Amrit Mahotsav: Celebrating Pitaji’s 81st Birthday

September 27, 2009


It all started with the idea of doing “something” to mark the day Pitaji would turn 80. That day was 4th February, 2005. There had to be something special, but I could not get around to deciding what.  A gift like a shawl or clothes sounded too mundane, a family get-together perhaps better and a dinner with close friends and relatives even more so. But I could not make up my mind till a new idea surfaced. Why not a public felicitation ceremony in Jamshedpur (where Pitaji has lived for the past fifty years) with the participation of his colleagues, relatives, students and other well-wishers! As I mulled over this, it occurred to me that we could even get people who have known Pitaji to write their personal memoirs and publish these in a book form which we could release in the ceremony.

The idea was potent, but there were challenges in its execution. Someone had to request people to write. Someone had to edit the stuff. Someone had to get it published.  Plus the matter of organizing the ceremony itself. My siblings and I are scattered across the country and none of us had the wherewithal to execute this rather ambitious task. We do have a sister in Jamshedpur but she had her hands full with her job and running her household.

I called her up and sounded her off. She was enthusiastic, as usual, and came up with a brilliant suggestion. Maybe we could request Prof Bhaskar Rao, an ex student of Pitaji, an eminent literary figure, settled in Jamshedpur to help us with this project. I had met Prof Bhaskar Rao (who I now address as Bhaskar Bhai sahab) decades ago and I had no contact with him thereafter. I got his phone number and called him.

Initial pleasantries having been dispensed with, I came to the point.

“Bhaskar Bhai sahib, I need this favour from you.”  I explained to him the project and sought his help. He sounded a bit flummoxed initially but he recovered quickly and asked me to write out my thoughts in a letter and send to him. A brief as it were! In the follow-up call a few days later, he readily agreed to handle this rather taxing assignment of editing the book and from then on we kept in touch on the phone discussing various points regarding the book.

“Santosh”, he said, “You should be the one informing others and requesting them to write their pieces.”

“But they do not know me”, I stammered

“But you must. They may not know you, but they do know your father”

I had this woolly-headed notion about this book being a surprise for Pitaji. I did not want to tell him about the book.

“It is very unfair to keep someone whose commemorative book we will be publishing to keep totally out of this”, Bhaskar bhai‘s baritone over the phone.

“But , why can’t we keep it a surprise?”

“No. we can’t”, Bhaskar Bhai said, and to add a touch of finality, he added, “I have spoken with some others and they too want Pitaji to know what is afoot.” The others include heavyweights like Narendra Kohli ji based in Delhi, that eminent award-winning novelist, also and ex student of Pitaji. That kind of sealed this but I persisted.

“Bhaskar bhai sahab”, I said, “Maybe we could tell Pitaji about the book, that we are indeed publishing something, but he need not know the details”.

This he agreed upon, thankfully.


I called my sister and went through with her the list of all those who have known Pitaji and could potentially write on him as well. Each name triggering off memories from the childhood days.

“What about so-and-so chacha?”, She would ask. We called all peers of Pitaji, chacha.

“Oh! That chacha? Sure! The one who would come home once-in-a-while and give us lectures on punctuality.”

“Yes, that’s the chacha I am talking about.”

“He will be a great choice.” I am enthusiastic. And then a moment of doubt for me. “I hope he is still alive.” My voice falters a bit. I have been away from Jamshedpur far too long.

“Of course he is. I saw in the marketplace just a couple of months ago. He was carrying, what must be, some ten kilos of sabzi in the jholas he had.

We laughed and added him into our growing list.

“Why not this lady professor based in Patna, she was a favourite student of Pitaji.”

“Good one, add her too.”

“And this famous literary person.”

“Wonderful! I just hope he agrees to write.”

“I am sure he will. He had even dedicated his first book to Pitaji.”

And there were those compromises.

“Why leave out this chahcha when we are asking the others.”, she would say.

“But value is he going to add?” I always thought this gentleman to be a pompous guy, given to showing off his rather sparse knowledge.

“Never mind the value-add, he will not like it that we asked others and not him.” My sisiter was right, he did have a nuisance value.

“OK, put him in”

And thus our list built up over successive phone calls.

