Thursday, February 2, 2012

Kajraare (Bunty aur Babli)

Warning: Long post ahead. But interesting, I promise (Kaali kamli waale ki kasam khake)!

Kajrare - for me, the baap of all item songs ever! Shaad Ali, take a bow for bringing together the first family (OK, second) of Bollywood even before they were a family. And SEL, Gulzar, Alisha Chinoy, Javed Ali - take a bow for composing, writing and singing the perfect item song.

Why, some may ask, do I keep referring to it as the best ever? Many out there consider this song to be average at best - what is with Gulzar writing sub-par lyrics, a rather fat Aishwarya spilling out of her tiny clothes and vulgar dance moves anyway? Well, let me ask you a question - what is an item song? Surely you didn't expect words like "Katra-katra milti hai" in it! Surely you didn't think a super-fit, gym-toned Shamita Shetty type is the usual sight at a dhaba! 

Here is what Gulzar has to say about the 'sub-par' lyrics: 
"Just because it is popular it doesn't mean it's devoid of poetry. I don't think the words "Teri baaton mein kimaam ki khushboo hai, tera aana bhi to garmiyon ki loo hai", is frivolous. Poetry with a serious thought doesn't mean it has to be serious in mood."
"When it’s a song sung on the roadside, you have to write poetry with a different flavour altogether, similar to that you’d find on the backs of trucks and lorries. So you have lines like, Aisi nazar se dekha us zaalim ne chonk kar, humne kaleja rakh diya chaku ki nok par."
The stage is set thus
The two Bachchans are involved in a cat and mouse game - Bunty (Abhishek) being the mouse, and DCP Dashrath Singh (Amitabh) being the cat. Before this song, they have not come face-to-face. Initially, director Shaad Ali thought he'd have a scene that would bring them together. But then decided a song would work better. Hence this item song at a roadside bar, where the two get to know each other over a few pegs of cheap whiskey.

Before we begin
Before the song begins, Amitabh has been telling the story of his brush with love in Delhi.  Hence the various references to Delhi (specifically, old Delhi, in and around Chandni Chowk) in the song as well. There is this line "Ballimaran se Daribe talak, teri meri kahaani Dilli mein" - Ballimaran is Ghalib's haveli situated in Chandni Chowk. Dariba Kalan (Street of the Incomparable Pearl) is a street in Chandni Chowk, which used to be a popular market of precious stones, gems, gold and silver jewelry.

Lyrics, and translation (English)
(The translation follows the now usual format of translation followed by my interpretation.)

Aisi nazar se dekha us zaalim ne chowk par
Humne kaleja rakh diya, chaaku ki nok par

[[With such a vicious gaze did he look at me at the Chowk,
That I put my heart at knife's point

His conspicuous stare at me (in front of everyone) felt like a knife through my heart.]]

Mera chain-vain sab ujDa, zaalim nazar hata le
Barbaad ho rahe hain ji, tere apne shahar waale
Ho, meri angdaayi na toote tu aaja, 
Meri angdaayi na toote tu aaja

[[I've lost my calm and composure; now take your eyes off me, O pitiless brute!
After all, it's people of your own you're destroying.
Now, come to me before I become anxious ('cause I've been waiting long enough for you)

Angdai means stretching yourself after a sleep. So basically you're relaxed. So "Andgai na toote" could mean coming out of this relaxed state, becoming anxious etc.]]

Kajrare-kajrare, tere kaale-kaale naina - x4
[[Your kohl-lined, black eyes]]
Ho mere naina, mere naina, mere naina judwa naina
[[My eyes, my twin set of eyes]]
Kajrare-kajrare, tere kaale-kaale naina

Doesn't matter if the official soundtrack lists this song as "Kajra Re", I think it's "Kajrare". Because Kajrare naina (कजरारे नैना) would mean "kohl-lined eyes", while Kajra re naina (कजरा रे नैना) would mean absolutely nohing.]]

Surame se likhe tere waade, aankhon ki zabaani aate hain
Mere roomaalon pe lab tere, baandh ke nishaani jaate hain

[[Your promises, written with kohl, speak the language of eyes
Your lips leave a mark on my handkerchief

Even when you don't say them out aloud, your eyes and your kisses on my handkerchief betray the promises you want to make.]]

Teri baaton mein kimaam ki khushbu hai, 
Tera aana bhi garmiyon ki loo hai

[[Your words have the fragrance of kimam. When you come, the effect is that of a hot summer wind.

Kimam (aka Qiwam): A fragrant paste put in paan (betel leaves) made with tobacco leaves (boiled and soaked in water flavored with spices (cardamom, saffron etc)). The resulting pulp is mashed, strained, and dried into a paste. ]]

[Aa-ja, toote na, toote na andgaayi
Meri angdaayi na toote tu aaja, 
Meri angdaayi na toote tu aaja
Kajrare ... ]

Aankhein bhi kamaal karti hain, parshanal se sawaal karti hain
Palkon ko uthaati bhi nahin (hmmm), parde ka khyaal karti hain

[[Eyes, at times, cross their limits. And begin asking personal questions. But even while doing so, they keep the eyelids downcast, because they respect the tradition of purdah.

In India, the women keep purdah, which is the tradition of keeping women concealed from men. Even when they come out, they cover their faces while speaking to men.]]

Mera gham to kisi se bhi chhupta nahin
Dard hota hai dard jab chubhta nahin

[[My pain is for everyone to see (it's not hidden from anyone). I've become so used to pain, that it hurts when the pain doesn't sting enough.]]

