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12 March 2012

The Masters: Sahir Ludhianvi

The 91st birth anniversary of Sahir Ludhianvi, wordsmith non-pareil, was on the 8th of this month. I had always intended to start off this series (The Masters) with a post on this prolific poet. 
08.03.1921 - 25.1.1980
My instinctive reaction to a song is not to its music, though that matters a lot, but to its lyrics. It is the sentiments that the words express that call to me. More often than not, however, a song is known because of the singer; not the composer or the lyricist. In fact, it was Sahir who fought with All India Radio for the right of lyricists to be credited for a song, along with the singers and composers.

Born Abdul Hayee in Ludhiana in 1921, Sahir Ludhianvi once mentioned how his takhallus or nom-de-plume came about in a radio programme. He had read poet Allama Iqbal's couplet: 
Is chaman mein honge paida bulbul-e-shiraaz bhi,
Sainkdon saahir bhi honge saahib-e-eijaaz bhi
- and picked 'Saahir' (magician) as his pseudonym. An apt name, considering the magic he was to weave with his pen.

Born to a feudal family, Sahir's childhood was nevertheless clouded by fear and penury. His father re-married, several times, and his mother finally took the bold step of leaving her husband and foregoing all financial assistance to raise his only son. Her husband sued for custody of his only son, lost, and threatened to kill his ex-wife and child, if only to ensure that the boy did not live with his mother. This fear and sense of loss was to stay with him right through his life; his failed romances with first a classmate, and then with poet Amrita Pritam and singer Sudha Malhotra would only exacerbate his loneliness. But this sorrow was to also influence his poetry. 

His romance with Amrita Pritam was possibly the most intense, the flame burning brightly at both ends. In her autobiography (Raseedi Ticket), Amrita was to write:
Aur mujhe lagta hai
ki shamshan ki aag, aag ka apmaan hai
Kisi Sohni, Sassi ya Heer mein
Jo aag jalti thi
Mujhe us aag ki pehchaan hai 
(I think the fires that light the cremation grounds are an insult to the flame; I only recognise the fires that burnt in Sohni, Sassi or Heer.)

Sahir never moved far from his preoccupation with romanticism. In his own words:
Mere sarkash taraane sun ke duniyaa ye samajhti hai
ke shaayad mere dil ko ishq ke naghmon se nafrat hai
(Hearing my revolutionary songs, the world assumes
that perhaps my heart hates the melody of love)

Magar ae kaash dekhein vo meri pursoz raaton ko
Main jab taaron pe nazren gaadkar aansu bahaata hoon
(If only they would glimpse my tear-filled nights
when I fix my gaze on the stars and weep)

Amrita and he met and spent hours together without talking; when Sahir left, she would hurriedly smoke the cigarette butts he left behind, hoping the smoke would mingle with the air and meet up with him in the heavens. Sahir once invited her and her much younger partner Imroz to meet him in a hotel room. They ordered whiskey, sat and talked for a long time. At midnight, Amrita received a call from Sahir. "There are still three glasses lying on the table, and by turn I am sipping from each of them, and writing Mere Saathi Khaali Jaam."

However, his relationship with her was never destined to be. Neither was his relationship with Sudha Malhotra, whose father objected on account that Sahir was Muslim. Perhaps it was his failed romances that lined his poetry with disillusionment as he wrote: 
Bichchad gaya har saathi de kar, pal do pal ka saath
Kisko fursat hai jo thaame deewanon ka haath
Humko apna saaya tak, aksar bezaar mila
Humne to jab kaliyan maangi, kaaton ka haar mila

The joy of romance and the bitterness of its aftermath, the cynicism and the socialist fervour, the voice of revolt, and his empathy with the common man's struggles were voices from his own personal experiences. As he wrote in Talkhiyaan (Bitterness / Bitter Words):
Duniya ne tajrubaat o hawaadis ki shakl mein
Jo kuch mujhe diya hai, wo lauta raha hoon main

Sahir Ludhianvi made his debut as a lyricist with Badal rahi hai zindagi (and three others) from Azaadi ke Raah Par (1949). Both the film and the songs went unnoticed. It would be 1951 before he would taste success. He had been signed for Navketan's second film - Baazi. It was a make-or-break venture for several people. The fledgling Navketan banner's debut offering Afsar (1950) had flopped badly. They needed a hit if the production house was to stay afloat. It was Guru Dutt's first venture as a director. However, before Baazi was completed, Naujawan, another SD Burman - Sahir Ludhianvi collaboration released, bringing Sahir into the limelight with Thandi hawaayein lehraake aaye becoming very popular. Baazi cemented that success. 

As happened before with Salil Choudhary, I will confess that to choose just a handful of songs from this inimitable poet's repertoire is a humbling task. So, as always, this is a very subjective list; while my favourite songs can, and do, change with my mood, the following songs (in no particular order) will always remain perennial favourites.

