Bollywood taught me Farsi!


Gori learns Farsi! OK, maybe that’s an overstatement.  It’s fun to exaggerate, hai na?  To wrap up my recent foray into Iranian cinema posts and to help to somehow justify all my film watching hours, days, weeks.  I have to prove I learned something, from all this entertaining time-pass right? So here goes: while watching all those Iranian films I recognized the following words I originally learned from Hindi films. I apologize for my misspellings, since I had to guess on some words:

farsicompletedarwaza (door)
hamisha (always)
kasam (promise)
salam (hello)
ishq (love)
shayad (maybe)
zindigi (life)
bachchay (children)
Khuda Hafiz (God keep you safe)
chai (tea)
garam (hot, as in as in garam chai)
diwani (crazy)
yadon (remember/memory)
dushman (enemy. Boy do I have enmity with them! I love how enmity is used in Bollywood subtitles)

I can’t be certain, but I think I also heard a possible mohhabet (love)

So in the world of languages I can see that Hindi–>Urdu–> Farsi, or maybe it’s more like Farsi–>Urdu–>Hindi. You can imagine my excitement on hearing and recognizing these words. So you see yaar, Bollywood taught me Farsi, by way of Urdu.

About these ads

44 thoughts on “Bollywood taught me Farsi!

  1. lol – We all need to learn something if we’re spending this much time watching films in other languages – na? I’ve got 6 floating around and running into eachother in my head and it’s fun! I also notice words transfering between Chinese>Korean>Japanese. Not always in order, but they all flow back and forth! Fun, fun!

  2. Yes, Hindo/ustani (or Hindi/Urdu as you say it, I actually hate the seperation of Hindi and Urdu they are both one and the same just written differently the correct term is Hindustani as I learned as a kid in school and at home, so it feels weird when people (usually of foreign descent) differentiate between them, I just guess its one of the effects of Partition or obliviousness “It is written differently so they are different languages!” Wtf? ) are very similar languages being from Half Iranian and Indian descent when learning Farsi when I was 12 was not hard at all having knowledge of Hindi/Urdu. You may not know it since you are only picking up words but the sentence structures are similar too. Both cultures are also the same as if extensions of eachother, actually almost every culture in South and West Asia (what people now commonly refer to as The Middle east) is interconnected. It’s great because wherever you go, you get a certain sense of comfort and belonging. I am learning Arabic now and knowing both of these languages are huge help! Lol, Knowning at least Farsi, Hindustani or Arabic is a good investment it opens you up to learning the others with great ease! Same with their cultures.

    Khuda Hafiz,
    (actually means “God keep you safe” ;-))

    • Sanaa-ji,
      Thanks for your comments. I amended the post changing God bless to God keep you safe for the Khuda Hafiz now too. Right about all the cultures being interrelated. I’ve identified by ear the different sentences structures too, and what especially stands out for me most is the postposition. The differing word order of English vs. let’s say Spanish or French is something my ear is used to, e.g. “the red table” vs. “the table red,” but it’s that postposition in Hindi, with the differing use of se, like Delhi se, was new to me. I need to study linguistics! I suppose this would be under the subject of branching.

      Thanks for pointing out the Hindustani language as the true term. Here’s something interesting I found regarding the Hindi vs. Urdu question:

      Hindi has a special relationship with Urdu: their grammar is virtually identical, and they have a substantial vocabulary in common. However, the two languages part company at a higher level, because Urdu draws the bulk of its vocabulary from Persian and Arabic, while Hindi draws much of its vocabulary from Sanskrit. Besides, Hindi is written in Devnagari script, while Urdu is written in a modified form of the Arabic script.
      source: (

      Also, I didn’t know that there was an actual Hindi-Urdu controversy until now.

      Thanks again for the great, enlightening comments mitr. :)

  3. Oh and good luck in your forays in Indian movies/culture, It’s fun to read your blog. I like how you discovered Iranian movies/culture through Indian movies/culture . Hope you discover more awesome things with it!