[Aa-ja, toote na, toote na andgaayiMeri angdaayi na toote tu aaja, 
Meri angdaayi na toote tu aaja
Kajrare ... ]

Ho, tujhse milna puraani Dilli mein
Chhod aaye nishaani Diili mein
Ballimaran se Daribe talak,
Teri-meri kahaani Dilli mein

[[I still remember meeting you in Old Delhi. The entire city is dotted with symbols of our love. From Ghalib's haveli in Ballimaran to Dariba Kalan, our story is famous in all of Delhi.]]

Kaali kamli waale ko yaad karke, 
Tere kaale-kaale naino ki kasam khaate hain

Teri kaali-kaali naino ki balaayein le loon
Tere kaale-kaale naino ko duaayein de doon
Meri jaan udaas hai, hothon pe pyaas hai
Aa ja re, aa ja re, aa ja re

[[ (In the name of God), I swear upon your black eyes. 
I'll take away all troubles and bless these dark eyes.
(Because) I'm heartbroken, and longing for love,
So come to me.

Kaali kamli waale: Interestingly, it could mean either Krishna (he was dark-skinned) or Prophet Muhammad (he wore a black shawl / blanket).
Balaayein le loon: Elders, while blessing the younger ones, often use this term. It means that they're taking away the evil from the person who's being offered blessing, and taking all their troubles upon themselves.]]

[Teri baaton mein kimaam ki khushbu hai, 
Tera aana bhi garmiyon ki loo hai
Aa-ja, toote na, toote na andgaayi

Meri angdaayi na toote tu aaja, 
Meri angdaayi na toote tu aaja
Kajrare ... ]

(The video contains a few dialogues before the song begins)

On a parting note
When Gulzar lashed out at Chetan Bhagat -


  1. This, and Beedi Jalai Le, are two of Gulzar's most interesting songs recently.

    Loved "Palkon ko uthaati bhi nahin (hmmm), parde ka khyaal karti hain", and "Dard hota hai dard jab chubhta nahin".

    That "Kaali kamli waale" phrase was also used by him in "Phir See Aaiyo Badra Bidesi".

  2. just read this
    kali kamli vale reference i missed ...angdai metaphor takes this song to an entirely new level
    you seem to be a hindi movie buff
    even in sathiya gulzar has written soul stirring songs for youth
    wanna do a post on that?

  3. @Vishal
    There are many-many interesting songs. Maiya-maiya (Guru) is also quite different from the usual fare.

    thanks :) I have done posts on two Saathiya songs. You can read them here - will do more soon :)

  4. Well the song and translation are, like always, good. But I want to comment upon that CB issue. what the hell does he thinks of himself? Tell me one thing, who knew about CB before that 3Idiots case happened? Ok we knew that there is this dumbass writer who writes novels. Or in other words, builds some story plot around sex. Har 10 page pe chumma chaati aur gaali bhari padi rehti hai uske novel mein. Who the hell is he to even to dare take a dig at somebody as great and as respectable as Gulzar saahab? Bloody a$$hole.

  5. a very well researched and very well written post, once again :)
    i enjoy reading translation as much as the additional info that comes with it.
    I liked Aishwarya in this song.

  6. @Rahul Bhomia
    Don't get so hyper, I'm sure Gulzar's lashing was enough for CB :P

    Thank you :)
    I think you're one of the few :P

  7. Long time...

    And good one Kanu. I think you have done a wonderful job. You explained so many things (for eg Kali kamli - it was new for me). But it is such a difficult song to translate. I mean how can anyone even explain the meaning of 'angrayi na tute'.

  8. @Bhav:
    Yeah, long time! :)
    Thanks :) I've always loved this song. It's so full of little gems. Glad you liked it! :)

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  10. Not one of my favorite songs... And if I am not mistaken, it is "kaare kaare naina". "Kaare" also means black, I am told.

    1. You're right, it *is* kaare-kaare :)

  11. Finally I meet someone who says that it's the ULTIMATE item song..!!:D

    For once, I knew everything pehle se..!!

    I so loved when GulzarSaab lashed out on Bhagat..!!

    A post on Ishqiyaan's Dil toh bachcha hai ji would be very welcome..!!:)

  12. Awesome blog. Another interpretation: while ghalib lived in balliwalan, mir taqi mir lived in dariba kalan. Just like ghalib gulzar leaves the interpretation up to the audience.

    1. Wow, that fact make the lyrics even more interesting :D

  13. "Surme se likhe tere waade, aankhon ki zabaani aate hain
    Mere roomaalon pe lab tere, baandh ke nishaani jaate hain"

    Your promises, written with kohl, speak the language of eyes
    Your lips leave a mark on my handkerchief

    These lines are very interesting to me. To me Zubani yaad hai means knowing by heart. My interpretation is I know all the promises that you made by heart, of course these promises are not verbal, just from eyes.The second line is what is most interesting. "Mere rumaalon pe lab there, baandh ke nishaani jaate hai". This reminds me of Ghalib

    Whenever Ghalib had an idea/thought for poetry, he didn't write it down right away. He would tie a knot in handkerchief. and later when he was at home and had time, he would write down the poetry looking at the knots in handkerchief. Look at this video at 0:55. The words, promise, zubani anna, rumaal and nishani seem to have more than just leaving mark on handkerchief.

  14. I thought Kali Kamli Wale refers to Imam Ali


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