Ridiculous lyrics

Yun to akela hi aksar
Gir ke sambhal sakta hoon main
Tum jo pakad lo haath mera
Duniya badal sakta hoon main
Maanga hai tumhe
duniya ke liye
Ab khud hi sanam faisla kijiye

From the movie: Mere Jeevan Saathi (1970). Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri

Rough English translation:

Usually, all by myself,
after a fall, I can pick myself up.
But if you take my hand,
I can change the world.
I have asked for you,
for the sake of the world.
Now, my love, decide for yourself

Love is the most selfish emotion that one can experience. Claiming that it is for the sake of the world – I wonder what it takes to sink so low.

Advertisements

13 Responses

  1. Going by your interpretation, those lines really don’t fit there. I might have interpreted it in a more generous fashion, though. He claims that he can change the world with her help, and he’s asking her to help him in that task. Maanga hai tumhe duniya [badal ne] ke liye, or something on those lines.

  2. I, too, shall not permit this discussion to move on.

    A generous interpretation that I can think of is this. The guy implies that there has been a choice: the world or her. Then, he is explicitly telling her this:


    I have asked for you,
    in place of the world.

    Note, this, too, is a valid translation of the same Hindi/Urdu words.

    Let’s analyze it a bit. The reason he has chosen this path (of asking for her) seems to be smart, at the first glance. The reason is: if she comes along with him, apparently, he can change the world. But if she doesn’t come along, all that he usually can do is to fall and pick himself up. So, in her absence, it goes like: fall, get up; fall, get up; fall, get up; do not fall, no need to get up; fall, get up; fall, get up; do not fall, no need to get up; apparently, at random and ad infinitum. In contrast, giving a shot to changing the world, with her coming along with him, does appear to be a smart choice. This way, he has it all: the world, her, and his shot at changing the world. (He says “can” change, and not “will” change, the world. That’s why I call it only a giving a shot (at changing the world).)

    So, it all seems to be smart.

    But then, in the interest of not at all letting the matters move on, here are a few extra considerations worth pondering over.

    Why does this guy wish to leave such important decision as to try and change the world, up to her? Why can’t he decide doing that on his own? I mean, if this guy actually has to go and do a gig specially for her, just to update her about this fact that he can change the world, then, an obvious implication is that she isn’t smart enough to know it in the absence of the gig. Which means: she isn’t smart. If so, how smart is it to let such important decision of his life rest in the hands of that dim-wit of a girl? With such a dim-wit besides him, will he really be able to change the world? And, even if he does manage to do that, would it be worth it? I mean, what will he find at the end of all that world-changing business—this dim-wit to behold and look into eyes of, etc.? Very dumb choice, he begins with, and very dumb path, he proposes to take.

    So, all in all, this song seems to be nothing but an exercise in complete dumbness/stupidity—except for the great music and the great voice of Kishore Kumar, that is.

    –Ajit
    [E&OE]

  3. Aristotle The Geek,
    I agree they don’t fit at all. Even with your more generous interpretation, I think they are ridiculous. The rest of the song is a very normal love song. Where did changing the world come from? Who thinks of changing the world as part of a declaration of love?

    B.t.w, here is another example of a song which slips in a couple of lines advocating sacrifice out of all context.

    Tadbeer Se Bigadi Hui Taqdeer Bana Le, Taqdeer Bana Le
    Apne Pe Bharosa Hai Toh Yeh Daov Laga Le, Laga Le Daov Laga Le
    Tadbeer Se Bigadi Hui Taqdeer Bana Le, Taqdeer Bana Le
    Apne Pe Bharosa Hai Toh Yeh Daov Laga Le, Laga Le Daov Laga Le….

    Hey Hey, Hey Hey
    Darta Hai Zamaane Ki Nighaahon Se Bhala Kyon, Nighaahon Se Bhala Kyon (2)
    Insaaf Tere Saath Hai Ilzaam Utha Le, Ilzaam Utha Le
    Apne Pe Bharosa Hai Toh Yeh Daov Laga Le, Laga Le Daov Laga Le….

    Hey Hey, Hey Hey
    Kya Khaak Woh Jeena Hai Jo Apne Hi Liye Ho, Apne Hi Liye Ho (2)
    Khud Mit Ke Kisi Aur Ko Mitne Se Bacha Le, Mitne Se Bacha Le

    Apne Pe Bharosa Hai Toh Yeh Daov Laga Le, Laga Le Daov Laga Le….

    Hey Hey Hey, Hey Hey
    Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey
    Hey
    Tooti Hue Patwaar Hain Kashti Ke Toh Gham Kya
    Haari Hui Baahon Ko Hi Patwaar Bana Le, Patwaar Bana Le
    Apne Pe Bharosa Hai Toh Yeh Daov Laga Le, Laga Le Daov Laga Le
    Tadbeer Se Bigadi Hui Taqdeer Bana Le, Taqdeer Bana Le
    Apne Pe Bharosa Hai Toh Yeh Daov Laga Le, Laga Le Daov Laga Le!

