‘Pinjare Waali Muniya’ – A Semiotic Analysis



Pinjare Wali Muniya’ – A Semiotic Analysis


Copyright 2017 Ankur Kapoor

Published by Ankur Kapoor at Shakespir




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Table of Contents






Pinjare Waali Muniya’ – A Semiotic Analysis

YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7m8hDAYFkE


Penned by the legendary lyricist Shailendra and sung in the golden voice of Manna Dey, the song ‘PinjareWaaliMuniya’, in the Maithili dialect, is a thoroughly enjoyable and catchy folk song to sway to. But as with any folk song, the most obvious next mission that pops up in one’s head is to ascertain the meaning of the song.This song was featured in the movie ‘TeesriKasam’ (1966) and though many critics have loved the way the song captures the essence of the village gawaiyya in UP/Bihar, there are really no accounts/ writings that clearly explain the true meaning of the song(Atul, 2008); apart from literal translations of the lyrics (Gopal, 2009)– which make for a disjointed and incoherent storyline for the song. So here’s delving deeper into the delicate semiotics of the lyrics of this song trying to unearth a satisfactory meaning to this folk tune.


The song revolves around a muniya (the mainaa bird). However, it becomes clear through the lyrics of the song, that the muniya is indeed a signifier for something else. This becomes evident in the ensuing stanzas where the muniyais said to fly to shops (sweets, clothes and paan) and rob them of their ‘ras’ (juice)- metonymically signifying the essence of these locations. Clearly the muniya performing such actions does not depict any syntagmatic relation. The Sassurean semiotic interpretation which I therefore wish to explore is that of the muniya being a signifier for a young beautiful damsel (the signified). The denotation of ‘pinjarewali’ (encaged) muniya can also be interpreted to signify that this is an adolescent virgin girl, her virginity being signified through the cage that is yet to be opened. At this point, it also becomes interesting to note that in India, young girls are often referred to as ‘Munni’. This may also allow us to view the muniya as an iconic sign with an onomatopoeic reference to the word ‘munni’.


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‘Pinjare Waali Muniya’ – A Semiotic Analysis

'Pinjare waali Muniya' (The bird in the cage) is a well-known Indian folk song that is sung in its Hindi heartland with much fervor to date. The song has been adapted many a time into multiple versions over the years - a testament to how it has managed to capture imaginations for a long time. This essay provides a detailed semiotic analysis of the song, why it doesn't literally mean anything, and therefore what could the song possibly be signifying in terms of semiotics. Using Peircean, Barthesian and Sassurean theories, the essay tries to explain the reasons as to why a simple melody has remained with the masses and with poets, lyricists and musicians alike, transcending generations, social and cultural changes.

  • ISBN: 9781370203741
  • Author: Ankur Kapoor
  • Published: 2017-05-13 17:50:09
  • Words: 1433
‘Pinjare Waali Muniya’ – A Semiotic Analysis ‘Pinjare Waali Muniya’ – A Semiotic Analysis