Painting vivid word pictures of the various shades of romance time and time again is no easy task. Yet Hasrat Jaipuri did just that in song after song, leaving us with thousands of verses that express love’s every emotion, writes Anuradha Warrier
A ‘song’, by its very nature, comprises music, melody and words. It is meant to be sung. It is when these four components meld into a harmonious whole that we get a classic. Yet, lyricists typically receive the short end of the stick when credit is apportioned. Much like an actor becomes the ‘face of the film’, a song is typically remembered due to its singer; if you are a musician yourself, or interested in music, by the composer who composed the melody. Real music aficionados might go a step further and pay attention to the arrangers who flesh out a tune. Left out in this game of musical chairs, is the lyricist, whose words are responsible for the song’s resonance in our minds and hearts.
Being a lyricist is different from being a poet. All lyricists are poets; all poets cannot be lyricists. To write to a given metre is not an easy task. To express an emotion specific to a given context is even more difficult. Kaifi Azmi once described writing songs for films as “digging a grave and finding a corpse to fit in it”1. Our great lyricists were past masters at the task; among them was a man whose romantic nature inspired him to distil the essence of love into vivid word pictures.
Born Iqbal Hussain in 1922 in Jaipur, Rajasthan, ‘Hasrat Jaipuri’ was his ‘takhallus’ or nom-de-plume as a poet. Young Iqbal got his grounding in Urdu and Persian from his paternal grandfather, Fida Hussain. When he first came to Bombay, he worked as a bus conductor. Poetry may feed his soul, but one had to live.
Eight long years went by, traversing myriad bus routes in the city of dreams. To slake his creativity, he began to attend local mushairas. At one such mushaira, his poem titled Mazdoor ki laash impressed a member of the audience — theatre and film doyen Prithviraj Kapoor. So much so, Papaji (as he was universally known) introduced the young poet to his eldest son, who promptly signed him as the lyricist for Barsaat. Hasrat’s introduction to Raj Kapoor was the beginning of a beautiful friendship and a long-lasting professional relationship.
Meanwhile, another young poet had also made his way to the fledgling RK banner: Shailendra, whom Raj Kapoor had earlier met at another mushaira. At the time, Kapoor, who was directing his debut film Aag, had been so impressed with Shailendra’s poem, Jalta hai Punjab that he had offered to buy it to use in his film. Shailendra had refused then, saying his poetry was not for sale. But two years later, circumstances forced Shailendra to do just that. Kapoor, who was then filming Barsaat, had already hired two new music directors – Shankar and Jaikishan. Now he had two debutant lyricists on board as well.
Together, the foursome formed Raj Kapoor’ ‘Dream Team’.
Hasrat Jaipuri’s very first lyrics for films were for Jiya beqarar hai (Barsaat), scored by Shankar. [This, incidentally, was the melody that caused the falling out between Kapoor and Ram Ganguly, his music director for Aag.] Then, he wrote Chhod gaye baalam for Jaikishan, for the same film. [Hasrat would write six of Barsaat’s 10 songs.] The Dream Team were now falling into a pattern – Hasrat worked mostly with Jaikishan, while Shailendra formed a partnership with Shankar, though this was by no means an exclusive arrangement.
Hasrat was a self-confessed, unabashed romantic. In fact, it was love that inspired him to write poetry. In an interview with Lehren TV2 many years ago, he quoted that first attempt at verse:
Tu jharoke se jo jhaanke to main itna poochuun
Mere mehboob, tujhe pyaar karuun ya na karuun
It was that neighbour – Radha – that he wrote Ye mera prem padhkar (Sangam) to — his first love letter, he says. That poetic confession would later be sung to another ‘Radha’ — Vyjayanthimala in Sangam. Similarly, Dil ke jharoke mein tujh ko bithaa kar (Brahmachari) had its origins in the last letter he wrote to his Radha, as she married someone else. In that same interview, Hasrat jovially confessed that as a bus conductor, he had often allowed beautiful girls to travel free on his routes, because their beauty inspired him.
This romantic streak was evident in his lyrics as well — his masterful pen traversed the myriad exquisite shades of romance: love, longing, heartbreak and everything else in between. Think of the pathos of Tum mujhe yun bhula na paaoge (Pagla Kahin Ka) or the coquetry inherent in Ye kya kar daala tune dil tera ho gaya (Howrah Bridge). Soak in the sheer romance of first love in Meri aankhon mein bas gaya koi re (Barsaat) and shed a tear for the searing anguish of a broken heart in Rasik balma (Chori Chori).