1. Chaand madham hai aasman chhup hain (Railway Platform 1955) Lata Mangeshkar MD: Madan Mohan
This film saw the debut of a young man named Balraj Dutt, more popularly known by his screen name, Sunil Dutt opposite Nalni Jaywant and Sheila Ramani. Chand madham hai was originally a nazm titled Intezaar (waiting). Sahir used it in the film where the heroine's  anguish was brought to life beautifully by Madan Mohan's melody and Lata's voice. 
In bahaaron ke saaye mein aa jaa
Phir muhabbat jawaan rahe na rahe
Zindagi tere naamuraadon par
Kal talak meharbaan rahe na rahe
Her plaint is piteous indeed as she waits, and waits...

2. Yeh raat yeh chaandni phir kahan (Jaal 1952) Hemant Kumar MD: SD Burman
This song has been a favourite for many, many years, for many reasons. That is why it made its appearance in a couple of other lists. It  still gives me the  goosebumps whenever I hear it. It is also interesting that while the song is a male solo, the camera rests lovingly on the heroine’s face, chronicling the tumult within her breast as she struggles with her love for a man she knows is not right for her. 
yeh raat yeh chaandni3
yeh raat yeh chaandni4
As he sings 
Is haseen aag mein tu bhi jal ke dekh le,
Zindagi ki betukhi tu badalke dekh le,
Sun le ab dil ki dhadkano ki zubaan,
Sun jaa dil ki dastaan...
...the storm outside is nothing compared to her inner turmoil. The lyrics were sensuous without being vulgar. 

3. Sansar se bhage phirte ho (Chitralekha) Lata Mangeshkar MD: Roshan
When Aryagupt Samant Bijgupt, besotted by the court danseuse Chitralekha, refuses to marry Princess Yashodhara, her father sends Rajguru Kumargiri to convince Chitralekha to give him up. When he commands her to give up her 'sinful' lifestyle so she can attain nirvana, she hears his sermon, and mocks him. 
Sansar se bhaage phirte ho
Bhagwan ko tum kya paaoge 
Is lok ko bhi apna na sake
Us lok mein bhi pachtaaoge
As Kumargiri leaves, disgusted with her hedonistic lifestyle, and annoyed at what he considers her temerity at questioning him, she, made cynical by the ways of the world, berates its hypocrisy:
Yeh paap hai kya yeh puny hai kya
Reeton par dharm ke mohre hain
Har yug mein badalte dharmon ko
Kaise aadarsh banaaoge?

Sahir, who hitherto had been known as an Urdu poet, gave lyrics in Hindi for this film, proving that he was as proficient in either language. 

4. Tum apna ranjh-o-gham (Shagoon 1964) Jagjit Kaur MD: Khayyam
From cynicism to pure romance. I have lost sight of the films that I have seen because I fell in love with the songs, and was left to rue the fact that the movies should never have been made! This Waheeda Rehman-Kamaljeet vehicle was one such. However, I love this song! If there ever was a song that expressed such unconditional love, such empathy for a loved one, it has to be this - to ask to share his sorrows, to plead with him to give them to her...
Tum apna ranjh-o-gham apni pareshaani mujhe de do...
...even when the man you love, is in love with someone else. 
Vo dil jo maine maanga tha magar gairon ne paaya hai
Is dil ki pashemani mujhe de do

5. Jinhe naaz hai hind par woh kahaan hai (Pyaasa 1957) Mohammed Rafi MD: SD Burman
The songs from this film were quintessential Sahir - cynical and outspoken. Adapted from his Chakley (Brothels), he simplified the verses for the film. A bitter denunciation of the exploitation of women by the keepers of society's morality, it seemed that Vijay, the disillusioned protagonist of the film was Sahir's alter ego, giving voice to his anguish. 
Woh ujle dareechon mein paayal ki chhan-chhan
Thaki haari saanson pe table ki dhan-dhan
Ye be-rooh kamron mein khaansi ki than-than
Jinhe naaz hai hind par woh kahaan hain
He ends with a strident call for them to accept their responsibilities:
Zara mulk ke rehbaron ko bulaao
Ye kuuche ye galiyaan ye manzar dikhaao
Jinhen naaz hai hind par unko laao
Jinhe naaz hai hind par woh kahaan hain?

Just a hint of music that does not overshadow Rafi's voice - lovely.  

Unfortunately, Pyaasa was to see the end of Sahir's successful collaboration with SD Burman. It is said that Burmanda was displeased at Sahir's lyrics gaining more appreciation than the music of the film; others claim that it was Sahir's arrogance in proclaiming that a lyricist was more important than a composer. Whatever the reason, the two men never worked together again.