    • Sanaa-ji,
      Thanks for the well wishes and I’m glad you’re having fun reading the blog, which is why I do it, so it’s working! :) Always something new to discover. Please stop in again.

  4. It’s great fun, hai na? I love spotting words I know in the movies. In fact, I have taken it a step further and am working my way through Teach Yourself Hindi. So now I can understand whole sentences, sometimes. I think if I could read the screenplays I would be able to understand well over half of what they say. Trouble is, the actors all talk too fast for me to keep up with them. I have, however, tried chatting to online friends in Hindi. With the dictionary on my lap I am in with a chance! The best way to keep the new vocab in mind is the weekly movie though. Oh, and House Full – Learn Hindi from Bollywood Movies podcast. That’s a real fun way to learn!

    phir milenge

    • Joss-ji
      Hats off to you for taking it a step further and getting yourself Teach Yourself Hindi. I should also be so disciplined. I toy around with a site or two here and there, but should really follow your lead. It’s so good for the brain. And I LOVE Arun Krishnan’s site:
      I’ve listen to many of them and he’s hilarious. I keep meaning to get his book, The Loudest Firecracker, to read too. And speaking of book, I do keep a little notebook and add new Hindi words I learn from the movies into it as I watch. Not enought hours in the day Joss! :)

  5. Great post, Sita-ji, and it’s great that you were able to identify those words.

    It’s always interesting to see the overlaps in languages. I think I’ve mentioned this in one of our conversations, but since the Urdu language (which is very distinct from Hindi, and their works in literature are the best indicator of that; although what most movies primarily use is Hindustani) is derived primarily from Arabic, Faarsi and Hindi, there’s never a shortage of ‘correct’ words to use in Urdu, which I think is its best quality.

    So it’s very common to improvise and borrow words unconventionally, and still have it sound perfect while retaining the intended meaning. Not sure if this makes sense, but that about the language has always drawn me to it. It’s just like in Khuda Hafiz (Hafiz is Arabic/Faarsi for ‘protector’, ‘Khuda’ Faarsi for God.)

    Now…to learn Faarsi. The unanimously held view is that poetry in Faarsi is the best of the lot (and way better in Urdu, which is great too; Urdu scholars agree)…reading some translations of poems out there is enough to not dispute that. Most of the great Urdu poets and writers, even today, know Faarsi very well and use it to leverage their Urdu works. For Bollywood connections, Javed Akhtar and especially Gulzar often have references among their works too — remember Mastam Mastam? :)


    • theBollywoodFan-ji,
      Adab! Yes, I get all excited when I see the language overlaps. I remember back in high school or college learning the mysterious origins/etymology of the word orange. Here thanks to the web I found this:

      Orange (Eng.); Orange (Fr.); Naranja (Sp.); Arancia (It.)
      Interestingly, none of these terms come from the Latin word for orange, citrus aurentium; instead, they all come from the ancient Sanskrit naga ranga, which literally means “fatal indigestion for elephants.” In certain traditions the orange, not the apple, is the fruit responsible for original sin. There was an ancient Malay fable–which made its way into the Sanskrit tongue around the Seventh or Eighth Centuries B.C.–that links the orange to the sin of gluttony and has an elephant as the culprit. Apparently, one day an elephant was passing through the forest, when he found a tree unknown to him in a clearing, bowed downward by its weight of beautiful, tempting oranges; as a result, the elephant ate so many that he burst. Many years later a man stumbled upon the scene and noticed the fossilized remains of the elephant with many orange trees growing from what had been its stomach. The man then exclaimed, “Amazing! What a naga ranga (fatal indigestion for elephants)!”

      And it seems the Musulman have a lock down on the poetry. The languages must lend themselves to it. I always think when I hear a lovely poem or dialog from a film translated to English and still so lovely what it must be like in its potent original form.

      Yes, I will be in paradise, studying etymology, eating pomegranates, and see you there nawab, reading some poems, and I’ll say, “Vay! vay!”