“I want the phone numbers of these people.” I did not have any!


Then starts my marathon with the phone. I would reach home after office each evening and make calls. Some are available, some are travelling, while some have had their numbers changed.

If I get them on them line, my script remains the same.

Chacha, mein Bangalore sey Santosh bol raha hoon.” (“Chacha, this is Santosh speaking from Bangalore.”). Chacha. Or Chachi, Didi, Bhaiya etc.

“Santosh, kaun?” the voice would rarely have any hint of recognition. Nearly always surprise, indifference or sheer boredom.

Chacha, lagta hai pehchaney nahin aap. Prof Ojha ka chhota beta, Santosh” (Chacha I do not think you have recognized me. I am Prof Ojha’s son, Santosh”)

“Santosh, Santosh! Santooooosh?” very few would recognize me at the first instance.  Could hear their memory cells crawling through their lanes as I waited impatiently at my end.

“Santosh. Arey, Santoooosh!” the penny seemed to be dropping. “Wohi Santosh! Prof Ojha ji ka beta.  Jo engineering kar raha tha, wohi naa?” They take me back some 25 years ago.

Haan Chacha, wohi Santosh” (“Yes chacha, same Santosh”)

Abhi kahan ho beta tum”? (“Son, where are you now?”)

And I would tell them my entire story. School, engineering and beyond.

They would then proceed to ask about my family, my kids, the classes they were in etc etc. Some would even tell me. “Oh, you are in Bangalore? My daughter (or daughter-in-law, or son, or son-in-law, or prospective son-in-law) is working there in Wipro/Infosys/ Cognizant/Iflex. Why don’t you give me your mobile number, I will ask her to call you up.”

“So, chacha, how is you health?”

(ok, but high BP/ high sugar etc)

“How is chachi?”

(Chachi is bedridden with arthritis.)

“How is the guava tree in your back yard?”

(Long gone, there is a new room built in that space for the second daughter-in-law)

“How is you Lambretta scooter doing?”

(long sold off. My sons ride only Hero Honda bikes. And yes, the elder one has bought a new Maruti. Red colour one!”

And so on and so forth!

After all these preliminaries are exchanged, we will get to business.

And I will quickly explain to them my project. And that since they know Pitaji so well, they must write an article for this book. All would readily say yes. But after another long-winded chat. I shall spare you the details.

Over a period of a few weeks I managed to get in touch with some 70-80 persons nearly all of whom committed to write “something”.


Getting people to write was one thing, we also wanted to have a public ceremony where Pitaji would be facilitated and the commemorative volume released. And who would organize the function? Help soon came in the form of a cultural organization called “Sahyog” led by the dynamic Mrs Juhi Samarpita who took on this responsibility. An auditorium was booked, refreshments ordered and invitation cards printed and sent across to the invitees.

Bhaskar Bhai and some other students formed a small committee to decide the course of events for the afternoon. The first decision made was while many would want to speak in this occasion, the number of speakers would be kept limited. There would one representative from each of the publics: colleagues, students, relatives and Jamshedpur Bhojpuri Sahitya Parishad. And Pitaji, of course. As it transpired later, there were a few more speakers added, more about that later.

The program also had its own name, “Amrit Mahotsav”. And yes, the book-in-making was titled “Pranati”.

As it turned out eventually on the 4th of February, 2005, the day Pitaji turned 80 and the day of the function, the program stretched into a three hour affair.


The organizers had conceived “Amrit Mahotsav” as a three-part program.

A View of the Audience
A View of the Audience

The first part started with the recital of Sanskrit shlokas followed by the welcome address by the chairperson of the organizing committee. Then came the book release. The host of dignitaries on stage unwrapping fresh copies of the book placed on the dias in front of them.

Pranati Unveiled
Pranati Unveiled
Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu....
Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu….

On-stage felicitation followed with many going on stage with flowers, shawls, etc.  On behalf of the ex-students of Pitaji one of them (who happens to be the compere, Prof Bhaskar Rao’s, wife sang the “Guru Vandana”, a large, laminated copy of which she presented to my father along with a gift. The gift being a silver replica of Krishna charioting Arjuna in the Mahabharat. Wonderful idea that, the gift from students to a teacher! A senior Professor, who considers herself as Pitaji’s shishyaa though she was never taught by him sang something which she specially write for the occassion.