Hasrat could also turn his pen to sensual verse when he wanted; whether it was the naughty Main kaa karuun Ram mujhe buddha mil gaya (Sangam) or the sensuous Ho maine pyaar kiya (Jis Desh Mein Ganga Bahti Hain). For the latter song, Hasrat had penned a verse:
Jab jab tujh ko dekhuun aane lagii angdaaii
Dheere dheere aakhir band kali muskaaii
This caused problems when the film went to the Censor Board for certification. According to Hasrat, the board members refused to listen to reason — they thought the verse was too erotic. Not wanting the song to be axed, Hasrat requested Raj Kapoor to show him the picturisation, and then, masterfully changed the offending lines to:
Jab jab un ko dekhuun laaj se main sharmaaii
Dheere dheere aakhir man ki kali muskaii — words that matched the lip movements on screen.
Hasrat also had a puckish sense of humour that found its way in the delightful riddles of Ichak daana bichak dana (Shri 420), in the youthful exuberance of Is duniya mein jeena hai to (Gumnaam) and the sheer lunacy of Aao twist karein (Bhoot Bangla) where he writes:
Suno, aur gaur se suno
Arre, pehle taaliyaan to bajaao!
So, here, on his 101st birth anniversary, is a bouquet of Hasrat ki haseen hasratein…
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle
A bevy of young women are celebrating the advent of Spring, the season of love. And amidst them are two young women who have escaped the tiresome discipline imposed on them by their grandmother — for this afternoon, at least. Their thoughts turn to love as an escape from the tedium of their lives – perhaps a young man will come and sweep them off their feet.
Din ka suraj raat ka chanda raahon ka ujiyaara
Hamre nain pe chhaayaa bin dekhe matwaara
Ram hii jaane kaisa hoga sapna jis ka pyaara
Haay re jis ki aankh ne hum par pyaar ka jaduu daara
They don’t know who, they don’t know how, but come he will.
Howrah Bridge (1958)
Singer: Asha Bhosle
Music: OP Nayyar
She’s unaware that he’s only romancing her so he can uncover the secret of his brother’s death. She is in love, and here, she’s by turns teasing and coquettish, flirting with him as only a woman in love can. Yet, there’s an inherent shyness as she admits her love.
Jab aankh mili sharmaaoon, main khoii khoii jaauun
Aankhon ki kaliya kaampen jab saamne tujh ko paauun
Sun mere dil, sapnon mein mil, dard hua deewana….
The switch from flirtatious to shyness is seamless and Hasrat rises to the occasion with each verse complementing the emotions expressed. OP Nayyar begins with his familiar tonga beats before the action moves to a boat floating gently down the Hooghly.
Tere Ghar ke Samne (1963)
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Music: SD Burman
A man in love has to find many ways to woo the woman of his dreams. But first, he has to meet her alone. So, when Sulekha (Nutan) wants to climb to the top of the Qutb Minar, Rakesh (Dev) gallantly offers to go with her. On the way up, he attempts to tell her of his feelings, but she refuses to listen. “Listen to the sounds of silence,” she says, even though she knows why he’s escorting her. Abashed, Rakesh falls silent. On their way down the steps, however, he insists that she listen to the buzz of his beating heart. She’s not immune to his charms, and by the end of the song, she’s not even making the pretence of a token resistance.
Hasrat dips into his own aashiqaana mizaaj to write:
Aap ka ye aanchal, pyaar ka ye baadal
Phir humein zameen pe le chala
Ab toh haath thaam lo, ik nazar ka jaam do
Is naye safar ka vaasta
Tum mere saaqiya re, pyaar ka raag suno re
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
There are some songs that have it all – a combination of voice, verse and melody that inevitably strikes a chord in the listener. Is rang badalti duniya mein is one such song for me. The cadence of Mohammed Rafi’s voice, the evocativeness of Hasrat’s lyrics, the fabulous music of Shankar-Jaikishan and the sheer gorgeousness of Shammi Kapoor and Sadhana on screen – the result is pure magic.
Ye dil hai bada hii deewaana
Chheda na karo is paagal ko
Tum se na sharaarat kar baithe
Nadaan kii niiyat theek nahin
This is romance — in its purest, most distilled form. Hasrat’s lyrics emphasise the intensity of a man’s love for his beloved — Nikla na karo tum saj-dhaj kar, he begs her, Imaan ki neeyat theek nahin… his intentions are not honourable.
