A question on Hindi film song lyrics

I was discussing the beauty of old Hindi film lyrics with a couple of friends here and the following observation came up: Most of these songs use some Urdu word or the other.

There seem to be two reasons for this. First, the “softer” sounds in Urdu are well suited to convey the sort of emotions usually expressed through songs (love, sadness etc). There is in fact a field of study called phonetic grammar where one looks at word choice from the point of view of how it sounds. More on that later. The second reason I can think of is that a number of lyricists working in the industry (past and present) are/were Muslim.

There are, however people (living in eastern UP or thereabouts) who speak what they call Shuddh Hindi, which doesn’t involve words borrowed from Urdu. But how many songs can you think of in Hindi films that use that form of Hindi? I can’t think of too many.

The first one that came to mind was Chandan sa badan. Nain ladh jai he from Ganga Jumna is another although I don’t understand the dialect well enough to be sure.

Can you think of anything else?

17 thoughts on “A question on Hindi film song lyrics

  1. M says:

    Few songs that come readily

    – All songs from Amitabh movie “Alaap” – esp song “Koi Gaata..” and “Chand Akela..”

    – O Hansini – Zahreela Insaan

    – O Nirdayee Pritam – Stree

    – Tum Gagan ke Chandrama Ho & Jeevan dor Tumhin Sang Baandhi – Sati Savitri

    – Khai Ke Paan Benaraswala – Don

    I believe movies based on Indian mythological characters will have lyrics in shuddh hindi

  2. Yeah, SD Burman songs are a good source for those kind of lyrics because of all the folk influences he liked to use. Sujata and Bandini for example. Rahat fateh Ali Khan has done a lot of them as well.

    • Extra Lee Lee says:

      (At least that’s how “More Ang Ang” translates in my head :-P) The song so made my day, Amrita… thanks for sharing!

      Ramsu, though I’m ill-equipped to delve into Hindi lyrics with your kind of “doctoral thesis” determination :-P (coz I “don’t understand dialects well enough”), I do enjoy the folksy “shuddh Hindi” songs you talk about. (As an aside, I was immensely lucky to experience people’s verve for the vernacular firsthand, during my PS-2 in Lucknow. Maybe that was Urdu-fied Hindi, given we’re talking about Lucknow? Whatever it was, I found it utterly endearing — that lyrical lilt, evident in everyday conversations. A rare treat for my ‘Madras Tamil’-trained ears.) I really got the kicks listening to “Man ko ati bhave” from London Dreams. :-D

  3. M>> Good picks! I haven’t yet gone through the lyrics of all those songs, but from what I can remember of these songs, they seem “pure” :-)

    Gradwolf, Amrita>> Sachinda‘s songs would be a good place to start, yes. Amrita, thanks for the link — lovely song, that.

    I’ve been thinking of ways to narrow down the search space, and I was mostly thinking of songs picturized on characters who were from that region or lyricists who hailed from there. Hadn’t thought of mythological characters or SD. Good ideas, people.

    Extra>> I can only be thankful that we weren’t discussing songs that involved Ang se ang lagaana. Where did you do your PS-2, by the way?

  4. allverbal says:

    Hi, here is one of my all time favs in Shuddh Hindi..Man re tu kaahe na dheer dhare..voice -Rafi.. I think this was voted as one of the best ever songs all round.. lyrics linked below

    Many of Shailendra, some of Kavi Neeraj’s songs , as I recall, are also shuddh hindi.
    Needless to say, I do enjoy your writing and have wasted many a productive minute, lurking hereabouts.

  5. allverbal says:

    AS a veteran of a couple of transcontinental moves, to me, the explanation is simple.
    From your latest posting it seems, preoccupations such as – cubic feet and the things you planned on doing ‘sometime’ staring at you from some forgotten shelf or drawer.

    Under the circumstances, lyrics do turn to vapourware. :(

    Here is another one: Ek din bik jayega

  6. “Tora Man Darpan Kahlaye” from the film “Kaajal”, penned by Sahir Ludhianvi and sung by Asha Bhonsle (1965).