6. Cheeno-arab tumhara (Phir Subah Hogi 1958) Mukesh MD: Khayyam
Based on Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, it was Sahir's insistence that the music director of the film must have read the book that led to Khayyam being signed in place of Raj Kapoor's favourites - Shankar-Jaikishen. Sahir parodied Iqbal's famous Saare jahan se achcha from his Tarana-e-mili and then, borrowing verses from his Tarana-e-Hind, Sahir made a mockery of them too, giving trenchant voice to his disgust with Nehruvian socialism. 
Taalim hai adhuri, milti nahin majoori
Maloom kya kisi ko, dard-e-nihaan hamara
Chin-o- arab hamara, hindustan hamara
Rehne ko ghar nahin hai, saara jahaan hamara
This song was an anthem of the disillusioned, educated, unemployed youth who, in their idealism, still believed that their country would provide for them. Controversial as the lyrics were, there was talk of the song being banned at one time.

It ended on a dawning note of hope, however; a hope that the morrow will bring with it a better future. 
Patla hai haal apna, lekin lahu hai gaadha
Faulad se bana hai, har naujawaan hamara
Mil-jhul ke is vatan ko, aisa sajaayenge hum
Hairat se munh takega, saara jahaan hamara

7. Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko (Sadhna 1958) Lata Mangeshkar MD: N Dutta
This song has been a favourite from my teenage years, long before I saw the film. Sahir pulls out all stops here as he brutally holds a mirror to the hypocrisy and double standards that exist in society.
Yeh woh be-izzat cheez hai jo
Bant jaati hai izzatdaaron mein 

What is frightening is that his lyrics are as true today, as they were half a century ago. 
Mardon ke liye har zulm rawa
Aurat ke liye rona bhi khata
Mardon ke liye laakhon sejein
Aurat ke liye bas ek chita
Mardon ke liye har aish ka haq
Aurat ke liye jeena bhi saza
This is not the most enjoyable of songs, because of the disturbing lyrics.
Mardon ne banaayeen jo rasmein
Unko haq ka farmaan kaha
Aurat ke zinda jalne ko
Qurbaani aur balidaan kaha
Ismat ke badley roti di
Aur usko bhi ehsaan kaha

Sahir doesn't pull his punches as he leaves you with the horrifying image of an unfortunate mother, bedded against her will by her own son.
Ye woh badkismat maa hai jo
Beton ki sej pe leti hai

8. Khuda-e-bartar ae zameen par (Taj Mahal 1963) Lata Mangeshkar MD: Roshan
Not as well-known as his Allah tero naam, the lyrics of this lesser-known plaint against the futility of war still resonates today in a world torn apart by strife and bloodshed.
Khuda-e-bartar teri zameen par, 
Zameen ki khaatir ye jang kyon hai
Har ek fatah-o-zafar ke daaman pe 

Khoon-e-insaan ka rang kyon hai

As the men leave to fight the wars, it's the women who are left behind, their mothers, sisters, wives who wonder whether war is ever an answer, and who plead for sanity and reason.
And Arjumand Begum prays for the safe return of Prince Khurram and his men.
Qaza ke raste pe jaanevaalon ko 
Bach ke aane ki raah dena
Dilon ke gulshan ujad na jaaye, 

Muhabbaton ko panaah dena...

It is interesting that Sahir was only 19 when he courted controversy by penning a satirical poem titled Taj Mahal, which he recited at a college function to much pandemonium:  
Ek shahenshah ne daulat ka sahara lekar
Hum gareebon ki muhabbat ka udaaya hai mazaaq

9. Tum mujhe bhool bhi jao (Didi 1959) Sudha Malhotra-Mukesh MD: Sudha Malhotra
This was the only song that was composed by Sudha Malhotra in this film, the rest being scored by N Dutta. It is said that Sahir's lyrics were reflective of their relationship. Every word of it will resonate with anyone who has ever suffered the pangs of unrequited love.
Tum mujhe bhool bhi jao to ye haq hai tumko
Meri baat aur kai maine muhabbat ki hai

Who, loving, has not wondered:  
Mere dil ki mere jazbaat ki keemat kya hai
Uljhe-uljhe se khayalaat ki keemat kya hai

But how could the man intersperse the incredible joys of loving and the devastating grief of separation with such hard-nosed practicality that is the male part of the duet? (aargh!)
Zindagi sirf muhabbat nahin kuch aur bhi hai
Zulf-o-rukhsaar ki jannat nahin kuch aur bhi hai
Bhook aur pyaas ki maari huyi is duniya mein
Ishq hi ek haqeeqat nahin kuch aur bhi hai
And then I wonder if it underscores the difference between man and woman, because she sings:
Tumko duniya ke gham-o-dard se fursat na sahi
Sabse ulfat sahi mujhse hi muhabbat na sahi
Main tumhari hoon yahi mere liye kya kam hai
Tum mere hoke raho ye meri kismat na sahi

Years later, when Sahir ran into the newly-wed Sudha at a party, he's said to have spontaneously recited Chalo ik baar phir se ajnabi ban jaaye hum dono. He later used those verses for BR Chopra's Gumraah, for two lovers who are doomed to never forget their love, but whose passion can never be fulfilled. 

