No Muslim Lyricists Worth Mentioning?

Recently I attended a seminar. The topic of the seminar was ‘Past and present lyricists of Hindi films.’ One rabid Hindu ‘scholar’ read his paper and eulogised Anand Bakhshi, Rajendra Krishna, Shailendra, Gopaldas Saxena ‘Neeraj’, Sampooran Singh ‘Gulzaar’, Kavi Pradeep, Pt. Narendra Sharma, Yogesh and even Gulshan Bawra (!), but he perfunctorily mentioned the names of Majrooh Sultanpuri and Shakeel Badayuni as also-rans and completely, nay deliberately, forgot Sahir Ludhianavi, Raza Mehdi Ali Khan, Hasrat Jaipuri, Kaifi Azmi or Shamsul Hooda ‘Bihari’ (SH Bihari). How can one be so biased and anti-Muslim? Even those who condemn Muslims will have to hail the contributions of Muslim lyricists. Agreed, Anand Bakhshi was a popular lyricist, but he was more of a pen-pusher. He knew Urdu, but barring a few gems like ‘Hamein kya jo har soo ujale hue hain, kay hum toh andheron ke paale hue hain’ (Namaste ji, Rafi), ‘Gham-e-hasti say bas begana hota’ (Wallah kya baat hai, Rafi, 1962), ‘Dhalti jaayay raat’ (Razia Sultan, Rafi-Asha, composer-Lachhiraam) and ‘Saari khushiyaan hain’ (Rafi, Suhana Safar, 1970), whatever he wrote can be dumped and discarded as sheer trash. ‘Neeraj’ was a good lyricist, but he was heavily influenced by Sahir Ludhiyanavi, the finest poet-lyricist Hindi film music ever had. Apart from ‘Nai umar ki nai fasal’, ‘Cha-Cha-Cha’, ‘Sharmeeli’ and a few others, Neeraj didn’t write much to be counted as one of the greats. Gulzaar is much-hyped and he’s for those, who don’t understand poetry or haven’t heard sublime Urdu poetry. What has been his contribution? Besides, ‘Khamoshi’ (1969), ‘Mere Apne’ (1972) and that everlasting ‘Jab bhi yay dil udaas hota hai’ (Rafi, ‘Seema’, 1970), all his songs are either for front-rowers or for pseudo-intellectuals, who pretend to understand poetry.
Majrooh Sultanpuri, Shakeel Badayuni, Sahir Ludhianavi, Raza Mehdi Ali Khan, Hasrat Jaipuri, Kaifi Azmi, Shamshul Huda Bihari

Hindi film music scenario is incomplete without the contributions of Muslim poet-lyricists like Sahir, Shakeel, Kaifi, Majrooh, Hasrat and Raza Mehdi Ali Khan. It was Sahir, who gave respectability to the particular genre of song-writing and there was a time in the sixties that he was charging a rupee more than Lata! How can we forget the pearls and diamonds of Pyasa (1960)? All the songs were musical adaptations from his nazms and ghazals in ‘Parchhaiyaan’ and ‘Talkhiyan’ (his two poetic compilations). ‘Ye duniya agar mil bhi jaaye’ (Rafi, Pyasa) is still considered to be one of the best songs that encapsulates the pain and pathos so beautifully. Recall the song ‘Man ray tu kaahe na dheer dhare’ (Rafi, Chitralekha, 1964). Isn’t it a quintessence of melancholic poetry and philosophy? Can anyone ever forget Shakeel’s ‘Zindagi ke safar mein akaylay thay hum’ (Nartaki, 1963) or his metaphysical ‘Aaj purani raahon se koi mujhe aawaaz na de’ (Rafi, Aadmi); Hasrat’s ‘Ehsaan tera hoga mujh par’ (Rafi, Jangli, 1962) or ‘Mujhe tumse muhabbat hai’ (Bachpan, Rafi, 1965), Majrooh’s ‘Hum hain mata-e-koocha-e-baazar’ (Lata, Dastak, 1970), ‘Meree aawaaz suno’ and ‘Tumhaari zulf ke saaye mein’ (Kaifi Azmi, Naunihaal); ‘Yahi woh jagah hai’ (S H Bihari, Asha Bhonsle in ‘Yay raat phir na aayegi’) or ‘Kaise kategi zindagi teray baghair’ (unreleased film, Raza Mehdi Ali Khan and sung by Muhammad Rafi). These are immortal songs, penned by Muslim poet-lyricists who didn’t shelve the soul of poetry and compromise on its essence. Moreover, in the sphere of art and creativity, why do we go by names and religions to decide who’s the best?

The music scenario has always been enriched by Muslim artistes and not to mention their names and contributions is akin to denying one’s heritage. It’s indeed a pity that we live in the age of Prasoon Joshi, Himesh Reshmiya and other lowly pen-pushers and copywriters. What an irony, these clowns’ ‘songs’ are passed off as ‘poetry’.       

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 May 2013 on page no. 2

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