    I love the use of the word “darpan” – meaning “mirror” – all through the song. The heart (Man) has been compared to “glass” that can break (e.g.Sheesha ho ya dil ho from “Aasha”) and to a blank paper that mirrors feelings (e.g. Kora Kagaz tha yeh man mera from “Aradhna”). This is perhaps the only song where the heart is shown to be the reflecting (and not breaking) type glass that mirrors, not feelings, but the “bhale/bure karm” – in essence the human qualities of a person. And all in a mix of Bhojpuri and Shuddh Hindi!!Wonderful.

    Also there are period films that mix Urdu with Bhojpuri – Lagaan comes to mind. The “Mitwa” song has bhojpuri words (mitwa, purva) interleaved with urdu (dar, masti)

  7. Songs from Chupke Chupke seem to qualify as well. I checked out Ab ke sajan saawan mein and to the extent that I could make out, it counts.

    allverbal>> Not too sure of Ik din bik jaayegaa. Is nishaani shuddh Hindi?

    Monideepa>> Sahir Ludhianvi, eh? Interesting, given how much he’s written in Urdu & Farsi.

    The song Jinhe naaz hain hind pe in Pyaasa, for instance — the words are complex enough as it is, but the refrain was originally written as: Sanaa-Khwaan-e-taqdees-e-mashriq kahan hai before Guru Dutt requested him to change it to something that Bollywood-watching homo sapiens might understand :-)


  8. Hello…just cam across this blog and found this rather interesting topic. You are right in saying that the Urdu words, with its softer sounds, convey emotions of love, pain, etc very fittingly. Lyricists like Majrooh Sultanpuri, Sahir Ludhianvi, Kaifi Azmi, Hasrat Jaipuri and others wrote eloquent nazms, gazals and geet.

    One poet who comes readily to the mind with respect to pure Hindi lyrics is Shri Bharat Vyas. His songs in Navrang (Aadha hai chandrama, Shyamal Shyamal Baran, Arre jaa re hat natkaht), Boond jo ban gayi moti (Yeh Kaun Chitrkar hai) are outstanding examples of pure hindi poetry.

    More modern songs that one remembers are Yeh to Sach Hai Ke Bhagwan Hai (Hum Aapke Hain Kaun – probably writtrn by Dev Kohli), Do Anjaane Ajnabi (Vivah – written by Ravindra Jain).


  9. M says:

    Lyrics written by Ravindra Jain can be a good source of pure Hindi poetry – the foremost being “Raas Leela” from “Pratishodh” sung by Kishore Kumar.

    Songs from Rajashri movies such as “Chitchor”, “Akhiyon Ke Zarokhon Se”, “Dulhan Wohi…”, “Geet Gaata Chal” have lyrics in Hindi. The recent one would be “Samdhi Samdhan” from “HAHK”

    BTW, “Yeh to Sach Hai” is from “HSSH”

  10. Anonymous says:

    beautiful pure hindi lyrics can be seen in divine renditions of film bhabhi ki chooriyan. lata ji’s divine renditions ”jyoti kalash chhalke ” and ”lau lagaati geet gaati ” and mukesh’s ”tum se hii ghar ghar kehlaaya ” from this film are immortal . most of the lyrics by pandit narendra sharma and bharat vyas are in pure hindi and extremely beautiful to listen . i have a long list of beautiful hindi lyrics in hindi cinema .

  11. sanjeev says:

    This song is from 1961 movie Bhabi ki churieya
    jyoti kalash chhalake
    huye gulabee lal sunehare, rang dal badal ke

    ghar aangan wan upawan upawan
    karati jyoti amariat ke pujan
    mangal ghat dhalake jyoti kalash chhalake

    pat pat birawa hariyala, dharti kaa mukh huwa ujala
    sach sapne kal ke jyoti kalash chhalake

    usha ne aanchal failaya, faili sukh kee shital chhaya
    niche aanchal ke jyoti kalash chhalake

    jyoti yashoda dharati gaiyya, nil gagan gopal kanhaiyya
    shamal chhabi chhalake jyoti kalash chhalake

  12. HumanityFirst says:

    “bawra mann dekhne chala ek sapna”, “mann mohana from jodha akbar” “ek chatur naar”, “itni shakti hamein dena data”

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