      Hey, as far as Mastam Mastam, I can never get over that real live white cat Sallu is holding in the beginning:


      • Assuming I make it there (because I know you will), we’ll make that poetry in paradise bit happen, Sita-ji! Etymologies can be a lot of fun, thanks for sharing that bit with ‘orange’!

  6. My first experience with Persian was watching a documentary interview with a poet. I came in part way through and wondered why I could understand what seemed like 20 or 30% of what the man ewas saying even though it was no language I knew. It was only after it became clear that he was Persian that I understood.

    Interesting comments on Urdu, bollywoodfan. I get a sher by email each day, roz ek sher, and recently I had occasion to ask the person who sends it a question about sher structure involving the blending of Urdu and Hindi. Since I am teaching myself Hindi and my Dad learned Urdu at school, I was interested in his reply. See what you think

    • stuartnz-ji,

      Wonderful! Allow me please to post the full link of your dad’s great reply here:

      Well, yes, Hindi and Urdu have drifted apart after partition, but this is thanks to the artificial, intolerant and intransigent attitude of both sides. Urdu’s biggest shortcoming is that it is perceived as the language of the Muslims. Which is bloody silly! It is a language of India. Spoken in and around Delhi. That is where it grew from. You will be happy to know that the most popular Urdu writers, both in prose and poetry, are the pre-partition ones. What is really sad, is that in post partition India, very few non-Muslims read Urdu. So now, in the next 20 years or so, there will be hardly any Urdu readers left in India, who are not Muslim. So the inaccurate and politically biased accusation made against Urdu 60 years ago, will come true twenty years hence. Spoken Urdu is a different matter. I think it is impossible to separate Hindi from Urdu in its spoken form. They are one and the same. Well, Urdu poets do use Hindi-isms in their writing style. And vice versa. Ultimately, it is one culture, one race, one people. And, as far as I am concerned, one language.

      Wonderful explanation. I had never realized until reading these posts how the separation of the language was hand in hand with the partition, tearing the language along with the cultures that were one intricate fabric, hai na?. Good for you for teaching yourself Hindi yaar, one day maybe I will take a serious stab at it. Have you ever seen this amusing site:

      Maybe I can get my own copy of Snell. What sources are you using in your Hindi lessons? Thanks for your insightful comments. :)

    • StuartNZ, sorry for my late response :)

      I agree with the assessment of the language being associated with a religion, which, as you say, is a shame. The concern that in about a couple decades, most who will know how to read/write it will belong to one religion, is also very valid. Today, Urdu continues to be listed as one of India’s official languages (I think there are 16 official languages in all). And yes, it was born in India as well.

      The only thing with which I disagree…spoken Urdu and Hindi are not one and the same. Probably referring to Hindustani there, but maybe I’m getting too technical. My point is that I think they are quite similar, just not equal. I do agree that it is not possible to separate Hindi from Urdu in its spoken form. The inheritance from each of Hindi, Arabic and Faarsi is too innate.

  7. Divaneh is “crazy” in both Hindi and Farsi.
    Dust-e-man is “my friend”.
    I heard those both in Kuch Naa Kaho. There are many others in that film that I’m drawing a blank on. Good luck learning and enjoying more!

    • Mena-ji,
      Divaneh is one of the first words I learned from a movie, that and pagal. Maybe the film industry was trying to tell me something about myself? :) Thanks for you visit and comments yaar.

  8. in Turkish:in English: in Hindi:
    düşman(ş is read as sh)=enemy=dushman
    çay(ç is read as ch)=tea=chai
    …and much more….
    Lakin, fakat, ama=but
    …and much more…

    • ceka39-ji,
      Salam! Thanks! I love the language relations. I love it. I want to go to Turkey some day. I like to ask all Turkish people this: Do you know Dr. Oz? :) I’ll have to break out some Turkish that you’ve provided here for me on one of my Turkish colleagues. Again, thanks!

