Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Raah Pe Rahte Hain (Namkeen)

Some Gulzar songs elevate themselves from the status of being mere songs, and turn into a life philosophy. Be it "Aane waala pal, jaane waala hai" (Gol Maal), "Musafir hoon yaaron" (Parichay), "Ye lamha filhaal jee lene de" (Filhaal), "Goli maar bheje mein" (Satya), "Aye zindagi, gale laga le" (Sadma) or the song that is the subject of this blog post - these are not just easy on your ears, they can well be life anthems for you or me.

At its most superficial, Raah pe rahte hain is the song of a truck driver (Sanjeev Kumar), who seems visibly pained and disillusioned with life. And even though Sanjeev Kumar's face conveys his despair and the song talks about how memories are all he has; it will find a connect with anyone who's a wanderer at heart. Because it's not a song about looking back; it's a song about forging ahead and making your peace with the journey (called life).

Raah pe rahte hain, combined with Musaafir hoon yaaron make me believe that deep down, Gulzar is also a wandering soul ... intent more on the journey than the destination.

Lyrics and translation:
Raah pe rahte hain, yaadon pe basar karte hain
Khush raho ahal-e-watan, hum to safar karte hain
[[We are the nomadic ones, spending our lives on roads and making do with memories
Hoping you find your happiness, as we have found our solace in this journey]]

Jal gaye jo dhoop mein to saaya ho gaye
Aasmaan ka koi kona odha, so gaye
Jo guzar jaati hai bas uspe guzar karte hain
(Raah pe rahte hain ...)

Whatever the journey throws his way, a traveler finds a way to grow and learn with it...
[[When burned by the sun, we became the shade that gives others shelter
(We don't need fancy hotels to sleep) Tucked under a corner of the sky, we sleep peacefully
Memories are what keep us alive ... ]]

Udte pairon ke tale jab bahti hai zameen
Mud ke humne koi manzil, dekhi hi nahin
Raat-din raahon pe hum, shaam-o-sahar karte hain
(Raah pe rahte hain ...)

[[When the road seems to flow under the speeding wheels
How does one find the time to ponder over what's left behind?
We find comfort in the roads; and this is where the sun rises and sets for us]]

Aise ujde aashiyaane, tinke ud gaye
Bastiyon tak aate-aate, raste mud gaye
Hum thahar jaayein jahaan, usko shahar karte hain
(Raah pe rahte hain ...)

[[We have seen the worst of times... Seen homes torn apart in shreds
Soon as we find ourselves nearing a town, a turn in the road would take us elsewhere
That's how we have learnt to make home wherever we stay
('Cause we are the nomadic ones, spending our lives on the roads and making do with memories...)]]

A little history of the lines "Khush raho ahle-watan, hum to safar karte hain":
Some time back Sandeep (@stwta) sent me this link, which has a long poem by Bismil, written when he was in prison following the Kakori Kand. The poem had this line "Khush raho ahle-watan hum to safar karte hain". Of course, it made me immensely happy, 'cause I love finding connections between pieces of literature/poetry.

Later on, I chanced upon this link, which chronicles Bhagat Singh's conviction and execution for the murder of Saunders. In addition to other details, it also has Bhagat's last letter to his brother Kultar; which again quotes the line "Khush raho ahle-watan hum to safar karte hain" (in addition to couplets from Iqbal and others).

So it made me think, may be Bismil and Bhagat Singh were both quoting someone else. So I searched some more, and found this page. Here I finally found out, that the line was originally written by Wajid Ali Shah. He wrote this couplet while being exiled from a place he loved, Lucknow:
"Dar-o-deewar pe hasrat se nazar karte hain
Khush raho ahle-watan hum to safar karte hain

Humne apna dil-e-naazuk to zafa ko saunpa
Qaisari bagh jo hai usko saba ko saunpa ...."

Hmm! So there it is, my little piece of research off the Internet, which has obviously made me happy enough for today :)

Plus it adds another name to the list of poets that Gulzar has quoted - Ghalib (Satrangi Re, Dil Dhoondhta Hai) and Khusrau (Zeehal-e-miskin). And I must confess, till some 10 years back I thought "Dikhaayi Diye Yun" (written by Mir Taqi Mir) was penned by Gulzar.

Here's a video to the poem written by Bismil, which was later used in the movie "Aandolan", and sung beautifully by the inimitable Bhupinder. (Again, thanks to @stwta)

(The movie Namkeen is also available on Youtube)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Aane waale paal jaane waala hai is not from the movie Masoom

    1. I know, it's from Golmaal. Thanks for pointing out this very stupid mistake. Just a rushed first para added at last moment :)

  3. इतना अच्छा पोस्ट शेयर करने के लिये धन्यवाद ।

  4. You blog is too beautiful. I am a diehard fan of Gulzar poetry. But my weak Hindi is a big handicap in understanding the inner meanings( for that matter sometimes even straight meanings ) of his poems. I came here searching for the English translation of Dil doondta hai - which is my all time favorite, and ended up getting this treasure.
    Thank you so much. Please keep posting for the benefit of non Hindi speakers like me - whio love Gulzar.

  5. I couldn't believe people in this age would understand Gulzars poetry, i am one of his mad fans. Loved your blog.

  6. Wah Kanupriya ji wah. Now I got the real meaning of the song. Will be part of my car sterio now onwards. Many thanks!

  7. Really acknowledge you for your reserach & efforts in putting up on the blog for benefit of people. Gulzar sahb is my all time favourite - be it his peotry, lyrics, movies and specially his choice of words in the songs - everything is so beautiful. The connection of his movies & songs with human relations & life is amazing. Thank you for contributing.

  8. There is a voice over by Gulzar at the end of the song. Dont know if it is there in the movie or not. any idea?

  9. "Jal gaye jo dhoop mein to saaya ho gaye"
    Can you please elaborate this line ?


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