We’re not scared, not cowed…

Further to the lovely poetry and music that the recent protests across the country have been producing (see my recent post on Madara’s Tukde Tukde Kaun?), here’s two more that we ought to celebrate. The first one is (possibly) by Vishal Bharadwaj that he recited at the Carter Road protests at Bandra (Mumbai), that apparently also had several hundred Bollywood/TV personalities. And the second one further below is Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna by the poet Bismil Azimabadi, popularised in the Indian freedom struggle by another fellow Bismil, Ram Prasad Bismil. Both translations are by Umesh Srinivasan (email).

Raat mein suraj laane ka waada karke
Din mein raat ugakar dikhla di tumne
Paani paani kehkar barsaaya tezaab
Aur ek aag laga di tumne

Hum maayoos nahin hain, hum hairan nahin

Sach bhi itna jhootha lagne lagta hai
Jhoot bhi itni sachai se bolte ho
Fark kahan karte ho tum baashindon mein
Bas mazhaab ke kaanton par hi tolte ho

Hum maayoos nahin hain, hum hairan nahin

Hai dastoor ke subaah hone se pehle,
raaton ka gehra ho jaan laajim hai
Zulm badhao, abhi tumhare zulmon ka,
had se baahar ho jaana bhi laajim hai

Hum maayoos nahin hain, hum hairan nahin
Jaisa socha tha, tum waise hi nikle

Reproduced from recitation by Vishal Bharadwaj at this video

As translated by Umesh Srinivasan (email)

You promised to lead us through the dark
But you have embroidered nightmares through our dreams
You promised the soothing shower, but rained acid upon us
And you’ve lit a fire that only gathers steam

Make no mistake – we are not downcast, neither are we surprised

Oh the truth sounds so much like lies…
…because you lie with so much conviction
Of course you don’t discriminate between your own people
You only judge them on their religion

Oh we are neither cowed nor stupefied

There is no doubt that…
it is always darkest before the dawn
And we know that….
your repression will get worse before you’re gone

But we are not dispirited, we expected nothing better
We did hope, but you have shown your true colours

Translation by Umesh Srinivasan (email)

Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna by Bismil Azimabadi/Ram Prasad Bismil/Piyush Mishra

This is not a literal translation – this translation is aimed at getting at what the song means to convey, rather than translating it word for word.

Ram Prasad Bismil was a freedom fighter who was hanged by the British in December 1927 for his role in the Kakori train event of 1925, when members of the Hindustan Republican Association (including Bismil) robbed a train carrying money belonging to the colonial British government. Piyush Mishra later wrote a somewhat satirical version for the film Gulaal, which is the version translated below (except for the first stanza, which is Bismil’s).

Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamaare dil mein hai
Dekhna hai zor kitna bazu-e-kaatil mein hai

Waqt aane se bata denge tujhe ai aasmaan
Hum abhi se kya batayen kya hamare dil mein hai

Dekh phaansi ka yeh phanda khauf se hai kaampta
Uff ke jallaadon ki haalat bhi badi mushkil mein hai
Narm syaahi se likhe sheron ki baatein chuk gayin
Ek nayin baarood se likhi ghazal mehfil mein hai

O re Bismil kaash aate aaj tum Hindostaan
Dekhte ke mulk saara yeh tashan mein thrill mein hai
Aaj ka launda yeh kehta hum to Bismil thhak gaye
Apni aazaadi to bhaiya laundiya ke til mein hai

Aaj ke jalson mein Bismil ek goonga gaa raha
Aur behron ka wo rela naachta mehfil mein hai
Haath ki khadi banaane ka zamaana lad gaya
Aaj to chaddi bhi silti Inglison ki mill mein hai

Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamaare dil mein hai
Dekhna hai zor kitna bazu-e-kaatil mein hai
Waqt aane se bata denge tujhe ai aasmaan
Hum abhi se kya batayen kya hamare dil mein hai

Satirical version of Bismil’s song from the film Gulaal

The flame of revolution has been lit in our hearts
And we’ll see how much force our assassins can muster

When the moment comes, our voices will shake the heavens
Wait and see what beats within our hearts

Look, the hangman’s noose trembles with fear
And those who seek to hang us are themselves embattled
Gentle persuasion no longer has any place in this struggle
Our songs must now be those of revolution

O Bismil, I wish you could see what India has become
This whole country is enthralled by material gain
Today’s “revolutionary” professes to be exhausted…
…and all he craves is a woman’s smile

In today’s India, Bismil, the illiterate are singing to the masses
While the unheeding and uncaring dance to their tunes
That time of self-reliance and independent thought is gone
Today, we are at the mercy of cronyists and nepotism

But the flame of revolution has been lit in our hearts
And we will see how much force our assassins can muster
When the moment comes, our voices will shake the heavens
We will show you what beats within our hearts

Translation by Umesh Srinivasan (email)
Piyush Mishra recital of his version at Bangalore Literary Festival

One response to “We’re not scared, not cowed…

  1. Venkatesh Panduranganath

    Yes, what was thought….and what came out..

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