Friday, September 01, 2006

Do not trust eyes

In a post about the soundtrack of Omkara (scroll down, past the Vande Mataram stuff), and, in particular, the song Naina from the film, Chronicus Skepticus asked me if I would consider attempting a translation of the lyrics into English.

I've seen the film, and have a vague memory of the song, though I can't say that I was blown away by it. Still, I've never been one to refuse a challenge - which translating Gulzar into English certainly is - specially not when it can be used as an excuse for a blog post. So here goes.

Here are the original lyrics of the song as per Chronicus Skepticus (any cribs you have with them to be please directed to her):

Nainon ki mat maaniyo re, nainon ki mat suniyo,
Nainon ki mat suniyo re
Naina thag lenge

Jagte jaadu phukenge re, jagte jagte jaadu
jagte jaadu phukenge re neenden banjar kar denge
Naina thag lenge

Bhala manda dekhe na paraya na saga re
nainon ko toh dasne ka chaska laga re
Nainon ka zehar nasheela re

Baadalon mein satrangiyan bonve bhor talak barsaave
baadalon mein satrangiyan bonve, naina baanvra kar denge
Naina thag lenge

Naina raat ko chalte chalte swargaan mein le jaave
megh malhaar ke sapne bije hariyali dikhlave
Nainon ki zubaan pe bharosa nahi aata
likhat parhat na rasid na khaata
saari baat havaai re, saari baat havaai

Bin baadal barsaaye saawan, saawan bin barsaatan
bin baadal barsaaye saawan naina baanwara kar denge
Naina thag lenge

Jagte jaadu phukenge re jagte jagte jaadu
jagte jaadu phukenge re neenden banjar kar denge
Naina thag lenge.

Here's my straight-up, free-verse translation (where I try to be reasonably true to the original):

Do not listen to eyes, do not obey them;
Do not listen to eyes,
They will deceive you.

They will blow dust in your days, waken you to magic;
They will blow dust in your days and make sleep a desert.
They will deceive you.

The eyes do not care whether friend or stranger,
The eyes have a taste for biting,
And their venom intoxicates.

Sow rainbows in the clouds and they will rain till sunset,
Sow rainbows in the clouds and your eyes will drive you mad.
They will deceive you.

Wandering in the night, your eyes will bring you to heaven,
They will sow a monsoon of dreams, reap a green vision;
But one cannot believe the eyes,
Because there is no accounting for images,
And their promises are mere air.

And when the monsoon comes, without clouds, without rain,
These clear seasons of the eyes will drive you mad.
They will deceive you.

They will blow dust in your days, waken you to magic;
They will blow dust in your days and make sleep a desert.
They will deceive you.

And here's a more free-flowing, 'poetic' translation, in the form of a (slightly abbreviated) villanelle:

Do not trust eyes, they are not what they seem.
If you believe in their magic, you will be had.
They’ll blow dust in your days, make a desert of your dreams.

Is he friend or stranger? Why, what does that mean?
They bite where they like and their venom drives mad,
Do not trust eyes, they are not what they seem.

They’ll seed sleep with monsoons, reap a vision of green,
Sow rainbows in clouds just to make you mad,
Blow dust in your days and make a desert of your dreams.

They’ll promise you heaven, for a change of scene,
But you’ll get nothing in writing, so don’t be too glad –
Their promises are air – they are not what they seem.

And when the monsoon comes, without clouds, without streams,
The clear seasons of your eyes will make you sad,
Will blow dust in your days, make a desert of your dreams.
Do not trust eyes, they are not what they seem.

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8 comments:

Szerelem said...

Nice villanelle...i actually liked the music of Omkara. And i love Gulzar, he is brilliant.

km said...

Gulzar sounds impressive in another language too. Now there's a great lyricist.

You know that you will now be inundated with requests to translate his more abstract songs from the 1970s, don't you? :)

Old Spice said...

It's not that hard to listen to the song properly - try this link (warning - only works in IE). Nice translation, though. Thanks.

There's another beautiful song that's been plaguing me, actually. If you could translate it sometime, I'd be grateful. It's called "Pardesiya" and I think it first appeared in a video starring Rakhi Sawant ...?

Chronicus Skepticus said...

Falstaff,

Thank you so much! :)

CS

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Anonymous said...

can you translate the song "omkara" from the movie omkara please?

Anonymous said...

i really dont think the translation does justice to what gulzar's lyrics actually mean..it can never be appropariate...i love him!!!

Anonymous said...

Excellent villanelle... been learning Hindi for a while, but this (I suppose) is a different dialect altogether!