Bollywood Songs Translated – in my way


Abhishek Chaubey

Ab Mujhe Koi Intezaar Kahaan – Ishqiya

Who better than Gulzar to bring me out of translation-hibernation? I apologize for not updating for so long, work has me very busy nowadays but I promise to post more frequently now! I have a bunch of requests pending and I hope to get to them soon. Thanks to Latika G for sending me a request for translation of Ab Mujhe Koi Intezaar Kahaan from Ishqiya as its one of my favorite melancholic melodies and I couldn’t wait to translate it!

Abhishek Chaubey’s Ishqiya is the prequel of Dedh-Ishqiya, a film I wrote about in detail here along with a song translation of Hamri Atariya. Ishqiya is a black comedy where actor Vidya Balan plays the role of an unlikely femme fatale who manipulates two men into her own plan of vengeance. Portraying a twisted and dark world in a brilliant way, Ishqiya won a lot of praise from the critics and lead actor Vidya Balan swept all major awards for her nuanced portrayal of the lead protagonist Krishna Verma. The film features many beautiful songs, but Ab Mujhe Koi Intezaar Kahaan and Badi Dheere Jali Raina stand out like gems; combining Gulzar’s words, Vishal Bhardwaj’s music and Rekha Bhardwaj’s uniquely haunting voice. I hope you enjoy the translation and leave your feedback here or on  bollywoodtarjuma’s Facebook and Twitter page

Song Credits
Lyrics: Gulzar
Singers: Rekha Bharadwaj
Music: Vishal Bharadwaj

Movie Credits
Directed by: Abhishek Chaubey
Starring: Vidya Balan, Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi
Produced by: Raman Maroo, Vishal Bharadwaj
Release: 29 January 2010

Original Lyrics – Ab mujhe koi intezaar kahaan

Ab mujhe koi intezaar kahaan
Woh jo behthe the, aabshaar kahaan
Ab mujhe koi intezaar kahaan

Aankh ke ek gaaon mein,
raat ko khwaab aate the
Chooney se behthe the,
bole toh kehte the.
Udthe khwaabon ka aetbaar kahaan
Ab mujhe koi intezaar kahaan

Jin dino aap rehte the
Aankh mein dhoop thi
Ab to jaale hi jaale hain
Yeh bhi jaane hi wale hain
Woh jo tha dard ka karaar kahaan
Ab mujhe koi intezaar kahaan
Woh jo behthe the aabshaar kahaan

Translation of Ab mujhe koi intezaar kahaan by bollywoodtarjuma

No hope lives in me now.
Water that gushed down my eyes,
is also missing somehow.

Dreams used to visit,
a village in my eyes.
On touching, they leak,
through illusions they speak.
Passing like a summer cloud,
Musings can’t be trusted aloud.

The days you were here,
my warm eyes held the sun.
The days you stayed awhile,
heat lingered in the bosom.
Now it’s just cobwebs of past
and even they will not last.
Will I ever feel it again,
that bliss hiding beneath the pain.

No hope lives in me now.
Water that gushed down my eyes,
is also missing somehow.


Ik Kudi – Udta Punjab/Shiv Kumar Batalvi

Years ago I heard Rabbi Shergill’s rendition of Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s Ikk Kudi and I was mesmerized by the simplicity of the words and depth of its expression. Despite my lack of expertise in Punjabi language, I knew this poem was something very special and started reading some more work by Batalvi. The experience was a revelation of sorts, making it clear to me that when it comes to poetry, earthy and evocative phrases are as sublime as sophisticated metaphors.

Bollywood director Abhishek Chaubey’s latest film Udta Punjab (Flying Punjab), featured a part of this poem. I had been thinking of working on the meaning of Ik Kudi song for a while but was terrified of its simplicity. It’s so unimaginably difficult to preserve the effortlessness of Batalvi’s words, I can’t explain how unique this challenge can be. I had almost given up until Swaati C sent me a farmaish (a lovely urdu word for a request) for the same and I knew right then, that it’s time. While working on songs and poetry, I often imagine a poet or a lyricist writing in a studio or a desk, reflecting and re-writing repeatedly, much like I do. But Batavli’s work reminds of Dheedo Ranjha, the protagonist from from Waaris Shah’s epic telling of the Heer-Ranjha’s ill- fated love story based out Punjab.