A View of the Stage
A View of the Stage

The second part comprised of selected speakers. One selected each from Pitaji’s colleagues/ peers, students, the local Bhojpuri Parishad and one relative.

The colleague representative was non other than the venerable Prof. Major C B Sinha, who besides being the head of the Hindi department (effectively Pitaji’s immediate boss) was also a part-time official of the NCC, holding the rank of “Major”. A stern disciplinarian, a fabulous organizer and a gold-hearted person. And when he spoke, his regards for Pitaji poured forth. In his eloquent choice of words, Sinha chacha (as I have always called him) spoke about his long relationship with Pitaji and the high regards he held him in. There is one reference which I will never forget. Sinha chacha, while mentioning the rigours Pitaji had to go through in raising his children, quoted something which Pitaji had told him decades ago: “One generation has to negate itself to firmly establish the next one on the path to success.” That is exactly what Pitaji did for all the years of his life. I have written about it elsewhere on this blog; Pitaji sacrificed his love of reading and writing so that he could be with his children through their formative years.

Pitaji’s student, the respected writer Prof Bachchan Pathak Salil, who himself is not much younger than Pitaji, spoke in his unique witty way about their association. He, in the tradional Vedic style, introduced himself at the outset to the audience as so-and-so, son of so-and-so, resident of such-and –such and a student of the so-and-so!

The Bhojpuri Samaj representative spoke of Pitaji who was one of the founding members of the society.

Then, lastly, came the turn of the relatives’ rep. And Bhaskar Bhai had selected me for this. With the instruction to speak in Hindi. The last I spoke in Hindi was in my high school, in the elocution contest, but those were memorized pieces. Not that I have a stage fright, far from it as my job entails me to speak to large and diverse audiences on a large number of diverse topics. But these are all in English. But to speak in Hindi, in front of such an educated audience and that too on Pitaji was something which gave me shivers. But finally I did. I decided to speak about Pitaji’s two passions, education and reading. I made the speech anecdotal, with a series of personal references which I think went down rather well with the audience. I had grandiosely announced at the beginning of my speech that I will speak only in Hindi with no trace of English. As it transpired I did use quite a few of them! Anyway, all told a fairly satisfactory experience.


The highlight of the third and the final part of the program were the speeches of the distinguished speaker for the evening, the head of the Hindi and Journalism department of Ranchi University, Prof Rita Shukla who had specially driven from Ranchi cancelling some other urgent work.  Prof Rita Shukla’s father, late Prof Tiwari and Pitaji were friends for many decades and she calls Pitaji mama. “Matul” as she said in her highly Sanskritized Hindi. She said she felt honored to be a part of the proceedings as she felt that Gods are present wherever elders are felicitated. Matters became a lot more emotional half-way through her speech when Prof Shukla broke down when she made a reference to her deceased father and how she felt that she now considers Pitaji as her father. This moved a lot of us in the audience too to tears. She did quickly recover and carried on longer. An erudite talk, delivered from the heart!

Pitaji Speaking
Pitaji Speaking

And finally came the turn of Pitaji, who to my surprise started off in his usual gentle but confident manner but broke down soon enough perhaps overwhelmed by the proceedings of the evening. However he recovered quickly on delivered a brief but utterly absorbing speech thanking the organizers of the meeting, He spoke about the love and respect he got from his peers, students and society at large.


The program ended with some coffee and snacks and a lot of badhiyan, mubaarak all around. And then it was time for more celebrations with the extended family at home.

The Cake Ceremony
The Cake Ceremony

My niece, then all of 10 years old then had organized from a nearby bakery a birthday cake (eggless, of course) for the birthday boy. Thankfully not with 81 candles but just two, forming the number 81. Which were blown amid the backdrop of balloons and streamers. Happy birthday sung. Cake cut. And then the magic moment. When mai fed Pitaji the first piece of the cake while we all clapped! The old man’s initiation into the world of birthday ceremonies!


