting a beautifully devastating toll on each of the key players in the room. And Guru Dutt holds his ground with arms outstretched as if crucified–a soft-spoken martyr against a background of bookshelves in which his own spoken words will later be immortalized and massacred. Again, you really need to see the film to appreciate the poetic genius of Guru Dutt film-making.

So enough talk, onto the lyrics and English translation of “Jaane Woh Kaise” from Pyaasa (1957)! Check out the picturization on youtube and let us know what you think in the comments!

Jaane Woh Kaise Log Lyrics and Translation

Jaane woh kaise log the jinke pyaar ko pyaar mila
I wonder what kind of people find their love reciprocated
Humne to jab kaliyaa.N maangii kaa.NTo.N kaa haar milaa
Whenever I asked for flowers, I received a garland of thorns

Khushiyo.N kii manzil DhoonDii to gham kii gard milii
I searched for a destination of joy, but I found a circle of sadness
Chaahat ke naghme chaahe to aahe.N sard milii
I desired tales of love, but I received only the coldness of sighs
Dil kii bojh ko duunaa kar gayaa, jo ghamkhwaar milaa
The burdens of my heart only doubled if I met someone meant to relieve my sorrow

BichhaD gayaa har saathii dekar pal do pal kaa saath
Every companion gave me a few moments of company, and left
Kisko fursat hai jo thaame diiwaano.N kaa haath
After all, who has the free time to hold a crazy man’s hand?
Humko apnaa saayaa tak aksar bezaar milaa
Even my own shadow is often weary of me

Isko hii jiina kehte hai.N to yuu.N hii jii le.Nge
If this is what they called life, then I will live like this
Uff na kare.Nge, lab sii lenge, aa.Nsuu pii lenge
I will not sigh, I will seal my lips, and swallow my tears
Gham se ab ghabraana kaisaa, gham sau baar milaa
After all, how can I be concerned by sadness? I have met sadness a hundred times

Humne to jab kaliyaa.N maangii.N kaaTo.N kaa haar milaa
When I asked for flowers, I found a garland of thorns
Jaane woh kaise log the jinke pyaar ko pyaar mila
I wonder what kind of people find their love reciprocated

Glossary:

kali: flower; kaanTaa: thorn; haar: garland; manzil: destination; gham: sadness; gard: circle; chaahat: love, desire; naghma: tale; aah: sigh; sard: chilly, cold; bhoj: burden; duunaa karna: to double; ghamkhwaar: a remover of sadness (note: the w is silent, as in khwaab); bichhaD jaanaa: to become separated; saathi: companion; fursat: free time; haath thaamnaa: to hold hands; saayaa: shadow; bezaar: fed up, weary; lab: lips; aa.Nsuu: tears; gham: sadness: ghabraanaa: to become anxious, concerned

Singing his heart out, Guru Dutt transforms Rehman’s classy dinner gathering into a awkwardly personal pity party in Pyaasa (1957).

Guru Dutt revives the martyr-style mis-en-scene in the reprise of “Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaaye” at the famous finale of the film! The scene has got to be one of the all-time greatest of Hindi cinematic history. For this and about a million other reasons, Pyaasa is absolutely mandatory classic Bollywood viewing!

-Mrs. 55

Kisi Patthar Ki Murat Se Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Sunil Dutt serenades Vimmi at an evening soiree in Hamraaz (1967)

The soundtrack of B.R. Chopra’s Hamraaz (1967) is remembered today for its showcasing of Mahendra Kapoor’s voice. Music director Ravi composed some unforgettable tunes for Mahendra Kapoor in this film, including “niile gagan ke tale,” “tum agar saath dene kaa vaadaa karo,” “na muu.nh chhupaake jiiyo,” and the gem that I’ve chosen to translate today: “kisii patthar kii muurat se.

This song is found toward the beginning of Hamraaz, an entertaining murder mystery starring Sunil Dutt and newcomer Vimmi among a supporting cast of well-known names like Balraj Sahni, Helen, Mumtaz, Madan Puri, and Raaj Kumar. In the film, Sunil Dutt plays the role of a popular stage actor who falls in love with Vimmi, the daughter of a wealthy contractor, during a trip to Darjeeling. With this particular song, he serenades Vimmi around the piano at an evening soiree.