    • stuartnz-ji,
      Thanks for clarifying (like ghee!) :), and sorry for my mistake. Thanks for the links too. WOW! What a culture shock your dad must have gone through. Speaking of transplanted Hindustanis, by chance have you read any V.S. Naipaul? For some reason I was reminded of “A Bend in the River” with your comment on your dad, nothing like the book other than the pardesi factor. Cheers!

  9. That author’s work sounds VERY suspect. Particularly the fact that he has no background in linguistics and yet asserts that Hindustani is Dravidian not IE in origin. A simple example to show that North Indian languages are all related to each other and to other IE lanbguages is to listen to the numbers from say 1-12 in a selection of Indic languages and other IE languages, like English, Italian, etc. and then contrast that with the same numbers in Dravidian languages like Tamizh and Kannada. You can do that here

    Linguistics has become a very highly politicised science for Indian nationalists and the quality of the work resulting is VERy debatable. As in this example, the motive was not a study of the languages for their own sake, but as a means of making a political statement. So the author starts with an asserrtion that can’t be challenged, that the British used ‘divide and conquer’ tactics during The Raj, and then leaps forward driven not by sound linguistics, but by a politico-nationalist agenda. I am NOT taking sides on the rightness or wrong ness of the author’s politics, but when it comes to the academic rigour of his work, I would suggest reversing the situation. He is a medical doctor who has set himself up as a self-taught linguistics expert – how would he feel if someone with a doctorate in linguistics decided to set themselves up in a surgical practice?

    • stuartnz-ji,
      Yes the book looked interesting and I too wondered about his non-linguistic background, but then just figured he was an ambitious genius. Of course I haven’t read it.

      You make an excellent point about the intention of the book and I can believe that, as you say its motive may be off, “As in this example, the motive was not a study of the languages for their own sake, but as a means of making a political statement.”

      Another great point you make here, LOL:
      He is a medical doctor who has set himself up as a self-taught linguistics expert – how would he feel if someone with a doctorate in linguistics decided to set themselves up in a surgical practice?”

      Again, I just figured him for a genius, with a double sized brain, able to research and publish in multiple fields. Normally I only link up books I’ve actually read, so I should be more careful and perhaps will amend the post once again. It’s definitely a politically charged subject, which I think I knew in the back of my mind on a mini level, but now I’m more aware. It makes sense though that it is such a hot subject in light of the history of the area. I don’t like politico-nationalist agendas, so I better either amend the post as I said or at least add a different book, or alternative text. If there were more hours in the day, it would be interesting to read if he is able in anyway to back up his assertions. Thanks for all these great comments stuartnz!

      • p.s. stuartnz-ji,
        I was able to do some cyber sleuthing on incoming referrers and found the thread to a more reputable book on the subject that was linked to one of your other comments made elsewhere. You comment whore! ;) I will fix the post later in the name of solid academic research to include this one instead:

        A House Divided: The Origin and Development of Hindi/Hindavi

        by Amrit Rai

        Hai na? :)

        Thanks again bhai.

    • stuartnz-ji!
      Bhaisaab! We were both posting the same thing at once on Amrit Rai, see my comment above. LOL. Great minds think alike. :) Too funny, across the world, posting about same book/same time. Pagal! Deewaanneeee! You know it is probably my Hindustani cellular genetic memory from previous incarnations and my current partially Irish blood and USA-ness that is so easily taken in by such descriptions in Abdul Jamil Khan’s book, “Divide and rule” — the British were experts;…” I get all Lagaan and have enmity in my dil for those Brits and added that book, having not read it. I’ll simmer down now. God save the Queen. :)

  10. my Hindustani cellular genetic memory

    As the son of an Anglo-Indian (in the mestizo sense) I can claim that, too, along with qualifying for OCI. As I said ““Divide and rule” — the British were experts” is an absolutely irrefutable statement of fact. Nothing remotely controversial there. It’s where he goes FROM there that is the problem. I really am looking forward to getting hold of Rai’s book. On a not unrelated note, did you know that Kipling’s first language until he was 5 was Urdu?

