Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

A rare photograph depicting Lata Mangeshkar’s performance of “ai mere vatan ke logo” at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on Republic Day,1963

On behalf of Mrs. 55 and me, I’d like to wish all of our readers a happy Indian Independence Day! In celebration of this holiday, we have provided the lyrics and translation for an all-time patriotic classic: ai mere vatan ke logo. Although this song is not technically a Bollywood song, all of the artists involved in its production are legends of the Hindi film industry: composer C. Ramachandra, poet Kavi Pradeep, and of course, singer Lata Mangeshkar. Kavi Pradeep was inspired to write the lyrics of this poem after being moved by the losses India suffered during the Sino-Indian War of 1962. His tribute to the Indian soldiers who fought in the war has become immortalized in this touching anthem, which is remembered today as one of the finest Hindi songs in the patriotic genre.

Even a song like this, however, was not immune to the drama of the Bollywood industry. It has been reported by journalist Raju Bharatan that C.Ramachandra originally composed this song as a duet between Lata and her younger sister Asha Bhonsle. Allegedly, Lata managed to coax her sister out of the situation using questionable tactics and went on to record the song as a solo because she wanted it for herself. If this story is not merely Bollywood gossip, I certainly don’t condone the lack of sisterly love–but I can say that you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks Lata didn’t do complete justice to this gem.

Kavi Pradeep (left), Lata Mangeshkar (center), C. Ramachandra (right)

In fact, a popular story has been recounted over the years about how Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was moved to tears when Lata debuted this number at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi just two months after the war ended.  Lata narrates this incident in her own words:

Following the Chinese attack on India in 1962, Pradeep ji wrote this song and I sang it for the first time in Delhi on Republic Day on 26th January, 1963. C. Ramchandra conducted the few musicians who were performing on stage with me. That year, many stars and music directors from Bombay were in Delhi, including Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Naushad Ali, Shankar-Jaikishan and Madan Mohan. Once I finished singing, I sat down behind the stage and asked for a coffee.

Mehboob Sahib came rushing to me and said: ‘Lata! Where is Lata? Panditji is calling you.’ I followed him outside and when Pandit ji saw me, he stood up. Indira ji and many leading politicians were there too.

Mehboob Sahib introduced me saying: ‘This is Lata Mangeshkar.’ He said: ‘beTii, tum ne aaj mujhe rulaa diyaa’ [Child, you have brought tears to my eyes today].

Given the occasion, we hope that you’ll take a moment to listen to this evergreen patriotic anthem and commemorate the brave heroes who have fought to protect the freedom of our beloved motherland over the years. Jai Hind!

–Mr. 55

Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo: Lyrics and Translation

ai mere vatan ke logo, tum khuub lagaa lo naaraa
Oh, my fellow citizens! Chant slogans in praise of our country.
yah shubhdin hai ham sab kaa, laharaa lo tiiranga pyaaraa
This is an auspicious day for us all,  so fly our beloved tri-color flag.
par mat bhuulo siimaa par viiro.n ne hai praan ga.nvaaye
Yet, do not forget that brave soldiers have lost their lives on our borders.
kuchh yaad unhe.n bhii kar lo, jo laut ke ghar na aaye
Remember those who have not returned home.

ai mere vatan ke logo, zaraa aa.nkh me.n bhar lo paani
Oh, my fellow citizens! Shed a few tears.
jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaanii
Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs.
tum bhuul na jaao unko, is liye suno yah kahaanii
Listen to this story so that you do not forget them.
jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaani
Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs.

jab ghaayal huaa himaalay, khatre me.n paDii aazaadii
When the great Himalayas were wounded and our freedom was in danger,
jab tak thii saa.ns laDe ve, phir apnii laash bichha dii
They fought until their last breath and then laid their corpses to the ground.
sangiin pe dhar kar maatha, so gaye amar baliidaanii
Resting their heads on bayonets, these immortal martyrs fell into an eternal sleep.
jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaanii
Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs. 

jab desh me.n thii diivaalii, ve khel rahe the holii
When our country celebrated Diwali, they were playing Holi on the battlefield.
jab ham baiThe the gharo.n me.n, ve jhel rahe the golii
As we sat comfortably in our homes, they were firing bullets.
the dhanya javaan ve apane, thii dhanya vah unkii javaanii
Blessed were those soldiers, and blessed was their youth.
jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaanii
Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs.

koii sikh koii jaaT maraaThaa, koii gurkhaa koii madaraasii
Some were Sikh, Jaat, or Marathi; some were Gurkha or Madrasi.
sarhad par marnevaala har viir thaa bhaaratvaasii
But each man who died on the border was an Indian,
jo khuun giraa parvat par, wah khuun thaa hindustaanii
And the blood that stained the mountainside was Indian blood.
jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaanii
Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs. 

thii khuun se lathpath kaayaa, phir bhii banduuk uThaa ke
Although their bodies were soaked in blood, they still raised their guns.
das das ko ek ne maaraa, phir gir gaye hosh ga.nvaa ke
Each man shot tens of enemy soldiers and then fell unconscious to the ground.

