Remembering Sahir Ludhianvi: A Lyrical Centenary

The non-communal humanitarian concern in Tu Hindu Banega and the ode of separation dedicated to Amrita Pritam (Sahir’s beloved) Chalo Ek Baar Phir Se highlight Sahir Ludhianvi’s versatility

Sahir Ludhianvi was having a session with S.D.Burman and Chetan Anand for Funtoosh. Chetan Anand wanted a satirical song for a party sequence to be filmed on Dev Anand. Thinking for a while the lyricist penned the lines, Dene Wala Jab Bhi Deta. Both the composer and director liked the line and Sahir Ludhianvi completed the entire lyric in one day. In no other song did Kishore Kumar display so much abundance while singing.

As a poet, lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi was an active member of the Progressive Writers Association. If Shailendra was simple in conveying romanticism, Majrooh Sultanpuri versatile, Kaifi Azmi poetic with a cause, Sahir Ludhianvi was a practical dreamer. His feelings were rooted in ground reality with socialist values. Though he had Leftist leanings, Sahir Ludhianvi was never an atheist. No wonder he could superbly create the solo Teri Duniya Mein Jeena Se for House No. 44. Even Aasma Pe Hai Khuda tuned by Khayyam and written by Sahir Ludhianvi, conveyed the same feeling.

The combination of Sahir Ludhianvi and SD Burman reached epic proportions with Pyasa. Earlier the duo created super hit numbers for BaaziTaxi Driver and even Munimji. The pathos-filled protest in Jise Naaz Hai Hind Par and the lilt in Jane Kya Tune Kaha are still peerless. Tragically there was a strong difference of working opinions between the lyricist and the composer. They never came together after Pyasa and Guru Dutt termed this separation a permanent loss to creativity.

OP Nayyar, N Dutta and Ravi later composed umpteen memorable scores for Sahir Ludhianvi’s lyrics. So did Jaidev. The non-communal humanitarian concern in Tu Hindu Banega Na Musalmaan Banega,  and the ode of separation dedicated to Amrita Pritam (Sahir’s beloved) Chalo Ek Baar Phir Se Ajnabi Ban Jaye Hum Dono highlight Sahir Ludhianvi’s versatility. He never believed in gimmicks and his words spoke of emotional intelligence. The dance number Zindagi Ittefaq Hai is soaked in the essence of creative yet unknown facets of life.

In the 70’s except for Kis Ka Rasta DekheMere Dil Mein Aaj and Hawa Chale Waisi, Sahir Ludhianvi did not receive much scope to display his Midas touch with words.

Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein was originally penned by him for an incomplete Chetan Anand film starring Dev Anand and Geeta Bali. It deeply hurt the sensitive director when the eminent lyricist used the number for Kabhi Kabhi without even informing Chetan Anand. Along with such minor faults, Sahir Ludhianvi will be remembered in his centenary as a lyricist with a heart like a fountain. His life can be well described in his own words, Kabhi Khud Pe, Kabhi Halat Pe Rona Aaya.

Ranjan Das Gupta

is a Kolkata-based independent journalist. He has been doing freelance work for more than 3 decades and writes on arts & culture, cinema, politics, healthcare and education

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