Pyaasa lyrics and translation: Jaane Woh Kaise

Saw Pyaasa (1957) last weekend, and I am still quite dumbfounded at its brilliance. Aamir Khan noted in this interview that the film was the most influential in attracting him to a career in cinema, and one can see why. While a detailed movie review will have to wait until after the Unforgettable Tour stop here in L.A. toward the end of the month, figured now would be a good time to share one of the strongest moments (there were plenty) from the film -- the build up to (and) the song Jaane Woh Kaise.

Vijay (played by Guru Dutt) was at his boss's house to help with arrangements for and during a party, which serves as a gathering for several well-known shaairs (poets). Among the crowd was his boss's wife Meena (Mala Sinha), who he was in love with. One of the poets lightened things up with the following:

Roodaad-e-gham-e-ulfat un se, hum kya kehte, kyunkar kehte?
Ek harf na nikla honton se, aur aankhon mein aansoo aa bhi gaye.
Us mehfil-e-kaif o masti mein, us anjuman-e-irfaani mein,
Sab jaam ba-kaf baithe hi rahe, hum pi bhi gaye, chalka bhi gaye.

Here's my attempted translation:

What would I tell her of my tale of sorrowful happiness, and why?
Not a syllable escaped my lips, yet tears filled my eyes.
In this joyous gathering, in this institution of wisdom,
All the wine stayed motionless, yet I drank and poured some too.

The next sher (couplet) came from the most respected poet in the mehfil (gathering):

Kaam aakhir jazba-e-ikhtiyaar aa hi gaya,
Dil is surat tadpa, un ko pyaar aa hi gaya.

Translated as:

The uncontrollable desire was useful, after all,
The heart beckoned such (in earnest), she reciprocated after all.

This is where we join the action, with Vijay reciting this matla (the first sentence of a poem; the maqta is the last): Jaane woh kaise, log the jin ke, pyaar ko pyaar mila. He was ridiculed some, for his boss was praised for employing a servant who was a decent poet. The bit of dialogue that stood out here was, 'shaairi sirf daulatmandon ki jaageer nahin' (poetry is not merely the territory of the wealthy). Here is the song that followed. It's beautifully written by Sahir Ludhianvi, sung by Hemant Kumar, and with music by S. D. Burman.

Here is my transcription of the lyrics, and my attempted translation. Pyaasa has several excellent, excellent songs, and I've translated at least three more. Hope to share them leading up to the review in a couple of weeks.


Nicki said...

Wow, Aamir fan!~! I love Aamir. He's actually my favorite Bollywood actor right now. I love your blog and adding to my blog roll

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Nicki: Thank you for stopping by! Glad to know Aamir's your favorite. Which is your favorite Aamir movie?

Thanks for your kind words. Adding you to my roll as well.

ajnabi said...

Those lyrics are gorgeous! I love how much I can discover about BW songs through my fellow bloggers--I never would find half the cool stuff y'all lead me to.

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Ajnabi: Yes, the lyrics are amazingly good. Really, all the songs in the film are like that. It is an excellent film too. If I were to borrow your alias for a second, I consider myself an 'ajnabi' to the black and white Hindi films, so it is truly a tremendous phase of discovery.

Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

I meant to thank you for the translation when I saved it yesterday but it was a drive-by visit...but thanks! Any Sahir Ludhianvi translations I can get my hands on are welcome :-)

theBollywoodFan said...

Memsaab: Thank you for stopping by. Sahir Ludhianvi's poetry is quite amazing (thanks for alerting me to it around the Jaane Tu music release) -- and fun to try to translate. I'll hope to share some more in a couple weeks. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for doing this. As a non-Hindi speaker (at least, not yet) much of this movie is flying by over my head due to lack of song lyrics, which are clearly important to the plot.

So I am grateful for this work of love, and want you to know that it continues to bear fruit.

theBollywoodFan said...

Rebecca: Thank you! And you're very welcome. Hope you were able to enjoy the film, nonetheless. It's a pity many oldies don't have subtitles to songs.