There was a time when poetry in indian film songs, hindi especially, had reached the pinnacle.Sublime. there were highly talented writers, who embellished the music with sheer brilliance. it was a Golden age, for poetry..ofcourse, none would dispute that it was the same for music too.almost every famous writer had loads of talent, expressive and striking. my own favourites are many.
Mehboob Khan's films had two standard cues. Naushad's music and shakeel Badayuni's poetry, both of them going hand-in-hand. Shakeel Badayuni was traditionalist, while Majrooh touched all forms. Sahir and Kaifi Azmi had brilliant touch , in everything, but most importantly on issues(for they were communists).Shailendra was another genius. Rajinder kishen adorned some great music. It was indeed a Golden age. little known is the fact that some non-lyricists too, tried their hand at writing and did some remarkable work. like Naushad's ghazals, which he released later during 90s or kishore kumar's common-man lyrics in Jhumroo. Salil Chowdhary is regarded as one of the greatest writers in bengali literature.
the lyrics during 50s-60s were more or less similar, in quality. be it Mughal-e-Azam or Dil Ek mandir, they oozed out melody, through words. how else can one explain "zakhmon se bhara hain kisi majboor ka seena" , in mughal-e-azam.Majrooh on the other hand , adapted himself to all levels of poetry..from highly artistic ones to commercial ones. way back in 50s, he came up with :

hamare baad ab mehfil mein afsaane bayaan honge,
bahaarein humko dhoondenge na jaane hum kahan honge..

isi andaaz se jhoomega mausam..gaayegi duniya.
mohabbat phir haseen hogee, nazaaare phir jawaan honge..
bahaarein humko dhoondenge na jaane hum kahan honge..

madan mohan composed the music for those lines, with ever-lasting melody and lata, as usual, excelled. today i cant figure out the inspiration behind those lyrics. was it madan? or lata? well, the lines befit Majrooh himself.

instead of sticking to romantica, they reflected the times too. Sahir's Pyaasa or Kaifi Azmi's Kaagaz Ke Phool (both guru-dutt-s.d.burman combinations) had some brilliant lines. and they are still remembered today. but way back in 50s, Raj Kapoor's Boot Polish had lyrics like " teher zaraa oh jaanewaale..babu mister gore kaale..kab se baithe aas lagaake..hum matwaale..polishwaale", with kids singing this song. one particuklar line, in this song goes like "you pay a temple-priest more, when he chants some sacred chants..and pay us a mere trifle when we polish your shoes". though i didnt watch this film, believed to be a classic by raj kapoor, the moment i heard/understood these lines, for the 1st time ever in my life, i sat there in silence. i had to clap for Raj Kapoor( and the lyricist ofcourse) for the nth time. much before that, many songs from Raj Kapoor songs did impress me. in jis desh mein ganga behthee hai, the song "aa ab laut chale" had lines:
"aankh hamari manzil par hain..
dil mein khushi ki mast leher hain..
laakh lubhaaye mahal paraye..
apna ghar phir..apna ghar hain.."

they touch a different chord. take sahir's strong rebuke at mohd iqbal's "saare jahaan se achcha..hindustan hamara" song, by writing "chino arab hamara..hindustan hamara..rehne ko ghar nahi hai..saara jahaan hamara..footpath pe so rahe hain..har naujawaan hamara", in the film "phir subah hogi".Ofcourse, his Pyaasa stands tall.Guru Dutt got some brilliant lyrics for his films.

some small-time lyricists too, like Neeraj did remarkable work, perhaps to compete with the giants. When Prithvi Raj Kapoor disapproved raj kapoor's romance with nargis, Hasrat Jaipuri wrote "kisi nargisi nazar ko dil dhenge hum" for one of raj kapoor films, to tease him. and still, raj kapoor didnt change the lyrics.
The only lyricist , from the later generation who managed to achieve some quality happens to be Gulzar. in many ways, he broke the barriers and brought in non-poetic expressions to adorn his nuggets.having started out with "mora gora ang laile" in Bandini, he wrote many songs for hemant kumar during late 60s, like "tum pukaar lo..tumhaari intezaar hain" or "hawaaon pe likhdho..hawaaon ka naam". some classic expressions he used are unmatchable like in :

"humne dekhi hain..un aankhon ki mehekthi khusboo..
haath se chuke ise rishthon ka ilzaam na do...
sirf ehsaas hain yeh..rooh se mehsoos karo..
pyar ko pyaar hi rehne do..koi naam na do".

the quality of lyrics did come down a lot , during the 80s era. perhaps only a Javed Akhtar managed to maintain some quality in the lyrics. In many ways, he is a traditionalist too, because his lyrics profuse flowery metaphors. post Akhtar, none of the contemporary lyricists really made mark, as lyrics became monotonous. and highly crass. Sameer, one of the leading lyricist today, once went to Majrooh and showed him his lyrics so that he can try his luck in films. Majrooh , after reading few, threw the pages out of his balcony. The same lyrics were later used in a film and sameer shot into fame. That reflects the declined standards.
S.D.Burman and Majrooh were apprehensive about the lyrics of "chod do aanchal zamana kya kahega", for they felt that people would find it vulgar. today the song is a to 90s, we had contemporary lyricists writing "meri choli choti hogayi".

well, giving one example after another(there are 1000s..), i think i can write a book instead of a small blog. Also, i am already expected the ire of some readers, who might carp about the size of this, i have to end somewhere. but let me finally disclose what prompted me to write this blog. It is here below : a Classic song from film "didi"(1959), sung by suman kalyanpur and Mukesh.


tum mujhe bhool bhi yeh haq hain tumko..
meri baat aur hain..maine to mohabbat kee hain...

mere dil ki meri jazbaat ki keemat kya hai..
uljhe uljhe se khayaalaat ke keemat kya hai..
maine kyon pyar kiya..tumne na kyon pyar kiya..
in pareshaan sawaalon ki keemat kya hai..

mujhko yeh bhi na yeh haq hai tumko..
meri baat aur hain..maine to mohabbat kee hain...


zindagi sirf mohabbat nahi..kuch aur bhi hain..
zulf-o-rukhsar ki jannath nahi..kuch aur bhi hain..
bhook aur pyaas ki maaree hui is duniya mein..
ishq hee ek haqeeqat nahi..kuch aur bhi hain..

tum agar aankh churaao to yeh haq hain tumko..
maine tumse hi nahi..sabse mohabbat kee hain..


tumko duniya ki gham-e-dard se phursat na sahi,
sabse se ulfat se hi..mujhse bhi mohabbat na sahi..
main tumhari hoon yehi..mere liye kya kam hain..
tum mere hoke raho...yeh meri kismat na sahi..

aur bhi dil ko yeh haq hain tumko..
meri baat aur hain..maine to mohabbat kee hain..
tum mujhe bhool bhi yeh haq hain tumko.

this is what i call...sheer poetry.when i ask myself where are lyricits like these today? Kaifi Azmi reminds me, "bichde sabhi..baari baari".

Current Mood: Amazed
Current Music: Tum Mujhe Bhool Bhi Jaao