Raat Ke Humsafar Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

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Sharmila Tagore and Shammi Kapoor enjoy the magic of Paris at night in An Evening In Paris (1967).

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

This quote by Ernest Hemingway is perhaps my favorite description of Paris, the quintessential city of lights and love. Being in Paris is truly a feast for all senses, but it is an opportunity that the average citizen in 1960s India would never receive. Not in person, at least.

In the 1960s, the advent of a new escapist genre of films allowed Indian audiences to be transported to exotic cosmopolitan locales through cinema. Films like Love in Tokyo (1966) and Night in London (1967) offered Indian movie-goers the chance to catch a glimpse of foreign culture from the comfort of their seats in a movie theater. In these tourist fantasies, consistency in plot and character development was not important; the real star of the show was the international destination being featured in the film.  The lyrics and English translation that we have provided today come from one of this genre’s most well-known examples: Shakti Samanta’s An Evening in Paris (1967) starring Sharmila Tagore and Shammi Kapoor.

The soundtrack for this film, composed by Shankar-Jaikishan and penned by Shailendra/Hasrat Jaipuri, contains a number of memorable hits. Yet, in my opinion, “raat ke hamsafar stands out from the rest for its beautiful melody, poetic lyrics, and passionate rendition by Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhonsle. This romantic duet reflects a strong Western musical influence, which is enhanced by the gorgeous strings-centered orchestration and the non-traditional modulations in Rafi and Asha’s voices.

To bring an interesting perspective that may not be known to all fans of this song, there is a story behind its making that has been narrated by Nandu Chawathe, a musician in Shankar-Jakishan’s troupe. In a tragic turn of events, composer Shankar’s mother died the same morning that a musical sitting was planned for “raat ke hamsafar.”  Jaikishan, Shammi Kapoor, and others were waiting for Shankar, but most of the group left after hearing the news under the assumption that Shankar would like to take the day off. When Shankar arrived late, he asked Nandu Chawathe why everyone had left before the sitting occurred. Shankar was angry when he realized everyone had left and canceled the sitting without telling him when it was his mother who had died. An evening sitting was rescheduled the same day. When Shankar arrived, he turned off all the lights and lit a candle, much to everyone’s surprise. He hummed the opening line of “raat ke hamsafar,” and everyone was stunned instantly. The first line of the mukhDaa was even Shankar’s own words! Shammi Kapoor approved the composition, Shailendra finished out the rest of the lyrics, and a treasured gem of Hindi film music was born.

French onion soup!

Sharmila Tagore and Shammi Kapoor snuggle in a Parisian cafe as they enjoy a late-night snack–French onion soup!

Raat Ke Humsafar: Lyrics and Translation

raat ke hamsafar thak ke ghar ko chale.n
Oh companion of the night, let us wander home wearily,
jhuumtii aa rahii hai subaah pyaar kii
as the dawn of love arrives, swaying about.
dekh kar saamne ruup kii raushnii
After encountering the light of your beauty,
phir luTii jaa rahii hai subaah pyaar kii
the dawn of love is being stolen away.

sonevaalo.n ko ha.ns kar jagaanaa bhii hai
Those who are sleeping are to be awakened with a smile.
raat ke jaagato.n ko sulaanaa bhii hai
Those who have stayed awake tonight are to be lulled to sleep.
detii hai jaagne kii sadaa saath hii
Though it also gives the call to awaken,
loriyaa.n gaa rahii hai subaah pyaar kii
this dawn of love evokes calm by singing lullabies.

raat ne pyaar ke jaam bhar kar diiye
The night has filled our wine goblets of love.
aankho.n-aankho.n se jo mai.ne tum ne piiye
You and I drank from them with our eyes.
hosh to ab talak jaa ke lauTe nahii.n
After leaving us, our consciousness has yet to return.
aur kyaa laa rahii hai subaah pyaar kii?
What else does this dawn of love have in store?

kyaa kyaa vaade hue, kis ne khaayii qasam?
What promises were made tonight? Who has sworn to new vows?
is nayii raah par ham ne rakhe qadam
Upon this new path, we have taken our first steps.
chhup sakaa pyaar kab? ham chhupaaye.n to kyaa?
When could our love be hidden? Even if we could, so what?
sab samajh paa rahii hai subaah pyaar kii
This dawn of love is able to understand everything.

raat ke hamsafar thak ke ghar ko chale.n
Oh companion of the night, let us wander home wearily,
jhuumtii aa rahii hai subaah pyaar kii
as the dawn of love arrives, swaying about.

