Bollywood Songs Translated – in my way


Alia Bhatt

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



Patakha Guddi – Highway

The song suffused with spiritual touch of Irshad Kamil’s poetic genius, beautifully sung by Jyoti and Sultana Nooran and, set to A R Rahman’s enthralling music, stays with you long after you finish listening. Despite the language being a bit unfamiliar, I was sure its appeal to the Highest Power is very potent. Once I learnt the meaning of the words from my Punjabi friends, I was stuck by how insightfully this song describes a free-spirited human being. Such people are often admired by many yet belong to no one, they fascinate people, but the world remains distant from them. For all those nomadic souls, the Supreme Being acts as a nurturer and protector; freeing them from worldly concerns and letting them live their life on their own terms.

Song Credits
Lyrics: Irshad Kamil
Singers: Jyoti Nooran, Sultana Nooran
Music: A R Rahman

Movie Credits
Directed by: Imtiaz Ali
Starring: Alia Bhatt and Randeep Hooda
Produced by: Sajid Nadiadwala
Release: 21 February 2014

Original Lyrics-Patakha Guddi

Mitthe paan di gillori,Lattha suit da Lahori
Fatte maar di phillauri

Jugni mel mel ke, Kood phaand ke
Chakk chakaudde jaave

Maula tera maali, O Hariyaali jungle waali
Tu de har gaali pe taali, Uski kadam kadam rakhwaali

Ainve lok laaj ki soch soch ke, Kyun hai aafat daali
Tu le naam Rab ka, naam Sai ka
Ali Ali Ali Ali
Naam Rab ka, naam Sai ka
Ali Ali Ali Ali

Sharf Khuda ka, Zarf Khuda ka
Ali Ali Ali Ali..
Ali ho.. Ali ho..
Chali o.. re chali chali, chali o..

Ali Ali teri gali, Woh to chali..
Ali Ali..Teri gali chali o..

O jugni o.. patakha guddi o
Nashe mein udi jaaye re haaye re
Sajje khabbe dhabbe killi o
Patakha Guddi O
Nashe mein udi jaaye re haaye re
Sajje khabbe dhabbe killi o

Maula tera maali, O Hariyaali jungle waali
Tu de har gaali pe taali
Uski kadam kadam rakhwaali
Ainve lok-laaj ki soch soch ke, Kyun hai aafat daali
Tu le naam Rab ka, naam Sai ka, Ali Ali Ali Ali
Naam Rab ka, naam Sai ka, Ali Ali Ali Ali

Maine to tere tere utte chhadiyaan doriyan
Maine to tere tere utte chhadiyaan doriyan

Tu to pak Rab ka banka baccha, raj-dulara tu hi
Pak rab ka baanka bachcha, uska pyara tu hi
Maalik ne jo chinta di to, door karega wohi
Naam Ali ka leke tu to.. naach le gali gali
Le naam Ali Ali..

Jugni rukh peepal da hoi, Jis nu pooje taa har koi
Jisdi phasal kise na boyi, Ghar vi rakh sake na koi

Rastaa naap rahi marjaani, Patthi baarish da hai paani
Jab nazdeek jahaan de aani, Jugni maili si ho jaani

Tu le naam Rab da Ali Ali, Jhall Khaleran challi
Naam rab da Ali Ali, Har darawaza Ali (x2)

Sai Re.. Sai Re..Maine to tere tere utte chadiyaan doriyan

Translation of Patakha Guddi by bollywoodtarjuma

Like a sweet triangle of betel quid,
attired in Lahori garb,
this little kitten of a kid,
this firefly jumps and greets,
Fascinated she gapes,
at everyone she meets.

O emerald-tone of wild,
God is your nurturer.
You cheer at every curse,
yet He shields you with his cover,
at every step and forever.

Why worry for the norms of the world?
Why think of words being hurled?
Just evoke the name
of the One above all,
the creator,
the one who answers every call.

With dignity of the Maker,
along with His justice,
She travels His path,
unstopping and restless.

The firefly, that burning kite,
she flies high on His might,
Here, there
and everywhere.
I have handed her strings,
to you o God,
the King of kings.

You are divine God’s valiant child,
closest to His majestic heart.
If He sends anxieties your way,
rest assured,
He will make them go away.
Just chant His name,
and dance in every lane,
without worry, without shame.

This girl with the fate of peepul tree*,
tended  by none,
with many a devotee.

This wild nomadic girl,
drifts like rain showers.
If the world closes in on her,
her aura turns sour,
and she wilts like a thirsting flower.

Speaking His name,
over and over again,
at every door, every lane
she keeps being insane,
going on against the grain.
O Lord, O Lord
I have handed her strings,
to you oh God,
the King of kings.

* In some places in India, Peepul Tree is considered a deity and people offer prayers to it, specially on Saturday. At the same time, a Peepul Tree is considered an abode of two demons who bring misfortune, so planting it inside houses and courtyards is considered inauspicious. The tree is often found on roadsides and in gardens near a temple.


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