Dheedo was a simple man who renounced the world after his beloved Heer was forcefully married to another man from a far off village. He craves to see her and spends his days searching for her everywhere. Much like him, Batavli writes lengthy songs in an unpretentious flow and his words are fragrant with the earthiness of his land. The pain and romance of his poetry is so enlightening because it’s so easy to approach it and get lost in it. Exactly what happened to me while translating the song from Udta Punjab. As I finished working on the part adapted in the film, I was overcome with greed to translate some more of this lovely ballad and then, some more, until I reached the end. That’s the magic of his writing; you never know how tightly it has gripped you. Thank you Swaati for this farmayish, it turned out to a de-cluttering my writing needed so much! I hope you will like my effort.
PS: My knowledge of Punjabi is limited at best so if there are any errors, please leave a comment here or on the Facebook or Twitter pages of bollywoodtarjuma. I will certainly correct it. Please do send me some feedback and share my work if you like it!

Song Credits
Lyrics: Shiv Kumar Batalvi
Singers: Shahid Mallya, Diljit Dosanjh

Music: Amit Trivedi

Movie Credits
Directed by: Abhishek Chaubey
Starring:   Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Diljit Dosanjh
Produced by: Shobha Kapoor, Ekta Kapoor, Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, Aman Gill, Vikas Bahl, Sameer Nair
Release: 17 June 2016

Original Poem, Ik Kudi

Ik kuddi jida naa muhabbat,
Goum hai.
Saad muraadi, soni phabbat,
Goum hai.
Soorat ousdi pariyaan vargi
Seerat di o mariam lagdi
Hasdi hai taa phul jhaddade ne
Turdi hai taa gazal hai lagdi.
Lamm-salammi, saru de kad di
Umar aje hai marke agg di,
Par naina di gal samajhdi.
Goummeyaan janam janam han hoye
Par lagda jyon kal di gal hai.
Yun lagda jyon ajj di gal hai,
Yun lagda jyon hun di gal hai.

Huney taan mere kol khaddi si
Huney taan mere kol nahi hai
Eh ki chhal hai, eh ki phatkan
Soch meri hairan baddi hai.
Nazar meri har aande jaande
Chehre da rang phol rahi hai,
Ous kuddi nu tol rahi hai.

Saanjh dhale baazaaran de jad,
Moddaan te khushbu ugdi hai.
Vehal, thakaavat, bechaini jad,
Chau raaheyaan te aa juddadi hai.
Rauley lippi tanhai vich
Os kuddi di thudd khaandi hai.
Os kuddi di thudd disdi hai.
Har chhin mennu inyon lagda hai,
Har din mennu inyon lagda hai.
Judde jashan ne bheeddaan vichon,
Juddi mahak de jhurmat vichon,
O mennu aawaaz davegi,
Men ohnu pehchaan lavaanga
O mennu pehchaan lavegi.
Par es raule de hadd vichon
Koi mennu aawaaz na denda
Koi vi mere vall na vehnda.

Par khaure kyun tapala lagda,
Par khaure kyun jhaulla painda,
Har din har ik bheedd juddi chon,
But ohda jyun langh ke jaanda.
Par mennu hi nazar na aunda.
Goum gaya maen os kuddi de
Chehre de vich goummeya rehnda,
Os de gham vich ghullda rehnda,
Os de gham vich khurda jaanda!
Os kuddi nu meri saun hai,
Os kuddi nu apni saun hai,

Os kuddi nu sab di saun hai.
Os kuddi nu jag di saun hai,
Os kuddi nu rab di saun hai,
Je kithe paddhdi sundi hove,
Jyundi ya o mar rahi hove
Ik vaari aa ke mil jaave
Vafa meri nu daag na laave
Nahin taan methon jiya na jaanda
Geet koi likheya na janda!

Ik kudi jida naa muhabat.
Goum hai.
Saad muradi sohni phabbat
Goum hai.

Translation of Ik Kudi by bollywoodtarjuma

A girl, love’s namesake,
she is missing, lost somewhere in the maze.

With some modest dreams,
and an aura of glowing rays,
she is missing, lost somewhere in the maze.

Her face with divine beauty of fairies,
her dignity eternal like Mary’s.
Flowers cascade with her laughter,
where she walks, ballets follow thereafter.
Like a cyprus her soaring is incessant,
but her fervor is still so adolescent.
She can speak through her eyes,
and leave you surprised.
A lifetime has passed since she was lost,
but it seems like it was just recent past.
Or perhaps it was only today,
or just the last moment that broke away.
Or maybe I forgot the sense of time’s pace
thinking of that girl, love’s namesake,
the one who is missing, lost somewhere in the maze.

