Tuesday, January 16, 2018
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Sahir Ludhianvi died young. I call him a rebel because in some of his lyrics he attacks the system: ‘Jala do ise phoonkh dalo ye duniya, mere samne se hata lo ye duniya, …’ (Pyasa). ‘Ye paap hai kya, ye punya hai kya, reeton pe dharm ki mohren hai, yug yug mein badlti rasmon ko kaise adarsh banao ge’ (Chitralekha) He passed away on October 25, 1980 and was not even 60.

His first film was ‘Doraha’. It was music director Anil Biswas who gave the first break to Sahir and the song that Talat sang in that film was simply a masterpiece. ‘Muhabat tark ki main ne gareeban si liya main ne’. But the film took a long, long time in the making. Hence his second film, ‘Baazi’ became the first film to be released. If you recall those memorable numbers of Geeta Dutt picturized on Geeta Bali, you will just wonder how Sahir could accomplish that much in his very first film. Close on the heels followed ‘Nau Jawan’ whose Lata number, ‘Thandi hawaein lehra kea yen’ has become an all-time great breezy number. Lata’s sad melody, ‘Tum na jaane kis jehan mein kho gae’(‘Sazaa) is well composed, well tuned and well sung. Sahir used to tell the producer: ‘Give me the story line. And then leave me alone. I will do the needful’. And that is precisely what he did.
I travelled down my memory lane to recall some of the ravishing songs Sahir had written. I think one of the best romantic numbers was, ‘Abhi na jao chorr k eke dil abhi bhara nahin’ (Asha and Rafi) and also a solo from this film ‘Hum Dono’, ‘Kabhi khud pe kabhi halaat pe rona aya’. The romantic duet from ‘Naya Daur’ was a thriller too: ‘Urren jab jab zulfein teri kawariton ka dil machle’ (Asha and Rafi) I also treasure the Mukesh-Asha duet from ‘Phir Subah Hogi’- ‘Phir na keeje meri gustakh nigahi ka gila, dekhiye aap ne phir pyar se dekha mujh ko’. But his leftist feelings were enshrined in the lines,’Cheeno Arab hamara, Hindostan hamara, rehne ko ghar nahin hai, sara jehan hamara’ . Then recall the film ‘Didi’. Sahir spurns his beloved by saying: ‘Zindagi sirf muhabbat nahin kuch aur bhi hai, zulf-o-rukhsaar ki jannat nahin kuch aur bhi hai, bhookh aur pyas ki maari hui is duniya mein, ishq hi ek haqeeqat nahin kuch aur bhi hai, tum agar anakh churao to ye haq hai tum ko, main ne tum se nahin sab se muhabbat ki hai’. This was in reply to the female lover’s cry: ‘Tum mujhe bhool bhi jao to yeh haq hai tum ko, meri baat aur hai mai ne to muhabbat ki hai..’ The singers were Mukesh and Sudha Mehrotra(for whom too he had reportedly developed a soft corner).
Sahir was at his best in ‘Pyasa’, especially when describing those scenes in the red light area, ‘Ye kooche ye neelam ghar dilkashi ke’ and then ‘Ye duniya agar mil bhui jae to kya hai’(both Rafi) to say nothing of Hemant’s ‘Jane vo kaise log the jin ke pyar ko pyar mila’.
A staunch supporter of our secular culture, the Bhajan he wrote for ‘Hum Dono’ is a classic: ‘Allah tero naam Ishwar tero naam’. There are many, many other beautiful songs composed by Sahir - like ‘Jayen to jaen kahan’(Taxi Driver), ‘Basti basti parbat parbat gaata jae banjara’(Railway Platform), ‘Teri duniya mein jeene se to behtar hai ke mar jaaen’ (House No 44) and the cry of a female trapped in the red light area: ‘Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko, mardon ne use bazaar diya’.
I conclude with a song which many of his critics may maliciously say was a self-introduction in ‘Kabhie Kabhie, ‘Main pal bhar ka ik shayar hoon pal bhar ki meri kahani hai’.’ But I think it would be appropriate to say for him, ‘Main har pal ka ik shayar hoon’ because he wrote for almost all moments and for all the segments of society though many say that his poetry was meant for the young college students. To this his retort was: ‘So what? –Forever will the universities and colleges function and forever will there be the young…’

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