Recently, came by some salacious lyrics like
‘Teri raahein dekhein, mere hothon ke namak paare..namak pare’
I guess the lyricist was a miserable virgin who had never been fortuitous enough to even make out with a girl. How beautifully had Gulzaar saab once penned down even more intimate details:
‘Zubaan pe laga namak ishq ka’ (Possibly the most suggestive lyrics ever, but at no point lewd).
It is the era of potboiling lyrics, but can’t lyricists find better ways to ask for a Kiss than citing the day of the week (Fridays considered auspicious). A lyricist once imaginatively asked for a lot more…
‘Muddat ki Tamannao ka sila jazbaat ko ab mil Jaane do,
Jis tarah mili hai do ruhe, us tarah se lab mil jaane do.
Aanchal ko shane se jatak do julfo ko sine se hata du
jati hui rangeen gadiyo ko rukhne ka sabak mil jane do
In pak gunaho ki ghadiya aati hai, magar har raat ni
Is raat me sab kho jaane do, is raat me sab mil jaane do’
Fed up of the vacuous lyrics of today, I recall the era when Lyrics had an elegant touch of Urdu to it. And I revisit this with the life journey of my favourite Lyricist. I try and relate his important life events with some of the Lyrics he went on to write Later, and that is what this post is all about.
Before we start off with his journey, let me start with one of my favorite stories of him. The year was 1964 when, in the Dilip Kumar starrer classic Leader, the great Shakil Budayuni exalts Tajmahal as a monument of Love:
‘Ek shahanshaah ne banwaa ke haseen Tajmahal
saari duniyaa ko muhabbat ki nishaani di hai,
Iske saaye mein sadaa pyaar ke charche honge
khatm jo ho naa sakegi wo kahaani di hai’
But someone had a different views about the Taj, and wrote an entire song to drive home his point:
‘Ek shehanshan ne banake haseen Taj Mahal, hum gareebon ki Mohabbat ka udaya hai mazaak,
Mere mehboob kahi aur mila kar mujhe’
Beyond this banter, what exemplified his stroke of genius was that he went on to win his first Filmfare for a movie titled Tajmahal writing on something he thought of so lowly (Songs included the classic ‘Jo Vaada kia tha wo nibhaana padega’)
In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” This Genius was Sahir Ludhianvi.
Sahir had a troubled Childhood, marked by testifying in court against his own father, and then staying underground to avoid his wrath. This troubled childhood shaped his personality, and even reflected in some of his lyrics like:
Kahin Qaraar Na Ho Aur Kahin Khushi Na Mile
Hamaare Baad Kisi Ko Ye Zindagi Na Mile
Siyaah-Nasib Koi Un Se Badhake Kya Hoga
Jo Apana Ghar Bhi Jala Den To Roshani Na Mile
Yahi Suluk Hai Gar Aadami Se Duniya Ka
To Kuchh Ajab Nahin Duniya Men Aadami Na Mile
Ye Bebasi Bhi Kisi Bad-Du’a Se Kam To Nahin
Ke Khul Ke Ji Na Sake Aur Maut Bhi Na Mile
Sahir grew up in Ludhiana, and associated its name with himself forever. However, on partition he decided to move to Lahore.
‘Ro ro ke inheen raahon me, khona pada ek apne ko
Hans hans ke inhin raahon me, apnaaya thha begaane ko’
However, once in Pakistan he started writing content opposing all the brutal violence all around
‘Jung to khud hi ek masla hai,jung kya maslo ka hal degi
Khoon aur maut aaj bakshegi,bhookh aur pyaas kal degi’
For a strong advocate of secularism, a secular India was an obvious choice over Pakistan, where an arrest warrant was eventually issued against him.
‘Maalik ne harr insaan ko insaan banaaya
Hum ne use Hindu ya Musalmaan banaaya
Qudrat ne to bakshi thi humein ek hi dharti
Hum ne kahin Bharat kahin Iraan banaaya’
He finally migrated to India and landed in the city he was to captivate with his words. His debut was justly titled ‘Badal rahi hai zindagi’, and indeed the face of Hindi film Industry was about to change. However, this movie went unnoticed, and nothing significant happened for the next 2 years till he made a mark with ‘Naujawaan’ followed by the cult ‘Baazi’. However, he never lost hope and followed what he believed in:
‘Tadbeer se bigdi hui taqdeer banale, taqdeer banale
Apne pe bharosa hai toh yeh daav lagale’
Pyaasa is considered a reflection of Sahir’s early years, and this was his turning point as he rose to a superstar status. Songs like ‘Jaane wo kaise log the’, ‘Jinhe naaz hai Hind par’ and ‘Ye dunia agar mil bhi jae to kya hai’ are cult songs.
A predominantly urdu poet, Sahir never exactly wrote Lyrics, but prose. He strongly believed that Films should not be confined to just entertainment, but should be a mirror to the society, encourage some soul searching. He wrote on pertinent issues to bring them to the fore. Some examples include, these lines he said after his disillusionment with Nehru’s Socialism:
‘Rehne ko Ghar ni hai, Saara jahan humara’
Or taking up the mantle of women empowerment,
‘Mardo ne banayi jo rasmein, unko hak ka farmaan kaha
Aurat ke zinda jalne ko kurbaani aur balidaan kaha
Kismet ke badle rati di, aur usko bhi ehsaan kaha!’
A gifted writer, who would not only wrote evocative lyrics for romantic ballads, but also tragic heart-rending poems, was believed to be reflecting on his own life through his words. His prose would rarely be wrong, apart from the one time he said these:
‘Kal aur aaenge nagmon ki khilti kaliyaan chun-ne waale
Mujhse behtar kehne waale, tumse behtar sun-ne waale’
Never has a lyricist wrench my heart like he did.
About the quality of Lyrics prevailing nowadays, the lesser said the better.As I write this with his songs playing in the background, I might break to sit back and feel them. This blog was too small to cover his entire story. In my next blog I would take his story further with his most iconic songs, his expulsion from college, a failed love story and an ironically tragic ending.
To summarize the 2 important part of his own life in his words, his love life may well be delineated by:
‘Tum mujhe bhool bhi jao to ye haq hai tumko,
Meri baat aur hai maine to mohabbat ki hai’
I would write about his death in my next blog, but the world proved him right after his death by being true to some of his most popular words
‘Ye mehlon, ye taqton ye taajon ki duniya
Ye insaan ke dushman, samaajon ki duniya
Ye daulat ke bhooke rawaajon ki duniya
Ye duniya agar mil bhi jaae to kya hai!’