4 March 2019

Sahir Ludhianvi

Sahir Ludhianvi
Sahir Ludhianvi

Sahir Ludhianvi

For me - he is one of the best Hindi Film Lyricist - almost close to being the best - if not for the 2 flawed songs [according to me].

I am aware that it will be blasphemous, to criticize this great person, who has given me immense pleasure with his prolific, realistic and  romantic songs.

I am amazed at his repertoire - how imaginatively romantic  one can get - when one hears the song = 'Raat bhi hai kuch bheegi bheegi' from Muze Jeene Do -1963. Look at the lines - Tum aao to ankhen khole, soyi hui payal ki chham chham. Can you imagine ever for the ubiquitous anklets adorned by Indian women to go to sleep and then be awaken by the subtle noise of someone lovable coming in the vicinity. Fantastic, simply fantastic. Cannot think of a more thrilling ode to the lover.

Continuing in the same vein, the  mirth and joy accompanying the rituals of  marriage == Maang mein bharle rang sakhiri, aanchal bharle taare, milan riitu aa gayi,; jaayegi tu un sang sakhiri, jo  tohe laage pyare - the ultimate consummation of marriage, with the beloved. Each and every word in the song - raising it to the pivotal climax.

And then again switching gears in the same movie getting philosophical, ruing the fact about the brief life of a child due to the circumstances surrounding his birth. The child's mother, wailing 'Tere bachpan ko jawani ki dua deti hoon, aur dua deke pareshan si ho jaati hoon'. Not a word out of place, taut emotions. And the third stanza - Bediyan leke lapakta hua kanoon ka haath, tere maa-baap se jab  tuzko mili ye saughat. Each and every line of the lyric fills you with apprehension, the worst sense of foreboding, fear of unknown danger, lurking in the garb of the law.

The great Sahir at play here. All the songs of this movie are so beautifully tuned by Jaidev - the master underrated craftsman.

Going further back a few years to Pyasa [1957], we see the same thing - his switching from Romantic mood to light masti to philosophical to melancholy with equal ease....

Hum aap ki bahon mein - while romancing Mala Sinha, to a woman submitting herself 'Aaj sajan mohe aang laga lo', switching to a very light song like 'Sar jo tera chakraye' without ever loosing the momentum. Then again turning seriously critical in - '"ये कूचे, ये नीलामघर दिलकशी के, ये लुटते हुए कारवां ज़िंदगी के, कहाँ है कहाँ है मुहाफ़िज़ खुदी के? जिन्हें नाज़ है हिंद पर,वो कहाँ हैं?" or subtly agonizing over unrequited love in 'Jaane wo kaise log the jinko pyar se pyar mila'; till the climax song of the movie 'ye mahlo, ye takhto, ye taajo ki duniya, ye inasaa ke dushman samaajo ki duniyaa'. Sachinda doing justice  to Sahir's words or Sahir complimenting S D Burman's tunes with appropriate words.

These are just two movies out of the many Sahir penned songs. Unless one sits down to write a book on Sahir's lyrics, it is difficult to put his entire career in a blog. Such a humongous task cannot be achieved or attempted by an ordinary person like me.

However to be very honest, I cannot end this without mentioning 2 songs, penned by this great man, the few lines of  which rankle me no end.

1. Naya Daur [1957] - fantastic music - great lyrics - almost all but 1 line --- Mang ke saath tumhara - such a popular romantic song, setting the tone of the romance of the lead pair and the 4th line in the first stanza 'Aas mili armaan mila === Jeene ka saman mila'. What's happening - a person of Sahir's calibre using a word like 'Saman', which ordinarily denotes luggage. This word 'Samaan' to me is out of sync with the greatness of Sahir.