Glossary

hamsafar: companion; thaknaa: to be tired, weary; jhuumnaa: to sway; subaah: dawn; ruup: beauty; raushnii: light; luTaa jaanaa: to be stolen away; jaagat: one who is awake; sulaanaa: to lull to sleep; sadaa: call; saath hii: also; lorii: lullaby; jaam: wine goblet; hosh: consciousness; ab talak: yet; vaadaa: promise; qasam khaanaa: to take a vow; qadam rakhnaa: to take steps; chhupaanaa: to hide; samajh paanaa: to be able to understand.

Seine

Sharmila Tagore and Shammi Kapoor float away into the night on the Seine.

As an aside, I thought that I would say a word about the time that I spent in Paris during the summer of 2011! I was fortunate enough to receive a fellowship to conduct a research internship for three months in a cancer immunology laboratory at the Institut Curie. Besides the academic opportunities presented to me in the lab, my summer in Paris was a formative experience in terms of cultural enrichment and personal growth. I always look back fondly upon the time I spent in Paris, and the memories of that summer have stayed with me ever since. In keeping with the theme of this post, a couple of my pictures of Paris by night are presented below. Enjoy! À bientôt!

-Mr. 55
Seine

An early evening view of the Seine river.

EiffelTower

Enjoying the Eiffel Tower with friends on a Parisian summer night.

Chingari Koi Bhadke Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Rajesh Khanna Sharmila Tagore Amar Prem

Aided heavily by hard liquor, Rajesh Khanna slips into philosophical discourse gazing at the beautiful Sharmila Tagore in Amar Prem (1972).

Our next English translation, the beautiful lyrics of “Chingari Koi Bhadke,” comes from the eternal love story Amar Prem (1972). Anand Bakshi outdoes himself with these philosophical, thought-provoking lyrics on the nature of life and the inevitability of Fate. Like other masterpieces songs of the sharaab genre in Bollywood, “Chingari Koi Bhadke” glorifies the opportunity to escape societal boundaries through alcohol.

Sung by Rajesh Khanna favorite, Kishore Kumar, “Chingari Koi Bhadke” has some of the greatest lines written in Bollywood music: “Madiira jo pyaas lagaaye, use kaun bhujaaye?” echoes the lines of the great 1935 Hindi poem by Harivanshrai Bachhan, “Madhushala”:

Kya mai.N madhushala ke andhar? Ya mere andhar madhushala?”

Indeed, the theme of an inner thirst can be found in Indian art from time immemorial–whether from spiritual seekers rejecting worldly materialism, or from thwarted lovers searching for a way out.

Amar Prem tells the story of a man trapped in a loveless marriage (Rajesh Khanna) who falls for the golden-hearted brothel songstress, Sharmila Tagore. Although both realize the world will never accept the purity of their love for one another, they remain faithful to their shared ideal of “amar prem” even as they are forced apart. Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore eventually grow older, not knowing what became of the other, but in separate ways undergo a spiritual transformation sparked by the love they shared. This immortal song, like others in the film by versatile maestro R.D. Burman (eg. “Kuch To Log Kahenge” and “Yeh Kya Hua”) is both a critique on an unforgiving society and a resignation to the laws of Nature. Intoxication itself, the profundity of these lyrics take several passes to completely envelop you, so go slowly and enjoy the full lyrics and our English translation of “Chingari Koi Bhadke” below!

Rajesh Khanna Amar Prem

Rajesh Khanna plays a good-hearted alcoholic trapped by the fetters of societal propriety in Amar Prem (1972).

Chingari Koi Bhadke Lyrics and Translation:

Chingaari koii bhadke
If someone lights a spark
To saawan use bujhaaye
Then the rains will put it out
Saawan jo agan lagaaye, use kaun bhujaaye?
But if the rains start a fire, who will put it out?

PatajhaD jo baagh mei.n ujaaDe
If a garden is destroyed in the Autumn
Woh baagh bahaar khilaaye
It will bloom again in the Spring
Jo baagh bahaar mei.N ujade, use kaun khilaaye?
But who can revive the garden that is destroyed in Spring?

Hum se mat poochho kaise
Do not ask me how
mandir TooTaa sapno.N kaa
The temple of my dreams shattered
Logo.N kii baat nahii.N hai
This is not a matter for everyone to discuss
Yeh qissa hai.N apno.N kaa
This tale is only for my own circle

Koi dushman thhais lagaaye
If an enemy strikes you a blow
To miit jiyaa bahalaaye
Then your beloved will nurse you
Manmiit jo ghaav lagaaye, use kaun mitaaye?
But who can nurse the wounds your beloved strikes?

