Sunday, January 31, 2010

How to Pronounce Anjali

Since Anjali is such an important name in Bollywood (2 of them in Kuch Kuch Hota Hain, from the last post, for example), I thought I would offer this how-to guide on pronouncing it.

The Return of SRK-Kajol? Kuch Kuch Hota Hain!

As the bona fide Bollywood fans will already know, a new movie is to be released on Feb. 12, entitled "My Name Is Khan." It is directed by Karan Johar, starring none other than Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol! With Fox Searchlight behind its release, you should be able to catch it at a theater near you.

As a tribute to the SRK-Kajol jodi (couple, pronounced roughly like the name Jody/Jodie), I'm going to bring back the title and title song of their hit 1998 film (Karan Johar's debut directorial venture), Kuch Kuch Hota Hain. If you have not seen this, you must! It is a modern classic, a love triangle as infuriating as it is romantic and magical.

"Kuch" (with the u pronounced like "oo" in "book") on its own means "some." Two kuch's in succession means "something." There is also "sab kuch" ("everything," with "sab" pronounced like "sub") , "kuch bhi" ("anything"), and "kuch nahi" ("nothing").

We have seen "hona" many times before, meaning "to be" or "to happen." "Hota hain" means "happens." Altogether, "Kuch Kuch Hota Hain" means "Something Happens..." the implication is that something happens/stirs in the heart (though it may be the case elsewhere as well).

A common dialogue in the film during scenes with awkward misunderstandings is "Kuch kuch hota hain... tum nahi samjhoge." ("Something happens... you won't understand.")

So with that, let's explore this chorus, shall we? I apologize that the translation is not very poetic; I'm making it quite literal so you can see how the words correlate.

Tum paas aaye
Yun muskuraaye
Tumne na jaane kya
Sapne dikhaaye

Ab to mera dil
Jaage na sota hain
Kya karu haai
Kuch kuch hota hain
Kya karu haai
Kuch kuch hota hain

You came near
Smiled like that
You didn't understand what
Dreams [you] showed me

Now my heart
[Neither] wakes nor sleeps
Oh God what should I do
Something happens...
What should I do
Something happens...

Friday, August 14, 2009


By special request, today I shall visit the song Dooriyan from the spankin' new Bollywood film Love Aaj Kal starring Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, and Rishi Kapoor. Aaj means today, and Kal could either mean yesterday or tomorrow. Sometimes, when said in combination "aaj kal" means "these days." But in the context of this movie, the title equates to "Love Now and Then" ("then" being in past tense).

The film explores two relationships: one modern-day story of a couple that initially decides to break up for practical purposes, and the agonizing emotional journey that follows; and one older tale of love at first sight. The film shows the similarities between the relationships despite the stark difference in circumstances. "Dooriyan" plays beautifully into this narrative with its wistful melody and lyrics.

"Doori" means distance. "Dooriyan" is the plural, an emphasis on multiple distances. Let's listen to the song, shall we? (The video is a random fan slideshow, not an actual video from the movie.)

As mentioned in an earlier post, "Yeh" means "this/these." So the "yeh dooriyan" that keeps being repeated is "these distances."

And now for the translation of the chorus. Look to the colors in each line for corresponding meanings.

In raahon ki dooriyan
Nigaahon ki dooriyan
Humrahon ki dooriyan
Fanah ho sabhi dooriyan

The distances of these paths (Note: "yeh" turns into "in" when there is a possessive (ki) in the mix)
The distances of gazes (Nigaahen = eye or gaze, which becomes -hon because of the ki)
The distances of co-travelers
Let all distances be destroyed (Sab = all; hi is an emphatic addition)

Let's take up some more of the beginning lyrics as well.

Kyun koi paas hai
Door hai kyun koi
Jaane na koi yahaan pe

Aa raha paas ya door main ja raha
Jaanu na main hoon kahan pe

Why someone is near
Why somone is far
no one knows over here

Am I coming closer or am I going further
I do not know where I am

Beautiful song to get emo to, or "senti" as they would say in Desi English.

Until next time!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dil Dooba, Dil Dooba!

By now, anyone who has heard any Bollywood song or seen any Bollywood flick and done a reasonable amount of research should know that "dil" means heart. Bollywood lyrics pimp out the heart every chance they get. So let us delve into a popular song from a few years back, "Dil Dooba" from the film Khakee.

Dooba is the past tense of the verb "doobna," which means "to drown." The d is pronounced like an American d, unlike the d of "dil," which takes the dental d (roughly like the "th" from "this").

