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Bollywood songs, more formally known as Hindi movie songs, are songs featured in Bollywood films, often performed in item numbers.

The language of Hindi movie songs, generally termed Hindi, can be complex. Some songs are saturated with Persian terms and it is not uncommon to hear use of English words in songs from modern Hindi movies. Several other Indian languages have also been used including Braj, Bhojpuri, Punjabi and Rajasthani. Occasionally a few lines in other Indian languages are used as well.[1]


The Nine Rasas

A rasa identifies the dominant emotion of a composition (a song or a text). In Sanskrit and Hindi literature, nine different types of Rasas are often enumerated.

  1. Shringar - Make up done by married woman in Hindu culture, it big value in Indian tradition ,
    1. virah: separation
    2. milan: being together
  2. Raudra - anger, dangerous,
  3. Hasya - to make happy/smile
  4. Vibhatsaya - disgust
  5. Veera - heroism
  6. Karuna - pathos and compassion
  7. Bhayanak - fear and anxiety
  8. Adabhuta - wonder and curiosity
  9. Shanta - contemplative and peaceful

This classification goes back to when the chief patrons of literature were kings and nobles. The filmi songs are however written for common people and thus there are some common themes that are often encountered - songs for children, songs of betrayal and dejection, marriage songs, etc. that ordinary people can relate with.

Popular songs of the 20th century

Segments of some representative songs are given here. The lines are selected from the songs to be representative of the theme. The translations given are approximate. Many of the expressions used cannot be translated into English exactly, some of the translations are chosen to be literal.


Hawa Mein Udta Jaye from Barsaat (1949), by Ramesh Shastri

The movie Barsaat is sometimes said to mark the beginning of the golden age of Bollywood, with all of its songs becoming classics.

This joyful song is sung by a young woman in love, on the slopes of a mountain, letting her scarf fly in the wind (video search),

हवा में उड़ता जाये,
मेरा लाल दुपट्टा मलमल का, हो जी, हो जी|
थर थर थर थर हवा चले है, जियरा डगमग डोले
फर फर फर फर उड़े चुनरिया, घूंघट मोरा खोले


My red muslin scarf is blowing in the wind, Yes, may it happen.
Wind is blowing, my heart is trembling
My scarf is flying, revealing my face.

Both dupatta and ghunghat are marks of modesty.

Songs from Barsaat marked the beginning of the Shankar-Jaikishan team of music directors[2]. A Hindi/English version [3] song was rerecorded by Bombay Vikings in 1990s.

Mera Joota Hai Japani from Shree 420 (1955), by Shailendra

One of the most remembered songs associated with Raj Kapoor[4]Video search

मेरा जूता है जापानी, ये पतलून इंगलिस्तानी
सर पे लाल टोपी रूसी, फिर भी दिल है हिंदुस्तानी |
निकल पड़े हैं खुली सड़क पर, अपना सीना ताने
मंज़िल कहाँ कहाँ रुकना है, ऊपर वाला जाने
बढ़ते जायें हम सैलानी, जैसे एक दरिया तूफ़ानी


My shoes are Japanese, and trousers English
The red cap on my hat is Russian, yet my heart is still Indian.
I have embarked on the open road
God knows where I will pause and where is my destination
As a wanderer I keep going on, like a storm.

The song became popular in many countries, specially the former Soviet Union[5].

Jaane kyaa tuune kahii from Pyaasa (1957), by Sahir Ludhianvi

This classic song describes the onset of love (video search).


जाने क्या तूने कही,
जाने क्या मैने सुनी
बात कुछ बन ही गयी
सनसनाहट सी हुई,
थरथराहट सी हुई
जाग उठे ख्वाब कई,
बात कुछ बन ही गयी

English Translation:

I don't know what you said, and don't know what I heard, but it happened.
There was some stirring, I trembled, and many dreams arose.

The song hints at love and passion using the simplest words, without using any equivalents for the term "love".

Aye mere pyaare vatan from Kabuliwala (1961), by Prem Dhawan

The song expresses the yearning for the homeland by someone who has been away for a long time(video search).

ऐ मेरे प्यारे वतन, ऐ मेरे बिछड़े चमन,
तुझ पे दिल क़ुरबान
तू ही मेरी आरज़ू, तू ही मेरी आबरू,
तू ही मेरी जान
तेरे दामन से जो आए उन हवाओं को सलाम,
चूम लूँ मैं उस ज़ुबाँ को जिसपे आए तेरा नाम ...