Just now she was next to me,
don’t know how she managed to flee.
I am bewildered by this deception,
am I losing my way and perception?
In every face that passes by,
I search for that butterfly.

As dusk perfumes the marketplace,
languor and anxiety come face to face,
On the curves, crossings and intersections,
they meet in that deafening isolation.
Her absence is all consuming,
her lack, so concrete and looming.
Every second and every day, I feel,
standing in this carnival of crowds and zeal,
from the swarms of scents, hers will squeal.
Then we will spot each other,
and run to reach over..

But in this cacophonous torrent of masses,
I don’t even get a second look,
without ever calling my name, everyone just passes.

Still I wonder, why my instinct cheats,
why this vague illusion seems so concrete.
In all crowds I pass through, every day,
her form touches me and goes away,
Perhaps everyone can see her.
But for me, she is just a blur.
I swirl ceaselessly in her imagery,
visualizing the lost girl even more vividly.
Her melancholy is slowly dissolving me,
weight of wistfulness sinking me undersea.

In the name of my love and hers,
in the name of the whole world
and also its creator…

to that lost girl, I implore,
if you read or hear my words pour,
whether you are alive or at death’s door,
please please come fore,
let me again see the face I adore.
Should my fidelity be blemished,
my reasons to live will be finished,
my poetry, my words
will disappear in a haze,
so I must see that girl, love’s namesake,
the one who is missing, lost somewhere in the maze.


A recitation by Shiv Kumar Batalvi himself


Hamri Atariya Pe – Dedh Ishqiya

Dedh Ishqiya is Bollywood erotica really, wrapped in the sophisticated robe of tameez (good manners) and tahzeeb (high culture) of the Muslim Social genre, popular from the 1940-70s. You can read all about the genre here on this great article by Madhulika Liddle. So much sexual tension rides under the surface of this song and many other moments in the film that is easy to miss, unless you pay attention.

Dedh Ishqiya is a black comedy featuring versatile Indian actors including Madhuri Dixit and Naseeruddin Shah. Dixit, who looks absolutely ravishing and ageless as a noblewoman, Begum Para, plots an elaborate plan with her accomplice Muniya (Huma Qureshi), to extort money from a nawab (nobleman) to absolve herself from bankruptcy. Though the story seems quite simple at first, some scenes reveal the way a lesbian romance been Begum and Muniya is being played out in the shadows, quite literally. There is an obvious tribute to Ismat Chugtai’s story about a lesbian romance called Lihaaf (the Quilt), which (not co-incidentally) tells the tale of a lonely Begum, ignored by her husband who prefers young boys instead. She begins a homosexual relationship with her maid and its revealed through giant shadows on the wall (obviously of the two getting close under the quilt), that resemble an elephant, according to a little girl who is visiting the Begum.

In a kind of concluding scene of the film, the male protagonists are trapped in the Begum’s plot and tied up in the courtyard, while Muniya and Begum Para celebrate by frolicking in the other room. One can only hear giggles and massive shadows on the wall to indicate intimacy between the two female protagonists. Right then, as if on cue, Khalujan (Naseeruddin Shah) asks Babban (Arshad Warsi), “Lihaaf maang le? (“Should we ask for a quilt?”). Dialogue writer and demi-wordplay­-god, Vishal Bhardwaj slips in a reference to Chugtai’s story so deftly and inconspicuously, that one cannot help but marvel at his genius. At the end, Begum Para escapes with Muniya to another town, using the word humsafar (companion/soulmate) for her. It doesn’t become any more overt for a film that is rooted in a tradition where romance often resides only in the words.

The examples of mainstream Bollywood picking up homosexual themes are really few and far in between and, the ones that do, are met with intense protest and violence. In such a scenario, a very delicate Thelma and Louise type of plot line treads the path of such censorship-prone content quite carefully. It’s another reminder of the obscenity court case that Chugtai fought and won, for no one could find a real suggestion of anything vulgar in Lihaaf, for it was all ‘under the quilt’, so to say. The film is available to watch on YouTube for small payment (less than $1), so do watch and let me know what you think. Meanwhile, Abhishek Chaubey’s latest film, Udta Punjab (Flying Punjab) is getting rave reviews and I love the music. I will be posting a translation from that film soon!

