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Kabhi neem neem

February 21, 2017


Link to the video:

Meaning & Context:

This song is sprinkled with sweet sugar crystals of Bengali folk music. A R Rahman has composed it using the quintessential simplicity and charm of Bengali folk songs and Madhushree has sung it with all her heart.

The song is about a girl describing the nature of her lover, a man who is quite rough and fierce generally, but has an occasional sweet side to him as well. So, she says that her lover is sometimes as bitter as neem, a commonly found plant in India renowned for its bitterness, but he is also sometimes sweet like honey. He may shoot fierce looks at her sometimes, like arrows piercing through her heart, but there is love behind those sharp looks also.

She feels quite abashed about her situation and so the song says in a repeated strain – ‘Lajja se mare re ye jiya’. This is a common way of depicting the girl in folk songs as the girl in love is always seen as shy and timid. She always covers her face bashfully when her lover or husband approaches her sensually. Although, when you see the video of the song, you will find that the girl is not the typical bashful types but is more playful with her lover.

A couple of Bengali words, like ‘boiragi’ and ‘shondha’, are used to give that touch of Bengali language to the lyrics. Besides this, many expressions in the song carry the distinctive folk flavour, like ‘boiragi man tera hai saheb ji’ – your heart is boiragi or vairagi i.e. detached. ‘Saheb’ is the typical way of addressing the male lover or husband in the region. The opening and closing strain ‘hum hum huma… huma’ also adds to the folk feel of the song.

This song has been long overdue on this blog. I’m happy that its finally here!

Lyrics to the song:

Kabhi neem neem, kabhi shahad shahad
Kabhi naram naram, kabhi sakht sakht
Mora piya…. Mora piya… Mora piya ho….

Nazron ke teer me basa hai pyar
Jab bhi chala hai wo dil ke paar
Lajja se mare re ye jiya….

Boiragi man tera hai saheb ji
Mere seene mein hai kaid wo ab ji
Preet ki rakho laaj aye mere rab ji

Ruswa huyi to, duniya hase to
Lajja se marer rer ye jiya….

Shondha ki laali mukh chamkaye
Saundhi saundhi khushboo man behkaye
Zulfon ki raina phir kyun na chaaye?

Chaand sitaren dekhenge sare
Lajja se mare re ye jiya….


Line by line translation:

Sometimes bitter as neem, sometimes sweet as honey
Sometimes soft, sometimes hard
My lover… my lover… my lover oh….

Eye-shots, fierce like arrows, are but full of love
Whenever has it pierced through the heart
The heart dies of embarrassment…

Detached is your heart, my lord
In my bosom it now lies in captivity
Keep love’s dignity, oh my lord

If I be disgraced, if the world laughs
The heart will die of embarrassment…

Evening’s redness makes my face shine
Fragrant earthen scent (petrichor) arouses the heart
Then why wouldn’t the night of dark braids appear?

Moon and stars, they will all see
The heart will die of embarrassment…


From → Bangla

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