2. Devdas [1955] - Bimal Roy's classic and according to me the best of the 3 movies by the same name [1935, 1955 and 2002]. Everything high calibre in this movie - Direction - Acting - Music - Lyrics except 2 lines in the most beautifully written song of the movie == 'Jise tu kabul karle, wo ada kahan se laon, tere dil ko jo lubhaye, wo sada kahan se laon'. The first stanza, 2nd line - Meri umr ba-h ga-i hai meri ansuo mein dhalke. First hear and see how Lata has to stretch the word ba-h and gayi to adjust the meter of the song. Secondly I think 'umr' dhalti hai, not bahti hai and aanso bahte hai and not dhalte hai. So appropriately this line should have been -- 'meri umr dhal gayi hai, meri ansuo mein bah ke'. Sing along and watch the ease with which this line jells with the song.

I am sorry Sahir saab. This is in no way an attempt to undermine or demean your fantastic achievement. Cannot even imagine it.

You will always be great for me.

Dilip Apte


  1. सर, आप हिंदी/उर्दू साहित्य से मुझसे ज्यादा वाकिफ हैं. मगर मुझे ये लगता है.… यहाँ कुछ भी गलत नहीं है.

    Meri umr ba-h ga-i hai meri ansuo mein dhalke....

    ये देखिये मजरूह साहब के गीत की दो पंक्तियाँ

    mai dhal gai rang me tere
    tu razi hai ab to sanwariya

    …इन दोनों गीतों में ढलना "सूरज ढलने' वाला ढलना नहीं है ।ढल जाने के और भी मतलब होते हैं. और ढलने का मतलब जहाँ तक मेरा ख्याल है 'transform' होना भी होता है. यहाँ गीतकार ने उम्र को आंसुओं में transfrom किया हैं. ट्रान्फोर्म एक form से दूसरी form में बदलना होता है ।

    साहिर साहब अपने गीत में कह रहे हैं की मेरी उम्र आंसुओं में ढलके बही है. आंसुओं को उन्होंने बहाया ही है. ढलने नहीं दिया। यहाँ ढलने जैसा कुछ नहीं है.
    उम्र जो है आंसुओं में ढली(tranform ) फिर बही. …

  2. and yes....metering ki baat apki sahi ho sakti hai,,,par in stanjas mein koi khaami nahi lagti mujhe

    1. Thanks Umesh Kumar- as I said at the beginning- it is blasphemous to find faults, with the poetry of great person like Sahir- and more so when he is my favourite. There can be many interpretations of poem and it depends upon the understanding of a person. I will tell you a real life incidence which happened with another great poet- Robert Browning. He was once asked by an admirer about the meaning of a stanza in his poem ' The Patriot' . He replied and I quote " When I wrote the poem , 2 persons knew the meaning of the words , God and me : now only one person knows the meaning 'God' " unquote

    2. Dilip Apte sahib, leaving aside the 2-lines of Sahir you quoted, would you please quote the referece

      of the quotation attributed to the Robert Browning?

    3. one thing more for your consideration,Sahir has said that "umer " ansuoon mien dahl kar beh gae hae,so bahi umer nahi balke pani(Anso) hae.kisi shaer se pooch lijiye,line ka wazan pilkul theek hae pata nahi kyoon apko mehsoos hua hae keh Lata ji ko itni rawan line gate hue diqat hue ho gi

    4. Abdul- saab- Thanks very much for your reply and the explanation . What I was referring to was the meter in singing- ' Meri umr bah gayi hai meri ansso mein dhalke and when singing- Meri umr dhal gayi hai-meri aanson mein bahke. Moreever- when we speak we say umr dhalti hai and aansoo behte hai. It has never been even in my dream s to find faults or challenge a great poet[ who is also my favourite. Neither do I have the capacity nor the authority to even pose a question. Regarding Robert Browning's remarks- you will have to read his biography. Thanks- once again I appreciate your comments

    5. sir you have said that you are big fan of sahir saab...but your point was good...but view of a poet can be different.....

      like i have written it..

      tinka tinka ek sametha,
      phir banaya ek gharonda...

      main phirta raha naap badan ka,
      jaise ek parinda...

      ab aap kahoge ki naap to kapdo ka hota hai...hai na

    6. There is no change in meter, Dilip Saheb!
      bah gayi hai, or, dhal gayi hai -- no change of meter -- both the variations have same number of syllables.

