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Archive for the ‘Song Translations’ Category

I was re-reading some old posts and was surprised that my initial reaction to Arziyan (from the soundtrack of Delhi 6) wasn’t exactly jumping-off-the-walls enthusiastic. I had forgotten that for some strange reason it took time for me to warm up to it. Perhaps because it feels like I’ve always been enamored with this song, with the depth and beauty of its lyrics, with its lovely melody, with the sense of peace and calm it endows me with each time I listen to it. Arziyan has now firmly become a part of those select songs that I listen to in difficult times, the songs that give me strength and hope, that heal my heart and nurse my troubled mind. Each time I listen to it, its lyrics make a stronger and stronger impact on me, and they transport me to a different place. I’ve posted a particularly favorite stanza on my desk, and a friend who asked about it asked me to translate the song for him. I’m going to do my best, because as always, its not easy to properly translate the feelings behind the lyrics, and also I often stumble on the Urdu. And so, as always, anyone passing by is asked to help! 🙂

Arziyan (Supplications) is written by Prasoon Joshi, rendered by Kailash Kher and Javed Ali, to music set by the maestro A.R. Rahman.

Arziyan saari chehre pe likh ke laaya hoon/Tumse kya mangoon tum khud hi samajh lo

(All my supplications I bring to you written on my face/What shall I ask from You; You know it all)

Ya Maula/Maula, Maula, Maula mere Maula (2)

(O God/God, God, God my God)

Ch: Daraare daraare hai maathe pe Maula/Marammat muqaddar ki kardo Maula

(There are creases* on my forehead, God/Help me restore my destiny/fate, God)

*creases: worry or frown lines

Tere dar pe jhuka hoon, mita hoon, bana hoon (2)/Marammat muqaddar ki kardo Maula (2)

(On Your doorstep I have kneeled, been destroyed, been made/Help me mend my destiny (or fate), God)

I: Jo bhi tere dar aaya, jhukne jo sar aaya/Mastiyan piye sabkon jhoomta nazar aaya

(He who came to Your doorstep, he who bowed his head to You/Appears to be intoxicated and dancing with pleasure)

*This is not a great translation! Mastiyan is better translated as something intoxicating. Here, we are told that those who have been given God’s grace appear intoxicated with their love for Him, and they are dancing in pleasure. Dancing and being mesmerized in prayer and devotion is a feature of Sufi practices and beliefs.

Pyaas le ke aaya tha, dariya woh bhar laaya/Noor ki baarish mein bheeghta sa tar aaya 

(He who came with thirst, has a river in front of him/Is drenched in the downpour of Divine Light)

Maula, Maula, Maula mere Maula…

Ch.

II: Ek khushboo aati thi (2), main bhatakta jaata tha/Reshmi si maya thi, aur main takta jaata tha

(A perfume would come, and I would go stumbling after it/Wealth (material goods) were like velvet, and I followed greedily)

Jab teri gali aaya, sach tabhi nazar aaya/Mujh mein hi woh khushboo hai, jisse tune milwaya

(When I came Your way, only then did I see the Truth/That the perfume I seeked lies within me, and You helped me recognize it)

Maula, Maula, Maula mere Maula…

Ch.

III: Toot ke bikharna mujhko zaroor aata hai/Varna ibadatwala saroor aata hai

(I know too well how to break, be shattered/And I am also aware of how to worship)

Sajde mein rehne do, ab kaheen na jaoonga/Ab jo tumne thukhraya tho savar na paoonga)

(Let me be prostrated in Your presence, I will not go anywhere else/Now if You forsake me, then I cannot be saved)

IV: Sar uthake maine tho kitni khwahishen ki thi/Kitne khwaab dekhe the, kitni koshishen ki thi

(I had raised my head and made so many wishes/I had dreamt of so much, had tried so much)

Jab Tu rubaroo aaya nazren na mila paaya/Sar jhukake ek pal mein maine kya nahin paaya

(But when You came near me, I couldn’t raise my eyes to meet Yours/In that one moment when I bowed my head to You, there was nothing I did not gain)

This stanza is my favorite, I am struck by it every time I listen to it, and this is the one I have taped to my desk so I can be reminded of it daily. I don’t know if the translation does it justice. It speaks of Man’s continuous quest, infinite desire, untiring ambition. Man wants more and more, asks for more and more, tries for more and more. This stanza summarizes this quest. I raised my head and I demanded so much from you: that my wishes may come true, that my efforts bear fruit, that my dreams all become reality. But when You appeared before me, God, and I had to bow my head against Your luminosity, in that one moment I realized I had gained everything I ever wanted.

Maula, Maula, Maula mere Maula

Ch.

Mora piya ghar aaya, mora piya ghar aaya (multiple times)

(My beloved has come home, my beloved has come home)

God is the Beloved, and this is a phrase in many Sufi bhajans, celebrating, in my interpretation, God’s entry to your heart, mind, and soul.