Na jaane kya ho jaataa
I do not know what happens
Jaane hum kyaa kar jaate
I do not know what would happen
Peete hai.N to zindaa hai.N
If I drink, then I live
Na peete, to mar jaate
If I do not drink, then I die

Duniyaa jo pyaasaa rakhe
If the world is thirsty
To madiiraa pyaas bujhaaye
Then wine can slake that thirst
Madiiraa jo pyaas lagaaye, use kaun bujhaaye?
But who can slake the thirst caused by wine?

Maanaa toofaan ke aage
I agree that before a storm
Nahii.N chaltaa zor kisii kaa
No one can use force
Maujo.N ka dosh naii.N hai
Yet this is not the fault of the waves
Yeh dosh hai aur kisi kaa
It is the fault of someone else

Majhadaar mei.N naiyaa Doobe
If a boat starts to rock midstream
To maajhi par lagaaye
The boatman can lead it to shore
Maajhi jo naaw Dooboye, use kaun bachaaye?
But if the riverman drowns the boat, who can save it?

Chingaari koii bhadke
If someone lights a spark
To saawan use bujhaaye
Then the rains will put it out
Saawan jo agan lagaaye, use kaun bhujaaye?
But if the rains start a fire, who will put it out?

Glossary:

chingari: spark;  agan: fire; patajhaD: Autumn; baagh: garden; bahaar: Spring; mandir: temple; qissa: story, tale; dushman: enemy; thhais: blow; ghaav: wound; zindaa: alive; pyaasaa: thirsty; madhiira: spirits; toofaan: storm; zor: force, dosh: fault; majhdaar: midstream; Doobnaa: to drown; maajhi: boatman; naaw: small boat

Sharmila Tagore Amar Prem

Oh, Sharmila! Is there any commentary anyone can really give you for your divinely majestic presence in this film??!

No, Sir, they sure don’t make songs like they used to. I love the elegance and seeming simplicity of the picturization for this song. No big ruffles or fireworks–just a beautiful traditional instrumentation for background and a metaphorical boat ride filled with meaningful glances and serious faces. Could a song this classy even exist today?

-Mrs. 55

Kuch Dil Ne Kaha Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Sharmila Tagore shines in her restrained portrayal of Uma in Anupama (1966)

Our next translation comes from Hrishikesh Mukherji’s Anupama (1966), a poignantly crafted film that narrates the story of a father who blames his daughter for his wife’s death during childbirth.  On the request of one of our readers Himadree, we have provided the lyrics and English translation for the song “kuchh dil ne kahaa” from this film below.

Sharmila Tagore plays the role of Uma, a reticient young woman who has maintained a painful and difficult relationship with her wealthy father (played by Tarun Bose) from a young age. Because Uma’s mother died in childbirth, Uma’s father harbors feelings of resentment that prevent him from fully loving his daughter as she grows up. Uma also assumes culpability for her mother’s death, and her self-repression becomes a coping mechanism to deal with her own guilt and her father’s anger toward her.

When Uma meets the handsome and sensitive writer Ashok (played by Dharmendra), her life seems to to take a turn for the better. Yet, as the two fall in love, it becomes apparent that Uma’s  troubles have not vanished completely: her father has already arranged her marriage with another man and will never not approve of a relationship with a man of Ashok’s social status. Hrishikesh Mukherji uses this situation to provide realistic and eloquent commentary on the complex interplay between love and class in Indian society. In this context, Kaifi Azmi’s lyrics in “kuchh dil ne kahaa” truly come alive. The lyrics express the conflict that characterizes Uma’s state of mind as she faces the most challenging decision of her life: should she pursue her romance with Ashok or should she push him away to appease her father? The essence of this dilemma is captured beautifully in many lines of this song. Although her heart has become restless with love for Ashok, Uma contemplates that it may be best  to suppress these desires: “letaa hai dil angaDaaiiyaa.n, is dil ko samjhaaye koii.”  Moreover, in spite of her outer appearances, Uma’s inner turmoil is a real and painful obstacle in her life (“dil kii tasallii ke liye jhuuThii chamak jhuuThaa nikhaarjiivan to suunaa hii rahaa, sab samjhe aayii hai bahaar”).

