New Delhi: Lyricist Anand Bakshi didn’t really realise the immense popularity of his songs till, on a train journey, he came across a beggar singing one of them in a remote village.
“When I heard my song being sung by a beggar who doesn’t even own a radio, in a village that doesn’t even have electricity, I realised my songs are now famous. The beggar didn’t know me, but he knew my songs,” Bakshi once said, as recounted by Annu Kapoor in his radio show Suhana Safar.
It is this connect with the common person that earned Bakshi the moniker of the “people’s poet”, in contrast to contemporaries like Sahir Ludhianvi, Gulzar and Majrooh Sultanpuri, whose work was considered high art.
Anand Bakshi believed in keeping it simple — and it reflects in songs he penned, such as ‘Achha to hum chalte hain’ (Aan Milo Sajna, 1970), ‘Do lafzon ki hai’ (The Great Gambler, 1979), and the legendary ‘Kuchh to log kahenge’ (Amar Prem, 1972).
‘Bakshi sahib’, as he was best known, would’ve been 92 this year, but his journey came to an end on 30 March 2002, after contributing 3,000-plus songs for Hindi cinema. But right till the end, he kept writing lyrics for top filmmakers like Yash and Aditya Chopra (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge, Dil To Paagal Hai and Mohabbatein) and Subhash Ghai (Pardes, Taal and Yaadein).
ThePrint looks back on Anand Bakshi’s career and picks out some milestones from his nearly five-decade-long lyrical journey.
Safal hogi teri aradhana (Aradhana, 1969)
Every song of this movie was a hit, but this bardic composition, sung by music director S.D. Burman himself and set as the backdrop for the tough time Sharmila Tagore’s character goes through, was a hymn of hope. “Your worship will be successful, why do you cry?” it said, and found resonance in human sadness everywhere.
Another memorable line from the song is:
Diya toote to hai maati, jale to ye jyoti bane
Bahe aansu to hai paani, ruke to ye moti bane
(An earthen lamp breaks into soil, if burns it emits light;
If a tear flows it is just water, but if it stops, it becomes a pearl).
Pyar deewana hota hai (Kati Patang, 1971)
The R.D. Burman-Anand Bakshi-Shakti Samanta trio came together to produce a lot of magic, and in this film soundtrack, there isn’t a single unknown, underappreciated song — from Yeh shaam mastani, to Yeh jo mohabbat hai, Jis gali mein tera ghar na ho to the Holi classic Aaj na chhodenge bas humjoli.
But what is love, that most central theme of all in most cinema? Bakshi answers: Pyaar deewana hota hai, mastana hota hai… Har khushi se, har gham se begaana hota hai (It is mad, carefree, and doesn’t know happiness or sadness).
Shama kahe parwaane se, pare chala jaa
Meri tarah jal jaayega, yahan nahin aa
Wo nahin sunta, usko jal jana hota hai…
(The flame tells the moth, go away
You’ll burn like me, don’t come near
But it doesn’t listen because it wants to burn)
Zindagi ke safar mein (Aap Ki Kasam, 1974)
Life is ephemeral, and time stops for no one. R.D. Burman’s composition in Raga Bihag fits the philosophical tone of the lyrics snugly, and Kishore Kumar’s melancholic voice sums up why Rajesh Khanna’s character finds himself alone towards the end of the film — a man broken by his own ego and jealousy.
Doston, shaq dosti ka dushman hai
Apne dil mein ise ghar banane na do
Kal tadapna pade yaad mein jinki
Rok lo, rooth kar unko jaane na do
Baad mein, pyaar ke chaahe bhejo hazaaron salaam
Woh phir nahin aate…
(Friends, jealousy is the enemy of friendship
Don’t let it find a home in your heart
Those in whose memory you will agonise…
Don’t let them get upset and go away
Later, no matter if you send a thousand greetings of love
They won’t come back).
Aap ke anurodh pe (Anurodh, 1977)
As the opening credits of the movie roll, the protagonist, a singer, played by Rajesh Khanna, is in a studio recording with musicians. It is considered a highlight not just of Kishore Kumar’s singing career, but also the shining example of Bakshi’s work with his most frequent collaborators, the composer duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal.
Mat poochho auron ke dukh mein ye prem-kavi kyun rota hai
Jab chot kisi ko lagti hai, aur dard kisi ko hota hai
Door kahin koi darpan toote, tadap ke main reh jaata hun
(Don’t ask why this love-poet cries in others’ misery
When someone gets hurt, and someone else feels the pain
Somewhere in the distance, a mirror breaks, and I end up in agony).
Ye zameen ga rahi hai (Teri Kasam, 1982)
This upbeat, coming-of-age song features yodelling but isn’t a Kishore Kumar number. Instead, it’s the old firm of R.D. Burman and Anand Bakshi working with the legendary singer’s son Amit Kumar. On the screen is a fresh-faced Kumar Gaurav, son of actor Rajendra Kumar, describing what youth feels like.
Shokh kaliyon ke ghoonghat sarakne lage hain
Mast phoolon ke dil bhi dhadkane lage hain
Yeh baharon ka dilkash samaa gaa raha hai
Saath mere ye saara jahaan gaa raha hai
(The veils of playful flowerbuds have started slipping
The hearts of flowers have also started beating
This attractive atmosphere of spring is singing
With me, the entire world is singing).
Do dil mil rahe hain (Pardes, 1997)
The 1990s might have been a little light on lyrical quality, but Anand Bakshi wasn’t. This Kumar Sanu song, composed by Nadeem-Shravan and picturised on Shah Rukh Khan, was one of the decade’s true romantic anthems. Its simple melody and almost hushed tones truly highlighted the ‘chupke chupke’ (quietly) part.
Saanson mein badi beqarari, aankhon mein kayi rat jage
Kabhi kahin lag jaaye dil to, kahin phir dil na lage
Apna dil main zaraa thaam lun, jaadu ka main isse naam dun
Jaadu kar raha hai asar, chupke chupke
(The breathing is restless, the nights are sleepless
When the heart gets attracted to one, it doesn’t get attracted to anyone else
Let me control my heart, call this magic
This magic is taking hold, quietly.)
Chitthi na koi sandesh (Dushman, 1998)
The most famous version of this song is the one sung by Jagjit Singh. A eulogy on the loss of a loved one, it mourns:
Ek aah bhari hogi, humne na suni hogi
Jaate jaate tumne, awaaz toh di hogi
(You must have sighed and I never heard it
You might have called out to me while you were going).
Kahin aag lage (Taal, 1999)
Bakshi sahab’s first collaboration with A.R. Rahman produced more sparks, in the form of this Aishwarya Rai-Akshaye Khanna-Anil Kapoor starrer made by Subhash Ghai. Another instance of each song being a classic, this peppy number, sung with great gusto by Asha Bhosle, finds the lyricist at his poetic best, as a broken heart finds an outlet in dance.
Har waqt guzar jaata hai, par dard theher jaata hai
Sab bhool bhi jaaye koi, kuchh yaad magar aata hai
Jis ped ko bel ye lipte, wo sookhe, toote, simte
Phoolon ke baag ka vaada, par kaante bade ziyada
Na dawaa lage, na dua lage, ye prem rog hai…
(Every moment passes by, but the pain sticks
One might forget everything, but some memories remain
When this creeper wraps itself around a tree, it dries, breaks and shrinks
The promise is of a garden of flowers, but there are too many thorns
No medicine works, no prayer works, this is the disease called love).