Afterthoughts:

Arziyan speaks to me on a deep, spiritual level. It has a special appeal to me because I find that it traverses all religions and faiths; it does not speak of any single faith or denomination or describes any particular flavor of the Holy. It supplicates to a universal God, a God for anyone who chooses to believe in Him/Her. It is a piece about faith in a greater power, and the hope and the strength that faith can bring to you, when you need it most.

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Rahman does it yet again.

Delhi 6 is a movie I have been awaiting with some excitement because of the interesting storyline (well, I have said that about so many movies this year and never got around to actually watching them…thus is life) and acting credits, but now the music is out and it has officially made my day. I mean, it has literally cheered me up, which I very much needed, simply because yet again I am baffled that Rahman’s genius just keeps stretching out. The maestro had just won some very well deserved awards internationally, including the Golden Globe, for his music of Slumdog Millionaire, and that is followed by yet another proof of how great he is. I really won’t be surprised if he wins the Oscar this year. To be honest I don’t care what he wins, but this whole process brings him into the light and visible to the world, and I think that’s the best part. He deserves the accolades, but the recognition means much more I think. He deserves to go down in international history, not just Indian history. I still remember my excitement when the Theme of Bombay started playing in a pivotal scene in Lord of War…or more recently, as a background to a nightly show in Singapore’s Night Safari. I’m proud of him like no other artist from the motherland. Kudos!

Back to the subject: Delhi 6 is now available for listening on Bollywood Hungama (www.indiafm.com) and his latest offering brings to you both awe-inspiring tracks and tracks that are not so easy to take in. For those who’ve been uncomfortable with his newer work, Delhi 6 is not as eccentric and experimental. For those who like his mixtures and innovation, there is plenty of that too, which might or might not be unpleasant to you. It has a slew of new singers like Sujata Majumdar and Kishori Gowariker, and some of those voices which I said I would love to hear more (Javed Ali, Benny Dayal, Rekha Bharadwaj, Mohit Chauhan!). The lyrics are actually pretty great (thank God, because lately I was worrying about the kinds of lyrics Rahman had been composing to), by Prasoon Joshi, and based on what I know of the story I think they’re aptly powerful and, in true Rahman-style, sometimes complex to explicate.

A word of warning…at times the album brings out the unexpected with a flair, and that might not gel with everyone. For example, if you expected Mohit Chauhan to sing the kind of lovely smooth ballad that he has been singing in the last year…well, Masakali is nothing like that at all. If you’re willing to take the risk, you’ll be amazed at how sleazy and rebellious and bold he manages to sound in this number. Similarly, the title track is a little wild, not in the least because of the singers and the free use of digitalization, but its also very characteristic of Rahman (think Paathshaala). The religious tracks are, as expected, melodious and wonderful, but they lack the power of Khwaja, Piya Haji Ali, or even Al Maddath Maula. Those are a bit of a disappointment, to be honest, because I always look forward to the Rahman touch on this genre, because he does magic with both Hindi and Muslim tracks (this album has both an Aarti and Arziyan, which is reminiscent to Piya Haji Ali).

Let’s start with Aarti. Very solemn, sober, but it immediately reminded me of Ishwar Allah from 1947 Earth and its too similar (apart from the lyrics) to stand out. Its like Rahman didn’t feel like making the effort to differentiate this aarti. Possibly the weakest song in the album.

Arziyan. Javed Ali is divine and holds his own with Kailash Kher, who usually succeeds with songs of this type. Apart from that, like I said already, it is very reminiscent of past efforts in this genre, and it doesn’t particularly stand out, apart from the different singers. The lyrics are quite good, however, and understandable, which will be appreciated by those who thought Khwaja was too pretentious in its language.

Bhor Bhaye. Tracks are being blended in this…and very obviously…one an old, old track of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali and one of Shreya Ghosal singing the same raag. Initially it is disconcerting, but it won me over soon after, because Ghosal’s voice is simply amazing. Her classical training (of which she is so proud) shines out and you can tell this is her area (once Kavita Krishnamurthy used to stand grandly where classical in movies was concerned…but I’m not sure whats been going on with her choices). I’m still unsure, though, about how I feel about Bade Ghulam Ali’s recording being used such, but I think this is a situational song that will have to be seen to justified.

Delhi 6. Delhi 6 is an ode to Delhi, and its quite a celebration. I can’t pinpoint which singer it is, I believe its Vivienne Pocha, whose voice can only be well utilized by Rahman. For anything else she would be too raw, too sharp, too coarse, but in songs like this (and Shano from Yuvvraaj), she really pulls an effect. Overall this is not my type of track but I enjoyed it.

Dil Gira Dafatan. Ash King is new (I think?) and he does all sorts of things with his voice here, and I like it. He goes high, he goes soft, his breath comes in deep and goes out…The melody is inconsistent on purpose (like he’s just singing and not really following any music) and there’s a constant tone running in the background…the effect is something that builds up and builds up in anticipation…Chinmayee comes in and adds her own sweet effect. Rahman mixes a lot in this song…at times it sounds Western, at times Asian, at times it sounds like something European…but for some reason it works (for me). Its a risky song because there is a lot going on, and I don’t think everyone will fall for it. Its also very dreamy and flows like something…not quite real.