Sahir Ludhianvi was right on point when he described the film’s heroine Vimmi as a “patthar kii muurat” (a statue of stone) in this song. In an otherwise entertaining and well-produced film, Vimmi sticks out as a sore thumb for her tepid and expressionless acting. While Vimmi certainly had the beauty to make it in films, it is clear from her debut performance here that she was not cut out to become an actress. Introduced to B.R. Chopra by music director Ravi after meeting at a dinner party in Calcutta, Vimmi struggled immensely during the production of Hamraaz. Next to some of the stalwarts involved with film, Vimmi appeared to be a novice as she struggled to deliver her lines and required take after take to complete the simplest scenes. Interestingly, in spite of Vimmi’s lackluster performance, Hamraaz was a big hit when it was released. Unfortunately, Vimmi could not capitalize on the success of her debut and she failed to make a successful career for herself in the industry. Like many individuals associated with Bollywood, Vimmi’s life ended in tragedy: her family disowned her after she signed Hamraaz, her marriage fell apart a few years later, and it is said that she even turned to prostitution to finance an addiction to alcohol before her death. Quite sad, indeed. You can learn more about her tragic life by reading a surprisingly detailed Wikipedia biography here.

In any case, this song is a pure delight to listen to because of Sahir’s exquisite use of Urdu poetry combined with Mahendra Kapoor’s silky vocals. For a seemingly simple song, some of the Urdu here is quite advanced–do you know what the words parastish, taqalluf, and baghaavat mean? If not, find out by reading the glossary and translation that we’ve provided below! To learn more about another classic song produced by the Mahendra Kapoor-Sahir-Ravi combo, see our previous post on “chalo ek baar phir sehere.

-Mr. 55

Songs picturized around the piano are so classy.

Kisi Patthar Ki Murat Se Lyrics and Translation

kisii patthar kii muurat se muhabbat kaa iraadaa hai
I have intentions of loving a statue of stone.
parastish kii tamanna hai, ibaadat kaa iraadaa hai
I desire to worship it; I intend to pray to it.

jo dil kii dhaDakane.n samajhe, na aa.nkho.n kii zubaa.n samajhe
She understands neither the beating of my heart nor the language of my eyes.
nazar kii guftaguu samajhe, na jazabo.n kaa bayaa.n samajhe
She understands neither the dialogue of my glances nor the expression of my emotions.

usii ke saamane uskii shikaayat kaa iraadaa hai
I intend to air my grievances about this woman in her presence.

sunaa hai har javaan patthar ke dil me.n aag hotii hai
I have heard that a flame resides in the hearts of these young stones.

magar jab tak na chheDo, sharm ke parde me.n sotii hai
Yet, until you inflame it further, it remains asleep behind a veil of modesty.
yeh sochaa hai ki dil kii baat uske ruubaruu kah de.n
I have resolved to express my heart’s feelings to her face-to-face.

natiija kuch bhii nikale aaj apanii aarazuu kah de.n
Regardless of the outcome, I will reveal my desires to her. 

har ek bejaan taqalluf se baghaavat kaa iraadaa hai
I intend to rebel against every spiritless formality today.

muhabbat berukhii se aur bhaDakegii voh kyaa jaane
Little does she know that her indifference will further arouse my love,
tabiiyat is adaa pe aur phaDakegii voh kyaa jaane
Little does she know that my disposition will be further agitated by her charm,
voh kyaa jaane ki apnaa kis qayaamat kaa iraadaa hai
And little does she know of my disastrous intentions. 

kisii patthar kii muurat se muhabbat kaa iraadaa hai
I have intentions of loving a statue of stone.

Glossary

muurat: statue; iraadaa: intention; parastish: worship; tamanna: desire; ibaadat: worship; zubaa.n: language; guftaguu: dialogue, conversation; jazbaa: emotion; bayaa.n: expression; shikaayat: complaint; chheDnaa: to tease, inflame; ruubaru: face-to-face; natiija: outcome; aarazuu: desire; bejaan: spiritless; taqalluf: formality; baghaavat: rebelion; berukhii: indifference; bhaDakanaa: to arouse, flare up; tabiiyat: disposition; adaa: charm; phaDakanaa: to quiver, agitate; qayaamat: disaster.

Despite her looks, Vimmi falls very flat in her debut role as Meena in Hamraaz (1967)

The Glorification of Alcohol in Hindi Cinema

A study released in April of this year claimed that Indian adolescents aged 12-16 exposed to alcohol consumption in films were nearly three times more likely to drink than their peers who did not watch Bollywood movies. While this study most likely pertains to the movies released in the industry today, I would venture to say that the origins of this trend can be traced back to films from the Golden Era of Bollywood cinema. Indeed, the consumption of alcohol has been glorified on India’s silver screen for decades, especially through portrayal of sharaab (alcohol) songs in films. Here, I’ve compiled a list of my five favorite male and female sharaab numbers from the Golden Era–let’s take a closer look at these examples to examine how the consumption of alcohol has been portrayed cinematically and its implications on Indian culture.

