Help me, smart readers!

This thing called “collyrium” pops up in subtitles all the time. According to all the dictionaries I have looked through, it means eye salve or eye medication. Is that what it means in Hindi film subtitles too? Because that makes no sense here:

Although Shammi could be using it to mean salve or medication here:

Does anybody know what the word collyrium is actually meant to convey?

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24 Comments to “Help me, smart readers!”

  1. I am guessing its the “kaajal”? Just a guess though…

  2. Collyrium is also a name given to a dark eye shadow or kohl in some Eastern countries.


  3. Sy beat me to it…Collyrium is kohl.

  4. I agree with Kashmira and Sy. All I can think of in both cases is ‘kaajal’ or ‘surma’, in which case, kohl would be appropriate, if not exact.

    In the case of the first picture, used solely to allude to an enhancement to aesthetic appeal (and perceptions thereof). In the case of the second, perhaps it’s also used also to imply a stained character (just a thought)?

    Wonder how it was translated in Bunty Aur Babli (2005) and that infamous song ‘Kajra Re’.

  5. Thank you, smart readers :-) It makes sense, I guess, although it never would occur to me to equate eye makeup with eye medication! Is kohl/kajal supposed to have healing properties?

  6. One widely held understanding (in South Asia and among its people, at least, not certain of elsewhere) is that it helps ward off the curse of the evil eye (you might have heard of the term ‘buri nazar’). So in that context, I guess we could say it has healing properties, most effective when used as preventive medicine, LOL.


  7. May be if you point to YouTube of Hindi lyrics, you can get better answer, or confirm this one.

  8. Was the Shammi one from the Ujala song Jhoomta mausam mast maheena? The subtitle looks like a translation of Aankh mein kaajal moonh pe pasina (Kohl in the eyes, perspiration on her face) and the first one – is it Kajra behkega, gajra mehkega from Bindiya chamkegi song? If yes, then collyrium is referring to kohl in the eyes. Apart from warding the evil eye, its also supposed to impart coolness to the eye (as opposed to “heat” which is bad for the body) and good for eye health in general – never mind that Carbon particles in the home-made kohl can actually damage the eye!

  9. The second one is from “jhoomta mausam mast mahina”? aankh mein kaajal mooh pe paseena yallah yallah dil le gayi.. ;)

    Yup, it’s the kaajal – black eyeliner thing women wear.

  10. It works as a medication for it reduces redness in the eyes, also removes minor irritations, etc. But I am not sure which part of it is supposed to do that. I know they have camphor in there and waxy base. I will have to look up the ingredients of the desi kaajal.

  11. And I just realized that a whole lot has beaten me to this. :)

  12. That does not stop me from appreciating your input, Kanan.

    And bollyviewer, you are bilkul correct on both counts! Wah!

  13. Kajal used to be dunk into infants’ eyes as being good for them. And a big kajal spot on the cheek, or behind the ear to keep the evil eye away. Actually, ‘nazar’ is not just evil eye, but even an eye which may look on you with too much love and therefore invite bad luck.

    Hence, the deep connection between kajal, nazar, eyes, and love in general. Subject of much poetic output.


  14. Not relating to this post—- …… but, I read your review on the movie “Namak Haram”, and wish that you see and comment on the movie “Shikhar” starring Ajay Devgun and Shahid Kapoor. While “NH” reflected on the social/economic structure of 70s, this movie is a marvellous reflection on today’s social and economic structure, our responsibilities towards the society etc. Essentially a story of two very successful and ambitious people BUT the difference lies on their definition of success which is very different from each other’s viewpoint… you will really ENJOY the plot as well as the presentation of “SHIKHAR”…

  15. Banno: MUCH poetic output! :-) And there is nothing cuter than a little Indian baby with kajal rimming his/her eyes.

    GJain: I will check it out. I’m a big fan of Ajay anyway!

  16. Yup, kohl it is.
    Personally I get creeped out by babies with heavily made up eyes. My aunt used to draw gigantic eyebrows as well for her (unsatisfactory, she said) granddaughter who in addition to being a dark and angry looking baby, was also born without eyebrows. If you ever saw that poor kid scowling at you with her Amrish Puri from The Temple of Doom eye make up, you’d think better of the whole baby make up thing too.

  17. Amrita, I SO want to meet your mom and aunts and various other female relatives…do you have pictures of said granddaughter that you could share? :D *falls off chair laughing*

  18. Everyone’s given you the answer already, but just wanted to mention, kohl is also supposed to help with the growth of eyelashes – very desirable for girls! And I was one of those heavily kohled babies! My mother wanted to be fashionable about it though, so fashioned the kohl into “sparrow-tail” (the style Kalpana wears in the screencap you posted from Professor) everytime – I have pics of myself at about 3 weeks, with eyes that look bigger than my face!


  19. M, Oh, I want to see!!!! I bet you looked so cute! Did she leave your eyebrows alone, though? :D

  20. Memsaab,

    sorry, no scans of those pics, which are still in my parents’ house in India! Maybe next year, I’ll bring them back with me. There is an even better specimen, if I remember – of me at 3, wearing a purple-with-gold-dots sharara, and kohl like this, for a wedding…imagine cranky, hot, 3 year old in this outfit (the sharara was *very* prickly,a nd it was summer in S.India!!)

    Eyebrows – yeah, thankfully I have decent eyeborws which didn’t need any enhancement! Mom did try this on my son when he was a baby! Thankfully gave up after one attempt, since home-made kohl was no longer available, and she was worried that store-bought kohl may not be good for babies!


  21. My childhood in the wilds of Africa was so dull compared to this. Sigh.

  22. hee hee, I bet my cousin has the pics somewhere. We’d all stand around the bed and laugh at the poor child who looked angrier and angrier each time we saw her. She’s grown up into a proper little sociopath now and I know who’s to blame!

  23. Poor thing :-D I hope at least she’s a sociopath with lovely eye makeup and perfect eyebrows!

  24. Is it kajal?

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