Genda Phool. For some reason there’s very little wedding/marriage songs being made nowadays, and I miss them. I miss the Main To Chod Chali Saajan Ka Desh kind of songs! Genda Phool brings back that genre with a twist, and for that reason may be one of my favorite songs here. The lyrics and the voice of Rekha Bharadwaj and the use of the sangeet chorus makes it very earthy, very shaadi and mehndi suitable, teasing and playing with the relationships to come…but the music defies that. The rhythm and beats fused in are very modern (with only a jhanak of payal in the background) and the whole effect is very fusion. I like it.

Hey Kaala Bandar. Three singers I really dig–Karthik, Naresh, Srinivas–and Bony Chakravarthy do new things with their voices. Its hip hop but not, its British-Indo rap but not really. Its lyrics are confused, going deep but then stepping out. Its youthful. It tries to be Khalbali in its spirit but doesn’t really get to that level. Its music doesn’t hit the spot, but you feel your head start bobbing. Its going through a serious identity crisis. Yeah, that’s all I can say right now.

Masakali. Remember my post on the music of 2008 where I gave Mohit Chauhan my best playback award and I said I’d love to hear more variety in his portfolio (and I also mentioned the singers I’d love to hear more of)?? Well, I should have also wished for Himesh Reshammiya to stop acting/singing in that post because apparently my wishes are all coming true. Chauhan OWNS this song, and its like nothing I’ve heard from him before. At times he’s bold and almost sleazy in his rebelliousness…he inserts laughter and wildness and youth into his voice with ease, and in the parts where his voice freely yodels he reminds you how smooth and dynamic his voice really is. I can’t really describe it well, so just listen.

Noor. Amitabh Bachchan speaks. I’m not a fan. So I have nothing to say. Words are okayish.

Rehna Tu. The songs which Rahman chooses to grace with his voice will always be the best of the album. I remember my mom once was shocked that Khwaja and Ay Hairathe Tere Bina (I’m sorry, I got the names all mixed up…which is stupid…thanks Ashish for pointing it out…Ay Hairathe was sung beautifully by Hariharan) were both sung by him, because he sounds so different in each. His voice doesn’t change, but his emotion does, his persona does…something happens as a result of which he does not sound the same on any two songs. It can go without saying that Rehna Tu will come to be my favorite song from this album 🙂 I love what Rahman does with it. I love its almost-R&B beat that switches into something more eclectic as the song progresses. I love what he does with his voice to really add passion and emotion and longing to the song. And I really like the lyrics. Just like I loved the strange but simple associations of Meherbaan, I love the lyrics of this love song which seem steeped in desire and not entirely conventional.

“Rehna Tu/Hai Jaisa Tu/Dheema Dheema Jhokha/Ya Junoon”

(Stay/The way you are/A soft slow breeze/Or a passion)

“Tujhe Badalna Na Chahoon/Radhi Bhar Bhi Sanam/Bina Sajawat, Milawat/Na Zyada Na Kum”

(I don’t want to change you/Even a little bit/[you are] Without decoration, without any impurity/Not too much nor little)

This is the slightly weird but sort of sweet stanza:

“Haath Thaam Chalna Ho/To Dono Ke Daayen Haath Sang Kaise?

Ek Daayan Hoga/Ek Baayan Hoga/Thaam Le…Haath Yeh Thaam Le…/Chalna Hai Sang Thaam Le”

(If we want to walk holding hands, how can both our left hands be together? One will be left, one will be right, lets hold, hold my hand, we have to walk together)*

(Um, I have forever been handicapped in being able to differentiate rightly between daayen and baayen in Hindi (i.e., which is left and which is right). So quite possibly I have them the wrong way, in which case, please point out kindly :))

The song ends with a flute-like piece that is very traditional…a very nice touch.

That’s my thoughts! Heavily biased, but atleast I didn’t go out right crazy saying the album had no faults! It does, but it is still magnificent and stands glorious evidence that Rahman’s genius will continue on and on and on and on and on…

And on.

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I have no words to describe my shock, confusion, anxiety, sorrow, and disappointment, my helplessness, my anger, my frustration, my irritation, at what is happening in my country now. I do now know how to voice my thoughts. I just follow the news and think, think, think constantly.

I just want to dedicate this to all those who lost their lives, whose families were destroyed, those who are injured and perhaps crippled forever, for the city, for all the citizens, for all those who were affected in any manner. This should not have happened. I pray for everyone affected, for my friends and family, for my country, for the world.

