Friday, 28 August 2009


Everyone has a few favourite songs.. the origins of why they are so are often so insignificant that it is difficult to put a finger on it, or sometimes so momentous that the reasons are etched into the very depths of the song.

Yet there are songs which have not graced my ears in soo very long, which, despite the harrowing effects of time I can still literally mouth word to word without so much as a mistake.. yet strangely I often struggle to recall things that are actually important like people’s names, birthdays, where we first met, what they were wearing yesterday, the length of their hair, secrets they shared with me.

Having been born into a Western Country makes me take my understanding of the English language for granted sometimes. Strange thing with the English language is how words, sentences can only mean or imply a single meaning. It’s not often I sit there and attempt to interpret what is being said, or what a specific sentence means. It’s incredible how other languages aren’t actually like that. Hindi for instance can not be interpreted with any kind of ease, each word, each nuance, each sentence can mean a multiple of things. Each one unique to the interpreter’s own understanding, own philology, fluency and passion. The only true & accurate interpretation can come from the origin itself.

I recall when I did the translation of two very specific songs from a Hindi film called Jodhaa Akbar: Jashn-e-Baharaa and In Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein. I literally put my heart and soul into deciphering what every single word meant. I lost count of the people I had to contact to get their interpretation of specific lyrics in those two. It was a mixture of Hindi and Urdu, and not basic Hindi and Urdu but Elite Hindi and Urdu, which surprisingly is very difficult from the casual basic variety. I felt like the only person who could honestly tell me would have been A. R. Rahman who composed those songs.

It amazes me just how much I threw into that translation. I’ve done many others over the years but never one so tough and challenging; I can’t explain the satisfaction when I completed them.

I was browsing Shell’s blog when I read a comment about her appreciate of music, and it made me think of two songs Zara Zara, from Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein, and Kehna Hi Kya, from Bombay. I had both songs on my iPhone and whilst listening to Zara Zara I began writing the lyrics down in English. I knew I had already translated Kehna Hi Kya a while ago but never before had I attempted to do Zara Zara. I enjoyed every minute. Its great when you rediscover a hobby you really enjoyed but don’t do anymore.

Here’s to rediscovering the things I don’t do anymore.


Jules said...

Holy shit, SB... if you struggle with translating Hindi and Urdu and you're so well versed in it, I haven't got a single hope in hell! Makes me feel good when I can string together two or three words! :O)

I have quite a few Bollywood songs on my iPod thingy... I love them, and thank you for the song from Zara Zara to listen to and read, even though I haven't seen the film yet. It was lovely!

Swats said...

Translating Hindi songs in English..tht's quite a task!

Thanks for stopping by :)

Soul Seared Dreamer said...

Jules: Well versed? Hardly - I'm self-taught, from hindi films. There are hundreds of people who grew up with it or were taught as school, I was neither. I think I understand Hindi a little better than my entire family.

I think its amazing how far you and Shell have come already.

Swats: Yeah - a passion that started burning with soul after I heard the songs from Jodhaa Akbar. The first one was the hardest - it gets easy after that.

Thanks and welcome.

workhard said...

Translating from one language to another is sucha daunting task.. i remember i watched this one movie Tashan with english subtitles..and i swear the translater did such horrible job.. the dialogues just didnt make any sense..

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Soul Seared Dreamer said...

Workhard: Haha - yes I recall when I first relied on subtitles - I could remember practically screaming "NO NO NO".