In addition to its unique lyrics, this song is a musical masterpiece that has been cherished by Hindi film lovers over the years (though it didn’t receive its due at the time of the film’s release!). Hemant Kumar crafts a serene melody in Raga Bhimpalasi that accentuates the melancholic beauty found in both the lyrics and the natural landscape where this song is picturized. Lata Mangeshkar, as usual, is par excellence here as she emotes softly with some beautifully restrained vocals. As an interesting tidbit, you may have noticed that Lata sings this melody at a lower pitch than is expected for a Bollywood soprano. When Lata repeats the line “aisii bhii baate.n hotii hai.n” in the mukhda, she hits an A3 (komal ni in the key of B), one of the lower notes of her range recorded during this period. Enjoy our translation of this under-appreciated gem below and continue to send us your requests and other messages–we love to hear from you all!

-Mr. 55

This song was filmed in Mahabaleshwar, a scenic hill station found in the state of Maharashtra. What a stunning landscape!

Kuch Dil Ne Kaha: Lyrics and Translation

kuchh dil ne kahaa, kuchh bhii nahii.n
My heart said something; yet, it was nothing at all.
kuchh dil ne sunaa, kuchh bhii nahii.n
My heart heard something; yet, it was nothing at all.
aisii bhii baate.n hotii hai.n
Such things happen in life.

letaa hai dil angaDaaiiyaa.n, is dil ko samajhaaye koii
My heart has become restless in anticipation of him; may someone please make it stop.
armaan na aa.nkhe.n khol de.n, rusvaa na ho jaaye koii
I hope that my desires do not cause my eyes to open and bring about disgrace,
palko.n kii ThanDii sej par sapno.n ki pariyaa.n sotii hai.n
For the dream-fairies remain asleep on the cool bed of my eyelids.
aisii bhii baate.n hotii hai.n
Such things happen in life.

dil kii tasallii ke liye jhuuThii chamak jhuuThaa nikhaar
For my heart’s satisification, I have adorned myself in this false glitter and shine.
jiivan to suunaa hii rahaa, sab samajhe aayii hai bahaar
Though it remains empty, everyone assumes that spring has arrived in my life.
kaliiyo.n se koii puuchtaa, hastii hai.n yaa ve rotii hai.n
Yet, no one has bothered to ask the flowerbuds whether they are smiling or crying.
aisii bhii baate.n hotii hai.n
Such things happen in life.

kuchh dil ne kahaa, kuchh bhii nahii.n
My heart said something; yet, it was nothing at all.

Glossary

angaDaaiiyaa.n: preparation, anticipation; armaan: hope, desire; rusvaa: disgrace; palko.n: eyelids; sej: bed; pariyaa.n: faires; tasallii: satisfaction, relief; chamak: glitter; nikhaar: glow, shine; bahaar: spring.

Sharmila Tagore rocks the classic beehive hairstyle that would later become her trademark.

The ever-handsome Dharmendra plays the role of a sensitive writer in Anupama (1966)

Deewana Hua Badal Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Sharmila Tagore Kashmir ki Kali

Sharmila Tagore plays a shy Kashmiri village girl in Kashmir ki Kali (1964)

Next we present the full lyrics and English translation to the jewel “Deewana Hua Badal” from Kashmir Ki Kali (1964). A beauty of beauties, “Deewaana Hua Badal” embodies the timeless dream of Kashmiri paradise. This charming duet by Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhonsle is the highlight of the film Kashmir Ki Kali (1964), starring Shammi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore. With a gently uplifting melody and traditional orchestration, “Deewana Hua Badal” captures a sense of pure bliss in the surroundings of the beautiful Kashmiri mountainside. Shammi Kapoor follows his lover Sharmila Tagore to the base of the famous Dal Lake where lotus flowers bloom and intricate wooden houseboats line the banks.

For centuries, Indians have been entranced by that heavenly treasure, Kashmir. Mughal emperor Jahangir famously wrote of Kashmir in the 17th century,

Gar firdaus ruhe zameen ast,
Hameen asto, hameen asto, hameen ast.”

“If there is Paradise on this Earth,
Then it is here, it is here, it is here…”

And classic Bollywood was no different. For years, all love dream sequences and the most beautiful of songs were set in Kashmir’s Shalimar gardens. Kashmir Ki Kali is but one of many films set in this paradise from that time period–before internal war and strife drove filmmakers away from Srinagar to the Swiss mountains. Being partly Kashmiri myself, I can attest to the sublimity of the countryside and what the natural beauty means to its people and history. The politics and tragedies that have plagued this gem are completely beyond the scope of this blog, but regarding its impact on Bollywood, Kashmir will remain forever the lover’s ideal.