(The music is written by Amit Trivedi, from the soundtrack of Aamir, performed by Shilpa Rao. The lyrics are by the very talented Amitabh Bhattacharyya)

Ek Lau Is Tarah Kyun Bhuji Mere Maula…

(Why was a flare extinguished like this, my Lord…)

Gardishon Mein Rehti, Behti Guzarthi,

Zindagi Aahein Kitni…

(Struggling through dark clouds, flowing, passing by,

There are so many lives [being lived]…)

In Mein Se Ek Hai, Teri Meri Agni,

Koi Ek Jaisi Apni…

(Your life and my life is just one flame amongst all of these)

Par Khuda Khair Kar, Aisa Anjaam Kisi Rooh Ko,

Na De Kabhi Yahaan…

Guncha Muskuratha Ek Waqt Se Pehle,

Kyun Chodd Chala Tera Yeh Jahaan…

(But God please, may no soul here receive, this kind of ending…

Why is it that a smiling bunch of flowers wilted/died before its time had come?)

{*writer refers to the gradual, sweet smelling natural death of a flower. Edited with Madhavi’s comments: thanks}

Ek Lau Is Tarah Kyun Bhuji Mere Maula,

Ek Lau Zindagi Ki Maula.

(Why was a flare extinguished like this, my Lord,

A flare of Life, my Lord)

Dhoop Ke Ujaale Se, Aus Ke Pyaale Se,

Khushiyan Mile Humko…

Zyada Manga Hai Kahaan, Sarhadein Na Ho Jahaan,

Duniya Mile Humko…

(The light of the sunshine, the beauty of the morning dew,

We recieve joy from all of this…

Is it too much that we ask for a world with no borders*)

{*As in, borders/divisions between people, ethnicities, religions…symbolizing all artificially created conflict amongst humanity}

Par Khuda Khair Kar, Uske Armaan Mein Kyun

Bewaja Ho Koi Qurbaan,

Guncha Muskuratha Ek Waqt Se Pehle,

Kyun Chodd Chala Tera Yeh Jahaan…

(But God please, why should anyone be sacrificed to fulfill this desire*…

Why is it that a smiling bunch of flowers wilted/died before its time had come?)

{*Why should there be sacrifice for the sake of creating this division-less, conflict-free society? Thank you to senthil to pointing out I had left this out, and for giving an apt translation}

Ek Lau Is Tarah Kyun Bhuji Mere Maula,

Ek Lau Zindagi Ki Maula. (2)

(Why was a flare extinguished like this, my Lord,

A flare of Life, my Lord)


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Jagjit Singh is probably one of my most favorite singers (and my absolute favorite ghazal artiste). “Baat Niklegi To Phir Door Talak Jayegi” has always been one of my favorites but for some reason its been stuck in my head last few days. I thought I’d try to post a translation because I think its just such wonderful, poignant, lovely poetry. I love when my brother sings this one…

Because this is difficult Urdu for me, a lot will be lost in translation, and there are certain words that even I had to hunt. But hopefully some one out there will still appreciate it, because a lot of people stumble here looking for Jagjit Singh’s translations (I’ve posted some ghazals before, organized under categories). Please let me know if you have any alternate suggestions/thoughts about my translation or just about the ghazal itself. Its just so beautiful…short, but quite, quite lovely, especially in Jagjit Singh’s wonderful voice.

The translation itself may not make as much sense if you don’t get the gist of the song or the feeling behind it, or understand the voice of the writer. The wonderful thing about ghazals is that they may be interpreted so many different ways. My own analysis of this piece is as follows…it is a poem of admonition, where a lover warns his beloved about how the world will never understand their love. When the word (baat) goes out (niklegi) it will spread like wildfire (door talak jayegi), rumors and gossip about their relationship will be tossed around, it will be the talk of the town, but no one will understand. We learn that she is seperated from him, that this separation is painful, visible by the way she has stopped to take care of herself, stopped to do her hair, wash her face, visible by how she has aged, by the bangles she wears. And people, they notice all this, they conjecture on it, they gossip about her and her condition and the reason behind it, they may taunt her, be cruel to her by noticing all these faults and asking her persistently. They may bring up his name in conversation just to see her reaction for their own entertainment. But, he warns, don’t be dragged into it…don’t answer back, or question, or argue, or let it show on your face how much you love me. If you say anything, the expression on your face will give it all away, so be quiet, and bear it, and don’t talk about me with anyone. Because once the word gets out…it will go too far.

Feel free to post elswhere, but credit moi.

Baat Niklegi To Phir, by Jagjit Singh. Written by Kafeel Azar.

