Let’s start by posting the lyrics of Jai Ho (in poetry form)

Jai Ho, Jai Ho, Jai Ho, Jai Ho
Aaja Aaja Jinda Shamiyane Ke Tale
Aaja Zariwale Nile Aasman Tale
Jai Ho, Jai Ho, Jai Ho, Jai Ho, Jai Ho, Jai Ho

Ratti Ratti Sachi Maine Jaan Gavayi Hai
Nach Nach Koylo Pe Raat Bitayi Hai
Akhiyon Ki Neend Maine Phoonk Se Uda Di
Neele Neele Tare Maine Ungli Jalayi Hai

Chakh Le, Ha Chakh Le, Ye Raat Shahad Hai…  Chakh Le
Rakh Le, Ha Dil Hai, Dil Aakhri Had Hai…  Rakh Le
Kala Kala Kajal Tera Koi Kala Jadoo Hai Na
Kala Kala Kajal Tera Koi Kala Jadoo Hai Na

Kab Se, Ha Kab Se Jo Lab Pe Ruki Hai.. Kah De
Kah De, Ha Kah De Ab Aankh Jhuki Hai.. Kah De
Aisi Aisi Roshan Aankhe Roshan Dono Bhi Hai Hai Kya

Aaja Aaja Jind Shamiyane Ke Tale
Aaja Jariwale Nile Aasman Tale
Jai Ho, Jai Ho, Jai Ho, Jai Ho
Jai Ho, Jai Ho, Jai Ho, Jai Ho

So what’s the big deal about these lyrics? Right, let’s analyse. I am not much of a Hindi widhwan but I will give it a shot.

The slum boy spends his life without a roof over his head. All he has is the sky. The sky that is alive with stars and planets and galaxies and is his roof (zinda shamiana); the sky that looks like a gold threaded blanket (zariwale neele aakash)

The boy lives his life through bit by bit (ratti ratti); Spending his nights (raat bitayi) after surviving through all possible ordeals (nach nach koylo – dancing on coals) ; He has dismissed all sleep and rest (Ankhiyon Ke Neend Main Phoonk Se Uda Di – just like blowing out a candle); And burnt himself trying to catch his stars, his luck, his fortune (Neele Neele Tare Maine Ungli Jalayi Hai)

Now that victory is here, it is time to taste sweet success for the first time (Chakh Le… Ye Raat Shahad Hai); Finally, it is the heart (Dil Aakhri Had Hai) that keeps one going (Rakh Le)
– Danny Boyle’s view of the slum life – spirit of life that keeps people going

What you wanted to say for a long time, was on your tongue for ever (Jo Lab Pe Ruki Hai), let it out now that there is someone waiting for it in complete surrender (Aankhe jhuki hai)
– in these two lines, the entire romance of Jamal and Latika is described.

Gulzar is the master of the Hindi metaphor – No high sounding Urdu or big words – simple common street language but used as metaphors for describing a world beyond. And this song is an excellent example of his craft. My favourite is of course the main two lines with the zinda shamiana and zariwale neele asmaan.

The Oscar might well be his. And deservedly so.

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4 thoughts on “Jai Ho – Why Gulzar is nominated for the Oscars

  1. Loved the interpretation/translation of the lyrics. I love the “zariwale nile aasman tale” bit. I interpreted that as a sky with a silver lining. Silver… golden… ah well, artistic license! 🙂

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