Friday, September 16, 2011

Mera Kuchh Saamaan (Ijaazat)

Surely nothing new could be written about a song as legendary as this. So let's begin with an anecdote about the song, by Gulzar himself:
"When I gave him (Pancham) ‘Mera kuCH saamaaan tumhare paas paDa hai’, he waved the lyric aside and said, “Huh, tomorrow you’ll bring me the front page of *The Times of India* and expect me to compose a tune around it. What is this blank verse you’re giving me!” Ashaji was sitting there, she started humming the phrase, “Mujhe lauta do.” He grasped it immediately; from that one phrase he developed the song, which was quite a feat! This time Ashaji and I got National Awards. Poor fellow, he did all the work and we enjoyed the ‘kheer’." (Source)
'Mera kuchh saaman' earned Gulzar his first National Award for best lyrics. There were songs before and after, but this probably best defines the Gulzar way of writing them - understated, yet breathtakingly poetic.

In a movie where every dialogue is lyrical, and every character is nothing short of being a poet; the songs had to be extraordinary. They are. And how!

The stage is set thus:
Sudha and Mohinder have been happily married for some time now. But, also living in their home are vivid memories of Mohinder's enigmatic, whimsical, poetess ex-girlfriend Maya. To rid the house of this constant presence, Sudha sends Maya's letters back to her. Maya writes back, asking for her memories to be returned as well:

Lyrics, and translation:
मेरा कुछ सामान, तुम्हारे पास पड़ा है
सावन के कुछ भीगे-भीगे दिन रखे हैं 
और मेरे एक ख़त में लिपटी रात पड़ी है
वो रात बुझा दो, मेरा वो सामान लौटा दो
[[Some of my things are still lying with you - 
Some drenched monsoon days,
And a night wrapped in my one of my letters
Extinguish that night, and send these things back to me]] 

पतझड़ है कुछ, है ना?
पतझड़ में कुछ पत्तों के गिरने की आहट
कानों में एक बार पहन के लौटाई थी
पतझड़ की वोह शाख अभी तक काँप रही है
वो शाख गिरा दो, मेरा वो सामान लौटा दो
[[Remember, it was autumn....
In autumn, I gave you the sound of falling leaves, 
After trying it on as earrings.
That branch from autumn is still trembling in winds
Make that branch fall, and send these things back to me]]

एक अकेली छतरी में जब आधे-आधे भीग रहे थे 
आधे सूखे, आधे गीले, सूखा तो मैं ले आई थी
गीला मन शायद बिस्तर के पास पड़ा हो
वो भिजवा दो, मेरा वो सामान लौटा दो
[[Remember, once when we were both getting drenched, since we were sharing one umbrella...
Half the things were drenched. The things that were still dry, I brought with me
But I think I left behind my rain-soaked heart beside the bed
Send that, along with the other things I've left behind]]

एक सौ सोलह चाँद की रातें, एक तुम्हारे काँधे का तिल 
गीली मेहँदी की खुशबू, झूठ-मूठ के शिकवे कुछ
झूठ-मूठ के वादे भी सब याद करा दूं
सब भिजवा दो, मेरा वो सामान लौटा दो
[[One hundred and sixteen nights of the moon, and that one mole on your shoulder
The scent of undried henna, and those moments of mock tantrums
Let me also remind you about all those false promises
Return everything that's mine, but still lying with you]]

एक इजाज़त दे दो बस, जब इनको दफ़नाऊगी 
मैं भी वहीँ सो जाऊंगी, 
मैं भी वहीँ सो जाऊंगी 
[[Just grant me this one wish, that when I bury these things,
I will also breathe my last]]

My two cents:
  1. In stanza one and two "वो रात बुझा दो" and "पतझड़ की वोह शाख अभी तक काँप रही है" might mean that (a) the night was still burning and (b) that branch from autumn, though devoid of leaves, was still alive; denoting that Maya has not yet got closure / has not gotten over Mohinder.
  2. एक सौ सोलह चाँद की रातें could refer to the fact that they were together for four months (120 nights - 4 nights when there was no moon). I don't know! Maybe it's a random number. (As pointed out by Divesh, it is as a matter of fact, a random number.)  (As Gulzar puts it, "It's not the number which is important, it's important that somebody kept the count of the moonlit nights of which they spent together."
Musings aside, go ahead and treat yourselves to this beautiful, haunting melody that could have only been created when Pancham, Asha and Gulzar came together.