10. Aage bhi jaane na tu (Waqt 1965) Asha Bhosle  MD: Ravi
The first song in this film, Waqt se din aur raatsees a family destroyed by the vagaries of nature, and separated by the fates. Many years later, the now-grown up children cross paths again, ignorant of their relationship to each other. By the time Aage bhi... winds to an end, a necklace is stolen, a man is murdered, one brother is accused, and another stands eyewitness to the killing. Soon, the third brother will have to prove his sibling's innocence. 

This is probably out of place in the songs I have listed so far. However, it is a song that I love, for the fatalism implicit in its philosophy. Carpe Diem - seize the day, the moment, live in the present, kal ho na ho?
Is pal ke saaye mein apna thikana hai
Is pal ke aage ki har shay fasana hai
Kal kisne dekha hai kal kisne jaana hai
Is pal se paayega jo tujhko paana hai
Jeenewaale soch le 

Yahi waqt hai kar le poori aarzoo
11. Pyar par bas to nahin hai (Sone ki Chidiya 1958) Talat Mahmood-Asha Bhosle MD: OP Nayyar
Sahir's lyrics were not typical of the romantic poetry of the day. However, he had a strong vein of romance in him, and in this, one of his most sensitive songs, there is a hesitancy, a reservation that he expresses - does the woman love him? 'Tell me,' he says
Mere khwaabon ke jharokhon ko sajaane waalo
Tere khwaabon mein kahin mera guzar hai ke nahin
Poochkar apni nigaahon se bata de mujhko

Meri raaton ke muqaddar mein sahar hai ke nahin
He needs her, and he is frightened of that need.
Ki aisa na ho pao mere tharra na jaaye
Aur teri marmari baahon ka sahaara na mile
Ashq behte rahe khamosh siyaah raaton mein
Aur tere reshmi aanchal ka kinara na mile

12. Tu Hindu banega na Mussalman banega (Dhool ka Phool 1959) Mohammed Rafi MD: N Dutta
A bold movie for those times, Dhool ka Phool dealt with the issue of premarital sex, and an unwed mother who has no other option but to abandon her newborn baby. Brought up by a kind-hearted Muslim, the boy is damned by society for being illegitimate, and faces all the prejudices that underline such a birth. On the principle that there are no illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents, the kind foster father hopes to inculcate a sense of humanity in the innocent child (Insaan ki aulad hai, insaan banega); one that is not tainted by the biases of religion or the hypocrisy of society.
Maalik ne har insaan ko insaan banaya
Humne use Hindu ya Mussalman banaya
Kudrat ne to bakshi thi hamein ek hi dharti
Humne kahin Bharat kahin Iran banaya

So, thank you, Saahirsaab, wherever you are, for some of the most evocative lyrics that have ever been penned. Your words -  
Kal koyi mujhko yaad kare
Kyun koyi mujhko yaad kare
Maghroor zamaana mere liye
Kyun waqt apna barbaad kare
- do not hold true for you. For as long as old Hindi songs continue to mesmerise newer generations, as long as music lives on, you will never be forgotten.


  1. Saw you had posted earlier today, but didn't get a chance until now to relax, read and enjoy the writing and the songs. I'm so glad you did a post on Sahir at long last (I've to tell my father tomorrow;he's been complaining that you haven't posted any 'new' old songs; Joy Mukherjee and his ilk, of course, being 'new'). Lovely choices, Anu, and really nice intros to the songs, plus all the trivia, and his poetry.

    From your list, my favourites would be 'Aurat ne janam diya', 'Jinhe naaz hind par woh kahan hai' and 'Yeh hawa yeh raat'.

    My favourite Sahir composition is his take on the transient nature of fame.

    One more from Kaajal:

    And here's the link to 'Mere saathi khali jaam' : I love the way Rafi repeats 'mere saathi'.

    Isn't it really funny that with all these songs that elevated song lyrics, the powers that be at Filmfare only gave him awards for
    two of the (his) average-ish songs?

  2. A very nice write up Anu. You have really researched well. I love the song from Chitraleka (I love the film too).
    Of course the 'Waqt' song is fabulous all round with excellent music and choreography (?), and the anti war lyrics of Kudaa e bartar, which reflect my opinion too.

    I think he was too poisonous/evil with his pen with those couple of lines from 'Aurat ne janam diya'. It's not like as commonly experienced as with the prostitution of women which the main theme of the film and song were. It spoils the song and the message for me.