O my beloved homeland, my distant paradise, I sacrifice my heart for you.
You are my cherished desire, your are my honor, you are my life.
I salute the breeze that has passed from your valleys, I will kiss anyone who will mention your name.

The language of this song has an Dari (Afghanistan) flavor, the words vatan, chaman, qurban, arzu, abru are of Persian origin.

This is considered to be a song of "desh-bhakti" (patriotism, see List of patriotic songs#India), the term vatan is taken to mean India. For overseas Indians, the song expresses their sentiments directly. For the original context of the song, please see the discussion about the movie Kabuliwala.

For the complete song see Kabuliwala

Ab ke baras bhej bhaiya ko baabul from Bandini (1963), by Shailendra

This sentimental song is popular during the raksha-bandhan festival which falls in the month of Savan (Shravana). It is common for a married girl to visit her parent's family on this occasion, or at least send a rakhi for her brother (video search).

अब के बरस भेज भैया को बाबुल,
सावन में लीजो बुलाय रे
लौटेंगी जब मेरे बचपन की सखीयाँ,
देजो संदेशा भैयाय रे
अब के बरस भेज भैया को बाबुल ...
अम्बुवा तले फिर से झूले पड़ेंगे,
रिमझिम पड़ेंगी फुहारें
लौटेंगी फिर तेरे आँगन में बाबुल,
सावन की ठंडी बहारें
छलके नयन मोरा कसके रे जियरा,
बचपन की जब याद आए रे


This year, Dad, send my brother to escort me home during Savan.
All the girls I grew up with will also be back then.
People will tie swings on the branches of the mango trees, and the rain showers will come
In your courtyard , Dad, the cool breezes of Savan will return.
I have tears in my eyes, and my heart pines,
when I recall my childhood.

The festival raksha-bandhan celebrates not just the bond between a brother and a sister, but between one who vows to protect the other and a vulnerable one.

To convey the early and folk emotions, the song uses local dialects (now sometimes used only in the villages). Much of it uses the Braj dialect, a western Hindi dialect, however ambua (mango, aam is standard Hindi) is eastern Hindi.

The word babul is now used only in songs. A marriage is a profundly sad occasion for a girl in India, that is when she leaves the shelter of her beloved babul to an unknown future.

Chandan saa badan, chanchal chitavan from Saraswati Chandra (1968), by Indeevar

The song follows the classic milan theme of the shringar rasa (video search).

चंदन सा बदन, चंचल चितवन,
धीरे से तेरा ये मुस्काना
मुझे दोष न देना जग वालों,
हो जाऊँ अगर मैं दीवाना
ये काम कमान भँवे तेरी,
पलकों के किनारे कजरारे,
माथे पर सिंदूरी सूरज,
होंठों पे दहकते अंगारे


Your body is like sandalwood, your naughty glances, your soft smile,
People should not blame me if I become crazy,
Your eye-brows like the bow of Kamadeva, dark edges of your eye-lids
On your forehead, the sindur glows like the sun, your burning lips

The song is mostly in standard Hindi, although kajarare (dark with kohl, see [1]) is a folk term. The traditional nakh-shikh varnan theme is used. In Hindi poetry, the exchange of glances is considered to be among the most erotic part of flirting. There are quite a few songs about eyes [2].

Phuulon ke rang se from Prem Pujari (1969), by Neeraj

A classic love song. A lover just cannot forget his beloved. Song Sung by versatile Kishore Kumar, Music S D Burman. (video search)

फूलों के रंग से, दिल की कलम से
तुझको लिखी रोज़ पाती
कैसे बताऊँ, किस किस तरह से
पल पल मुझे तू सताती
तेरे ही सपने, लेकर के सोया
तेरी ही यादों में जागा
तेरे खयालों में उलझा रहा यूँ
जैसे के माला में धागा


Using colors of flowers as ink, and my heart as a pen, I wrote to you every day.
I can't even say in how many ways, you torture me every instant,
I dream of you, and I keep awake thinking about you,
I am all tangled up in thoughts about you, like a thread in a garland

This love song, in simple and sweet Hindi, recalls a famous devotional hymn by Bhakta Raidas: प्रभुजी तुम चन्दन हम पानी.

khaike paan banaras wala from Don (1978), by Anjaan

This playful boisterous song sung by Kishore Kumar was one of his greatest hits and was played often by the paan shops. The song refers to a young man from the shores of the Ganga, perhaps eastern Uttar Pradesh or Bihar, where people love to eat paan and tend to be rustic and boisterous. (video search).