Sharmila Tagore and Shammi Kapoor Kashmir Ki Kali Dal Lake

The famous Dal Lake of Srinagar, Kashmir is the gorgeous backdrop for “Deewana Hua Badal” from Kashmir Ki Kali (1964).

If I’m ever making a list of my favorite Bollywood songs, “Deewana Hua Badal” IS my number one choice. Since I was a little girl, this enchanting song found a special place in my heart. In fact, my own grandparents honeymooned in Srinagar by the famous Dal Lake in the early 1950s! When you listen to the sweetness of this song’s lyrics and melody, then imagine the paradise of vintage Kashmir, it’s easy to fall to in love! Please enjoy our full lyrics and English translation to “Deewana Hua Badal” below!

Deewana Hua Badal Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Male:
Yeh dekh ke dil jhuumaa
Upon seeing her, my heart swayed
Lii pyaar ne a.NgaDaaii
And love sprang forth
Diiwaanaa huaa baadal
The clouds became mad with love
Saavan kii ghataa chhaaii
The rain clouds of Spring abounded

Aisii to merii taqdiir na thii
My fate was once not as such
Tumsaa jo koii mehboob mile
To have met a lover like you before
Dil aaj khushii se paagal hai
Today my heart is crazy with happiness
Aye jaan-e-wafaa tum khuub mile
Oh my faithful one, we met at the right time
Dil kyuu.N na bane paagal?
Why should my heart not go crazy?
Kyaa tumne adaa paaii!
What style you have!
Yeh dekh ke dil jhuumaa
Upon seeing her, my heart swayed
Lii pyaar ne a.NgaDaaii
And love sprang forth
Diiwaanaa huaa baadal
The clouds became mad with love

Female:
Jab tumse nazar takaraaii sanam
Ever since my gaze struck you
Jazabaat kaa ek tuufaan uThaa
A storm of emotions lifted within me
Tinake kii tarah mai.N Bah nikalii
Like a twig, I was swept away
Sailaab mere roke na rukaa
Despite my effort, I could not stop the flood
Jeevan mei.N machii halchal
There was a stirring in my soul
Aur bajane lagii shahanaaii
And music of the shahanaii began to play
Yeh dekh ke dil jhuumaa
Upon seeing him, my heart swayed
Lii pyaar ne a.NgaDaaii
And love sprang forth

Male
Diiwaanaa huaa baadal
The clouds became mad with love

Hai aaj naye armaano.N se
Today with new desires
Aabaad merii dil kii nagarii
The city of my heart is filled
Baraso.N se khizaa.N kaa mausam thaa
For ages it was the season of Autumn
Viiraan baDi duniyaa thi merii
My world was a barren waste
Haathon mei.N teraa aanchal
Then in my hands came the drape of your saari
Aayaa ki bahaar aayii!
And when it came, the Spring followed!
Yeh dekh ke dil jhuumaa
Upon seeing her, my heart swayed
Lii pyaar ne a.NgaDaaii
And love sprang forth

Female:
Diiwaanaa huaa baadal
The clouds became mad with love
Saavan kii ghataa chhaaii
The rain clouds of Spring abounded
Yeh dekh ke dil jhuumaa
Upon seeing him, my heart swayed
Lii pyaar ne a.NgaDaaii
And love sprang forth

Male:
Diiwaanaa huaa baadal…

Glossary

angaDaaii: a turn, a leap; diiwaanaa: crazy (in love); baadal: cloud, saawan: rain; ghataa: cloud; taqdiir: Fate; mehboob: lover; khushii: happiness; paagal: crazy; jaan-e-wafa: faithful one; nazar takraanaa: to strike a gaze; jazabaat: emotion; tuufaan: storm; tinake: twig; straw; sailaab: flood, deluge; halchal: stirring; shahanaaii: a woodwind instrument traditionally played at Indian weddings; armaan: desire; aabad: filled; nagarii: city; khizaa: Autumn; mausam: atmosphere; viraan: wasted; duniya: world; aanchal: drape of a saari or dupatta; bahar: Spring

A few notes on this translation: The word angaDaaii does not have a simple English translationPlease see our translation of Likhe Jo Khat Tujhe for further discussion of this complex word. Basically, all of those awkward stretching movements Shammi is doing in the beginning are examples of angaDaaii. Furthermore the line “deewana hua baadal…” can be interpreted in two ways! Although we have written “the clouds became mad with love,” this line could easily mean the inverse: that he who is mad with love became a cloud. This alternative meaning could make some sense–he felt so light and happy with love that he lifted up and joined the clouds. I’m not going to get carried overboard though. We will leave it up to you to decide to how interpret these famous opening lines!

