Learn Urdu from Hindi Film Songs

I need a break from work, so let me do something light for a bit.  Even though I should really be working on my Akaash Vani review for tomorrow, but that is definitely not light.

Usually I do the easy useful words in these posts (“choli” or “ek do teen” or whatever).  But today I am feeling poetic, so I want to do the really beautiful words that you will probably never use in real life.  The Urdu words that get thrown into Hindi when it has to be really lovely sounding.

“Shayarana”, a beautiful Urdu word that means “feeling poetic” or “a thing that feels like a poem”.  And which is the title of two of my favorite songs.  The word itself feels like a poem, just flowing off the tongue.  And is a lovely way to describe falling in love.  Check out the female version

And the male:

“Masha Allah”, a lovely phrase.  It means literally “God has willed it” or “God has created it”.  It’s used more like “Look at what God has created!” or “God protect what You have made because it is so wonderful”.  If you experience something beautiful, you say it as a gesture of appreciation for what God has given, and in order to protect this thing from the evil eye that is surely jealous of its beauty.

I hate Saawariya as a whole, but I really love this one song, and Ranbir and Sonam embody the “Masha Allah” idea perfectly.

“Mushkil” is a lovely word that is very fun to say.  And means “difficult(y)” or “problem”.  And this is a lovely song using it from a very scary strange movie that feels totally different from this song.

“Badi Mushkil” from Anjaam

“Khoobsurat” is one of the most common Urdu words you will hear in Indian films, it feels so lush in your mouth, you know it is more “beautiful” than just “pretty”, you know?

This is not one of the more famous “Khoobsurat” songs, but I like it.

I know I’ve already done this word, but maybe not specified it was an Urdu word.  Although you could probably guess that by now, since I defined the Urdu words as the beautiful ones.  “Zindagi”, meaning life/living.  Or the short form “Zinda”.  Such an enthusiastic strong word, like you are leaping into life in full.

Here is a song I don’t think I’ve used before to explain the shortened version, “Zinda” from Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.

One of the most common Urdu words you will hear in use, everywhere from films to Indian restaurants, “Shukriya”.  Means “thank you”, but sounds so much more elegant than “thank you”.  

“Junoon”, means madness, a divine crazed happy sort of madness.  It’s a word that slides slides off the tongue and kind of makes you breathless and happy just to say it.  And my favorite song version is from New York, a movie I don’t really want to watch but which has some lovely songs.

A twofer! “Khayalon” is to think, or thoughts.  And “Malika” is “Owner” or “Landlord”.  So this is about the owner of his thoughts.  And somehow the flow of the syllables creates a very dreamlike flavor.  You wouldn’t think all those “k”s would do that, but they do.


And to end, of course, “Alvida”.  A lovely Urdu word for good-bye, which is almost always miss-pronounced.  It’s not “Alv-ida”, it’s “Al-vida”.  Which you can hear perfectly in this song from D-Day.


15 thoughts on “Learn Urdu from Hindi Film Songs

  1. Wonderful choice of topic. I love beautiful sounding urdu words that are so common place in Hindi movies and even the language. Lovely explanations too. Though zinda means alive / living while zindagi means life.
    My favorite bit is how words like Ishq, mohabbat, ibadat, junoon are all used to describe love but they all are not the same kind of love. Passion, madness & intensity varies with each word.


    • Urdu is such a wonderful language for embedding the meaning in the way the word feels when you say it. Ishq, Junoon, Mohabbat, they all feel different on the tongue, and that helps you understand the slightly different shadings of their meanings.

      On Thu, Dec 13, 2018 at 2:52 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



    • So glad you liked it! I love the Urdu words because they pop up in the strangest places. Whenever I watch an Iranian film, I am surprised by how many words are shared with Indian film, and the path is through Urdu.

      On Thu, Dec 13, 2018 at 10:24 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  2. Oh my God, that song from D-Day! Which I watched thinking it would be a fun caper film and I practically need therapy afterwards! I’m still on the fence about Shruti, but this is a very affecting scene.


  3. Okay, so Khwab and Khayal are different. Khwab is desire and Khayal is thoughts. Malika means mistress, female form of the world Maalik meaning master or owner. So “Mere Khayalon ki Malika” is something like “The one who owns my thoughts”


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