Hindi Language Blog

Conquering Hindi through Bollywood Music Posted by on Sep 19, 2016 in Hindi Language

This week, we’ll discuss a song from a movie mentioned in last week’s blogLagaan (in English: “tax” or “rent”). Listening to music in the target language is a fun and easy way to learn new words and phrases and will help you remember them longer. An added benefit of discussing this particular song (and all of the songs from this film, in fact) is that it contains regional variations of standard Hindi words, giving you a taste of how some people speak in rural areas of India.

The film takes place in 1893 in a small village called Champaner, which is in the state of Gujarat in Western India. The villagers’ Hindi resembles not so much a Gujarati way of speaking Hindi, but various types of Hindi speech in what is known as the “Hindi Belt.” This term refers to diffuse areas in north-central India where Hindi and its dialects are spoken but can also refer to states where Standard Hindi is the official language and/or varieties of Hindi are spoken by the majority of a state’s populace. Both the film’s dialogues and song lyrics are actually a diluted mixture (so as to make them more understandable to a wider audience) of three Hindi dialects spoken mainly in different regions of Uttar Pradesh and some neighboring states: Braj Bhasha (ब्रज भाषा), Awadhi (अवधी) and Bhojpuri (भोजपुरी).

Now, for the context of the song, which you can watch here:

The villagers of Champaner are forced to pay taxes at regular intervals to the British rulers in the form of surplus crops; this year, however, they are unable to do so because of a lengthy drought. While watching the British colonists playing a game of cricket, the de facto leader of the villagers, Bhuvan (played by Aamir Khan/आमिर ख़ान), mocks the sport as being a ridiculous version of “gilli danda” (गिल्ली डंडा), an indigenous game.

Hearing this, the British officer in charge of the district challenges Bhuvan and the rest of the villagers to beat the British in a game of cricket on these conditions: if the villagers win, their taxes will be cancelled for three years but, if they lose, their taxes will be tripled for one year. Bhuvan accepts the challenge readily, yet without asking the permission of the other villagers. So, this song is his attempt to convince the other villagers to join him in his quest to be free of British domination. Javed Akhtar (जावेद अख़्तर), an incredibly famous lyricist and screenwriter in Hindi cinema and a writer in his own right, penned the lyrics.

 Let’s sift through the lyrics bit by bit:

Song Title: मितवा (Friend)


हर सन्त कहे, साधु कहे: सच और साहस है जिसके मन में अंत में जीत उसी की रहे ।

Har sant kahe, saadhu kahe: sach aur saahas hai jiske man me ant me jeet usee ki rahe.

Every ascetic and holy man says: in the end, victory will be his/hers alone whose heart is (filled) with truth and courage.    


आ जा रे आ जा रे ––भले कितने लंबे हों रस्ते (रास्ते) हों,

थके ना तेरा यह तन हो ।

Aa jaa re aa jaa re––bhale kitne lambe ho raste ho,

Thake naa teraa yah tan ho.

Come (O friend), come––no matter how long (are) the roads (paths),    

May this body of yours never tire.  


आ जा रे आ जा रे––सुन ले पुकारे डगरियाँ;

रहे ना ये रस्ते तरसते हों, तू आ जा रे

Aa jaa re aa jaa re––sun le pukaare dagariyaan;

Rahe naa yeh raste taraste ho, tu aa jaa re.

Come (O friend), come––listen to the paths calling you;  

May these paths not remain pining (for you), come (O friend).    


इस धरती का है राजा तू; यह बात जान ले तू ।

कठिनाई से टकरा जा तू; नहीं हार मान ले तू ।

Is dharti ka hai raja tu; yah baat jaan le tu.

Kathinaai se takraa jaa tu; nahin haar maan le tu.

You are the king of this earth; know this fact.  

You confront difficulty(ies); you do not accept defeat.


मितवा (मित्र), सुन मितवा, तुझको क्या डर है रे ?

यह धरती अपनी है; अपना अंबर है रे ।

Mitvaa, sun mitvaa, tujhko kya dar hai re?

Yah dharti apni hai; apna ambar hai re.

Friend, listen friend, of what are you afraid?

This earth is yours; yours (too) is the sky.

सुन लो रे मितवा, जो है तुम्हरे (तुम्हारे) मन में, वही हमरे (हमारे) मन में ।

जो सपना है तुम्हरा (तुम्हारा), सपना वही हमरा (हमारा) है जीवन में ।

Sun lo re mitvaa, jo hai tumhare man me, vohi humare man me.

Jo sapna hai tumhara, sapna vohi humara hai jeevan me.

Listen, O friend, that which is in your heart, is also in mine.  

That dream of yours, the very same is my dream in life.


हाँ, चलें हम लिये आसा (आशा) के दिये नयन (eyes) में ।

दिये हमरी (हमारी) आसाओं के कभी बुझ ना पायें;

कभी आँधियाँ जो आके इनको बुझायें ।

Haan, chale hum liye aashaa ke diye nayan me.

Diye humari aashaaon ke kabhi bujh naa paayen;

Kabhi aandhiyaan jo aake inko bujhaayen.

Yes, let’s go, in the gaze (lit. “eyes”) of our hope.

May the spark (refers to “gaze”) of these hopes never be extinguished;  

(And) any storms that may come never extinguish them.     


सुन लो मितवा:

पुरवा भी गायेगी; मस्ती भी छायेगी ।

मिल के पुकारो तो, फूलों वाली जो रुत (ऋतु) है…आयेगी ।

Sun lo mitvaa:

Purvaa bhi gaayegi; masti bhi chaayegi.

Mil ke pukaaro to, phulon vaali jo rut hai…aayegi.

Listen, friend:  

Even the (easterly) wind will sing; delight, too, will spread over (us).   

(If) we call them all together, the season of flowers will come.  

हाँ, सुख भरे दिन दु:ख के बिन लायेगी ।

हम तुम सजायें आओ रंगों के मेले ।

रहते हो काहे (क्यों) बोलो, तुम यूँ अकेले ।

Haan, sukh bhare din dukh ke bin laayegi.

Hum tum sajaayen aao, rango ke mele.

Rahte ho kaahe bolo, tum yuun akele.

Yes, this season will bring days filled with happiness, without sorrow.   

Let’s you and I come and decorate a festival of colors.   

Tell (us) why you remain alone (needlessly).  


Until next time! 🙂

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About the Author: Rachael

नमस्ते, मेरा नाम रेचल है/السلام علیکم، میرا نام ریچل ہے۔ Hello, my name is Rachael, but I also on occasion go by Richa––an interesting story for another time :) My two great loves are Hindi and Urdu. I first traveled to India (Jaipur, Rajasthan) in college on a Hindi study abroad program. A little over a year later, I returned to the same city to study Hindi in a yearlong program. I've also spent a summer in Kolkata, West Bengal learning Bengali, and I studied Urdu at the University of California, Berkeley, where I was a graduate student in South Asian Studies. I hope to share with you the fascinating world of Hindi and Urdu literature, society, culture and film through my blogs!