The next day we all woke up late thanks to the late hour we all had gone to sleep. We were a bit concerned about Pitaji and were wondering how this delayed sleep would hamper his daily routine the day after. Pitaji was perfectly fine, doing all the morning stuff he does; getting the milk, buying extra newspapers for all the guests at home, filling filter water in the bottles etc. Nice we thought, his 81st year has begun well.

Pitaji had volunteered to sleep in the Puja room as there was paucity of space with so many people around. Mai informed me in the morning and that he had not slept a wink as he was engrossed reading the book “Pranati” through the night. And mai would not stop telling us that Pitaji would keep wiping his tears as he read though the pieces, though the night.

“And is?” and Other Joys of Translations

September 25, 2009

A perennial joke has been around peculiar translations in Hindi of English words. For example shwet-vasanaa dhoomra paan shalaka ( श्वेत-वसना धूम्रपान शलाका). Before your head reels with this assault, let me explain: श्वेत= white, वसना= clothed; श्वेत वसना= white clothed, धूम्र= smoke, पान= consumption; धूम्रपान= smoking. Get the picture? Ok, the last one, शलाका: stick. So there you have: a white-clothed smoking stick. A cigarette, of course! What a nice romantic name for the coffin nail! The cigarette’s poorer- but more popular- cousin the humble beedi (बीड़ी) has an equally esoteric name: just the shwet is replaced by peet (पीत)- peet-vasanaa dhoomrapaan shalaka (पीत-वसना धूम्रपान शलाका). Peet (पीत) meaning yellow and alludes to the yellowish-brown leaf wrapping of a beedi. I suppose the more stately cheroot could be called shyam vasanaa श्याम-वसना …… (By the way, this vasanaa वसना not to be confused with a somewhat similar looking word, vaasana वासना!)

Or consider this utterly romantic and dreamy लौह पथ गामिनी. Can you imagine a young nubile thing (गामिनी is delectably close to कामिनी!) treading the treacherous ferrous path (to meet her lover, you wonder!). By the way that is the so-called Hindi-speak for a train.

Often this translation mania would go to ridiculous lengths specially for more mundane and common words. I suspect often to denigrate a language and its seeming inadequacies. Like for lawn tennis: हरी घास पर ले दनादन दे दनादन.”

A great translation could elevate a seemingly modest craft to the practice of art. From a mundane “hair cutting saloon” where you would expect to be assaulted by bored and smelly barber to a “केश कर्तनालय” where you would expect to bow to the ministrations of a hair sculptor. See the difference? Both mean the same. केश= hair, कर्तन= cutting, आलय= house. A hair cutting house.

The most unwittingly hilarious translators are those who work for English film distributors in the North. In many of the interior markets of the hinterland, English movies are seen by the audience for either the action sequences or the titillation they would promise. People would not bother about understanding the dialogues. However, they needed to at least know the name of the movie. And if this could stoke their expectations even more, that was more money at the box-office. So the translators would get on the job of finding colourful names.

The classic World War II movie, “The Dirty Dozen” got rechristened “दर्ज़न लफंगे”. A pretty neat name for a movie about a dozen criminals convicted to either life imprisonment or death being sent on a suicidal mission to Germany. Or take this C-grade 1970’s film about a female undercover Federal drug agent out to bust a gang of narcotics smugglers. This film, “Scorchy”, which was shown as “कातिल हसीना”.  Promises of violence and sex neatly encapsulated in this brilliant translation. As was the case with the name of the Jet Li’s movie “Kiss of the Dragon”.  “मौत का चुम्मा”. Action and tiltillation both assured!

In case you missed the point, there is a slogan on virtually every piece of communication on any such movie, with a call to immediate action: मार-धाड़ सेक्स से भरपूर, आज ही देखें!

One great source of entertainment for language aficionados is the sub-title of movies. Like this one which I saw a few years ago on TV. The movie name I do no remember- and that’s not important, but the translations were too funny. Take this for example: “Please get your ass outta here”. Screams the woman to her man. The quick and helpful translation: “कृपया यहाँ से अपने कूल्हे हटाओ”. “कूल्हा” being the Hindi for hips!