The woman is not immune to his plea but her every action, her very gaze, acknowledges her effect on his senses, as he queries how he can bear to bid her goodbye — for he trusts no one, not even God.
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
A loving relationship must be based on trust, an unshakeable faith in one’s beloved. When Shekhar’s (Shammi Kapoor) mother insults Rajkumari (Saira Banu), the self-respecting young woman walks out, her dignity intact. However, she’s livid that her beloved didn’t spring to her defence. The young man, having done exactly that, only not in the moment, apologizes sincerely — he loves her, he trusts her, he will stand by her, come what may. In return, he hopes that she will forgive him for his momentary pusillanimity. His voice holds reverence, devotion and hope as he pleads:
Chaahe banaa do, chaahe mita do
Mar bhi gaye to denge duaaein
Ud-ud ke kahegi khaaq sanam
Ye dard-e-mohabbat sehne do
Mujhe tumse mohabbat ho gayi hai
Mujhe palkon ki chhaanv mein rehne do…
How can she not forgive?
Singers: Hemant Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar
Yaad kiya dil ne kahaan ho tum is a song of second chances, of true acceptance of a person one loves. She has a past; he knows, but it doesn’t matter to him. He loves her, and that’s all that matters. It’s a relationship that has seen its fair share of trials and tribulations, and they have discovered that the past – and what happened in it — is not as important as their present happiness. That quiet acceptance is present in Hasrat’s lyrics as well:
O kho gaye ho aaj kis khayaal mein
O dil phansa hain bebasi ke jaal mein
Matlabi jahaan meherbaan ho tum
Yaad kiya dil ne kahaan ho tum
Jhoomti bahaar hai kahaan ho tum
Pyar se pukaar lo jahaan ho tum
He wonders why she’s lost in thought; she’s conflicted, she says, the world has not treated her well but his compassion has given her a second chance. So, when he queries where she is, she answers: “Whenever you call me with love, wherever you call me, I’ll be there!”
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Music: Shankar Jaikishan
Waiting is so much a part of love that it seems like one of its many stages. How often have you waited anxiously for the person you love to arrive? In the film, Amrapali, the newly appointed Rajnartaki, or court danseuse, is preparing for her debut in court. But, lost in thoughts of the wounded soldier she had previously met, and anxious at his absence, she is oblivious to both her Guru’s discomfiture and the king’s irritation. In the only song which he penned in this film, Hasrat captures Amrapali’s anxiety in shudh Hindustani:
Kehta hai samay ka ujiyaara
Ik chandr bhi aanewala hai
In jyot ki pyaasi akhiyon ko
Akhiyon se pilaanewala hai
Jab paat hawa se bajte hain
Hum chaunk ke rain takte hai
Dil panchhi ban ud jaati hain
Hum khoye khoye rehte hain
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Day turns into night and night inches towards dawn — and yet, there’s no sign of her beloved. He had promised to come to her but circumstances have forced his hand – Raj’s (Raj Kapoor) attempts to leave his criminal past behind have been hindered by his erstwhile boss (KN Singh) and Rita’s (Nargis) guardian (Prithviraj Kapoor). Her anguish at the separation and her yearning for his company is captured in:
Ghabraake nazar bhi haar gayi
Taqdeer ko bhi neend aane lagi…
Tum aate nahin main jaauun kahaan
Ye raat guzarnewaali hai
Little does she know that at that very moment, he’s outside the walls of her palatial home, barred from entering by her guardian’s orders.
Music: Dattaram Wadekar
Where love appears, heartbreak follows. In this case, however, the heartbreak is self-inflicted. Wanting to please his father by finally putting an end to the dilemma of who the real heir is, Raja insists upon leaving home. Unfortunately, that also puts his relationship with Asha (Mala Sinha) in jeopardy. She must forget him, he pleads, for he has no links to her world any more.
Vaade bhula dein qasam tod dein woh
Haalat pe apni humein chhod dein woh
He has no right to destroy her life. She will find a better man, certainly a more respectable one. But sacrifice comes at a personal cost; he cannot hide his own anguish at the choices he makes.
Barbaadiyon ki ajab dastaan hoon
Shabnam bhi roye main woh aasmaan hoon
Unhein ghar mubaarak humein apni aahein
Koi un se keh de humein bhool jaayein…
Film lore has it that Raj Kapoor gave Hasrat the ‘Unhein ghar mubarak humein apni aahein’ line to include.
