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For the love of words

Dil gira kahin par dafatan…”, wrote the inimitable Prasoon Joshi in Delhi-6. ‘Dafatan’ in Urdu means ‘suddenly’. How do we know? Bollymeaning.com, a handy website provides English translations of Bollywood songs. Neatly organised and regularly updated with new releases, the website is a treasure trove of information.

Bollymeaning began in July 2010. Its founder, Harshit Gupta, who works with TCS Bangalore, says, “I am a Hindi medium student, and studied Urdu till class five. Also, my father’s friends are poets, so I’ve grown up among poems. I have always tried to understand their meaning.” The website began after readers of Harshit’s blog on music reviews, started asking him for the song meanings.


Harshit Gupta started Bollymeaning.com to understand the meaning of lyrics in songs 

So what does he think of the current state of lyrics? “It’s both good and bad. You have the likes of Amitabh Bhattacharya and Irshad Kamil who write excellent songs. And then there are the crass numbers. But that’s okay. I can’t ask people not to listen to Yo Yo Honey Singh, for example. It’s their choice.” Even then, he draws a line. Harshit didn’t translate Aa Re Pritam Pyaare and Dum Maaro Dum, because, he says, they were too explicit.

Apart from the Indian sub-continent, Bollymeaning gets requests from Uzbekistan, France, Trinidad and Tobago, and “some countries I didn’t even know existed”. “These people then translate the songs into their own languages,” explains Harshit.

The website also has a growing list of Urdu words and their meanings. It changed life for Varun Grover, the lyricist of Gangs of Wasseypur, and the recently released Prague. “From Bollymeaning, I got to know that ‘Shava’, which for me was always a filler word in Yashraj songs, is Persian for ‘to become’. But, I hope they expand the dictionary. It’s too small now,” says Grover.

Raazgi Haidri, a radio professional, says, “I listen to songs every day. But you can only enjoy the song completely when you know what it means, which the site tells me.”

With more than a million page views a month, Bollymeaning is immensely popular. So has he ever tried his hand at lyrics? “No, I just write poems in my diary. I don’t have the motivation to come to Mumbai to struggle for a break. I am happy doing this and also because my wife keeps pushing me to do this,” Harshit smiles. ¬†

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