Inhi Logon Ne Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

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The tragically beautiful film Pakeezah (1972) stars Meena Kumari in its leading role.

Today, we continue our series on the eternally beautiful Pakeezah (1972) by providing the lyrics and English translation to inhii.n logo.n ne, a classic gem that has defined the genre of Bollywood mujras since its release.  

Tuned by Ghulam Mohammed and penned by Majrooh Sultanpuri, this song was perhaps the most widely appreciated number (it reached #2 on the 1972 Binaca Geet Mala list!) from a soundtrack full of memorable compositions like chalte chalte and mausam hai aashiqaanaa. Although its light, Yaman-based melody evokes a playful sprit, the underlying tragedy expressed in the lyrics of this song is unexpectedly ironic. In spite of the pain she suffers from being stigmatized as a tavaaif, Meena Kumari is forced to render this mujraa with verve and a smile for her patrons at the brothel. While addressing her beloved saiyaa.n, she laments how the men around her have stolen her innocence and modesty, which is symbolically represented by the loss of her DupaTTaa. To persuade her lover, she implores him to ask three characters in the song to confirm that her virtue was soiled against her will: the cloth merchant, the cloth dyer, and the constable. Representing different facets of society, these characters serve as witnesses to her loss of innocence and sometimes take part in the process (e.g. when the constable snatches her scarf away at the market.) To add to the irony, the red color of the lost scarf and Meena Kumari’s on-screen outfit are reminiscent of the colors adorning a South Asian bride on her wedding day. Yet, the audience is acutely aware that a courtesan in such a position will provoke condemnation and disgust for attempting to engage in the conventional structures of love and marriage established by the society around her. 

In addition to carrying a powerful message about social stigma in Indian society, these lyrics are memorable for their apabhransa (corrupt, non-grammatical) use of Urdu-Hindi. Reminiscent of the Awadhi dialect, a number of modifications to modern standard Hindi have been used here for poetic effect:

le liinaa = le liyaa (have taken)
bajajvaa = bajaj (cloth merchant)
hamrii = hamaarii (my, our)
sipaiyaa = sipaahii (constable)
bajariyaa = bazaar (market)

These substitutions really stick in the listener’s mind and give the lyrics of inhii.n logo.n ne a unique linguistic flavor that stands out from other compositions from the same period. Non-standard dialects such as Braj find prominence in classical Hindustani bandishes, but the lyricists for Bollywood cinema of the Golden Age tended to rely on standard Urdu-Hindi for most of their work. 

Songs like inhii.n logo.n ne have historically cast a sympathetic light on the tragic lives led by courtesans of yesteryear, and it is a well-known fact that fans have been fascinated with this genre of music and movies since the earliest days of the Hindi film industry. To conclude, I’ll leave you with a thought-provoking question: given the conservative social climate of 1960s and 1970s India, why did courtesan-based films (e.g. Pakeezah, Mughal-e-Azam, Amar Prem) resonate intimately with Indian audiences? Although deep-seated stigmas surround tavaaifs and their profession, what is the driving force behind India’s obsession with the story of a courtesan with a heart of gold? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

-Mr. 55

P.S. Check out a rare black and white version of this song filmed on a younger Meena Kumari in 1956 (16 years before the film’s eventual release)!

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Meena Kumari’s playful spirit in ‘inhii.n logo.n ne belies the tragic reality of her profession as a courtesan in Pakeezah (1972).

Inhi Logon Ne: Lyrics and Translation

inhii.n logo.n ne, inhii.n logo.n ne
These people, these people
inhii.n logo.n ne le liina DupaTTaa meraa

These people have taken away my scarf of modesty.

hamrii na maano, saiyaa.nbajajvaa se puuchho
If you don’t accept my word, oh beloved, ask the cloth merchant
jis ne asharfii gaj diinaa DupaTTaa meraa
who sold me a yard of its fabric for a gold coin.

hamrii na maano, saiyaa.n, ra.ng rajvaa se puuchho
If you don’t accept my word, oh beloved, ask the cloth dyer
jis ne gulaabii ra.ng diinaa DupaTTaa meraa
who gave my scarf its pink color.

hamrii na maano, saiyaa.n, sipaiyaa se puuchho
If you don’t accept my word, oh beloved, ask the constable
jis ne bajariyaa me.n chhiinaa DupaTTaa meraa
who stripped away my scarf at the market.

inhii.n logo.n ne le liinaa DupaTTaa meraa
These people have taken away my scarf of modesty.

Glossary

le lenaa: to take away; DupaTTaa: a long scarf covering a woman’s chest, a traditional symbol of modesty and honor for Indian women; hamrii (baat): my word; maannaa: to accept, believe; bajajvaa: cloth merchant; asharfii: a gold coin issued by Muslim dynasties; gaj: a unit of measurement equivalent to a yard; saiyaa.n: beloved; rang rajvaa: cloth dyer; gulaabii: pink; sipaiyaa: constable; bajariyaa: market; chiinnaa: to strip away.

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Adorned in red and gold ornaments, Meena Kumari’s appearance resembles that of an Indian bride in Pakeezah (1972).

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

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

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

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

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

-Mr. 55

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

Sansar Se Bhage Phirte Ho Lyrics and Translation

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

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

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

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

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

Glossary 

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

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