Sub-titles bring me to the Hindi to English translations of film dialogues, more interesting is the treatment of lyrics. The other day I was watching “Sahab Bibi aur Gulam”. While the overall sub-titling was good, there were some, though technically correct translations, which did not quite evoke the feeling of the original. Sample this: “The bee is very naive” (भंवरा बड़ा नादान है). While naive does mean नादान, perhaps innocent could be a better choice. Or this one: “Heard that yours is a whole night party today”. (सुना है तेरी महफिल में रतजगा है). रतजगा has a different feel to it compared with “whole night party”.

Indians mostly think in their mother tongue and what they speak in English is often a literal translation of the way they construct a thought into words in their minds. Often the result is hilarious. Like this reverential reference to the boss from an awe-struck subordinate: “They are very brilliant”. “They” emanates from the literal translation of the respectful वे of Hindi.

And to end this piece, a classic Hindi-thought-English-spoken-words incident.

This story is about a (not-so- young) upcoming student neta in my BHU days. My engineering college (IT-BHU) within the campus had a significant number of voters and all the Students’ Union office bearer aspirants would work hard to win this “vote bank”. But the hitch for most of them was that while they were essentially Hindi speaking, IT-BHU attracted students from all over India and many were not conversant with Hindi.

This neta, while on a campaign round at the IT-BHU hostels would try to speak to all only in English, at least his version of English. Once, in order to to get chummy with a student who was having a puff in the hostel corridor, this neta sidled up to him and here is how the conversation went:

Netaji (नेताजी): “Suniye (सुनिए)! Listen!!

Student: “Jee, netaji?” (जी नेताजी?)

Netaji (नेताजी): And is?

Student  (flummoxed for a bit, soon gathers his wits): Is, is!

I will not translate this conversation but on literal translation you would have got a gist of this chat, the neta was trying to cadge a cigarette off this unsuspecting student, asking if he had a cigarette to spare!

A to Z of Romance in Hindi movies: Via Urdu/ Faarsi lexicon

September 13, 2009

Aagosh: In embrace. Gode mein. Persian in origin. Not to be confused with khargosh, which the heroine embraces often, symbolizing her higher order (or lower, depending on how you view it) intent whenever she thinks of the hero. Aagosh may lead to loss of hosh, depending on the pliant khargosh, the real one of course.  Because an agosh may lead to the Hindi awesh (passion). A natural outcome.

Bewafaa: Ingrate, typically used for a treacherous lover (mostly a female). As in bewafaa sanam. The characteristic crime of a bewafaa: bewafaai. Not sticking to her (or sometimes his) promise. Ditcher. Sometimes ending in the lament of the hero: “Ham bewafaa hargiz na the….”. Often the victim of the bewafaai feels like a bewaqoof. No correlation but for the prefix “be”. Maybe they are connected. Ask any jilted lover.

Chaman: Garden. A paradise by association. A chaman plays a vital role in the song/ dream sequences. That’s the place where the white/ red/ purple dupatta of the heroine floats in the air in synch with the beats of the song sung by the hero.  And it is the chaman which bears the brunt when things go awry between the lovers. More agonizing when “Baharon ne mera, chaman loot kar…”. Remember this Mukesh song? Chaman never to be confused with Chamanbahar had by the fledgeling smoker keen on eradicating the smell of a smoke before facing his parents.

Deedar: A glimpse, a view, a quick look, a spectacle. Something which either of the couple yearns for. A good deedar may lead to the deed, the consequences of which is obvious to the world after nine months, always. Deedar not to be confused the name of a popular Hindi movie, Deewar. In fact, a deewar (wall) prevents a good deedar. So when no deed, no deed done.

Ehsaas: Feeling. Thought. Often used in contrary contexts of either the presence or absence of one’s object of desire. Like, “tumhai doori ka ehsaas ho raha hai mujhe”, or “mujhey iska hamesha ehsaas hota hai kit um merey paas ho.”  This thought becomes forgotten when married. Then this denigrates to a common expression used by most Indian bahus: “Eh! Saas?” A general term of respect (?) for her m-i-l.

Fursat: Free time, chhutti. Longed for by all lovers so that they can spend time with each other, away from the worldly responsibliies. Like, for example, attending classes in their colleges. Sometimes lamented for by even seniors, like Sanjeev Kumar in Mausam: “Dil dhoodhta hair phir wohi, fursat key raat din”. Not to be confused with furqat which means separation, alienation.