“Girls Just Want To Have Fun”

In Bollywood’s earliest days, drinking alcohol in films was portrayed as a strictly masculine activity, à la Devdas and other Bollywood heroes who have famously drowned their sorrows in liquor. In contrast, the idealized image of the traditional Indian woman did not permit the depiction of female alcohol consumption in the media.  This trend began to change in the 60s when films depicted heroines and female actresses playing roles in which they partook in the consumption of the Devil’s nectar, just like their male counterparts. As you can see below, the contexts in which female characters drink vary from film to film: alcohol has been used by the women of Bollywood as a coping mechanism, a means of revenge, or just a way to have a good time.

na jaao saiyaa.n (Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam, 1962): In this film based on a Bengali novel by Bimal Mitra, Meena Kumari gives one of her career’s best performances as Chhoti Bahu. Chhoti Bahu is married to young zamii.ndar (played by Rehman), who neglects his wife at home in order to take part in debauchery at local brothels on a nightly basis. In desperate need of her unfaithful husband’s companionship, she decides to take up drinking in order to keep him away from those pesky courtesans at night. In this heartbreaking song sung by Geeta Dutt, Chhoti Bahu drunkenly entreats her husband to stay at home and spend the night with her. In a truly unfortunate example of art mimicing real life, both Geeta and Meena would succumb to alcoholism as a way to cope with their unhappy marriages in the coming years. For those of you who enjoy this song, be sure to check out Hemant Kumar’s Bengali version of the same tune: “olir katha shune.

Meena Kumari, as Chhoti Bahu, tragically turns to alcoholism in Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam (1962).

piike hum tum jo chale aaye hai.n (Gumnaam, 1965): This film (reviewed by us here) is a suspense thriller loosely based on the Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None. The story revolves around seven vacationers who find themselves on a remote island in the middle of nowhere after a plane crash. One by one, they are murdered off and the big question is, of course: whodunnit? In the midst of all this tension, two of the vacationers, Miss Kitty (played by Helen) and Asha (played by Nanda), decide to loosen up and have some fun with a few drinks. In this comical duet sung by Asha Bhonsle and Usha Mangeshkar, the two actresses appear to be having the time of their lives in a drunken stupor on screen. I mean, who wouldn’t be having a good time if they were getting drunk with Helen?

Helen and Nanda get sloppy together in Gumnaam (1965). If you excuse the stumbling, Helen actually looks quite sophisticated in this scene because she’s not wearing one of her characteristically outrageous wigs/outfits.

aao huzuur tum ko (Kismat, 1968): This Asha-OP Nayyar collaboration is an all-time classic from the soundtrack of Kismat (along with “kajraa muhabbatvaalaa“). The film’s narrative is so outrageous that it’s not even worth summarizing here, but this song is picturized on the actress Babita, who is the mother of Karisma and Kareena Kapoor. Babita never managed to gain much success as a heroine, and that’s not surprising given that it’s unclear whether she is drunk or undergoing eplipetic fits in this particular scene. She certainly does make a statement though and manages to embarass the hero Biswajeet with her public intoxication at this party. Regardless of the picturization, Asha Bhonsle adds all the right expressions here to make this an unforgettable sharaab number on the basis of the song alone. Her vocal control in the extended introduction (“ham se raushan hai chaa.nd aur taare...”) before the song’s first stanza is especially commendable. 

Babita has probably had one too many in this scene from Kismat (1968)

kaise rahuu.n chup (Inteqaam, 1969): Inteqaam is an entertaining (but occaisionally illogical) thriller that stars Sadhana as a woman who seeks revenge against her former boss because he framed her for a theft that she did not commit. As part of her elaborate plan for revenge, she intends to marry her boss’s son (played by Sanjay Khan) and bring shame to his entire family by revealing that the new bahu is, in fact, a convicted criminal! In this song, Sadhana further embarasses her boss’s family by  acting extremely intoxicated under the influence of alcohol at a public gathering. (Technically, this might not be considered a genuine sharaab song because Sadhana is putting on a facade of being drunk without actually consuming, but I liked this song too much to pass up putting it on the list.) This soundtrack composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal is particularly memorable today because it casts a different light on Lata Mangeshkar, who was considered to be staunchly conservative and traditional in her playback output.  Lata surprises us all by agreeing to sing two sizzling cabaret numbers in addition to this drinking song for the film–listen to her nail those hiccups during the interludes!