    • stuartnz-ji,
      Right, the divide and rule is true, I just get so fired up, I may not closely read beyond such a statement. I am easily incited like a tourch bearing crown in a Bollywood film. :) I understood the controvetrsial issue from the possible incorrect intentions of his work. I’m keeping the link, but taking the amended part out of the actual post. When you get a hold of Rai’s book I’ll love to hear your thoughts on it. Thanks for reminding me about Kipling. There’s a little profile I read about him here and I loved the part about his ayah.

      • Thanks for reminding me about Kipling. There’s a little profile I read about him here and I loved the part about his ayah.

        When I read Kim for the first time I fell in love straight away. Kipling’s India was my Dad’s India, and Kim was like the stories my Dad told of his own childhood put on paper. Like Kipling, My Dad’s “real” parents were the staff, he spent all his time at home (2 wks a year, home from boarding school) with the kitchen hands. It shows in his curries, described by Indian friends of mine as “typical Pakistani peasant cooking”. Kipling may have been an imperialist, but he was a product of his time, and he absolutely LOVED India – it shines through in all his works.

  11. everybody namaste,
    2day I found this page by chance … mein ek Irani ladki hoon or Hindostani tehzeeb or sagafat mujhe bohot pasand hei or mujhe hindi log bohot achcha lagta hei. mere khayal mein Hindi – Urdu or Farsi ke dar myan ek mazbut rishta hei jo dunia ki kisi dusri zobanon ke dar mian nehin.
    mein har roz apni hindi zoban ko kitaabein padne or film dekhne se mazboot karti rehti hoon badi dil lagi se (agar meri beton mein koei ghalti hei mujhe moaaf kardein).
    “agar kisi chiz ko sachche dil se chaaho to saari kaaenaat tumhein use milaane ki koshesh mein rah jaegi”. (ye mera piara phrase hei … Om shanti Om se)
    khush rahne.

    • simin-ji,
      Thanks so much for your visit yaar! Glad your web time pass brought you here. I wish I fully understood what you’re writing here, but I can only get a partial understanding. Maybe someone can put it all in English. All the best! And as always,
      khudahafiz :)

  12. stuartnz-ji,
    Thanks for letting me know about Kim. I’m adding that to my to read list. Did your dad ever read the book too? I bet that “typical Pakistani peasant cooking” is delicious. I find it ironic that some of the elitist, impirialist manners of the Brits rubbed off on some of India’s uppercrust. I have a theory that the tight slaps to the face and the Johnnie Walker whiskey (not the actor) that I track in the films is a fall out of the imperialists. And back to “typical Pakistani peasant cooking” comment, it reminds me of another work by Ruby Payne regarding poverty in America. She does a lot of work on the culture of poverty and how to use that information for better education of the underclass. She pointed out the different relations between food and class, roughly being poverty culture = a parent may ask, Have you had enought food? ; Middle class = How was your food? ; Upper class = it’s really more about presentation of food, how it looks,and smaller, prettier portions. This of course reminds me of all the restaurant reviewers and foodies and food snobery as sometimes just a veil covering social climbing. Bring on the peasant cooking fo me yaar. Interesting, hai na? Thanks for the comments bhai.

  13. “I bet that “typical Pakistani peasant cooking” is delicious.” Trust me – it ain’t. Hotter than the fires of hell and nastily bitter. Punjabi “peasant” food otoh, I can’t get enough of. :)