    7. Just check:
      meri umr dhal gayi hai, meri ansuo mein bah ke
      Meri umr bah gayi hai, meri ansuo mein dhal ke

      No change in meter -- they are same.

  3. Kaka, Aprateem lekh.
    In the song from Naya Daur, probably Sahirji wanted to liken the terms 'Aas' and 'Armaan' to 'samaan' to bring in an analogy to the lives of tonga drivers - as Dilip kumar was a tonga driver. Just as a tonga does not move until it gets a 'sawari+samaan,' their (Dilip's and Vyjayanti's) lives also were stationary till they found hope and desires to give a green signal.

  4. Do not engage in post mortem of the song through literature angle. Just listen and 'feel' the melody, mood and rhythm, which in today's time unable, if not impossible, to experience and observe. These are India's master pieces to be felt (mehsoos karna) and not to be dissected. Thanks

  5. Mr. Apte, I chanced upon your blog today, and saw your two reservations about Sahir’s poetry. Being an avid reader of Urdu poetry in general and Sahir’s poetry in particular, I would like to offer my humble explanation of what Sahir is trying to say at the two spots you mentioned.
    First, please note that the word ‘saamaan’ means ‘apparatus’ or ‘means’ in addition to ‘luggage.’ In the Naya Daur song, all Sahir is trying to say is ‘I got the means (or better still, the reason) to live.’ As an example, let me cite a sher (couplet) by “Asar” Lakhnawi.
    Saamaan-e-sad.hazaar tamaashaa thii be.Khudii
    aaNkheN thiiN band aur ‘Asar’ dekhte rahe
    (This roughly translates as follows. My unconsciousness was the means/reason of a lot of drama. My eyes were closed, but I witnessed it all.)
    Second, on the Devdas song, Umesh Kumar’s explanation is good enough. I would like to add that poets often associate with subjects/objects certain verbs that are not normally used with them. We know that life generally doesn’t ‘flow’ so it is not usual to say that ‘umr bah gayi.’ However, once it is understood that the you have been crying the entire life, it is perfectly fine to say that ‘umr aaNsuoN meiN bah gayi.’ As an example, let me quote a sher by “Safi” Lakhnawi (It is a coincidence that both of my examples are by poets from Lucknow.)
    Ghazal us ne chheRii, mujhe saaz denaa
    zaraa umr-e-raftaa ko aawaaz denaa
    (This roughly translates as follows. She started (singing) the ghazal. Give me the musical instrument (to play along.) Let us thus call upon (or reminisce) the (good) old times. Please note that one doesn’t usually ‘call upon’ old times, but such literal constructs are allowed under poetic license.)
    Finally, let me say that Sahir’s command on Urdu language was extraordinary. I have never found any example of incorrect grammar in his poetry. The two places you mentioned, too, are absolutely acceptable and correct as far as grammar is concerned. I hope you will remove the word ‘almost’ from your ranking of Sahir and call him just ‘the best!’ :)

    1. Thanks and I am in consonance with your arguements Irfan Abid. Please keep reading and pointing out my lacuna's .

  6. साहिर ए समंदरपे जहाभी
    हमने पत्थर उछाले।
    उस जाहिलने वहीसे
    लहरोंके तरन्नुम निकाले।
    Thnx for making me understand Sahir again.
    I know there is no ocean named after Sahir n there is nothing called lahronke tarnnum.....फिरभी gustakhi maaf...युगा.

  7. Although the commonplace or everyday meaning of “saman” is luggage, Urdu Poets have used it to mean “support” or “wherewithal”

    Ghalib wrote:
    Chand Tasveer -E- Buta Chand Haseenon Ke Khatoot
    Baad Marne Ke Mere Saman Yeh Ghar Se Nikla
    A few pictures of my idols, a few letters from the beauteous – these were my means of my support.