ओ खाइके पान बनारस वाला,
खुल जाये बंद अकल का ताला
फिर तो अइसा करे कमाल,
सीधी कर दे सबकी चाल
ओ छोरा गंगा किनारे वाला!


If you eat paan from Benares,
it will unlock your brain!
and you will do amazing things,
you will straighten up everyone,
O young man from the shores of Ganga!

The words "khaike" and "aisa" are in eastern Hindi. The song has been reincarnated in several remixes. A culturally related song, रंग बरसे भीगे चुनरवाली, by the famous poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan also refers to paan [3].

Papa kahte hain from Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), by Majrooh Sultanpuri sung by Udit Narayan

A cult song that expresses the clash between the ambitions of two generations. In India, people dream, not for themselves, but through their children. The modern generation of children is often not willing to inherit their fathers' hopes (video search).

पापा कहते हैं बड़ा नाम करेगा,
बेटा हमारा ऐसा काम करेगा
मगर यह तो कोई ना जाने,
कि मेरी मंज़िल है कहां
मेरा तो सपना है इक चेहरा,
देखे जो उसको झूमे बहार
बन्दा ये ख़ूबसूरत काम करेगा,
दिल की दुनिया में अपना नाम करेगा


My Father says my son will do great things that will bring recognition.
but no one knows where is my destination.
My dream is a beautiful face. Sight of her makes one ecstatic.
I will do this glorious deed and make my name in the world of heart.

The language is simple Hindi with a touch of Urdu. The complete song can be found at Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. The song is considered to have launched the careers of both the singer Udit Narayan and actor Aamir Khan.

Ghar aaja pardesi from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), by Anand Bakshi

The song refers to those who have been away from India (video search).

हो कोयल कूके हूक उठाए, यादों की बंदूक चलाए,
बागों में झूलों के मौसम वापस आए रे
घर आजा परदेसी तेरा देस बुलाए रे,
माना तेरे हैं कुछ सपने, पर हम तो हैं तेरे अपने,
भूलने वाले हमको तेरी याद सताए रे


The koel cuckoo calls, my heart pines, memories are triggered.
In the gardens, the season of swings has returned.
Come back wanderer, your country is calling you.
We know you have your dreams, but we belong to you,
We miss you, o forgetful

"घर आजा परदेसी" are powerful words. The song "ghar aa jaa pardesii ki terii merii ik jinarii..." from Gadar starts with the same words. In India, there is a strong sentimental attachment with home. The language is standard Hindi, with a touch of folk Hindi with words like हूक and परदेसी . A

Chaiyya Chaiyya from Dil Se (1998), by Gulzar

The Chaiyya Chaiyya song serves as the opening and close of the recent Hollywood movie Inside Man. The song is known for the A.R. Rahman's music, the words are somewhat mysterious (video search, direct link).

जिनके सर हो इश्क़ की छांव
पावों के नीचे जन्नत होगी
चल छैयां छैयां, छैयां छैयां,
छैयां छैयां, छैयां छैयां
गुलपोश कभी इतरायें कहीं,
मह्के तो नज़र आ जाये कहीं
तावीज़ बनाके पहनूं उसे,
आयत की तरह मिल जाये कहीं


Whose head is in the shade of love, heaven is under his feet.
Walk in the shade, remain in the shade,
remain in the shade, remain in the shade.
The flower-wearer walks around self-assured, I can spot him by the scent,
I can wear him like an amulet, sometime I encounter him as a hymn.

Like the songs of Mirabai or works of several sufi poets, this song is dvayashraya kavya, it can be interpreted in two ways; as a worldly love song, or a song for the beloved lord.

Note that in India, the sun is often very hot, and thus shade provides comforting shelter. Taviz is an amulet containing a paper with a sacred text as a charm. Ayat is a verse from the Qur'an.

See also


  1. ^ Jya Jale
  2. ^ The melancholic romance of Barsaat
  4. ^ The Secret Politics of Our Desires: Innocence, Culpability and Indian Popular Cinema, By Ashis Nandy, Macmillan, 1998
  5. ^ Uzbekistan Today:In memory of Raj Kapur


  • The Indian Diaspora: Dynamics of Migration edited by Narayana Jayaram, p. 164 (Trinidad)
  • Echoes from Dharamsala: Music in the Life of a Tibetan Refugee Community by Keila Diehl (Tibetan refugees)
  • Music of Hindu Trinidad: Songs from the India Diaspora by Helen Myers
  • Cassette Culture: Popular Music and Technology in North India by Peter Manuel
  • World Music Volumn 2 Latin and North America Caribbean India Asia and: Latin and North America, Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham (History)


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