jab ant samay aayaa to kah gaye ki ab marte hai.n
When the final moment came, they said: “Now we shall die.
khush rahnaa desh ke pyaaro, ab ham to safar karte hai.n
My beloved countrymen, stay happy. We now begin our final journey to the afterlife.”
kyaa log the ve diivaane, kyaa log the ve abhiimaanii
They displayed such passion and dignity.
jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaani
Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs.

tum bhuul na jaao unko, is liye kahii yah kahaanii
This story has been recounted so that you do not forget them.
jo shahiid hue hai.n unkii, zaraa yaad karo qurbaani
Remember the sacrifice of those martyrs.

jai hind, jai hind kii senaa
jai hind, jai hind, jai hind!
Victory to India and its armed forces!


vatan: motherland; naaraa: slogan; shubhdin: auspicious day; tiirangaa: tri-color; siimaa: boundary; viir: brave; praan: life; shahiid: martyr; qurbanii: sacrifice; ghaayal: wounded; khatre me.n: in danger; aazaadii: freedom; laash: corpse; bichhanaa: to lay; sangiin: bayonet; amar: immortal; balidaanii: martyr; golii jhelnaa: to fire a bullet; dhanya: blessed; sarhad: border; khuun: blood; lathpath: soaked; kaayaa: body; hosh: senses, conscious; abhimaanii: dignified; senaa: army.

Khudaa-E-Bartar Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Our blog probably seems like one huge Sahir Ludhianvi love-fest by now, but I couldn’t help myself from posting and translating this beauty from Taj Mahal (1963). This song is from the same movie as “jurm-e-ulfat pe,” which I translated here a little while ago. While “jurm-e-ulfat pe” tackles the theme of forbidden love, the lesser-known “khudaa-e-bartar” discusses something that doesn’t get much coverage in the world of Bollywood: war. By posing a series of questions, Ludhianvi uses universal and timeless words here to express the futility of war. While the song directly pertains to the Mughal battles depicted in the film, I’ll go out on a limb and say that the pacifism expressed in these lyrics is also Ludhianvi’s response to India’s losses in the Sino-Indian War, which had ended only a year before this film was released.

In addition to its unique thematic content, this song stands out for its nuanced use of language. Such elevated Urdu is truly a rare treat in Hindi cinema. Seriously, when was the last time you heard a song with the words like hidaayat, kibr-o-ghuruur, or fatah-o-zafar? Perhaps my favorite thing about this song is its use of izaafat, a grammatical construct borrowed from Persian where two nouns or a noun and adjective are linked together with the vowel -e- or -o-. When the -e- vowel is used between two nouns, it can generally be translated as “of.” When the -o- vowel is used, it is translated as “and.” This song makes extensive use of izaafat, as evident in compound phrases like rasm-e-jang-o-jadaal (rules of war and disputes) and jashn-e-tiir-o-tafang (celebration of arrows and rifles). Super fancy, no?

Since almost every other word here is a vocab word, you’ll have to take a close look at the glossary below while you follow along with the song. But I guarantee that you’ll learn some new Urdu if you do–enjoy and let us know your thoughts about this song in the comments!

–Mr. 55

P.S. For the classical music enthusiasts out there, this composition is also remarkable for being one of the finest examples of Raga Miyan ki Todi used in a film song.

khudaa-e-bartar terii zamii.n par zamii.n kii khaatir, yeh jang kyo.n hai?
har ek fatah-o-zafar ke daaman pe khuun-e-insaa.n kaa rang kyo.n hai?

zamii.n bhii terii, hai.n ham bhii tere. yeh milkiiyat kaa savaal kyaa hai?
yeh qatl-o-khuu.n ka rivaaj kyo.n hai? yeh rasm-e-jang-o-jadaal kyaa hai?
jinhe.n talab hai jahaan bhar kii, unhii.n kaa dil itnaa tang kyo.n hai?

ghariib maao.n shariif bahno.n ko aman-o-izzat kii zindagii de
jinhe.n ataa kii hai tuu ne taaqat, unhe.n hidaayat kii roshnii de
saro.n me.n kibr-o-ghuruur kyo.n hai? dilo.n ke shiishe pe zang kyo.n hai?

qazaa ke raste pe jaanevaalo.n ko bach ke aane ki raah denaa
dilo.n ke gulshan ujaD na jaaye.n, muhabbato.n ko panaah denaa
jahaa.n me.n jashn-e-vafaa ke badle, yeh jashn-e-tiir-o-tafang kyo.n hai?

khudaa-e-bartar terii zamii.n par zamii.n kii khaatir, yeh jang kyo.n hai?