Shree 420 (1955)
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
When Maya’s (Nadira) siren song pulls Raj (Raj Kapoor) into a world of glitter and gloss, Vidya (Nargis) makes a dignified exit. And when Raj comes to meet her, angry that she’s left him, upset at her reaction to his success, and finally, turns scornfully away from her, Vidya stands mute. She will not compromise on her principles. Yet, there’s an inner voice that insists that she loves him, that pleads with her to stop him, and with him to look back — just once!
Fariyaad kar rahi hain khamosh nigaahein
Aansuu ki tarah aankh se mujhko na giraana
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Music: C Ramchandra
The last stage of love. Hasrat’s pen drips with the poignancy of a woman whose fate has been sealed because she dared to love. Incarcerated for the crime of loving the prince, court dancer Anarkali (Bina Rai) questions God:
Tu dekhta rahe aur duniya humein sazaa de
Kya jurm hai muhobbat itna humein bata de
Manzil pe kyun luta hai har kaarwaan khushi ka
O aasmaanwaale shikwa hai zindagi ka
Sun dastaan gham ki afsaana bebasi ka…
To love deeply is to know anguish, and never more so than when that love leads you to the brink of death. And she sings of her helplessness, and His obliviousness to her plight.
Teesri Kasam (1966)
This list is heavily tilted in favour of Shankar-Jaikishan with whom Hasrat worked the most and I cannot end this article without a mention of one of their greatest songs, in which Hasrat philosophically questions why the Creator would want to make such a pitiless world.
When friend and colleague Shailendra decided to make a film based on Phaneeswarnath Renu’s short story Maare Gaye Gulfaam, he roped in Hasrat to pen a couple of songs. According to Majrooh3, he wrote the mukhda of this song for Raj Kapoor in 1947 or 1948. Hasrat expounded upon that introductory verse to question God — why make a world where tragedy abounds? Interspersed with the verses is the tragic story of Mahua. Listening to it is another woman whose fate parallels Mahua’s in many ways, and to whom the verses seem to give voice to her own feelings.
Preet banaake tuune jeena sikhaaya
Hansna sikhaaya, rona sikhaaya
Jeewan ke path par meet milaaye
Meet milaake tuune sapne jagaaye
Sapne jagaake tuune, kaahe ko de di judaaii
Kaahe ko duniya banaaii, tuune kaahe ko duniya banaaii
RK’s Dream Team broke up with Shailendra’s death in 1966, but Hasrat continued to work for the banner until Jaikishan and Mukesh passed away and the filmmaker moved on to a new team. After a long hiatus, he returned to his ‘home’ banner to pen Sun sahiba sun for Ram Teri Ganga Maili and three songs for Henna.
For a lyricist who began writing songs in the late 40s, Hasrat continued to write songs well into the 90s, working with younger music directors, though he couldn’t relate to the western melodies, or the lack of context for songs, that had become the trend. Be that as it may, Hasrat Jaipuri has left behind a body of work that enshrines him in our collective memories, and indeed, brings him new fans in every generation. In his own words…
Tum mujhe yun bhula na paaoge
Jab kabhi bhi sunoge geet mere
Sang sang tum bhi gungunaaoge…
3. Majrooh’s interview (for Duniya banaane wale reference)
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An appropriate and deserving tribute to Hasrat who ranked among the best lyricists of that era which was itself rich with many highly talented poets writing lyrics for film songs.
Speaking for myself, of the four elements that you mentioned, it is ‘Lyrics’ that make any song memorable.
I have often been asked to identify a very old song by someone humming only a part of its tune and could do so easily.
But, just a few “Words” of the song ( without the tune), and I can recall the entire song. I believe that while the tune ‘attracts’ and stays buried somewhere deep inside the brain, it is the “Words” that remain “Etched” there forever. Perhaps, it is because while a good tune is pleasant on the ears, words make one ‘think’ and appreciate the atmosphere and the sentiment that the song reflects; this is the reason that one tends to be replaying or silently singing under one’s breath, some song or the other all the time, regardless of what one is engaging in at the moment.
Thus, I appreciate this article all the more as it glorifies a great lyricist who created some unforgettable lyrics.
Thank you so much for the appreciation, Mr Rajan.
@Kishwar Jaipuri, the honour is mine, Ms Jaipuri. Your father’s pen has given me hours and hours of listening (and reading) pleasure; this article is just a humble effort to thank him for those.