It’s one of the most haunting songs ever composed in Hindi cinema. The song has the pulse of a past lingering in the present, a present that seeks closure. Written by Gulzar‘s magical pen, rendered in Asha Bhosle‘s intensely moving voice and composed by the highly versatile R D Burman, ‘Mera Kuch Samaan‘ was awarded the National Award for Best Playback Singer and Best Lyrics in 1988.

According to Gulzar, the lyrics initially didn’t impress Burman, whose experimental streak gave India many a memorable song.”Tomorrow you will bring a copy of The Times of India and ask me to make a tune out of it?” the lyricist says here in an interview, quoting a visibly unmoved and dismissive Burman.

But it was an impromptu rendition by Bhosle, the music composer’s wife, that set the ball rolling; and the song, according to the legendary singer, was wrapped up in ten minutes. And the rest, as they, is we-know-it-all.

Contemporary music composer Shantanu Moitra, also a Bengali like Burman, has said: “The lines are beautiful, but they are not on any metre. Though he (Burman) didn’t understand the language very well, he respected the writer.” Here’s my attempt at translating the song.

There’s something
That you have of me:

The memory of a night,

in the fading words
of letters
soaked in rain
In autumn, I heard the rustle of leaves
Being crushed to nothing

Under my feet,
And hands.

The rustle is no more
But somewhere,
An ailing branch trembles for liberation.
On a rainy night,
You and I

Were drenched under the umbrella

A little less

And a little more.

A part of me

Of that night

Still hovers
over your bedside

The many moonlit nights from your terrace
The fragrance

Of the still-wet heena

On the day of my marriage

That never took place

The regret
That never was

The promise

That was never made

Will you walk me
All over again

Through everything?
So in peace
we sleep.

India celebrated Burman’s 75th birthday anniversary on June 29. He was the reigning king of Hindi film music in the 1970s and 80s, with compositions in over 300 films to his credit.

(On Twitter, I am @Ankush_patrakar)

2 thoughts on “Gulzar’s ‘Mera Kuch Samaan’ translated into English

  1. Stumbled upon this ,while looking for the significance of the phrase ” ek so solah chaan ki raatein”. A beautiful English translation you got there, keeps the essence and sense of poetry both alive 🙂


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