Baat Niklegi To Phir…Door Talak Jayegi

(If word goes out, it will spread too far)

Log Bewajah, Udasi Ka Sabab Poochenge

(People will, without reason, probe at the cause behind your sorrow)

Yeh Bhi Poochenge, Ki Tum Itni Pareshan Kyun Ho

(They will also ask about why you are so troubled)

Ungliyan Uthengi, Sookhe Baalon Ki Taraf

(Fingers will be raised to your dry [unwashed] hair)

Ek Nazar Dekhenge, Guzreh Huye Saalon Ki Taraf

(There will glance suspiciously at the years gone by)

Chudiyon Pe Bhi, Kayi Tanz Kiye Jayenge

(Even your bangles will become the subject of jokes/wisecracks)

Kaapten Haathon Pe Bhi, Fikre Kase Jayenge

(Even the old and the aged, whose hands tremble, will not hesitate to taunt you…)*

*fikre, I think, means understanding or comprehension, and I think this line means that people will even make something out of nothing, just to talk about it. Even if your hand shakes, people will say it means something. That’s my take. Edited per Bhuwan’s comments: fikre means teasing or taunting

Log Zaalim Hai, Harek Baat Ka Taana Denge

(People are cruel, they will taunt you for every single thing)

Baaton Baaton Mein, Mera Zikr Bhi Le Aayenge (2)

(Somewhere in the conversation, they’ll mention me too)

Unki Baaton Ka Zara Sa Bhi Asar Mat Lena…

(Don’t give their words any significance [attention] at all…)

Warna Chehre Ke Tasur Se Samajh Jayenge

(Or the expression on your face will give it all away)

Chahe Kuch Bhi Ho, Sawaalat Na Karna Unse (2)

(No matter what happens, don’t question/argue with them)

Mere Baare Mein Koi Baat Na Karna Unse

(Don’t talk about me with them)

Baat Niklegi To Phir…Door Talak Jayegi

(If word goes out…it will spread too far)

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Whoa…people are sure interested in Avengi Ja Nahin…the blog hit a record number of posts since I made my post on its lyrics! Great! 🙂 I’m beginning to consider adding some ads to help my broke, penniless pockets a bit. Especially since the other night I dreamt I’d reached HK safe and sound and happy and then realized I had absolutely no money. That’s not technically possible, but it was a weird and scary dream.

Anyway, coming to the topic…a couple of people reached this blog by searching for the translated lyrics for A.R. Rahman’s Hawa Sun Hawa (I always find those search terms interesting), and I thought for once I’d maybe go with that. I don’t like the lyrics that much (they are quite romantic and mushy and steeped in love and yearning, but I usually dig the simple but deep kinds, and not too much of the dramatic, metaphorical type), but I know what its like to search for the meaning behind a lovely song. And as I wrote here, this song is definitely lovely, a Rahman masterpiece and I adore its music. I just hesitate to translate Hindi/Urdu songs myself mainly because so much is often lost in translation with these languages. You can’t convey the same feel when you translate, regardless of how much you try to avoid losing its touch. But still, without further ado, here are translated lyrics. Feel free to use these anywhere, but it’d be good to credit moi.

Please note that no gender is specified for the most part in the song, so I’ve just inserted she or he based on if its Sonu or Alka singing. I’ve tried not to translate literally so its not too awkward, but also tried to keep as much of the original meaning as possible.

Hawa Sun Hawa, Ada. Composed by Rahman. Sung by Sonu Niigam and Alka Yagnik.

[Woh Kaun Hain/Woh Kahan Hai/Jise Dhoondhti Hain Nigahen/Woh Kaun Hai]

(Who is that/Where is she/The one my eyes are searching for/Who is that)

CHORUS: Hawa Sun Hawa/Usse Chooke Aa/Usse Chooke Aaja Zara/Kahan Hai Woh Itna Bata… (2)

(Wind, listen, wind/Go, touch that person/Just touch that person/Tell me where she is… )

STANZA ONE: Kaun Hai Yaad Jo Har Pal Aaye/Yaad Woh Aaye To Aake Na Jaaye, (2)

(Who is it that I think of in every moment/And when I do, I can’t stop,)

Raaz Yeh Dil Ab Kisko Bataaye/Saamne Hai Woh, Nazar Na Aaye…

(Who should my heart tell this secret to?/She is right before me, yet I can’t see her…)

Mujhko Kiski Aahaton Hai Chuya/Kaun Hai Woh Ey Hawa Tu Yeh Bata

(Whose movements have just touched me?/Who is this, can you tell me, Oh Wind?)

CHORUS: Hawa Sun Hawa….

STANZA TWO: Meri Sadaayen Tujhko Bulaye/Saamne Aaja/Oh Aaja Re Aaja Re… (2)

(My voice* calls out to you/Come before me/Come, come…)

*I don’t know if this is the best way to interpret sadaayen here, which essentially means evocation.*

Mere Yeh Baahen Tujhko Pukaaren/Aaja Re Aaja Re Aa

(My arms call out to you/Come, come, come…

CHORUS: Hawa Sun Hawa…

[Woh Kaun Hai, Woh Kahan Hai]

((Who is that/Where is she)

STANZA TWO: Tujhse Miloongi Toh Tujhse Kahoongi/Tere Bina Main Reh Na Sakoongi (2)

(When I meet you, I will tell you/I won’t be able live without you)

Chodo Udasi/Kyun Aankhen Nam Hai/Gaur Se Dekho To/Nazdeek Hum Hai

(Leave this sadness/Why are your eyes wet/If you ook carefully/You will find me near you)

Mujhko Kiski Aahaton Hai Chuya/Kaun Hai Woh Ey Hawa Tu Yeh Bata

(Whose movements have just touched me?/Who is this, can you tell me, Oh Wind?)