Here we go with the video:

So the heart drowned... "neeli aankhon mein yeh dil dooba" means "in [your] blue eyes this heart drowned." Check the color code to see which words correspond with which! The word for eyes is aankhon, but it is because of the post-position "mein" that it has changed to "aankhon."

Stay tuned for more! Comment with any questions or specific requests.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Fun Hinglish Parody: Love Tera Shit Shit

As previously noted, many modern Bollywood songs are in Hinglish, a combination of Hindi and English. One recent very catchy tune is "Love Mera Hit Hit" from the 2009 film Billu Barber, which means "My Love (is a) Hit Hit." "Mera," remember, is the masculine possessive, so apparently "Love" is a man; who knew? ;P

Anyway, I have a made a parody rendition entitled "Love Tera Shit Shit" ("Your Love (is) Shit Shit"); you can find the full lyrics and translation here. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

How to Pronounce Desi


A Desi girl, and Desi girl girl girl girl...

Today's lesson is a practical guide for Americans to pronounce the word “Desi” with an authentic Desi accent.

First of all, what is Desi? Desi refers to the people and culture of South Asia and its diaspora. So in other words, people whose origins can be traced to India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and the Maldives.

Desi is spelled D-E-S-I. But the D is what is referred to in linguistics as a dental D, unlike the sound we use in English for desire, devil, or dumbfounded. The D from Desi is used in many Hindi words such as Dostana, the name of the movie whose song clip we just heard; daal, lentil soup; and dus, the number ten.

But the sound does exist in English pronunciation, shrouded in certain words beginning with “th,” such as this, that, thus, and though. That “th” is the best estimation for pronouncing the dental D. So now let's put together the words “they” (T-H-E-Y) and “see” (S-E-E): “They see.” Now reverse the emphasis; in other words, accentuate “they” rather than “see,” and you have “THEY-see.”

Please check back on for more vocabulary and practical pronunciation guides. Until then remember: Who's the hottest girl in the world? A Desi girl, a Desi girl!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What Are You Doing? MySpace, YouTube, Twitter!

I would like to apologize profusely for my lengthy absence from this blog, and would like to really drop it like it's hot now that I am back. So here is my MySpace with music I've written in English/Hindi, my YouTube with makeshift accompanying videos, and my Twitter where I'll provide updates -- BollyHindi-instructive, as well as self-promotional. ;) I also plan to include some Podcasts and/or video blogs to facilitate the understanding of the pronunciation.

Today's lesson will be inspired by the Twitter prompt, "What are you doing?" In the lesson inspired by Main Hoon Na, we had explored pronouns, and forms of "hona," to be. The construction of the query "What are you doing?" looks a bit complicated in the present continuous tense of Hindi, but let's break it down, in order of diminishing respect for the recipient of the query (check the color coding to match the corresponding parts of the sentence!).

Aap kya kar rahe hain? (Masculine)/ Aap kya kar rahi hain? (Feminine)
Tum kya kar rahe ho? (Masculine)/ Tum kya kar rahi ho? (Feminine)
Tu kya kar raha hai? (Masculine)/ Tu kya kar rahi hai? (Feminine)

Karna = to do/make, but in Hindi we are more fancy than merely adding an "-ing" sort of thing to form our present continuous tense. We do the verb root + appropriate form of rahna (= literally to stay) + form of hona.

So, tum kya kar rahe/i ho? Mujhe tweet karo. (Tweet me; literally to me tweet do.)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

It's the time to disco!

We already have some of the vocabulary necessary to piece together the meaning of this song from director Karan Johar's 2003 hit film Kal Ho Na Ho starring Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta, and Saif Ali Khan, but let's add some new words into the mix:

Kehna- to say; kehta hain= masuline present tense; kaho= imperative
Ab- now
Ghabraana- to fear
Taal- beat
Jhoomna- to sway
; jhoome= subjunctive; jhoomo= imperative
Badan- body
Hichkichaana- to hesitate
Sharmaana- to be shy
Khul ke- openly
Gaana- to sing
; gaao= imperative
Aana- to come; aao= imperative

As for the title of the movie, kal can mean either yesterday or tomorrow, depending on context, and "ho" is the subjunctive form of "hona," to be. There is an implicit "ya," or "or" before the "na," which in totality makes the meaning, "Tomorrow may or may not be."

The idea of an English refrain and additional English words tossed into the mix is now quite commonplace, due to globalization and the accompanying increasingly transnational audience.