: superior Lord; zamii.n: land, world; jang: war; fatah-o-zafar: victories and triumphs; daaman: foothills; khuun-e-insaa.n: human blood; milkiiyat: ownership; qatl-e-khuu.n: murders and blood; rivaaj: tradition; rasm-e-jang-o-jadaal: rules of war and disuptes; talab: need, desire; jahaan: world; tang: troubled; ghariib: poor; shariif: noble; aman-o-izzat: peace and respect; ataa karna: to bless; taaqat: strength, courage; hidaayat: guidance; roshnii: light; kibr-o-ghuruur: pride and arrogance; shiishaa: mirror; qazaa: death; bach ke aanaa: to escape; gulshan: garden; ujaD jaana: to be uprooted; panaah: shelter; jashn-e-vafaa: celebration of love; jashn-e-tiir-o-tafang: celebration of arrows and rifles

Rough Translation:
O superior Lord, why is there this war over land in your world? Why does human blood stain the foothills of every victory and triumph?

This land is yours, and we are yours. Then, what is this question of ownership and possession? What are these traditions of bloody murder? What are these rules of wars and disputes? Those who have a desire to rule the world, why are their hearts so troubled?

Give poor mothers and noble sisters a life of peace and respect. Give those whom you have blessed with strength and courage a light of guidance. Why are minds filled with pride and arrogance? Why are the mirrors of people’s hearts blemished by rust?

Give those who are headed on the road to death a way to escape. May the garden of hearts not be uprooted as you provide shelter to love. In this world, instead of a celebration of love, why is there a celebration of arrows and rifles?

O superior Lord, why is there war over land in your world?

Jurm-E-Ulfat Pe Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

This gem penned by Sahir Ludhianvi in Taj Mahal (1963) is probably one of our favorite picks for an old film song that makes the makes the best use of Urdu lyrics. This classic movie narrates the love story between Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. Ludhianvi’s heart-wrenching lyrics combined with Roshan’s beautiful music (a nuanced use of Raga Gaud Malhar!), Lata’s magical voice, and Bina Rai’s graceful portrayal of Mumtaz Mahal on screen make this song a truly memorable masterpiece.

All the couplets in this song are beautifully constructed, but one of the lines in this song is particularly intriguing. In the fourth couplet, Ludhianvi writes: “takht kyaa chiiz hai aur laal-o-javaahar kya hai?” As a whole, this couplet expresses the sentiment that love is so powerful that it transcends wealth, royalty, and even divinity. However, Ludhianvi’s use of the specific word laal-o-javaahar (red jewels, rubies) to symbolize wealth is interesting because it appears to be a reference to Javaahar Laal Nehru, who happened to be Prime Minister of India at the time that this song was written. Nehru was certainly seated on the “takht” of India in 1963, but what is Ludhianvi’s purpose in referencing him in this line of the song?

Although we can’t know for sure, here’s what we think. Because Ludhianvi is known to use his lyrics as a medium for criticism and political satire, it is likely that he is criticizing Nehru for his role in starting the Sino-Indian War of 1962. Nehru’s stubbornness and refusal to negotiate escalated tensions between India and China, ultimately leading to a war that cost thousands of human lives on both sides. (As a side note, the patriotic classic “aye mere vatan ke logo.n” was written to commemorate the soldiers who lost their lives in this war). Here, I would venture to say that Ludhianvi is using the reference to suggest that lovers are prepared to suffer losses greater than those incurred by Nehru in the war.

If you haven’t heard this song yet, you’re totally missing out–take a listen and pay close attention to the glossary below to learn some new and difficult Urdu vocabulary!

–Mr. 55

pe hame.n log sazaa dete hai.n

kaise naadaan hai.n, sholo.n ko havaa dete hai.n

hamse diivaane kahii.n tark-e-vafaa karte hai.n
jaan jaaye ki rahe, baat nibhaa dete hai.n

aap daulat ke taraazuu me.n dilo.n ko tole.n
ham muhabbat se muhabbat ka silaa dete hai.n

takht kya chiiz hai aur laal-o-javaahar kya hai?
ishqvaale to khudaayii bhii luuTaa dete hai.n

hamne dil de bhii diyaa, aur ahad-e-vafaa le bhii liyaa.
aap ab shauq se de le.n jo sazaa dete hai.n

jurm-e-ulfat pe hame.n log sazaa dete hai.n

jurm-e-ulfat: offenses in love; sazaa: punishment; naadaan: naive; sholaa: flame; tark-e-vafaa: end of love; jaan: life; nibhaa dena: to fulfill; daulat: wealth; taraazuu: scales; silaah denaa: to respond; takht: throne; laal-o-javaahar: red jewels, rubies; ishqvaale: lovers; khudaayii: godliness, divinity; luuTaa denaa: to sacrifice; ahad-e-vafaa: vow of loyalty; shauq se: with pleasure

Rough Translation
People punish me for the offenses I have committed in love
How naive they must be, for they are only adding air to a burning flame.

Elsewhere, people crazier than I put an end to their love.
Whether I live or die, I will remain faithful to my word.

You may weigh hearts on scales of wealth,
But I respond to love with love.

What is the value of thrones and rubies?
Lovers can sacrifice even divinity.

I have already given my heart and taken a vow of loyalty.
Now, with pleasure, you may deliver my punishment.

People punish me for the offenses I have committed in love.