[Woh Kaun Hain/Woh Kahan Hai/Jise Dhoondhti Hain Nigahen…]

(Who is that/Where is she/The one my eyes are searching for…)

See what I mean (if you share my tastes)? Nothing that spectacular, and not very impressive on the lyrical front at all. But I guess that’s where the magic of the musician and the singers comes in. Rahman makes it sound like a legendary ode, and gives these weak words a grandeur, and Sonu and Alka infuse the song with so much feeling and love and emotion that the listener is left mesmerized, in a way (even if you can’t understand the lyrics, or so others have said). Anyway, I hope the people searching for the translation the other day come back to find this, and find it helpful!

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Lyrically, Avengi Ja Nahin has several songs that seem singularly female-sympathetic, an attitude that is refreshing in a young male singer, and important in our generation. While the first album had songs that chose a woman as their heroine, like the girl wandering around the country searching for answers and finding more questions in Jugni, or Ishtihaar, a song which describes an advertisement for a lost woman, a lost love, this second album is more feminist in its approach. I’m not sure how purposeful that is; perhaps as a woman I read too much into them. But whatever the reason behind it, I find that especially attractive in his lyrics, because I can relate to them more and understand them more.

Avengi Ja Nahin discusses more about love than Rabbi did, and is more ‘direct’ in a way. By that I mean this: in the first album, the songs discussed love but with a certain tragic quality (like the lost woman in Ishtihaar or the story of Heer-Ranjha, or even the sudden change in the lovely Tere Bin where the hero makes a significant realization about the woman who left (‘giving up’ or losing love). In this new album, the love songs are more direct, more open, and more flirtatious in a sense, as the lyrics proclaim confidence in the hero’s love and lust. Therein lies an irony that confuses me about Rabbi’s lyrics. The woman in his love songs (self-written or chosen) is always leaving, or teasing, or out of his reach while the words claim the pain and loss he has felt from her. Yet, other songs are on her side, proclaiming her beauty, her strength, or even giving her encouragement. Why the difference between his love stories and social narrations?

The title song, Avengi Ja Nahin (Will you come or not), is not my favorite by any means, but it has good music. Its almost a straight talk kind of song, where the lover demands his beloved if she will come or not, if she will return his love or not, or will she just leave him with empty promises?(A new article leads me to reconsider my thoughts on this song: Must go back and reanalyze.) Challa is confusing to me, and I’m waiting for more clarification on its lyrics in which the challa (ring) becomes different things that hold meaning (there was an original version sung by Gurdas Mann, which I must also check out). Maen Bolia (I said), is one of the songs I mean when I talk about a confident love…it is a defiant, bold proclamation from a lover that says that he knows she loves him, she has the fever, and she will come to him. Another love song is dedicated to the mysterious girl from Karachi, who is beyond his reach, who he can never have because of many obstacles, yet who he knows yearns for him too.

That’s it for the love songs, and while they are all quite good and Challa is gorgeous in its music, none of them caught me with as much force as the simple Tere Bin did from Rabbi. The others songs are my real favorites, and not just because of their larger meanings and greater symbolism, but because their lyrics are simple and the music is just right, complementing each word. This is kind of a talent that Rabbi has that ends up bringing the most out of the lyrics (thus creating the sensation by his working of a 16th century poem, Bulla).

Bilqis, or Jinhen Naaz Nahin, will stand out for everyone who is a fan of Rabbi’s social commentary. It is a narrative that is based on the shocking true story of Bilqis Bano, the woman who was gangraped in the 2002 Gujarat riots and lost 14 members of her family (and still awaits justice from the courts in India, and goes on to describe other incidents of innocents wronged by the society we live in. And Rabbi demands through their voices that the people who have such pride in India, who like to boast and claim all is well in this nation and there is only growth and no problems, who are so nationalistic and jump at any criticism: where were you? Where were you and where are you when such horrendous crimes against humanity take place?

Bilqis (Jinhen Naaz Hai), Rabbi Shergill

Paghri Sambhal Jatta is a re-interpretation of a popular inspirational song for the Sikh youth, and I wouldn’t be able to say much and as well as is written here on The Langar Hall which I found very interesting. http://thelangarhall.com/archives/352

Return to Unity, Rabbi’s first full English song, I’m still chewing and pondering over, so thoughts on that will come at a later time. Tu Avin Bandra (You should come to Bandra) is a love song of sorts to Bandra, a part of busy, bustling Mumbai. I like the song for its music, its slow, laid back quality, and the almost smiling voice with which Rabbi sings “tainu idhar accha lagega (you’ll like it here).” Its a very different song, and it creates an image of a hustling, bustling, complicated Bandra, one that I’m sure I’d appreciate more if I had spent any time there. The song, for some reason, makes me think of a big city on a wet, rainy day. I really couldn’t tell you why, but its a nice image and makes me happy.