Gham: Regret, sadness. Sometimes the gham would emerge from the aching heart in the form of a song. Gham-e-dastaan, the story of gham. Also immortalized in Kishore Kumar’s song “Dil aaj shayar hai, gham aaj naghma hai.” Much of Dilip Kumar’s life was spent in much gham. He was always ghamgeen in most of his movies, soaked in sorrow and sadness. Till he found for himself, Saira be-gham.

Hasarat: Desire, generally unfulfilled.  As in “hasarat hi rahi, jee bhar key koi, hamein pyaar karta”. Sometimes these hasarats sully one’s clothes which then have to be washed and cleansed of all such blemishes. Like in this Lata mangeshkar song , “Yoon hasaraton key daag…”. A phonetically close cousin which has no resemblance to the meaning of this word is “Hazarat”.

Iqraar: Agreement, pledge, assent. Remember the song, “Pyaar hua iqraar hua…”? This pyaar and iqraar form the first half of the film till a myriad  circumstances sabotage the iqraar just at the interval. And this forms the basis of the second half of the movie. Not to be confused with beqaraar though initial bequaraari forms the basis of the iqraar. Iqraar is the anti-thesis of another commonly used word, inkaar (refusal).

Jaam: A goblet. A wine receptacle. Often the source of solace for the jilted lover. Or even the aspiring one. A jaam is even more intoxicating if served by a saaqi, a female bar-tender. I affirm that this word has not originated from Jamshedpur, I have. And the confluence of jaam and Jamshedpur in me is purely coincidental.

Kuchah: A narrow lane in a residential area. Commonly called a “gulley” in Hindi-speak. The celebrated street in songs sung by the aforementioned jilted lover. Especially when he retreats, rebuffed, from his lover’s house via the (now) excruciatingly constricting lane. Helpfully enough there are kothas next door, in another kucha. And the latter kucha also helpfully has a theka.

Laajawab: Peerless, without an equal. Often used for the girl who is but the face of a full moon (Chaudahwin ka Chand) to the hero though he wonders if it is the full moon he should compare her visage with or just simply call her unmatched (lajawaab).

Mehboob: The lover, the subject of one’s desire.  Gender neutral. Though for a female mehboob there is a specific word: Mehbooba. The subject of many-a-song; “Mere mehboob tujhey, meri  mohabbat ki kasam”, “Mere mehboob kayamat hogi”, “Mehboob merey, mehboob merey” etc . Never to be confused with mehfooz which means protected. A mehboob was always vulnerable, and lost his/her status when he/ she became mehfooz. Certainly not to be confused with the film director Mehoboob the maker of the iconic Mother India among other classics. Mehboob incidentally popularized many of the words mentioned in this post.

Nukta-cheen: Remember the classic Ghalib sher, “Nukta-Cheen hai ghame-dil…”.  The bruised heart (ghame-dil) which picks on petty  faults (nukta-cheen). That is what an aggrieved heart does. This word is the confluence of two potent Urdu words, “nukta” and “cheen“. I do not know what the latter means, but nukta means a dot, a bindu, an anuswaar (in chaste Hindi). Nukta is a magical entity; as in the Urdu saying “Nuktey key her-pher sey khuda zuda ho gayaa.”  The Khuda, (Lord,  Bhagwan) vanishes with the transposition of even something as insignificant as a dot. For more information on this, refer to my earlier post on how I learnt (some) Urdu.

O: Often a plaintive cry used as precursor to something more substantive. Like “O sajana, barkha bahaar aayi”, “O merey dil key chain”. Always a great entry into a duet filmed in mountainous terrain.  The echo of the “O” rebounding multiple times from the mountains has its own melodic throb. Like Mukesh’ number “Suhana safar aur yeh mausam haseen” from Madhumati. “Ho, o, o..Ho, O, O, O, O, O“!!

Paighaam:  A message, a letter, or a proposal of marriage from the prospective groom’s family. This is also the vehicle of all communication between separated lovers in the era before yahoo messenger and sundry email  facilities. Often delivered by the trusted maid servant of the woman. Who goes to the guy with the handwritten (and much perfumed) chitthi and says: “Mohtarama ney aapkey naam yeh paighaam bheja hai.”

