Saturday, October 1, 2011

Title track (Kaminey)

(noun) scoundrel, rascal
(adjective) crooked, contemptible, questionable, unscrupulous

The word 'kaminey' could mean any of these things. And I've used these various meanings in different contexts.

The title track of Kaminey is a lyrical masterpiece for a number of reasons. But instead of jumping right to the translation of the song, let's first look at the intentions of the character (rather, the lyricist) for choosing the words he did.

The character Charlie is the narrator of Kaminey (2009),  as well as the voice behind the song (not literally, just in the movie. The singer is Vishal Bhardwaj). Charlie is a small time crook, and his mantra in life is to get everything through shortcuts (fortcut ya chhota fortcut) - a morally ambiguous, but quicker way of getting what he wants.

This song shows the thoughts and feelings of a criminal - things we often entirely disassociate them from.  Another famous instance when Gulzar got in the mind of a criminal comes to mind - Goli maar bheje mein from Satya. Though the texture of both these songs is entirely different (one a slow, contemplative song; the other more of a dance number) - both are deep, profound, beautiful songs.

Lyrics, and translation
Kya karein zindagi, isko hum jo mile
Iski jaan kha gaye, raat-din ke gile
[[What could the life do, now that I'm its constant companion?
I've bored it to death with my constant whining and complaints.]]

Meri aarzoo kamini, mere khwaab bhi kaminey
Ek dil se dosti thi, yeh huzoor bhi kaminey
[[My desires are questionable, my dreams crooked,
I trusted but my own heart, considering it decent, but even it turned out to be a rascal]]

Kabhie zindagi se bola, pinjare mein chaand la do
Kabhie laalten de kar, kaha aasmaan pe taango
[[At times I asked life that the moon be brought to me in a cage,
At others, I asked it to hang a lantern on the sky.

Here he's talking about how he always had unrealistic expectations from life - his ambition bordering on impractical. No wonder when his quixotic wishes remain unfulfilled, he ends up whining and cribbing about everything (Raat-din ke gile)]]

Jeene ke sab tareeke, the hamesha se kameene
[[My attitude towards life has always been crooked]]

Meri daastaan kameeni, mere raste kamine
Ek dil se dosti thi, yeh huzoor bhi kamine
[[My life-story is contemptible, my ways are the ways of a scoundrel.
I trusted but my own heart, considering it decent, but even it turned out to be a rascal]]

Jiska bhi chehra chheela, andar se aur nikla
Masoom sa kabootar, nacha to mor nikla

[[Every mask that I peeled off, showed the person underneath to be someone entirely different.
Even an innocent pigeon, once it started dancing, turned out to be a peacock.

(It's not only the criminals that turned out to be cheats. Even seemingly innocent people showed a different color, given a chance.)]]

Kabhie hum kaminey nikle, kabhie doosre kamine
[[Sometimes I was the crooked one, sometimes the other person...]]

Meri dosti kameeni, mere yaar bhi kamine
Ek dil se dosti thi, yeh huzoor bhi kamine
[[My friendship is questionable, my friends are unscrupulous, 
I trusted but my own heart, considering it decent, but even it turned out to be a rascal]]

Similar sentiments, different songs:
  1. The line "Ek dil se dosti ki, yeh huzoor bhi kaminey" reminds me of "Kisko pata tha, pehloo mein rakha dil aisa paaji bhi hoga" from the song Dil to bachcha hai ji (Ishqiya). Even when you think you understand your heart, you can never be sure sure how it's going to behave. You've no control over it.
  2. "Masoom sa kabootar, nacha to mor nikla" (I think) might be an inspiration for Bhag Bhag DK Bose's "Piddi jaisa chooha, dum pakda to nikla kaala naag". You can never fathom a person's character by perception or looks alone. They might be completely different underneath.


  1. You know I'm too sad right now. And listening to this song made my eyes teary. Well, translation is b'ful as always. :)

  2. loved this post. yay gaana pahlay kam hi suna tha but is blog ko padhnay kay baad pahli baar khud say suna

    even i also think that Kaminey is not an abuse

  3. @Rahul Bhomia:
    thanks :)

    thanks :) I don't think so either

  4. Lovely post about lovely song n m glad u started this blog :)

  5. thanks Deepti :) any song suggestions for future?

  6. bhadhiya hai.. maine ye gaana khub aur khub suna tha jab ye aaya tha... ab doobara jake khub aur khub sununga ;)

  7. haan, kaafi suna tha ye gaana un dino aapne :)

  8. my fav song in recent times. And, the way the Vishal sang it... just awesome !
    Trivia : Vishal said that he sang this himself as a singer would have not understood the feelings of all these kameene words having different meanings with respect to the character and would not have been able to do the justice to the song and emotions. What a brilliant job he has done !!

    Song suggestion : chodd aaye hum...


  9. @Sam:
    wow, nice piece of trivia, that.
    thanks for the suggestion. it is on my list! :)

  10. Stumbled upon your blog while lookin up Anubhav's- Mujhey jaan na kaho meri jaan'...and I must say you're doin some amazin work...

    Respect...from one Gulzarsaab fan to another...:)

    Just wanted to bring to your notice a couple of errors in this translation. Correct me if I'm wrong but...

    1. It should be 'Kabhi zindagi se maanga' and not bola
    2. It should be 'Jeeney ke sab 'qareeney'' and not tareeke....Qareena means manner/system/order..

    1. Thanks :)
      Yes, you are right .. I made those mistakes since I wrote the lyrics from my memory ... should have checked :)

  11. Kabhie zindagi se maanga, pinjare mein chaand la do
    Kabhie laalten de kar, kaha aasmaan pe taango - These lines can have aa different meaning altogether! Pinjra represents jail (caged - which again is associated with darkness in one's life) With the brightness of the moon, light up my dark life, O life! But instead you offered me a lantern to be lit up in the sky, which will again go off once the oil is finished. Beautiful lines.


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