Sahir’s poetry carried charisma that was a class apart

By Neena Badhwar

Maine Chand Aur Sitaron Ki Tamanna Ki Thi was the song my parents sang in my home in Delhi which I brought to Australia as a memory and played it along with many memorable songs from the era of 1950s and 1960s. Today my daughter who was brought up here plays these songs and my grand daughter also hears them. They have this classic appeal and when I try to translate the essence of these songs to the fourth generation of listeners such as my grand kids, they see in these verses a universal appeal and a universal truth. This is why these songs are listened again and again on Youtube and have built up millions of views compared to the new ones without any publicity or promotion. Even the singers all over the world of these songs are revered as much as the lyricist along with great singers such as Mohammad Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar and others.

Little did I realise which I worked out much late in life that most of the songs that I collected in my personal favourite shuffle were all penned by a great writer of Indian cinema, Sahir Ludhianvi. One can pick any song and it will be a sure Sahir song. Movies from ”˜Baazi’, ”˜Pyasa’,, ”˜Naya Daur’, ”˜Waqt’, ”˜Hum Dono’, ”˜Taja Mahal’, ”˜Humraaz’, ”˜Kabhie Kabhiie’ originated from this genius. He, in fact, demanded always a rupee more than the singer, in this case Lata Mangeshkar that he would write the song only if he is paid as per his demand. Sahir also was responsible to have not only insisted that lyricist be credited in the songs but also made sure that it became a mandatory custom by all the radio presenters on Geetmala on All India Radio, Radio Ceylon and radio programs to announce lyricist’s name all over the sub continent.

He was a poet in a class of his own, his poetry and couplets made singers, actors so famous even till today songs that were written by him some sixty to seventy years ago. We feel nostalgic about the songs such as ”˜Ai meri zohra zabeen’ filmed on Balraj Sahni; ”˜Ye raat ye chandni phir kahan’ filmed on handsome Dev Anand; ”˜Ye duniya agar mil bhi jaye to kya hai’ classic that made Guru Datt, Waheeda and Mala Sinha famous; ”˜Phir Na Kije Meri Gustakh Nigah Ka Gila’ filmed on Mala Sinha and Raj Kapoor; ”˜Abhi na jao chhod kar’ filmed on Dev Anand and Sadhana; ”˜Jo wada kiya wo nibhana padega’ filmed on Pradeep Kumar and Bina Rai; ”˜Kabhi Kabhie mere dil mein khayal aata hai’ filmed on Amitabh Bachchan and Raakhi. These actors are known for these songs because films used to run on the back of deep and meaningful lyrics that touched our heart strings then and now even as they have stood the test of times. One cannot imagine these films without the timeless songs penned by Sahir Ludhianvi and actors who sang them on the screen. Sahir’s name is etched in his college in Ludhiana on the auditorium named after him. Sahir lived in the company of writers Krishan Chander, Kaifi Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Hasrat Jaipuri, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Neeraj, Shakeel Badayuni, Shailendra and indeevar. Sahir never married and had a very painful childhood when his father left his mum Sardar Begum to fend for herself with her young son. Sahir lived in penury and struggle all his life, he had a quiet affair with Punjabi writer Amrita Pritam, their love was more of the minds with immense respect for each other’s art.

Says Javed Akhtar, “I was a young man of 20-21 years of age when I used to listen to him in person and would invariably give my views without realising the greatness of this talented poet who would listen to my advice with sincerity,”

“A shair, a painter, an actor has this charisma, which Sahir had this ”˜Aur’ that no one had, this ”˜Aur’ no one knows from where it comes but when you experience it then only one says ”˜ye kuchh aur hi hai’.”

Sahir’s language was open, carried no ambiguity, he had this clarity of thought, wrote easy poetry that which could be understood and connected with the common man. His Shairi was philosophical, his geet were such that people would say ”˜wah’ ”˜wah’ when they listened to his songs. His words do not need to rely on dhun or music even if read just like that, they are quite profound.

Heart & Soul Productions presents Sahir Ludhianvi songs in the concert ”˜Taal Se Taal Mila’ ”“ a Tribute to the legendary singer by one and only Avjit Sarkar on February 15 at Pioneer Theatre in Castle Hill. Tickets range from $20, $30, $50 and $75. Do come and enjoy this concert on the occasion of St. Valentine’s Day ”“ ”˜Meri baat aur hai, main tau mohabbat ki hai’ the writer, poet and lyricist Sahir, enjoy his songs which were a sheer poetry that is classic.

Sahir wrote: “कल और आयेंगे नगमो की खिलती कलियाँ चुनने वाले, मुझसे बेहतर कहनेवाले, तुमसे बेहतर सुननेवाले; कल कोई उनको याद करे, क्यूँ कोई मुझको याद करे? मसरूफ ज़माना मेरे लिए क्यूँ वक़्त अपना बर्बाद करे?”

Little did he know that we love to listen to him here in Sydney even, seventy years hence. We still remember him through his songs.


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