Bollywood – Poetry in the world of songs

Having been born in the 1970s, I was introduced to Bollywood in the 1980s – the era of Jitendra, Mithun Chakraborty, Dharmendra in his “kutte kamine” avatar and Amitabh Bachchan in his “Toofan, Jaadugar” days. This was possibly the only decade when Hindi films did not have a good number of hummable songs, and unfortunately I missed the Bollywood Songs stage of life…Manmohan Desai, Prakash Mehra (may their souls rest in peace) and Bappi Lahiri together destroyed my Bollywood musical experience. But then, leaving this decade, the ones before and the ones after (thank god) have given a string of superb songs from the Bollywood factory.

Cutting to the songs themselves, I am not talking about the music per se (which has been fantastic in fits and bursts), but the lyrics – there’s been a huge body of work there which has been sheer poetry…music to the soul. Hindi and Urdu poetry at its best.

The first half of the 20th century has thrown amazing Hindi poets like Dharmveer Bharti, Mahadevi Verma, Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Suryakant Tripathi Nirala, Maithili Sharan Gupt, Sumitranandan Pant, to name a few. Majority of these left this world in the first 25 years after Independence. There have been a bunch of Urdu poets too who have done us proud in this era – Iqbal, Josh Malihabadi (Shabbir Khan), Faiz, Firaq Gorakhpuri (Raghupati Sahay).

Unfortunately, the names of Hindi film lyricists (song writers) have been absent from the above list. Because their poetry was adorned with some bewitching music or sometimes unpleasant ones, does not make their poetry less pure and soul-stirring. The stuff dished out through this “genre” of poetry has often warmed the cockles of the hearts of millions of movie-goers.
Shailendra, Shakeel Badayuni, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Sahir Ludhianvi, Gulshan Bawra, Anjaan dominated the Bollywood poetry scene in the first three decades of the post-independence era (or pre-Mithun/Jitendra era). Glorious lines of poetry from some of this lot include (and definitely the below does not claim to be the best selection from them) :
Shailendra – Mite jo pyar ke liye woh zindagi, jale bahar ke liye woh zindagi OR Dum bhar jo udhar munh phere o Chanda, mein tumse pyaar kar loongi
Shakeel – Man tadpat Hari darshan ko aaje OR Bekaraar karke humein yoon na jaaiye
Majrooh – Mein saaz hoon too saragam hai – (2) deti ja sahaare mujhko – (2) (Too kahe agar)

It’s been Gulzaar, Javed Akhtar, Anand Bakshi, Sameer who have delivered blockbuster poetry in Hindi cinema in the post QSQT-Maine Pyar Kiya phase.
“Ek akaylee chhatri mein jo aadhe aadhe bheeg rahe thae” and “In reshmi raahon mein ik raah to woh hogi tum tak jo pahonchti hai” could become immortal words from Gulzaar. Javed Akhtar’s prolific outputs bring out high-quality thoughts like “Chhan se jo tute koi sapna, jag soona soona laage – 2” and “Sach aur sahas hai jiske mann me, anth mein jeet usiki hai”.

The medium through which poetry is being disseminated has changed – from a mushaira or mehfil to cinema. The quality of poetry remains the same. And with new entrants like Prasoon Joshi continuing to carry the lamp, we have all hopes to be optimistic about it. And not keep on ruing the demise of lyrics or wring our hands in despair at what’s coming out today. While we have been given DK Bose and Sheila/Munni/Chikni C on one hand, we have also been given Meri Maa, Iktaraa and Baavra Mann on the other!!

Filmfare awards for Best Lyricist (Year, Lyricist, Song, Movie).
2011 Gulzar – “Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji” from Ishqiya
2010 Irshad Kamil – “Aaj Din Chadheya” from Love Aaj Kal
2009 Javed Akhtar – “Jashn-E-Bahara” from Jodhaa Akbar
2008 Prasoon Joshi – “Maa” from Taare Zameen Par
2007 Prasoon Joshi – “Chand Sifarish” from Fanaa
2006 Gulzar – “Kajra Re” from Bunty Aur Babli
2005 Javed Akhtar – “Tere Liye” from Veer-Zaara
2003 Javed Akhtar Kal Ho Naa Ho – Kal Ho Naa Ho
2002 Gulzar Saathiya – Saathiya
2001 Javed Akhtar Mitwa – Lagaan
2000 Javed Akhtar Panchhi Nadiya – Refugee
1999 Anand Bakshi Ishq Bina – Taal
1998 Gulzar Chal Chaiyyan Chaiyyan – Dil Se
1997 Javed Akhtar Sandese Aate Hain – Border
1996 Javed Akhtar Ghar Se Nikalte – Papa Kahte Hain
1995 Anand Bakshi Tujhe Dekha – Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge
1994 Javed Akhtar Ek Ladki – 1942 A Love Story
1993 Sameer Ghunghat Ki Aad – Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke
1992 Sameer Teri Umeed Tera Intezaar – Deewana
1991 Gulzar Yaara Seeli Seeli – Lekin
1990 Sameer Nazar Ke Saamne – Aashiqui
1989 Asad Bhopali Dil Deewana Bin – Maine Pyar Kiya
1988 Gulzar Mera Kuch Saaman – Ijaazat
1985 Vasant Dev Dil Kyon – Utsav
1984 Hasan Kamal Aaj Ki Awaz – Aaj Ki Awaz
1983 Gulzar Tujse Naaraz Nahin – Masoom
1982 Santosh Anand Mohabbat Hai Kya Cheez – Prem Rog
1981 Anand Bakshi Tere Mere Beech – Ek Duje Ke Liye
1980 Gulzar Hazar Rahen – Thodisi Bewafai
1979 Gulzar Aane Wale Pal – Gol Maal
1978 Anand Bakshi Aadmi Musafir Hain – Apnapan
1977 Gulzar Do Deewane Shaher – Gharaonda
1976 Sahair Ludhianvi Kabhi Kabhi Mere – Kabhi Kabhi
1975 Indeevar Dil Aisa Kisine – Amanush
1974 Santosh Anand Main na bhoolonga – Roti Kapda Aur Makan
1973 Gulshan Bawra Yaari Hai Imaan Mera – Zanjeer
1972 Varma Malik Jai Bolo – Be Imaan
1971 Majrooh Zindagi Ek Safar – Andaz
1970 Varma Malik Sabse Bada Nadaan – Pehchan
1969 Neeraj Kaal ka Pahiya – Chanda Aur Bijli
1968 Shailendra Main Gaaon Tum So Jaao – Brahmachari
1967 Gulshan Bawra Mere Desh Ki Dharti – Upkaar
1966 Hasrat Jaipuri Baharon Phool Barsaao – Sooraj
1965 Rajendra Krishna Tumhi Mere Mandir – Khandan
1964 Majrooh Sultanpuri Chaahunga Main Tujhe – Dosti
1963 Sahir Ludhianvi Jo Waada Kiya – Taj Mahal
1962 Shakeel Badayuni Kahin Deep Jale – Bees Saal Baad
1961 Shakeel Badayuni Husnawale Tere Jawab – Gharana
1960 Shakeel Badayuni Chaudhvin Ka Chaand – Chaudhvin Ka Chaand
1959 Shailendra Sab Kuch Sikha – Anari
1958 Shailendra Yeh Mera Deewanapan – Yahudi

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