Helen serves Sadhana another glass in Inteqaam (1969)

piyaa tuu ab to aajaa (Caravan, 1971): Asha Bhonsle and R.D. Burman come together to produce one of their biggest musical hits together with this classic item number from Caravan. Asha’s performance here solidified her status as the queen of cabaret singing in Hindi cinema. Furthermore, Helen’s portrayal of a nightclub dancer on screen during this song is considered the quintessential Bollywood cabaret performance. Helen’s dance moves are completely outrageous here but she makes it work somehow (see Mrs. 55’s step-by-step breakdown here). Given the ridiculousness of the situation here, you can’t really blame Helen for the heavy drinking…it certainly doesn’t stop her from completely owning the stage during her performance!

Helen gives one of the best cabaret performances of her career in Caravan (1971)

“Alcohol May Be Man’s Worst Enemy…”

Unlike their female counterparts, the men of Bollywood cinema have been imbibing alcohol since the industry’s earliest days. The most popular context for male drinking in Hindi films occurs when the hero resigns himself to heavy drinking in order to drown his sorrows, usually caused by woman-related heartbreak. While female characters are often stigmatized for their drinking and public intoxication, it is more acceptable for men of the silver screen to use alcohol consumption to deal with their grief.  Other contexts where actors are depicted consuming alcohol include scenes of male-male bonding (bromances, anyone?) and seduction of heroines and courtesans. Though Bollywood has glamorized the consumption of alcohol for both genders, the effect is far more pronounced for males, as evident in the examples I’ve selected below.

mujhe duniyaavaalo sharaabii na samjho (Leader, 1964): Even though its soundtrack is full of gems like “tere husn kii kyaa tariif karuu.n” and “ek shahanshah ne banvaa ke ek hasii.n taaj mahal,” Leader is one mess of a film starring Dilip Kumar and Vijayantimala. Dilip Kumar stars as a law graduate and aspiring political revolutionary who falls in love with a princess (played by Vijyantimala). The script has so many holes that it’s difficult to discern the overall message of this film, but there are some scenes of comic relief between Vijayantimala and Dilip Kumar that are worth remembering. By far, however, the main attraction here is the soundtrack composed by Naushad. In this particular number, an intoxicated Dilip Kumar claims that he has been forced to take up drinking to grapple with society’s evils.

Vijayntimala tries to stop a drunk Dilip Kumar from embarassing himself too much at this party in Leader (1964).

din Dhal jaaye (Guide, 1965): Where do I even begin with the praise for Vijay Anand’s Guide? Mrs. 55 and I both love everything about this film: the unique story written by R.K. Narayan, the stellar performances by Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman, and of course, the unforgettable soundtrack composed by S.D. Burman. Each and every song from this film is an absolute gem. In this particular Rafi solo picturized on Dev Anand, the hero drowns his sorrows about lost love in alcohol. The melancholic expression that pervades throughout this scene is enhanced by the beautifully crafted lyrics and tune.

Dev Anand turns to the bottle when love goes sour in Guide (1965).

chuu lene do naazuk ho.nTho.n ko (Kaajal, 1965): With this Rafi number penned by Sahir Ludhianvi and composed by Ravi, Raaj Kumar tries to get Meena Kumari, his on-screen shaadi-shudhaa (virtuous) wife, to come to the dark side by having a drink. Alcohol glorification occurs is at its finest in these lyrics: it is referred to as “mubarak cheez,” or a blessed thing.  Meena Kumari excels, as usual, at looking incredibly uncomfortable and disturbed by Raaj Kumar’s advances in this scene.

A drunk Raaj Kumar tries to get Meena Kumari on his team in Kaajal (1965).

jo unkii tamanna hai barbad ho jaa (Inteqaam, 1969): This film certainly features a lot of alcohol consumption on screen. In addition to the drunk Lata number discussed above, this Rafi solo from Inteqaam is picturized on Sanjay Khan as he laments being a mere object in Sadhana’s plans for revenge. Rajinder Krishan’s lyrics are exquisite in their ability to capture the essence of being deceived in love.

Handsome Sanjay Khan turns to alcohol to get over Sadhana’s deception in Inteqaam (1969)

yeh jo muhabbat hai (Kati Patang, 1970): Directed by Shakti Samanta, this film features an evergreen soundtrack composed by R.D. Burman. This particular number sung by Kishore Kumar is one of Bollywood’s most treasured drinking songs, and it features a handsome and bitter Rajesh Khanna drinking the night away because he was stood up at the altar by his wife-to-be.  Asha Parekh watches from a distance, not yet aware of the fact that she is the woman responsible for his heartache.

Rajesh Khanna drinks another glass of liquid courage before singing about the pain of disloyal love in Kati Patang (1970).

What are some of your favorite sharaab/daaru songs from Bollywood films? Let us know in the comments! We’ll understand if your typing is a little bit off…
Mr. 55