Qasoor:  Fault. Common usage: “Yeh mera qasoor hai ki mainey tumsey pyaar kiya.” This could be the height of romanticism or the depth of regretfulness depending on how this dialogue was delivered. Often times the qasoor lay with the girl’s eyes. “Qasoor teri nazron ka tha, isliye mein deewana hua”.  Sometimes the confused protagonist would not know what his/her qasoor was and even ask the ever present nightly companion, the moon; “Ei raat key musaafir, chanda zara bata dey, mera qasoor kya hai, yeh faisalaa sunaa dey.

Ruswaai: Insult, ignominy. Suffered equally by the guy and the girl at various points in a three- hour movie.

Shab/ shab bakhair: Shab is night, the precursor to Hindi subah. As the Gangster croons in a recent eponymous film: “Tu he meri shab hai subah hai…..”  Much exciting things happened during shab times, which were later regretted in subah time. Shab bakhair means good night. Made famous by the Kashmir Ki Kali song, “Mere yaar, shab bakhair.”

Tanhaai:  Loneliness. Much felt by the besotted lovers separated by the “zaalim zamaana”. As an antidote to which the man would retreat into the clutches of a tawaaif. Clutching a jaam in his hand.  Emperor Akbar had a different way of achieving his tanhaai, he would invoke it by saying takhliyat. His need for tanhaai were also romantic, though for different reasons. He needed space and peace to dwell on his son’s romantic transgressions.

Ulfat:  Love, affection, romance. Famously used by Kishore Kumar in his song where he exhorts lovers to break the shackles of society’s norms. “Ulfat mein zamaane ki, har rasm to thukrao”. Through the length of a typical movie ulfat alternates with nafrat and of course in the end all is well.

Vaada:  Promise, commitment. Subject of many an endearing discussion between lovers. One promising a never-dying relationship and the other questioning whether he/ she would ever break it. Also the theme for millions of songs. Ranging from making a vaada to a request not to break vaada. “Vaada karo jaanma, na chhodogo yeh daaman” to “Vaada na tod, vaada na tod

Wafaa: Loyalty. By extension, monogamy. Subject of Mahendra Kapoor’s / Lata’s  plaintive lament from Dhool ka Phool: “Wafaa kar rahein hain, wafa karney waaley”.  Wafaa as we know pays dividends, bewafaai, does not. Period.  Another common film usage of this term- though not in the same vein- is the ubiquitous Ramu Kaka, that dhoti-clad old gentleman, a gamchha slung on his right shoulder, ever waiting to do his master’s bidding. When, in a moment of anger borne out of a misunderstanding, the master sacks him, Ramu Kaka exits tearfully. But not before telling the master that he (R. Kaka) has been a wafaadar sewak and how he wishes the master well.

X: Xcuse me. This one has been elusive. An Urdu word starting with an X.

Yaaddaasht: Memory. Often used in the negative. The white-coated doctor gravely intones to the care-giver about a rescued accident victim, “Yeh apni yaddasht kho baitha hai. Isko ab sirf pyaar ka marham hi bacha sakta hai”. He need not have worried, the caregiver is often a nubile young woman with a generous tube of the aforementioned “love” ointment. She does all what she can to nurse back the unfortunate accident victim who has providentially showed up at her door-step in this critical time. She not only nurtures him back to health but also sings songs to him as he sleeps. The song, of course, magically features both of them. In the Himalayas, some 1500 miles away from where they actually are.

Zulf:  A strand of hair, mostly a woman’s. Capable of causing multiple events by a mere flick in the air. “Zulf lehrai toh…” etc . Also the causative factor for many a sleepless night for the besotted menfolk. Some menfolk seek shelter under the zulf. Sample Rafi’s classic: “Tumhaari zulf key saaye mein sham kar loonga…”. One of the most lethal anatomical weapons available to the heroine. Zulf is always silken, (“Yeh reshmi zulfein, yeh sharbati ankhein”) and also cause climatic changes (“Zulf lehrayee toh saawan ka mahina aa gaya”).