    I am going to watch out for this now as I am interested in understanding the reasons for the drastic fall in quality of bollywood music.

  4. Ajit,
    I am no shayar but I can’t think of any way to interpret “Maanga hai tumhe duniya ke liye” as “I have asked for you in place of the world”
    How do you get that?

    About the stupidity, I don’t like this “changing the world” business at all. Especially when it comes from leftists (according to Wikipedia, Majrooh Sultanpuri had strong leftist leanings). All the leftists’ attempts to change the world have cost the world so much, that I am not at all inclined to be generous enough to call it mere stupidity.

  5. # “I am going to watch out for this now as I am interested in understanding the reasons for the drastic fall in quality of bollywood music.”
    Are you referring to lyrics, as you point out above, or lyrics + music? Because, other than the 80s and 90s, which were a bad time for Hindi cinema as a whole, I don’t think there has been a very big fall in the quality of music as such. Lyrics, yes—the poets are dead—but I generally don’t pay too much attention to that, only the melody.

  6. KM:

    How do I get that?: From the context. In the larger interests of not at all moving on, I shall answer.

    The immediately preceding two lines ending with (Hindi) “hoon maain” are so different from each other, so disparate in terms of their direct meanings, and this, despite their ending with the same rhyming (Hindi) “hoon main,” that we realize that they had better be two branches of a fork at the precise moment that we are immediately past the next words (Hindi) “maangaa hai”, but without reading any further… The idea of choice is thus established. Given this mood of there being a choice involved, it’s easy to apply the framework of a choice, admittedly only by extrapolation, to the two objects of the subsequent line, too—(Hindi) “tum” and (Hindi) “duniyaa.”

    The (Hindi) “maanganaa” here is not just a desire. As established already, the idea of a mood of a choice is well established by the context. So the (Hindi) “maanganaa” here is rather about an asking as in a choice.

    An example might help. Since poetry is “all” about emotions, we take an example of a kid going to a shop to buy a sweet.

    When a kid goes to a shop, the owner (esp. a Bombay-wallah) might ask: (Hindi) “kyaa *mangataa* hai?” The kid may take a look at a chocolate and then at some other sweet, and fall silent for a while. Then, he might ask for one of them, say, a chocolate. Note, very probably, he strongly desire both. It’s precisely because both are valuable to him that he may end up saying: “I have asked one for the other.”

    It’s a matter of a special device of poetic expression: of conveying an emotional state, and its intensity, by emphasizing in the outer expression a *primitivity* of a thought. Emotions are often better expressed by a directly visible reference only to the connotation left after isolating out a strongly active or a highly sophisticated thought.

    The kid probably is feeling a pressure to have to choose only one. (E.g., he is afraid the shop keeper may turn stern soon.) As a kid, emotions predominate over thoughts. Given the more primitive state of his thought processes, as yet fully undeveloped, he would be unable to fully abstractly to undertake the weighing of the choices. Instead, his mental process would consist of actually imagining the actual experiences of having one (chocolate), vs. having the other (the other sweet).

    Thus, he might be saying, in reference to a chocolate: “I have this—now what? how does it work by me?” Note, the mental process wouldn’t be: “What if I have a chocolate.” It would, instead, be: “I *have* *this*. Now, what?” And, then, repeating with the other.

    The kid is capable only of just extapositions when he blurts out one of them: “chocolate.” The lingering mental process, if put into words, however, would be: “I have this. I have that. I have taken this for that.” The thought process is not yet abstract; the kid hasn’t yet learnt the skill that well.

    Thus, for the kid, the “for” is not “for the sake of,” but “in place of.”

    If you think such usage, in the context of kids, is stretching the common understanding of language, I have no argument to offer.

    And, emphasizing emotions by allusions to momentary suspension of advanced or sophisticated or abstract thoughts, is one effective device to allude to the emotions involved.

    In further furthering the interest of not moving on….

    I find the variety of devices of expressions, employed in poetry, rather fascinating. The example given above was of emphasizing well-identified emotions by suppressing the sophistication of expression to go with it. A symmetrical case is possible: Emphasizing the senseless-ness of emotions via an extra-emphasis on the abstractness of the expression. Here is one example:

    (Marathi)
    “tee aaee hoti mhaNuni, ghanvyaakuL mee hee radalo.
    tyaa veLi, waaraa, saavadh, paachoLa uDavit hotaa…”

    Translation:

    “She [i.e. the person to die] was mother, so, I, too, wept in a solidly grieving way.
    At that time, the wind, cautiously, was flying dry tree-leaves.”