    And somewhat to the same effect is this one from Dagh Dehlvi
    Hosh-O-Havas-O-Tab-O-Tava Daag Kho Chuke
    Ab Ham Bhi Jaane Wale Hai Saman To Gaya

    1. Thanks a ton Jayan Menon saab . I welcome and appreciate your comments .

  8. what a great conversations between great fans of SAHIr

  9. To cclear Dlips understanding of the line in question "Meri Umar beh gaee hai mare ansoon mai dhal kay" one has to look in the depth of the poets feelings. to me as I understand the the tears were not the tears but her life that was flowing thru her eyes transforming into tears, the word dhalkay is not to be taken as passing but rather transforming its shape

  10. Honourable connaissoirs have already expressed very nicely the nuances in the Greatest poet Sahir's kalam.
    We ,the mortals ,are all fortunate lot on this mother India and should only focus on the nector that we all get . no necessity of any deep critical analysis of words choosen by these Jadugars of poetry. JUST ENJOY TO THE HEARTS CONTENT ...

    1. These discussions are intellectually stimulating. I would very much like to know the views or interpretations of other 'intelligent' mortals[ like Abdul and Irfan Abid] about our Greatest Poet. After all Sahir wrote for Aaam Admi !!!

  11. दीलीपजी सबसे पहले मैं आपको इस बलाग के लिये बहुत बहुत बधाई देता हुं keep it up

  12. The main write-up,comments thereon, views & perceptions are informative & make interesting reading.I read great Sahir a lot as also his non film shaayari which is now also accessible at www.rekhta.com. As for jeene ka saamaan Mila, I recall Hairat Allahabadi who wrote.. agah apni maut se koi bashar nahi.n; saamaan sou baras ka hai pal ki khabar nahi.n thereby using it as provision for life or living.Seemingly equating it with basic requirements of life or jeene ka sahaara

  13. We are all reading, writing, understanding and commenting in English language on the Urdu poetry of Marhum Sahir. Therefore, we are all aware of "Figures of Speech", where meaning of the words are different than their meaning as found in the dictionary or rather have different shades of meaning. Is it True ? Plz. do not undermine the urdu poetry of Marhum Sahir Sahab. As someone rightly already commented above . . . . "mahsus karna." Plz plz mahsus karo but do not dissect.

  14. Dear Dilip ji,
    Narrating one recent incidence on the same song of Naya Daur. I was accompanied in group on South India your and enjoying Antakshari and discussing about deteriorating quality of today's lyrics. One of the young co-passenger quoted the same line and said it prevailed in old days too, just to adjust meter of lines or यमक जुळवून आणण्यासाठी.One of the senor and learned friend in the group explained this in a convincing manner. I quite his words "Here Sahir is referring the word Saman as Perception of life जीने का नजरीया. Hope you would appreciate this. Name of my friend is Mr. R. Sunder. He has a big treasure of Hindi Film music. He sings songs of Talat...Regards. Chandrashekhar Kulkarni.

  15. I am too young to comment or analyse anything about the legend and I think all posts above have clearly justified the words here. However one must not forget that O. P. Nayyar with Sahir Ludhianvi were never on a same wavelength. Sahir Ludhianvi did not appreciate/ believe in the idea of wrinting to fit the tunes. He clashed with several on this and came out winning on this issue. May be egos clashed during the making of this movie as well, who knows. And one must not forget the sensitivity of a poet....

    Honestly the more I read what he read...the more I fall in love with those words.....

  16. When he wrote lyrics for Gumrah movie, "chalo ek baar hum phir se ajnabi ban jaye" he received great applause from Hasrat Shailendra and other poets of the time. Great poet !

  17. Mere dilbar mujhse khafa na ho unforgettable from dharmputra

  18. link to this blog was forwarded to me by a friend. am glad he did!

    debate on 'saamaan' reminds me of the famous Shakeel song:
    'dil me chhupaa ke pyaar ka toofaan le chale,
    hum aaj apni maut ka saamaan le chale...'

    about 'behna', and 'dhalna', poets are known for thinking out of the box. isn't that what poetry is all about!


  19. Dilipsaab.. the way you analyse the words saahir ji has used, you may not consider Gulzaar ji a poet at all..!!