This classic Bollywood song from the film Umrao Jaan, tells the story of heart-break and silent pathos of a lover left behind. This award-winning film, directed by Muzaffar Ali belongs to a long tradition of courtesan-based films from Hindi language cinema. As a character, a courtesan, or a tawaif, as she is known in Urdu, is an enigmatic one. She is not merely a performer figure from 19th century entertainment-houses or kothas located in the cities of Benares and Lucknow.

A popular tawaif was well-respected and known for her knowledge of arts and sophistication. At the same time, they were isolated from the so-called ‘civilized’ society, as they were considered lowly for entertaining different men. Their life was full of enigma and mystique, as patrons adored their performances in the kothas, but ignored them in the world outside. In this song, using great economy of words, Umrao Jaan Ada metaphorically expresses her dismay with life as she performs in front of her former lover (a court noble) and his wife. The film bagged top honors in most award ceremonies for that year for direction, music, singing and of course, for the splendid performance of Rekha in the titular role.

Song Credits
Lyrics: Shahryar
Singers: Asha Bhosle
Music: Khayyam

Movie Credits
Directed by: Muzaffar Ali
Starring:  Rekha, Farooq Shaikh
Produced by: Muzaffar Ali

Original Lyrics-Justaju Jiski Thi

Justaju jis ki thi us ko to naa paya hum ne
Is bahane se magar dekh li duniya hum ne

Tujh ko ruswa na kiya, khud bhi pashemaan n huye
Ishq ki rasm ko, is tarha nibhaaya hum ne

Kab milee thi, kahaa bichhadee thi, humein yaad nahi
Zindagi tujh ko to bas khwaab mein dekha humne

Aye Ada aur sunaye bhi to kya haal apna,
Umr ka lamba safar, tay kiya tanha humne

Translation of Justaju Jiski Thi by bollywoodtarjuma

Though I couldn’t get
what I truly desired,
I saw much of the world,
with what transpired.

Didn’t disgrace you or
filled myself with guilt,
that’s how I kept the norm
of the bond we had built.

When did I meet you and
when did we go separate ways?
Oh dear life, seems like
I saw you only in a daze.

What more can Ada say,
such is she fated,
this long voyage of life,
she has spent isolated.