This song, Hamri Atariya (on my rooftop) which appears along with the ending credits is a re-working of renowned Hindustani classical singer Begum Akhtar’s song based on the Dadra tradition (light vocals) from Agra and Bundelkhand region of India. The song is an erotically charged number about a woman waiting for her lover, eager for his romantic company , while insecure about some ‘other woman’ or sautan (actually means a co-wife) charming him away.

The song displays the dancing genius of Madhuri Dixit in the classical Kathak choreography by Indian dance exponent Pandit Birju Maharaj. The song amply showcases facial expressions (abhinaya), delicate hand gestures, footwork and spiraling movements that are a hallmark of this dance form from northern India. The earthy, rustic voice belongs to ace singer Rekha Bharadwaj, my utter favorite since a long time. Her voice has the most unique combination of sensuality and melancholy. A part of the song had me reminiscing about Roysten Abel’s multimedia collaboration with musicians from Manganiyar community of Rajasthan, called Manganiyar Seduction (that in turn somehow reminds me of the seduction windows in Amsterdam, the world is so small!) See the below images to notice the similarities:

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                                                A still from Hamri Atariya song


Enter a caption

Roysten Abel’s Manganiyar Seduction


The song has plenty of restrained and some more overt mentions of the woman’s desire for a sexual union. Apart from being fun and catchy, when Muniya (Huma Qureshi) joins Begum Para (Madhuri Dixit) in the performance, the song sort of becomes representative of the film itself. Along with the video from the film, I am posting the link to a belly-dance based choreography to the same number by Banjara School of Dance, run by India’s foremost belly dance artist, Meher Malik. Call me a voyeur, but I really couldn’t keep my eyes off those beautiful dancers! Enjoy and let me know your thoughts in comments!

Song Credits
Lyrics: Gulzar
Singers: Rekha Bharadwaj
Music: Vishal Bharadwaj (re-worked Begum Akhtar’s original)

Movie Credits
Directed by: Abhishek Chaubey
Starring:   Madhuri Dixit, Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi, Huma Qureshi
Produced by: Raman Maroo, Vishal Bharadwaj
Release: 10 January 2014

Original Lyrics – Hamri Atariya Pe

Saj ke sajaaye baithi
Saazinde bulaaye baithi
Kahaan gum hua anjaanaa
Aale aale diye bhi jalaye re jalaye na
Atariya pe aaya parwana
Kaun sautan haaye bharmaaye re

Hamari atariya pe
Aaja re sanwariya
Dekha-dekhi tanik hoi jaaye
Hamri atariya pe
Aaja re sanwariya
Dekha-dekhi tanik hoi jaaye
Hamri atariya pe

Kiwadiya se lag ke piya kare jhaanka jhaanki
Bahut kaudi phenke piya udaave jahaan ki
Kasam deve jaan ki
Aaja gilauri, khilai doon kimaami
Laali pe laali tanik hui jaaye

Padosan ke gharva jaiho
Jaiho na sawariya
Sautan sapoli mori kaate jeheriya
Jeheri najariya…
Aaja atariya pe pilai doon angoori
Jora-jori tanik hui jaaye

Saajne lagaaye baithi
Chuttiya ghumaaye baithi
kahan gum hua

Translation of Hamri Atariya Pe by bollywoodtarjuma

Dressed and adorned,
with musicians ready all around,
I wait for that stranger,
where did he go missing, I wonder.
I lined the porch with lamps of desire,
yet the moth didn’t come for the fire.
Another one has bewitched him, I fear,
Is that why he has disappeared?

O tan –skinned one,
run into me on the roof.
Let’s look at each other,
while the world is aloof.

Standing by the lattice door,
my mischievous lover quietly peeps.
Swears repeatedly by his life,
throwing copious wealth at my feet.

Let me paint your lips red,
with a perfumed betel spread.
Let our crimsons blend,
until the night comes to an end.

Don’t step into house next door,
don’t see the other women, I implore.
A nibble of that wicked serpentress slays,
her venom-eyes defuse my magic for days.
Come instead, to my porch,
and let me pour you some wine.
Let’s peek a bit and play some tease,
Some naughty and some benign.

Dressed and adorned,
hair pretty and plait bound,
with musicians ready all around,
I wait for that stranger,
where did he go missing, I wonder.

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