Shammi Kapoor Kashmir ki Kali

Shammi Kapoor blushes and shimmies during the opening of “Deewana Hua Badal” from Kashmir Ki Kali (1964).

Some of you may question the opening performance by Shammi Kapoor in this song. Yes, he’s absurd as he comes tumbling down the stairs, bulging out of his tight clothes. Yes, his lipstick is a tad too red. And yes, you can see the line below his chin where Costumes forgot to blend his pasty white pancake foundation into his neck. But I’ve come to terms with everything Shammi is: a spastic, messy heartthrob. And since in this film, Sharmila Tagore isn’t wearing half of the sweeping cat-eyeliner that would later become her signature, someone had to wear enough make-up for the team!

– Mrs. 55

The Meaning of Zuby Zuby Jalembu

Sharmila Tagore HOT An Evening in Paris

Sharmila Tagore burns up the screen in a quasi-French number from “An Evening in Paris” (1967).

I have breaking news. It’s a glimmer of light upon one of Bollywood’s great mysteries. The scene? Middle of the film An Evening in Paris. The year is 1967, and Shammi Kapoor is hot on the trail of a mystery. It’s one of those twin storylines–good twin is being held against her will by the bad guys (who look a whole lot like Pran in a blue pinstripe suit), and bad twin is a nightclub dancer who moonlights as a hit woman. By a stroke of brilliant luck, both twins are Sharmila Tagore.

So, anxious and slightly disheveled, Shammi Kapoor strolls into the Parisien nightclub, and his sense of Indian purity and uprighteousness takes a hit when the lights dim and a half-naked Sharmila Tagore struts onto the stage in a feathery swimsuit. Suddenly, she bursts into song:

Zuby zuby jalembu! Zuby zuby jalembu! Aa gaye. Shukriya. Ho mere meherabaan.”

I mean, what the heck? What do those cryptic words mean? For most of the general Indian population of the 60s watching this bizarre film, I’m guessing they

  1. Assumed it was something French and exotic (“is she really saying Suzy Suzy allez-vous?”)
  2. Didn’t care because the meaning of these Asha cabaret songs are rarely profound anyway
  3. Were too distracted by Sharmila’s dance moves and (lack of) costume to pay attention to the lyrics

Well, folks, I’m here to tell you it’s a mixture of choice 1 and 2! It’s actually slightly more meaningful than you probably thought (caveat: slightly). The tagline of the song has a legitimate basis in French music. Indian record companies probably got the spelling wrong–what we typically see as “Zuby Zuby Jalembu” should have been “Zou Bisou Bisou Bisou.” Asha’s awkward pronunciation, of course, did not help anyone.

Released as hit single in 1960 by Gillian Hills, “Zou Bisou Bisou” was a famous go-go style French song of seduction that was later redone by everyone from Sophia Loren to Megan Draper in Mad Men. Cover versions of it hit the French billboards in the 60s and, although its slow sensuality is a far cry from the high-pitched ecstatic Asha Bhonsle version, both certainly share something in common. “Bisou” (French slang for “kiss”) must have been heard somehow, somewhere by Shailendra who used it for authentic inspiration in writing this classy number that made it all the way back to Bombay.

So you see? It’s not entirely nonsense, nor is it entirely logical–the rest of the song’s lyrics don’t add up to anything profound in Hindi, but at least the effect is at very least “exotic.” And that’s all Indian audiences of the 60s could hope for in these kinds of tourist films, right? Sharmila Tagore had a special relationship with France, so much so that in 1999, the country awarded her the highest honor for artists: Insignes de Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres I. Sure, it was probably more in honor of her earlier work with Satyajit Ray, but her tribute to French go-go music must’ve helped.

Look, it’s the Eiffel Tower in the background! WOW EXOTIC!

And there it is. One mystery closed. You can thank me later. This request was submitted by one of our favorite readers, Reena! Have an obscure Bollywood mystery you want solved? Send us a request and we’d love to investigate!

-Mrs. 55

P.S. OK, so I get it. The most interesting part of this post was the mention of Sharmila wearing a bikini on stage. The irony? After igniting a wave of change in film censorship and standards with her bold moves, when Sharmila herself joined the Central Board of Film Certification, she expressed concern with the idea of too many bikinis on screen. For more on cabaret songs in Bollywood, see our post on Lata gone wild!