  14. Dear All.
    Enjoyed your comments re my book; my book really exposes the Biblical creationism of semitic and aryan-indo-euro races/linguistic as “pure myth/fiction” ,a priestly
    strategy in colonial india;As a student of science and also of linguistics i believe humans/languages originated in Africa
    and got dispersed some 100000 years ago; this is now the state of art in language history;Thus the myth of sanskrit,
    or hebrew as the oldest is a priestly model; Languages are
    just another utility for communication and had NO DIVINE
    birth and have no religion of their own; Thus as mentioned in my book and also the current belief there is nothing like
    SEMITIC/ARYAN lingistitic races except via religious faith of many;Dont belief that urdu is muslim and hindi is hindu because of scripts; One should know that all the 3 scripts
    Devnagri/ greeko-roman-english/arabic-urdu were evolved
    in mesopotamia and were bidirectional and have common root; There is lot of stuff in the book and fully referenced. All is
    based on scientific evidence; A chapter on how urdu/hindi
    initiated the bollywood bussiness in 19th cent is also unique. I will be happy to respond to any question.

  15. Wow – I am disappointed that I only know how to say “bakvaas” in about 3 or 4 languages – 30 or 40 would not be enough to describe my reaction to that pile of bilge.

  16. Dear Mr stuart,
    Your reaction is typical of those who link linguistic origin
    to Noah,s sons; Shem with semitic,Japhet with aryan indo- european and ham with black people’s language,african etc; It is aparent that british had put hindus/europeans into japhetic/aryan brother ‘s family; Now Leading historians including
    Romilla thaper believe( include me-a non linguist-non historian) that this “aryan brother hood”was a weapon to plunder/divide India. Language creation, according to bible
    is 6000 years old; As the mesopotamian archealogy(after
    1870s) exoposed the biblical fictions, Mr Max muller and others ,had disowned the biblical linguistic racism;Now further work in USA/UK documents africa as the source
    of human/linguitics.The book even reveals the origin of
    sanskrit/greek/arabic from mesopotamia including the scripts; hope you will not accept my BUKVAS with out scaning the book, which is really intented for mature/ educated/enlightened people and not hindu/muslim/judeo-christian fundamentalists.Secular/earthy origin of languages
    including urdu/hindi is the current state of linguistic science.

  17. I have said nothing about my views on linguistics. I am not gonig to debate this, because it would be a discourtesy to the gracious hostess. I certainly do NOT believe that the languages we have today come from “Noah’s sons”, and have an amateur’s passion for learning more about the origin and devlopment of languages. To say more would be pointless. Assalumu Alaikum, noho ora mai.

  18. Dear Stuart,
    Great iinfo about kipling-thanks. your issue re indo-euro
    #s 1-12, is updated; They orignated in mesopotamia and they had no race, similar to scripts.
    In context with bollywood,book provides its history from
    19th cent in ch 14th ” urdu/hindi in show bussiness”;In fact
    bolly wood has bonded south asia via urdu/hindi.British
    though created Muslim’s urdu and hindu’s hindi in 1800 , they are creadited in making URDU the official language of
    India in 1835.They are designated “GOD FATHER”of urdu.
    I understand you dont believe in Noah’s son etc but language classifiaction as it exists now is based on it; There is anew clssification in the book.

  19. Dear SITAJI,
    Some have doubts re by intention; this is clarified in the book; Remember ” linguistic science” is pretty soft and was very easy to learn.Any body can learn it.
    My intention was to expose the “race creationism ” theory based on Biblical myth of just 6000 yrs; this being the foundation of semetic,indo-euro/aryan races fathered by ” NOAH’S” 3 children,. Since these myths are the foundation
    of Judeo-christian religion but as an for a student of science/medicine
    i have never believed in it. African evolution of man/languages is now state of art in the west; Old classification though is defended by the faithfulls/chruch;understandably so. My book creates a new indian language family as an evolution from oldest two,Austric-munda and dravidian and not Sanskrit, which it self had borrowed a lot from the oldest two;This is very well known by the way since 1930s. My book is being viewed as a peace mission to bind all in the south asia as INDIAN neither hindu nor muslim; For many readers book is a vital step in the right direction.

  20. I am persian and I love Bollywood in the first place because I can hear too many persian words through songs,phrases and expressions in movies. I think Hindi is the closest language to my mother tongue farsi,that s why I enjoy listening to hindi songs…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s