  1. awww... well what do I say. it was b'ful and engaging as alwaz. :) Regards

  2. wonderful....loved reading this :)

  3. This is your best post in Gulzar blog (In my opinion). The song is one of my all time favorites and every time I hear it when I am alone, I get goosebumps. The beautiful lyrics is matched by beautiful translation. I like your interpretation of "Patjhad ki wo shaakh abhi tak kaanp rahi hai" under "my two cents". I was always clueless about that line.
    very nice read :)

  4. it was R.D. Burman's music that gave the added depth & meaning to Gulzar's songs. later on though the lyrics are awsome the music is not up to that level, not even rehman's; that's why songs like 'satrangi re' get lost in the foot tapping music. that's what i feel- Gulzar & R.D were entirely different magic together......Gulzar himself said about him-'zindagi ka khel akele nahi khela jaata pancham, aa jaao ,ya bula lo.'tresa

  5. Tresa di,
    thanks for your wonderful comments. RD Burman and Gulzar truly created magic together. though I like Rahman's songs too.

  6. I forgot to write my name, the first Anon is me --Saras

  7. Saras,
    thanks a lot for visiting and your comment :)

  8. "There were songs before and after ..... And how!"

    Absolutely loved this description of the movie.

    The number of people who can appreciate the beauty of the lyrics of this song are rather few and I feel happy every time I come across any such person. Your translation are really good and do quite some justice to the original (which is saying a lot considering this is Gulzar's best ever)..

    A few things to point out:

    1. Sudha doesn't send Maya's letters back, but rather other stuff like an overcoat, a jeans, a pair of goggles etc. In fact she keeps the letters safely in a box that earlier contained her jewelry and says to Mahendra "apne zewar nikaal kar tumhaare rakh diye". Absolutely beautiful.

    2. 116 is a random number. As Gulzar puts it, "It's not the number which is important, it's important that somebody kept the count of the moonlit nights of which they spent together."


    3. I think the last line should be translated as something like "I will also get buried next to them" for it to be a little more effective..

    PS: Perhaps I got a little carried away and wrote such a long comment but I really like this movie a lot..

    1. Same here bro....( The number of people who can appreciate the beauty of the lyrics of this song are rather few and I feel happy every time I come across any such person.)
      Your added information is much appreciated.

      But i would like to say that kanu ji's translation is better than your's, because it is more poetic as maya wants to take her last breath with them......

    2. Your interpretations and comments provoked me to wath this movie as earlier as possible. Though I was planning to watch it after this diwali. Im in search of this film. I wouldn't have understood the meaning of "116 chand ki rate...." without reading your interpretations.. Thanks a lot.
      and one more thing I belongs to that "few people". -vivek

  9. Divesh,
    thanks for the comment. fact is, I appreciate long comments, 'coz it meant you read the whole post :P
    1. oh, ok. my bad. haven't watched the movie in some time. and that's a beautiful line :)
    2. thanks, will update that :)
    3. the fan inside me says to go with what I've already written :P

  10. I read somewhere that after RDB's death - people figured out Gulzar Saab & RDB did 116 songs together (can't validate it though)

  11. @Abhinav:
    I'm sure each one of them is a gem!

  12. A great interpretation as usual!

    My 1 cent on the second stanza...
    1. If पतझड़ is considered to be a reference to the windy (chaotic) fall conditions and कुछ पत्तों के गिरने की आहट to be some almost trivial happening, may be Maya's character has given Mohinder the ability to gain a different perspective of things and notice some minute but interesting details/incidents in the chaos of life. I think Maya is asking Sudha to return back this perspective that Mohinder now has.