Tu Avin Bandra, Rabbi Shergill

Now to my hands down favorite: Ballo, a simply lovely, amazing piece giving empathy and encouragement to a woman. It is beautiful because it seems to know, to have a very eerie sense of what it is really like to have the pain only a woman can have. It could be directed to a mother, a sister, a daughter, a wife, a distressed lover. Rabbi’s soothing voice begins the song with words that acknowledge pain without being arrogant or patronizing.

Ballo, Rabbi Shergill

Main janda, tainu aaj/Peer hundi/Dil tere uthdi ek/Cheez

(I know today you/have pain/in your heart rises/a pang)

And goes on to further accept the fact that this is difficult, that the time, the events, the circumstances, are akin to storms, raging across your word. The next two stanzas describe the betrayal and struggle a woman feels when one she treasured, loved, showered affection on, is the one that causes her this pain, this suffocation, this trauma (and Rabbi maintains the gentle tone of, “yes I know its hard”).

Main Janda Aunde/Din ‘ch tufan kei/Kuch Sujda Na/Uddi ey reit

(I know in the day/arrive many storms/you can think nothing/and there’s just sand)

Rakhdi ti jisne tu/Saambh Saambh/Ghut ghut seene naal/La

Kal jo si sohna/Sagna da haar tera/Ajj ban gia/Gall da o faah

(What you guarded/with great care/against your bosom/very close

What was yesterday/a lucky necklace/is today a noose/around the neck)

The chorus stanza comes next and is simply uplifting, and the music changes, complementing the tone, as it becomes encouraging, telling Ballo that all of this is karma, and this too will pass, as long she faces it with dignity and strength.

Ni Ballo/Ni Ballo/Gham khada/Ey tan lekha si/Karma da/Vekh lai jar lai/Ihnu khirhe mathhey/Beetaga sama/Hovange/Katthey

(O Ballo/O Ballo/Why this sadness/This is just cause/And effect/See it, feel it/Raise your chin/This time will pass/We shall be/Together)

The next stanzas couple stanzas hold the most meaning for me, and are quite powerful yet simple. Again, I am amazed by just the depth and feel, and how does one convey so much in such few words? And exactly what is needed to be said and heard?

Main janda dabbian tu/Kai yadan/Jo suttian na gaian/taithon

O aundian ne kandhan tapp/jadon meetein tun akhan/jadon laven foki mattan/maithon

(I know you buried/many memories/that you couldn’t/throw away

They come climbing walls/when you close your eyes/or when you listen to my/empty advices)

See what I mean? I may be getting too excited in my love for this song, but I personally have the impression that for a lot of women, this song is almost like what Killing Me Softly describes (for those who are fans of that song). In a song being played, you hear and feel like your own emotions have been stripped open. Except Ballo is not just empathic but aims to say “Its okay, and you can’t let this bring you down.” Yes, it is a struggle, and yes, it is a constant fight within you. As the next stanzas describe, you constantly judge yourself, debate yourself, accuse and sentence yourself. You try to find your faults one day, and another day blame the one who hurt you; one day you attack yourself and blame it all on your own doings, another day its not you…and yet, there is never a resolution, it is never over.

Kardi ein nitt tu/Mukadma/Kardi ein tikhian/Jirha

Kade akhein dokhi/Kade kar devein bari/Par hovey na/Koi faisla

(Everyday you/Litigate/Everyday a sharp/Debate

Sometimes its guilty/Sometimes its innocent/But never a/Resolution)

Again, the chorus comes in, and tells Ballo to lift her chin up and face the time, because this will pass.

And the last stanzas are both empowering and desolate. Rabbi ends with words that leave you both saddened, and also strangely stronger.

Tera maseeha/Bane das kivein koi/Duniya sabh bhulli firdi

Khud varke tainu folne painu/Khud painde tainu chalne paine/Navein akhar gharne paine

(Who tell me/Can be your messiah/When all are as lost

You’ll have to turn the pages yourself/You’ll have to journey yourself/Shape your own script)

It is the truth, and it is delivered like a soft blow at the end of a motivational speech. Ballo, there is indeed only you. Only you can control your life, pick up the pieces, create your world and your journey, clean up the messes and answer your own questions. We are all lost beings, and we cannot guide each other, and while we feel pain and hurt by each other, we are all on an equal footing, just trying to make our way and live our life.

Rabbi Shergill has a way with words, and is one of the finest lyricists on the Indian music scene now. Listen to his songs, explore his music, and interpret and research his lyrics, and each song will become an experience in itself.

Avengi Ja Nahin is available on Amazon, on ITunes, and via Yash Raj Films. For lots more information on Rabbi and to stay updated on his works, visit Rabbism. For the story behind the album, downloads, and complete lyrics and translations (and to sample the tracks), visit http://ajn.co.in.