  3.  I once read a very humourous sher of his which he wrote on being expelled from his college in Ludhiana. I have searched, but can't find it.
    Does anyone know?

  4.  A thought just struck me. I think we have not to take those lines literally.
    They are directly generated and linked to the thought that women gives birth to men, and when he makes a prostitute out of her it's like putting his mother into this profession.

    I didn't want to think ill of his lyrics and when i gave some thought to his words this was my conclusion :-)

  5. I enjoyed this post and I also admit its making me take note of lyricists behind these well loved songs, i admit i usually give credence to the music directors and not too much attention to the lyricists but  all that should change from now on. Also, I guess not being a hindi speaker plus some silly dvd companies who don't subtitle songs make it hard to make sense of the efforts of the lyricist at times 

  6. Your "long-lost-sister" also did a post on Sahir, so I will simply copy my comment from there :)
    “Phalii Hui Hai Sapno Ki Bahe” — House # 44 

    Great post (as always), also read the tribute to Joy Mukherjee. He had great songs, but I never saw any of his films

  7. Bhai mere, Bichde sabhi baari baari is not Sahir - it is a Kaifi Azmi composition. :)

    I was just saying that (about the FF awards) - with so many magnificent lyrics, they had to choose those two??


    Thank you, pacifist. You made my day. :) I was going around
    with a smile  on my face the whole time.  The lines from
    Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko?I don't think it was meant
    quite as literally as all that. :) 


    e the lyrics. :)

  9. Aargh! I found one sher on his college when I was
    researching this post, and I meant to put it in too. But I didn't, and now, you reminded me of
    it, and I've been searching all over - to no avail. harvey! We need your search


  10. Yup, that's what I
    think too. Or, more likely, the sort of scene that was there in Pyaasa? Where
    the men are lusting after a tawaif? And she is a mother?

    I think that is the sort of situation Sahir is talking about.


  11.  Oh, thank you so much, Bollywooddeewana. Most times, it is better they don't sub-title the lyrics! They  murder them.

  12. Madhu did a post on Sahir? Recently?

    Thanks for the link -t hat's such a lovely song. And thanks for the compliment. :)

    I think the best of Joy's movies were the ones Madhu reviewed - Love in Simla, Love in Tokyo, Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon... Do watch them; they are an entertaining couple of hours each. 

  13.  pacifist, is it this one? When he was honoured by the very college he had been expelled from,   he quoted:

    "Go yahan ke nahin,
    yahan ke nikale hue to hain."

  14. Nah, Anu. Not recently - I did the Sahir post a year ago:


    When I began reading your post, I was glad to see that you seemed to have chosen very different songs from the ones I had picked. And then, slowly - more and more of the same ones. It had to happen! :-)

    Loved your post, and thank you for all that background - I hadn't known about how Sahir got his takhallus, so that was certainly a revelation! What a fine poet this man was. Simply superb.

  15. Thank you, Madhu.
    Nah, Anu. Not recently

    Yup; I went back and checked, thinking that if you had done a post on Sahir and I'd missed it, I needed to get my brain checked!

    LOL at the same songs' scenario. I wouldn't have been surprised if we had matched 10/10. Did you notice that even when we had different songs, we mostly chose the same films??

  16. Dear Anuradha,

    Thank you for another well-researched post, and some absolutely wonderful songs. 'Chand madham hai' is not a usual selection, but it is something I've come to expect from you - the unexpected. And like many of your readers, the song from Umeed is completely new to me. Thank you once again for all the information, Sahir's poetry and the songs.

    God bless you
    Ramnathan K.S.

  17. 'Bhai mere, Bichde sabhi baari baari is not Sahir - it is a Kaifi Azmi composition. :)'

    Ayya! Yes, it is. Sahir had fought with Burmanda by then. I'm so ashamed of myself!

  18. Unfortunately, I cannot identify the lyricist from the verse so had to do a search on Sahir's songs so that I can mention a few that I have enjoyed over the years. Most of them would have featured in your previous lists, anyway, so nothing new to add as such....

    1. Zindagi Bhar Nahin Bhoolegi - Barsaat Ki Raat


    2.  Songs from Hum Dono and Pyaasa 

    3. Man Re Tu Kahe Na - Chitralekha


    4. Chalo Ik Baar Phir Se Ajnabi Ban Jaaye - Gumraah


    5.  Teri Duniya Mein Jeene Se To Bahtar Hai - House No.44


    6. Dukhi Man Mere - Funtoosh


    7.  Woh Subah Kabhi To Aayegi - Phir Subah Hogi


    8. Hum Intezaar Karenge - Bahu Begum


  19. Regarding pacifist and your search, let me copy what I posted as my comment on dustedoff's post on Sahir last year:

    AK Says: March 9, 2011 at 9:40 am | Reply
    Reading the Ludhiana samosa story reminded me of a conversation I had with an erudite gentleman, who was a contemporary of Sahir Ludhianavi in the Governmnet College, Ludhiana. He said Sahir had achieved great name even as a student. But his wild ways did not enamour him to the authorities. Finally he was expelled from the college. While leaving he posted a poem on the college notice board, one line of which would take your breath away for its beauty and genius:
    ग़र यहां के न हुएयहां के निकाले तो हुए हैं.
    So what if I was not accepted hereIs it not an honour to be expelled from this exalted place
    Now this poem has become an integral part of the college folklore. I am sure other alumni of the college or the residents of Ludhiana can confirm this story.
    I am myself a great fan of Sahir, Pyasa is of course everyone’s favourite. Incidentally I wrote an article on Chalo ek bar phir se on my blog http://www.songsofyore.com/a-mahendra-kapur-sahir-ludhiyanvi-ravi-classic/ a few months back.

  20. Thank you , Mr Ramnathan. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Happy listening. :)

  21. All lovely songs, Pradeep. There are so much to choose from, that it is so hard to limit myself. From your list, my favourites are Woh Subah kabhi to aayegi, Man re tu kahe na dheer and Chalo ik baar phir se.

  22. AK, thanks for the real sher. He has some incredible lines to his credit.

  23. Yes, I did notice that - I guess we agreed subconsciously that Sahir reserved his best writing for certain films!

  24. I just flew through your post. Right now, I am literally drowning in work, that is why I don't have much time for a deeper reading, but will catch up with it soon!

  25. Guess it also depends on who the director is - he probably wrote his best lines for people who had some appreciation of fine poetry.

  26. Take your time, harvey. The post isn't going anywhere. :) And besides, I always look forward to your indepth comments on my choices.

  27. A very nice tribute to one of the
    greatest lyricist of Hindi cinema and congratulations to you for
    being able to complete this list. I think I would go mad if I had to
    do such a list.I heard chand madham aasman chhup hai today
    for the first time and was moved by it immensely. Particularly loved
    the line 'aa tere gam me jaagati aankhen, kam se kam ek raat so jaye.
    Yeh raat yeh chandani phir kahan is one of my all time
    favourites seduction numbers. Javed Akhtar considers this as one of
    the perfect songs in Hindi films. He particularly points out to the
    play between the nature and the passion.Though Chitralekha
    mocks the spirituality as she sees it, sansar se bhage phirte ho is a
    deeply spiritual song at least for me. This along with tora man
    darpan keh laye, na to karavan ki talash hai and aage bhi jaane na tu shows the depth of Sahir's
    spiritual knowledge.Tum apna ranj-o-gham is one of those
    afternoon songs for me. When the line begins with main dekhu to sahi,
    duniya tumhe kaise satati hai, I expects her to say that she wants to
    protect him from the world's satana, but it takes a turn and she
    sings koi din ke liye apani nigahbani mujhe de do. She would like to
    experience his pain and sorrow.I was a bit surprised that you
    included jinhe naaz hai hind par instead of yeh mahalon yeh takhton.
    To choose one fav from the songs of Pyaasa is so difficult. Both the
    songs are hard hitting. The lines are still relevant, where the
    Indian government asks the people of India to be proud of being
    Indian. As if being Indian itself is an accomplishment. "Sahir
    made a mockery of them too, giving trenchant voice to his disgust
    with Nehruvian socialism"

    I don't think he was making a mockery
    of Nehru's socialism. It is much more mockery of the state of affairs
    in India at that time and the pessimism which sets in after the fight
    for a big cause has been won and the truth of the reality
    dawns.Sahir is nothing if not hard-hitting, which is truer
    for aurat ne janam diya than for any other song. At the same time as
    a man I should protest against the generalisation! ;-)I could
    have sworn that I was first introduced to khuda-e-bartar ae zameen
    par at Madhu's blog, but she writes that she came to know of it while
    reviewing Taj Mahal. I knew it since a little bit earlier. From where
    I wonder?

    Nice anecdote about Sahir and his
    encounter with Taj Mahal!I remember humming tum mujhe bhool
    bhi jaao suffering from the grief of an infatuation in my teenage
    years. It is funny, how real it was at that time.I love the
    Asha version of pyar par bas to nahin hai mera lekin, püarticularly
    the second stanza, which goes:

    jis tamanna ke sahare pe thi jeene ki

    wo tamanna bhi pasheman huyi jaati hai

    zindagi yun to hamesha se pareshaan si

    ab to kuch aur bhi viraan huyi jaati
    haiI can't say that tu hindu banega na musalman banega is my
    fav song but I like the lyrics. People of the world should take this
    to heart and look at each other not as a believer in some religion or
    belonging to a certain country.Thanks for bringing up
    different shades of Sahir's poetry for Hindi cinema.

  28. And now to my most favourite qawaali of all times:
    naa to karavan ki talash hai from Barsaat Ki Raat

  29. some of my fav Sahir songs
    aan milo aan milo shyam sanware from Devdas
    laga chunari me daag from Dil Hi To Hai
    abhi na jaao chhod ke from Hum Dono
    mujhe gale se laga lo from Aaj aur Kal
    dil jale to jale from Taxi Driver
    kis ka rasta dekhe from Joshila
    dukhi man mere from Funtoosh
    maine tujhe manga tujhe paya hai from Deewar

    And I like all the songs of Baazi, Jaal, Pyaasa, Chitralekha, Barsaat ki Raat and, and, and..............
    So have to go and catch some sleep, have lots of work to do tomorrow!

  30. harvey, it was so difficult to decide what songs to leave out. How does one decide??:(

  31. Thank you, harvey. I really like the effort you put into your comments on each song. I agree that Sansar se bhaage phirte ho is deeply spiritual - I think it plays on the fact that there are different ways to attain that spirituality. Especially the part where she sings Yeh bhog bhi ek tapasya hai, tum bhog ke maare kya jano.

    With Tum apna ranj-o-gham, the lines you quoted make perfect sense, no? How is she to deal with his sorrow if she doesn't experience it?

    There is not much to choose between Jinhe naaz hai hind par woh kahan hai and Yeh mehlon, yeh takhton yeh tajon ki duniya. One is bitter sarcasm, the other bitter disillusionment; both are two sides of the same coin. In fact, there is another song that I deliberated adding to my list instead of Jinhe naaz hai - Aaj sanam mujhe ang laga lo. I like the positioning of it as a bhajan; but on a very superficial level, it is a very sensuous song, and the picturisation dwells on its duality - the married (therefore 'pure') woman singing a devotional song, and the prostitute climbing up to the man with whom she has fallen in love - the words could mean different things to the two women.

    As if being Indian itself is an accomplishment. So true!

    At the same time as a man I should protest against the generalisation!

    Don't worry, harvey. He's talking about 'those' men. Not nice chaps like you. : )

    Tum mujhe bhool bhi jao was actually spoilt for me by that middle wors - I wanted to smack Sahir. :(

    Sahir was no respecter of Nehru, or his brand of socialism. With his left leanings, I'm more than willing to believe he was smacking Nehru - poetically.

    Thank you for reading, for taking the time to comment and for the appreciation. It feels good. :)

  32. *Love* Aan milo, aan milo - Geeta sounded so poignant. Laaga chunri mein daag was on my shortlist. Pyar par bas to nahin edged it out.  Abhi na jao will top my list of romantic numbers any day. As for the rest, he had so many, many good songs - how do you pick and choose? I just enjoy all of them at different times.

  33. The problem is that music plays such an important part for me, I tend to block out songs (even those with awesome lyrics - if only I'd pay attention to them) if the music itself isn't wonderful. So the songs I invariably choose - even when I'm choosing songs for an actor, or a lyricist, or someone who isn't a composer, end up being songs which basically SOUND good. :-(

  34.  Like Guru Dutt in Pyaasa? The poetry of that film is sheer genius.

  35. The tune is important to me too, but if the lyrics aren't very good, then it become a sort of background noise for me. Pleasant enough to listen to, but it will never be one of my *absolute* favourites. :)

  36. Yay! -really happy to see Jaal's song in the list-

    No, not because I like Dev so much! Don't get the wrong idea!
    Oh well. :P

  37. bombaynoir, I'm amazed at your liking for old hindi films and songs, and the information you already have. Don't worry so much about not knowing who the lyricist is; most people who are shocked you do not know who Sahir is will not themselves have any idea who Raja Mehdi Ali Khan is. Or Shiraz Lucknawi. It is important to appreciate the music, the lyrics, the picturisation; then, if you are interested in a phrase that catches your fancy, you'll automatically look to see who wrote the words that mean so much to you.

    Jaal's song is a personal favourite of mine. If I had to make a 'top ten' of my favourites, this will always be there.

  38. expand list. find room for mujhe jeene do (lata song to babe in arms). daag (mere dil mein aaj kya hai). aasmaan pe hai khuda from phir subha hogi. naya zamana (naya zamana ayega). izzat (kya miliye aise logon se jinki fitrat chupi rahe)

  39.  This is true for me as well.

  40. Asha, that would have to be some expansion! :) I love all the songs from Chitralekha for example, and from Pyaasa, Barsaat ki Raat, Jaal... the list would go on, and on, and on.

    Thanks for dropping by.

  41. Thank you! No one actually believes that I'm a 13 year old girl unless I go all hyper on them. >:( They think only oooooooooooold people will like old Hindi films. I always want to build a time machine and go back to 1961 (and meet Dev, hehe!), so that I can experience how it was like. I wish I was born early... really, I care a damn for laptops and everything now. -sigh-

    Yeah, I only listed Shailendra and Majrooh Sultanpuri (They were the only two I saw on the Jewel Thief cover!), and I got asked that. -sigh- >:( I love the picturization of most of Dev's songs. Whether it's chasing Asha Parekh by sitting on top of a car and singing to her, or descending the Qutub Minar with Nutan, they were awesome!

  42.  Thank you AK. That's exactly where I read it :-)

  43. go back to 1961 (and meet Dev, hehe!),

    Ha! You have no idea how many of us wish the same thing!! :)

  44. Sahir wrote his first collection Talkhiyaan (bitterness) way back in 1944-45. The eponymous poem is a stunning piece of poetry about lost love  ... especially given his age. The title is reflected in these lines, about how he would have sought refuge from the world in love :-
    pukarti mujhe jab talkhiyaan zamaane kimain teri honton se halawat ke ghoont pii letaWhen the world's bitterness calls out to meI'd drink of honey from your lips
    Though the Big B's recital in Kabhi Kabhi was excellent, I always felt it detracted from the merits of an excellent poem, apart from being slightly dumbed down.

     Another superb poem in the same collection is Khubsoorat Mod -

    त'अर्रुफ़ रोग हो जाये तो उस को भूलना बेहतरत'अल्लुक़ बोझ बन जाये तो उस को तोड़ना अच्छावो अफ़्साना जिसे तकमील तक लाना न हो मुमकिनउसे एक ख़ूबसूरत मोड़ देकर छोड़ना अच्छा 

    If an acquaintance becomes an illness, it is better forgotten
    If a connection becomes a burden, it is better broken
    The story that cannot reach a perfect conclusion
    It is better unfinished with a beautiful twist

    Again, beautifully sung as "Chalo ik baar phir se, ajnabii ban jaayein hum dono"

    As you said, v difficult to choose from tons of poetry.

  45. AK, I agree with you about the dumbing down of the original verses of Kabhi Kabhi, though I love Amitabh's recitation. Pyaasa's songs were also simplified for the film. The poetry is even more hard-hitting than the song was.

    I mentioned Khubsoorat Mod in my comment to dustedoff below. What a beautiful poem that is!

    Thanks for your comments.

  46. That makes a lot of sense. I wish I could do the same, but I suppose it's too late to change!

  47. But you all got to meet him, right! >:( The only thing I could do was send him tweets. And he never replied. >:(

  48. You should have called him; he used to answer his own phone. ANd I've heard that he replied to every email.

  49. I didn't know his number. :P

    But yes, if I ever get my hands on a time machine, I'm going back to Bombay and buying all the Filmfare magazines (The covers were awesome) and I will go to the premiere of Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hai! >:)

  50. :) Good luck. And do let us know about the time machine - you'll have us all lining up to meet Devsaab again!

  51. Let's go see the premiere of Kala Bazaar! Then we can see Goldie too! :)

  52. And Waheeda. Let's. :) I also want to go for the premiere of Awaara,if you don't mind.

  53. Great idea! Which other movies? Devdas? Or Naya Daur? Spoilt for choice! :D

  54. @bombaynoir, so many, many movie premieres to go to, so many people I would love to meet. Let me know when your time machine is ready.

  55. Whew, we really messed up that line of comments!

    I asked this question on Yahoo Answers and people all said that it isn't possible to travel into the past... >:(

  56.  Bombaynoir, we always manage to do that on our blogs. Discussions can move from movies to books to food to .... :)

    people all said that it isn't possible to travel into the past... >:(
    Well, then we'll have to wait until time-travel moves out of the realm of science-fiction, won't we? :)

  57. When it does, I want to go to... to... the premiere of... Nau Do Gyarah! Before the show starts I'll go up to Goldie and tell him that the movie is awesome, then he'll ask how did I know! Can we go to the premiere of Sangam too? :D :D

  58. I want to be at the premiere of Awara; I would love to meet Raj Kapoor and tell him how much his films and music coloured my childhood...

  59. And get his autograph? :)

    I want to go to the premiere of Guide especially. I want to go tell Dev that he did a great job by not giving up in spite of all the controversy, and tell him that the beard was weird but Goldie made him wear it (really, he did!), so it was all forgiven. :D Also, I want to see S.D. Burman and bow down to him. Awesome composer. Enough said.

  60.  Not really; I've never been one for autographs, though I treasure the personal message that Devsaab sent for me through a colleague (she told him I was lattoo over him.)

  61. I know, I saw it and I went green with envy! You are so lucky! The closest I could get was staring at his autograph on Google Images and marvelling at the "D". My D is so ugly. :P How did it all happen, anyway?

  62. Story here :)



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