    Way too convoluted but the beauty of any good poem is to peel layers and still find new meanings. Gulzar is truly a master of multi-layered poetry.

  13. Such a wonderful song that reminds creativity of a great poet Gulzar

  14. There couldn't have been a better day than today to stumble upon this post, would it? Very good work, Kanupriya. Your work is very critical if Gulzar Sa'ab's work has to be understood and appreciated in its entirety. Do keep it up.

  15. Simply amazing Kanupriya !!
    As I said long back in a reply to your blog...I generally try to translate the poems of Gulzar saab in my mother tongue Marathi....and I have tried to translate the same song in Marathi as well. Do Keep it up.
    - Prasann Harankhedkar

  16. A beautiful song with extraordinary lyrics. Closest Western music I can compare it with is Frank Sinatra's "It was a very good year". Though on a different subject, it has a haunting melody and words that paint a ravishing picture of fleeting life.
    PS: I thought bhijwa do meant "Have it sent back" and Ijaazat meant "permission".
    BTW, is the meaning of "man" fluid? I've heard mind, heart and soul all ascribed to this word.

    1. Thank you! I've not heard "It's a very goot year", thanks for the recommendation :)

      Yes, bhijwa means have it sent back and ijaazat means permission. What caused the confusion?

      Mann means heart. But yes, it's been used to mean mind or soul as well.

  17. One of the song I like most.
    But convert such a poem into song needs real admiration.

  18. I am reading your blog for the first time!! realy is so difficult first of all to translate Gulzar..good job!

  19. Thanks kanupriya for this critical and difficult work you are doing.
    By the way Im reading your bolg first time and I really felt it interesting.

  20. I am from Kerala and stumbled up on your blog the other day.You are doing a wonderful job in translating the lyrics.Keep it up and a big thank you.

  21. Have repeatedly fallen in love with Pancham Da and Gulzar Sahab.........feels like "the more I read you, the more I rise in their love"

  22. I love Gulzar's poetry and sometime can sense that if it is out of this world, it must be him. I stumbled upon your blog a few years ago and then lost touch. I remembered the title though - which means it has an impression on my mind. Very nice. Keep it up. I feel lucky to find it again. Just if I could find some other 'lost' things in life.Cheers.

  23. Debashis Nayak, Odisha, 9337682780March 11, 2016 at 10:34 AM

    Aap ko kisi aur ka lyrics interpret karne ka nehi sujha kya? Gulzar jee! He is out of this world. Sorry, mazak tha. U r doing a fabulous job.
    Every time I listen to his song I think I am sort of challenged by him, it's like he is saying, ,"If u don't listen to my song over and over again u can't feel the beauty of the lyrics". I simply love him.
    I have listened to this song 100 or more times, I remember the entire lyrics. I also interpreted similarly as u. But yet to understand GILA MANN SHAYAD BISTER KE PAAS PADA HO. If u can plz explain.

    1. Geela Mann, as I have interpreted it might mean the heart which had tender emotions is still lying on the bedside...
      Probably Maya has brought back the "sookha Mann" that is a relatively less emotional and probably a little bitter heart. This heart is with Maya and the heart with all the emotions and love has been with Mahendra all the way because she is still in love with him, that heart which is with mahendra, it cries it laughs and more importantly it feels, it is the heart that has compassion, feelings and love for him.
      Probably this is GILA MANN....

  24. I was searching for the translation of this song for one of my friends who liked the tune but could not understand thd meaning.Though I knew the meaning I could not explain to him with out loosing the poetry . Then I found this blog and it was truly wonderful.

  25. I was searching for the translation of this song for one of my friends who liked the tune but could not understand thd meaning.Though I knew the meaning I could not explain to him with out loosing the poetry . Then I found this blog and it was truly wonderful.

  26. i usually don't like anybody's translation of 'Gulzar saab's' poem but this was an exception....and all these years i thought it was kandhekatim - not kandhe ka meaning changes completely...

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