    [A note on translation: The Marathi word “uDavit” could be translated with equal ease into both “flying” and “blowing” too. Blowing goes better with tree leaves. But, to keep the emotional connection to the childhood memories of an Indian kid, e.g. flying kites, etc., I chose “flying” in the translation.]

    Ask yourself: Why does the poet’s grief hit you so hard? Does anyone use “if then” sort of logic when the matter is the death of one’s own mother? Why must the poet be using this manner of expression? Is it just a poor person’s having to quickly come to terms with his grief—as the leftists say? Or is there a more basic, psycho-epistemological issue, too. Isn’t there an *over* emphasis, in the *expression*, on the dry abstract reasoning, that just subconsciously highlights the depth of that aspect of the mental experience which we immediately take to be *contrary* to abstract reasoning—viz. emotions?

    Poetic devices are various. And, many times, effective. In their own ways. Provided, you manage to keep the context—in your analysis of them.

    As to the Leftists and all. Oh well, I wouldn’t be generous of them in the appropriate realms in serious debates. But then, please keep in mind, Ayn Rand loved Victor Hugo’s novels, too.

    –Ajit
    [E&OE]

  7. A correction:

    In my immediately above reply, in place of:

    “Emphasizing the senseless-ness of emotions via an extra-emphasis on the abstractness of the expression.”

    read

    “Emphasizing the senseless-ness (due to a realized inadequacy) of using direct words to denote a profound emotion in one’s expression, by instead using the device of placing an extra emphasis on the abstractness of the stated expression.”

    Or, something like that.

    –Ajit
    [E&OE]

  8. Aristotle The Geek,
    Are you referring to lyrics, … or lyrics + music? …I don’t think there has been a very big fall in the quality of music as such. Lyrics, yes—the poets are dead—but I generally don’t pay too much attention to that, only the melody

    Lyrics, primarily. I can rarely enjoy a song if it has really poor lyrics. But, I do think there has been a fall (or atleast change) in the quality of music too. I can’t recall many melodious songs in the past decade, while there are hundreds of them from the 60s and 70s. This is an entirely non-expert opinion, I do not claim to understand what constitutes a melody. It may be that the newer songs are also melodious in some different style that I do not like.

  9. Ajit,
    OK, I do not even aspire to understand poetry in such depth. But in this particular case, while I can accept Aristotle The Geek’s interpretation, I can’t accept yours. With my (or ATG’s to a lesser extent) interpretation, the poet is a deadly altruist – the kind who wants to impose his ideas on the whole world – with dreadful results. With your interpretation, the lyrics do not even remain coherant.

    What would the following mean?
    Usually, all by myself,
    after a fall, I can pick myself up.
    But if you take my hand,
    I can change the world.
    I have asked for you,
    in place of the world.
    Now, my love, decide for yourself

    As to Hugo, I have read “Les Miserables” and liked it (a lot in places). I have also tried to read “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “The Man Who Laughs” and failed. I found them both extremely boring. I have read Rand’s description of Hugo’s writing and agree with it as regards “Les Miserables”. In it, Hugo does portray human greatness as few other authors do. In the others, I couldn’t make it far enough.

    As to ungenerosity only in appropriate realms, the poetry here is good enough. It is what it expresses that I am ungenerous to.

  10. KM.

    I wouldn’t have a problem with the improvised English translation itself, as given. The lines seem to be coherent to me, taken by themselves. However, I won’t press too far the point that such a translation also is possible.

    Really speaking, much of what I wrote above was something of the sort of time-pass that I (we *all*!) used to do in hostel rooms, in the days gone by. Neither tongue-in-cheek, nor too serious, nor too senseless, nor even plain thinking aloud. Something other than that or a combination of them all. Sort of, just knowingly keeping on stretching a point, just to see if anything surprising or funny comes out of it, done best on an idle Sunday afternoon, after eating the special Sunday lunch in the mess, and lounging around. Completely pointless mental acrobatics. Best called “time-pass”!

    So, seriously speaking, I won’t stretch the point too far. The trouble is, even I cannot convince myself that the translation which I gave comes very smoothly out of those original Hindi words. The translation I gave was the sense I seem to have assumed all these years, but without too good grounds, I now realize, thanks to your pointing it out. Sure, I could argue with you re. Gulzar’s poetry in a previous post, but not here. Here, you do have a good point—right with the lyrics themselves, apart from the intellectual inclinations of the poet, which, too, I didn’t know. I knew that Sahir Ludhianvi was a communist/socialist/leftist, but didn’t know that this guy, too, was a leftist.