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Meherbaan, A.R. Rahman, from Ada

All the time until I finally leave for HK is going to be very, very busy. Its already been quite full, although I’ve had more than my share of lazing around and aimlessly youtubing videos (speaking of which, I’m addicted to 우리 결흔했어요 (We Got Married): its reality television you can watch without guilt! Like most Korean reality shows! ). Anyway, while this is a period of exciting changes and new beginnings for my family, it is also somewhat scary, worrisome, like all change is.

Right now I’m mainly focused on figuring out all the wedding arrangements. Now that some of the stuff has gone into place, I’m a little relieved, but until we move the rest isn’t really going to happen. At the same time, working on the wedding and the house has taken away from my work out time, and this was meant to be the get in shape once and for all summer (is that at all possible anyway?). It is too darn hot, for one thing, it just makes me sick to step out. Second, I can’t do work out videos in an apartment which is for one, upstairs, and also full of chaos. Its too crazy. If things get chaotic or too messy, my way is to just completely give up and go into ennui. It makes no sense and it doesn’t help, but its a desperate solution. Right now, I know we will move soon and also I will pack up and leave soon, so it makes me want to bother less. And I do bother less. Argh vicious illogical cycles.

I’ve booked my ticket to HK, which is exciting, and which makes it very real. I’ve also been confirmed for housing. Its an expensive room, but cheap for HK, and its on campus which I wanted for the communality, and at the same time its a single with its own bathroom (I like me privacy). I’ve been in touch with some people, which is a little comfort, especially the fellow Scholars going to HK. They seem like nice, intelligent and social people, just my type, and I’m looking forward to hanging out with them. So far, I don’t feel very nervous, just a little tense of all the stuff I have to figure out (like darn visas, and insurances and stuff), but I think the closer it’ll get the more I’ll be apprehensive since I’m practically moving there. I’m used to living away, but living with the knowledge that I can’t run anywhere to family in a 40 mile radius is new. Its a little exciting, but very strange too.

I’m now brainstorming for ideas for my travel blog. I decided a brand new blog would be apt, but I’m now not sure if I want it to be under this blog or just a whole new niche. Lets see what I do with that. I’d probably continue to blog on this for more general stuff and my opinions on other non-HK-living stuff, but I’d like to devote the other blog just to my time there and my experiences and adventures.

A couple of things that have made me quite happy recently:

*Ada…the new A.R. Rahman album, from which I’ve posted the song Meherbaan. Its a great album, though there are certain songs that, while being very Rahmanish, are also not clear on their inspiration. Tu Mera Hai has a very 90s feel, as does Milo Wahan Wahan, they’re somewhat unusual and not something you’re used to hearing nowadays. I enjoyed Hawa Sun Hawa the most, undoubtedly. Sonu Niigam is in full form, and Alka Yagnik’s voice is like sweet honey, but not too sweet. The lyrics aren’t spectacular, but it makes up for that with emotion. Meherbaan has Rahman’s voice, which surprises you again. How does the man change his voice to suit the style so well? So very different from Khwaja, yet still similar in the sense that Meherbaan too is filled with words I cannot understand. The song plays on the relationships between words and symbols and metaphors, so I miss out on many, but the ones I do get are lovely (this is not a direct translation, just the lines I really love. Thanks to Bhabhi :D)

Tu Hai Zabaan, Main Hoon Bayaan (You are the language, I am the speech)

Tere Bina Main Hoon Bezameen/Tere Bina Main Beaasmaan

(Without you, I am without land. Without you I am without sky)

Tu Hai Nadiya Main Hoon Sangam (You are the River, I am the Union)

Tu Hatheli, Main Hoon Henna (You are the Palm, I am the Henna)

Tu Hai Nazar, Main Nazara (You are the Eyes, I am the View)

Tu Hai Saagar, Main Kinara (You are the Sea, I am the Shore)

Aren’t those lovely?

Gulfisha is another notable Sonu Niigam number, where he’s in full flirtatious form, and as my chingu S said, I have no idea what gulfisha means, but we is sure loving the song! Hai Dard sounds great with Udit Narayan, who I haven’t heard in a while so can enjoy more now (distance makes the heart fonder?). It is overall quite an impressive album, and as always it amazes and astounds you that Rahman has so much talent that he can make every album, every song, sound so different, unique, with its own qualities and its own life, so to speak. Like my dad said, it makes you wonder how a human is created in this world.

*I am America, and So Can You! I finally got my copy of the legendary book by Stephen Colbert, finally being able to afford my very own copy, and I am beyond thrilled. And it is more than I could ever have wanted. Pages and pages of the grand wisdom, in your face, no words minced mouthiness of the great Colbert. It has me rolling on the ground in laughter, and it just cannot be explained just how great this book is, from the titles the footnotes to the disclaimers and stickers. It is brimming with Colbert’s greatness (quite literally), and I suggest that if you haven’t, you go out and buy yourself a copy this minute. Or many. And remember to stick up the sign to let firefighters know to save your copies. This is worth more than its weight in diamonds. 🙂

I’m going to now go look for a creative name for ze travel blog. Whee!

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