An intensely political song from 1971

Language: Hindi Movie: Mere Apne (My Own) Song: Haal Chaal Theek Tak Hai (I am doing well<ironic>) Lyrics: Gulzar

This song epitomizes the 70’s in India, with references to war, struggle of the working man vs the corruption ridden establishment and presages the tumultuous events that follow through the rest of the decade. They include the Indo Pak war of 1971, the birth of the Naxalite movement and culminating in the declaration of a state of emergency in 1975.

The song is full of irony, sarcasm and really fun as well. Hindi, the language of the song, is a very sophisticated,nuanced language with several layers of meaning in every phrase. It is challenging to translate, hence I have not given a literal translation here but attempted to give you the meaning of the lyrics in context. Amazing lyrics by Gulzar to capture the ethos of a generation in one song!

The next few paragraphs will review the lyrics and their meaning. Dive in..

The scene is set with five working class guys playing catch(notice the puppet which plays a part later in the song).

Haal Chaal Theek Thak hai, sab kuch theek thak hai. BA kiya hai, MA kiya, lagtha hai woh bhi wein kiya. We are doing well, everything is ok(irony), Ive done my bachelors and I’ve done my masters, whatever we’ve done is worthless Daam nahin varna yahaan, aap ki dua se sab theek thak hai. There is no value for any of it[playing on the merchant selling with no prices], except for that everything is great.

Abo Hawa desh ki bahouth saaf hai, kayda hai kanoon hai insaaf hai (the “atmosphere” of the country is clean, there is law, order and justice(watch the puppet picking the pocket, representing the graft by agents controlled by politicians, also watch the graffiti reference to the Indo-Pak war of 1971 ). Allah miyan jaane koi jiye ya mare,aadmi ko khoon woon sab maaf hai. God alone knows who lives, who dies, even murders are forgiven (in this “clean” land). Watch the law just shoving the average guy to the floor.

Aur kya kahun, choti moti chori, rishwath khori, dethi hai apna guzara yahaan. Aapki dua se baakhi theek thak hai. What else should I say, petty crime and bribery gives us our daily bread. Thanks to you, everything else is great!.

Cue Vinod Khanna(bollywood heart throb)riding in on his bicycle, and one of the guys playing an astrologer….

Bazaaron ke bhav mere tau se bade, makaanon pe pagdi waale sasur khade. Prices in the market are bigger than my uncle(sky high), father in law(i.e landlords) are bossing over the tenants. Buddi bhook marthi nahin zinda hai abhi, koi in buzurghon se kaise lade. Hunger doesnt die, its still alive, how do we fight these old folks(the older political/landowner class)

Aur kya kahoon, roz koi meeting, roz koi bhashan. What else can I say, meetings and speeches every single day. Bhashan pe nahin hai ration yahaan. Aapki dua se baakhi theek thak hai. There is no rationing of politicians speeches(contrast with the food rationing in place at that time). Except for that Everything else is great!

Gol mol roti ka pahiya chala, peeche peeche chaandi ka rupaiya chala. Round fat wheel of bread rolled off followed by a silver rupee(signifying the cost of food for the average person)

Roti ko bechari ko cheel le gayi, chaandi leke muh kala kaua chala. The hawk stole the bread and the crow was left with the silver rupee. The hawk represents the predator that steals food from the masses while the crow represents the “smart set” that steal their money.

Aur kya kahoon, maut ka tamasha chala hai betahasha, jeene ki fursath nahin hai yahaan. Aapki dua se baakhi theek thak hai. What else can I say, the drama of death, keeps happening endlessly, there is no time to actually live here. Except for that everything else is great!

Song ends with the group rolling through the streets, singing the chorus, with one final dig at the rich (the VW bug, where one of the guys pretend kicks it on the way out)

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