    I have read only an abridged version of “Les Miserables,” but not the original. Didn’t expect to be able to form a good judgment of the original, and didn’t try that either. One way or the other, I am not a novels guy; in fact, not even so much of a fictions guy. I was, and still remain to some extent, a fine-arts sort of a guy—painting, sketching, etc.

    The point, however, was that sometimes, people can carry the more abstract kind of contradictions in a compartmentalized sort of manner with surprising ease. Sometimes, even with a certain grace. Think Thomas Acquinas, here!

    But, yes, I have often times found myself hating the self-abominating kind of lyrics, too. One can excuse a religious saint if such a thing unexpectedly pops up in his poetry (not because it is religious, but because one is already prepared to hear that kind of a nonsense in that context). But when regular poets do it, esp. in a romantic or personally valuable/relatable context, then it does become actively irritating.

    When one hears: “apnaa koi taraanaa, main ne nahin banaayaa…” both the words and the music to go with it (an emotionally gooey sort of a rendering) grate on one’s nerves, and one has to exclaim: “[expletive deleted], why didn’t you? Never made anything of your own!? And still singing about *it*? As if it were some kind of a trophy to show off?” Or, this gem: “main zindagi mein har dam rota hi rahaa hoon, rota hi rahaa hoon [repeated n times]… ” *That* song can only be greeted with a: “mar jaa, rote, rote, ssaale! kam se kam ye rone dhone ki bak bak to band ho jaayegi hameshaa ke liye!” … I mean, not even those beggars in the locals or on the streets pick up such songs when they go around begging! The songs are that worthless.

    One final point, a parting shot by way of some more “time-pass.” (Since you look at lyrics first, you would “appreciate” this exercise very much, I am sure): Substitute “thakelaa” in place of “akelaa.” In most songs, it instantly produces a “wonderful” effect. E.g.: “thakelaa hoon main, is duniyaaaaa mein, koi saathi ho to meraa saayaa….;” or, “main thakelaa apni dhun mein magan…” The trick lends itself well also to the female voice and to duets: “thakele hain, to kyaa gam hai…” or, “thakele, thakele, kahaan jaa rahe ho…;” or, possibly the “greatest” of them all: “thakele hain, chale aao, jahaan ho…”

    Best,

    –Ajit
    [E&OE]

  11. The point, however, was that sometimes, people can carry the more abstract kind of contradictions in a compartmentalized sort of manner with surprising ease.
    Hugo certainly does that – the collectivism that inevitably comes with socialism along with the wonderful individualism of some of his characters.

    this gem, “main zindagi mein har dam rota hi rahaa hoon, rota hi rahaa hoon”
    Yuck, I had forgotten that it existed.

    Substitute “thakelaa” in place of “akelaa.”
    Murder!

  12. KM:

    Yuck, I had forgotten that it existed.

    Now, now, now, I *have* to juggle up your memory, further! (You tell me to stop, and I will. At least for now, I just *can’t* resist!)

    (Hindi)
    “kabhee khud pe, kabhee haalaat pe, ronaa aayaa,
    baat nikali to, har ik baat pe, ronaa aayaa”

    Literal English translation:
    At times over self, at times over circumstance(s), began weeping,
    As story (should be stories!) came up, over each story, began weeping.

    Ah, the weeping. Ah, over *each* story. Ah, the poetry. Ah, the poet. Ah, the poet’s circumstances. Ah, the poet’s *self*!

    That one came off the leftist Sahir Ludhianvi. … But, what kind of a transformation SD still managed to give even *those* words, capturing via his melody precisely that mood which that incompetent poet obviously would have wanted to convey!

    While on that topic, another thing struck me. Though not quite like the above examples, consider these words coming from the highly admirable Gulzaar (with the admission that the words are somewhat taken out of context), and see how RD transforms those words too. First, just read it plain, taking out the music: (Hindi) “meraa kuchh saamaan, tumhaare paas paDaa hai.” Starting from there, one feels quite confident of being able to extend: “maine ‘tempo’ bhej diyaa hai; woh wahaan aa ke, uThaa ke, le jaayegaa ” (I am *sure* RD could have composed great music for the suggested extension, too!)

    Murder!

    “Poetic” license. (BTW, the credit for discovering the substitution process goes to to “anonymous”; I certainly didn’t do it; only heard. (From engineers. (Who else?)))

    A couple more: “chal thakelaa, chal thakelaa, chal thakelaa, teraa melaa peechhe chhooTaa raahi, chal thakelaa….” And this one: “tum thakele to kabhee baag me jaayaa naa karo…” Fits nicely, nah?

    I *can* stop. Just ask! Something like: “And, now, will you [please] stop/shut up, Ajit?” (Copy-paste is allowed.)

    –Ajit
    [E&OE]

  13. Ajit,
    Yes, please stop now. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: