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Remembering Sahir Ludhianvi on his birthday

By Ratnakar Sadasyula

Sahir Ludhianavi

Sahir Ludhianavi

Saahir  Ludhianvi’s real life story sounds like a movie script itself. Born into a wealthy Muslim family in Ludhiana, at age of 13 his mother left the home along with him, after his father married for second time. He spent his growing up years in poverty and fear. He had a passionate affair with poetess Amrita Pritam in college, who fell in love with him because of his shayari, and he was expelled from college later. After the Pakistani Government issued an arrest warning, for his inflammatory writings, he fled to India in 1949. Though his lyrics had a distinct leftist tinge, he never compromised on renumeration, and got royalties from music companies. At the height of his popularity, he demanded one rupee more than what Lata was getting for singing that song. One of the foremost Urdu poets, yet he was unable to praise Khuda, Husn or Jaam . He was an atheist, and his love life was littered with broken affairs. Yet his troubles made him a chain smoker and an alcoholic, and he passed away in 1980 a lonely person.
Due to space crunch it was not possible for me to list all the great songs penned by him. And what I am putting here is a very humble tribute from a music lover. If you know any wonderful songs of him, which I missed out, please feel free to comment.

Allah Tero Naam –  Though an atheist in real life, Saahir, composed some soul stirring religious songs. And this is one of the best bhajans that Lata sang in her career from the movie Hum Dono( music by Jaidev).  Superb lyrics stressing the importance of all religions being one. “Maango Ka Sindoor Na Chhute, Maa Behano Ki Aas Na toote, Deh Bina, Daata, Deh Bina Bhatake Na Pran”. Hum Dono also had other excellent songs like Abhi Na Jaao Chodke( One of the most romantic duets) and Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibatha Chala.

Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhatha Chala Gaya : Saahir was pretty good at composing feel good lyrics and peppy songs too. This song again from Hum Dono , picturized on Dev Anand , reflects the happy go lucky nature of the hero. Beautiful music by Jaidev and Rafi saab ka kya kehna as he says “Har Fikr Ko Dhuen Mein Udata Chala Gaya”. And then saying why worry about troubles “barbaadiyon ka sokh manana fizool Tha” and then he ends it “barbadiyon ka jashn manata chala gaya” . If you are feeling down in the dumps, listen to this song, trust me it will really make you feel better.

Man Re Tu Kahe Na Dhir Dhare: I have never listened to a song with more profound meaning and depth than this.  I mean whenever I listen to this Rafi  number from Chitralekha, I am just blown away by the philosophical spirit of it. The song starts off with “Man Re Tu Kahe Na Dhir Dhare , Voh Nirmohi Moh Na Jaane, Jinka Moh Kare”. And Saahir wonderfully explains the philosophy here “Is Jivan Ki Chadti Dhalati Dhoop Ko Kisne Baandha, Rang Pe Kisne Pehere Daale, Roop Ko Kisne Baandha”. This song is a priceless masterpiece.

Bichde Sabhi Baari Baari –  Saahir often gave his best for Guru Dutt. Pyaasa and Kaagaz Ke Phool, two masterpieces, also helped immensely by the wonderful lyrics he penned for both the movies. This song from Kaagaz Ke Phool, wonderfully reflects the feelings of the protagonist, as he finds himself left alone, when people desert him on failure.  Rafi as usual brings the song to life. Arre Dekhi Zamane Ki Yaari, Bichde Sabhi Bhaari Bhaari”   as he taunts the fake nature of friendship in today’s world.  And the next two lines sum up the feelings wonderfully “ Kya Likhen Milen Ab Duniya, Aanso Ke Siva Kuch Paas Nahin, Yaa Phool Hi Phool Tha Daaman Mein, Ab Kaanton Ke Bhi Aas Nahin” .   Just brilliant.

Chalo Ik Baar Phir Se –  From the B.R.Chopra movie Gumraah,   Saahir was exceptional in penning sad numbers.  Gumraah is the story of  Sunil Dutt, who has an adulterous affair with Mala Sinha, his ex love, now married to Ashok Kumar. A movie far ahead of it’s times, this song is sung, when he meets Mala Sinha, in presence of Ashok Kumar, and this song urges her to break free as he says “Chalo ik Baar Phir Se, Ajnabee ban Jaaye hum dono”.   And then as if in response to Mala Sinha’s dilemma he sings “ Tumhe Bhi Koi Uljhan Rokthi Hai Peshkadmi Se, Mujhe bhi log kehta hai ki yeh Jalwe paraye hai”. Beautifully capturing the conflicting feelings in the hearts of the lovers.

Choo Lene Do Naazuk Hoton Ko –  When it comes to singing, nashe bari songs, Mohd Rafi was just outstanding. A teetotaler in real life,  yet Rafi managed to convey the emotions of a drunk person so beautifully as in this song from Kaajal .  Raj Kumar plays Meena Kumari’s philandering husband in this movie, while Dharmendra plays the role of Meena’s friend, who lends her a shoulder. This song is picturized on Raaj Kumar. One of the most seductive, and romantic songs. Raaj Kumar is totally drunk and in that mood, Meena’s beauty seems like an intoxicant as he says “Choo Lene Do Naazuk Hoton Ko, Kuch Aur Nahin Yeh Jaam Hai yeh”.   He urges her to give in to his lust saying “Sharmakee Na Yuhi Kho Dena, Rangeen Jawani Ki Ghadiya, Beetab Dhadakte Seeno Ki, Armaan Bhara Paigaam Hai Yeh”.

Dil Jo Na Keh Saka –  From the movie Bheegi Raat , a love triangle starring Meena Kumar, Ashok Kumar and Pradeep Kumar, a brilliant song by music director Roshan ( who happens to be the father of Rakesh Roshan and Hrithik’s grandpa). Brilliant rendering again by Rafi here. A typical love triangle, this song was picturized on Pradeep Kumar, when he sees his love Meena engaged to Ashok Kumar here as he starts “Dil Jo Na Keh Saka , Wahi Raaz E Dil, Kehne Ki Baat Aayi”. And then he expresses his anguish “Chaliye Mubarak Yeh Jasn Dosti Ka, Daaman To Thama Aap ne Kisi Ka, Humein To Khushi Yehi Hai, Tumhein Bhi Kisi Ko Apna Kehne Ki Raat Aayi”.

Dukhi Man Mere – One of my favorite songs, as this proved that Kishore Da could sing sad numbers, and he was more than just a yodel yoo singer. One of Kishore Da’s best sad songs from Dev Anand starrer Funtoosh, with music by Dada Burman . “Dard Hamara Koi Na Jaane, Apne Garaz Ke Sab Hai Diwane, kis ke aage rona roye, Des paraya log begane”. Beautiful expression of how it feels, when you have none to share your sorrow.  Or what about this “Laakh yahan jholi phaile Le, Kuch nah denge is Jag Vaale, Paathar Ke Dil Mom Na Honga, Chaahe Jitna Neer Bahale”.   In a way this song was an attack on an uncaring society around him, which was the motif of Saahir’s lyrics.

Jaaen To Jaaen Kahan– Probably due to his unhappy love life, and his failed affairs, Saahir’s was a master when it came to dealing with broken hearts and unrequited love. From the movie Taxi Driver, picturized on Dev Anand, with brilliant music by Dada. “Jaaen To Jaaen Kahan, Samjhega Kaun Yahan Dard Bhari Dil Ki Zubaan”. And listen to this “Maayusiyon Ka, Majmaa Hai Jee mein, Kya Reh Gaya Hai, Is Zindagi Mein, Rooh Mein Gham, Dil Mein Dhuan”. Or this “ O Jaane waale, Daaman Chuda Ke, Mushkil Hai Jeena, Tujhko Bhula Ke”. Touches your heart somewhere very deep inside and add Talat Mehmood’s soulful sensitive voice here.

Jaane Voh Kaise Log The: For me this is my favorite song from Pyaasa. Dada creates magic with Hemant Kumar’s wonderful vocals, and the http://lyrics. “Sukhiyon Ki Manzil Dhoonde Tho, Gam ki Dard Mili, Chaahat Ke Nagme Chahe Tho, Aahe Sard Mili”. And my favorite one “Isko Hi Jeena Kehte Hai Tho, Yunhi Jee Lenge, Uff na karenge, Lab Si Lenge, Aanso Pi Lenge”. Just haunting. So wonderfully does Saahir express his disgust with people who prefer to remain silent and just get on.

Jo Vaada Kiya Voh Nibhana: One of the best romantic songs and aptly in a movie named after the monument of love called Taj Mahal. Rafi and Lata bring the song to life, with beautiful music by Roshan. As he beseeches “Jo Vada Kiya Voh Nibhana Padega, Roke Zamana Chahe, Roke Khuda E tum ko aana padega”. And then the feelings of restlessness “ Tarasti Nigahon Ne Aawaz Di Hai, Mohabbat Ki Raahon Ne Aawaz Di Hai”. And the eternal love of Shahjahan-Mumtaz is explained in the lines “Chamakthe Hai Jab Tak Yeh Chaand Aur Taare, Na Tootenge Ab Yeh Do Paima Hamare” . A fitting tribute to the Taj by Saahir.

Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein : Saahir was a Yash Chopra favorite, and he always wrote for his most of his movies like Daag, Deewar, Dhool Ka Phool. And for one of Yash Chopra’s best movies, who better than Saahir to capture the romanticism. Kabhie Kabhie had Big B in one of his best performances, first as a poetic lover and later as a father. There are two versions of the song, the Mukesh version on AB and the Lata one on Rakhee. The feeling of some one being there for you is wonderfully captured here “Kabhie Kabhie Mere Dil Mein, Khayal Aata Hai, Ke Jaise, Tujhko Banaya Gaya Hai mere Liye, To Ab se Pehle Sitaron Mein Bas Rahi Thi Kabhi, Tujhe Zameen Pe Bulaya Gaya Hai Mere Liye”.

Kiska Rasta Dekhe: Again one of Kishore Da’s best sad songs. From a rather forgettable movie called Joshila, with wonderful music by RD Burman here. The song is picturized on Dev Anand, as he remembers the time he had with his ex love Raakhe. “Koi Bhi Saaya Nahi Raahon Mein, Koi Bhi Aayega Na Baahon Mein, tere Liye, Mere Liyen, Koi Nahin Rone Wala”. Beautiful lyrics expressing the feelings of loneliness here.

This is not an exhaustive list of songs by Sahir, had just picked up some of my personal favorites, it would not be possible to do justice to some one like him in one single blog post. What I put here is a very humble tribute.

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  Ratnakar Sadasyula is full time techie, part time writer. Presently based at Hyderabad, Ratnakar writes on films, cricket and politics. Bihar days is Proud to have him in our team of regular contributors.

Here is the link to his blog  : Cinematalkiestown

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One Response

  1. excellent tribute.
    we are very much thankful to you janab, on behalf of sahir ludhianvi genius global research council.
    we are sharing your blog on our counci’s wall with thanks.

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