Anand Bakshi, the most prolific lyricist of Hindi cinema lived a life which in itself is an inspiring journey of faith, dreams, success and humanity.
It was an invitation to a party, which had a sizeable presence of government officials. He wasn’t keeping too well but he still came. At the party, an Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax asked him to sing a few songs. He politely declined stating that he was bit under the weather and would not be able to sing for the evening.
Not used to being turned down, the government official was furious. “I am not requesting you. It is an order for you to sing,” the official snapped at him. He kept his cool and asked the person what position he held in his job. “I am Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax of such-and-such zone,” pat came the reply. “Well, there are over 500 individuals like you holding similar designations in our country but there is only one Anand Bakshi in this whole universe. The day you become one of a kind in your profession then come and order me. Not a minute before that. I would be more than happy to sing for you.”
Yes, the person who put the arrogant official firmly in his place was none other than Anand Prakash Bakshi or ‘Bakshi Saab’ as he was fondly called. A creative person, with confidence in his conviction, a down-to-earth attitude and a strong sense of self-respect, Bakshi Saab is arguably Hindi cinema’s most prolific lyricist, with a career spanning over 45 years and over 600 films to his credit.
Bakshi Saab had come to Mumbai with lofty aspirations of becoming a singer and work in the Indian film industry. But little did he know that destiny had different plans in store for him. A time came when all actors wanted to be part of projects which had lyrics penned by the legendary lyricist Anand Bakshi.
In a freewheeling chat at their residence in Bandra, Bakshi Saab’s son Rakesh Anand Bakshi shared several motivating, inspiring and interesting anecdotes about this gifted poet-lyricist. Rakesh Anand Bakshi is currently working on a book on Bakshi Saab “Mujhe Bhi Kuchh Kehnaa Hai – Anand Bakshi”, which is slated for release this year.
Samaa hai yeh pyaar ka – Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965)
The most prized possessions
Anand Prakash Bakhshi (Bakshi Saab) was born in Rawalpindi, now in Pakistan, in the year 1930. From an early age Bakshi Saab had developed deep interest in singing, music, movies and poetry. His ancestors were from Kuri near Rawalpindi and had their roots in Kashmir.
It was 2nd October 1947, just after the Partition of India when Bakshi Saab’s family received the information that within a couple of hours their village in Rawalpindi (now Pakistan) would be attacked by a mob belonging to another community. Tension blocked their flow of thoughts. Bakshi Saab was only 17 years old then. His grandparents, father, step mother and step siblings had only few minutes to grab whatever valuables they could and leave their native place.
From Rawalpindi the family arrived in Delhi (India) with the belongings they could carry along. Bakshi Saab’s father later took stock of what everyone had brought. Bakshi Saab had carried along with himself only a few family photographs, in particular that of his mother Sumitra Bali who had passed away due to pregnancy-related complications when Bakshi Saab was just nine years old.
Annoyed to find that the only valuables he had brought along were photographs Bakshi Saab’s father dismissed them as ‘useless’. But, Bakshi Saab firmly believed that money can be earned, but no amount of money can ever bring back these invaluable photographs of his mother and his family. Those pictures of his mother were more precious to him as they would live with him as a golden memory for the entire life span. They say deep thinking brings out the best from the writer. The sensitive seventeen-year-old lad’s thoughts reflected his inner state of mind.
Saawan ka mahina pawan kare sor – Milan (1967)
Bakshi Saab as a 14-year-old had served the Royal Indian Navy for three years before the Partition, under the registered name Anand Prakash, in the rank of ‘Boy 1’. After India won independence and the Bakshi family relocated, Bakshi Saab joined the Indian Army Corps of Signals, as ‘Signal Man’ based at Jubbulpore (now Jabalpur).
While in the Corps of Signals, Bakshi Saab wrote an aim in life for himself, “Everyone in this world, rich or poor should have a definite aim in life. A man without any fixed purpose in life is like a ship without rudder, at the mercy of the winds, powerless to control its course. So a person having no aim in life has nothing by which to guide his actions, or regulate his conduct. I, the undersigned, Anand Prakash Bakshi (AZAD), intend to study music. For it is my aim in life to become an artist. And to achieve this, I must join films, radio, or theatre, and become a singer, songs composer, music director, director, etc,”
Bakshi Saab’s poems were also published in the Army publication‘Sainik Samachar’. The published poems gave Bakshi Saab enough recognition to try his luck in the Hindi film industry.
Bakshi Saab resigned from the Army in 1950 and travelled to Mumbai to pursue his dreams. But the much-expected break into films did not come his way. When Bakshi Saab ran out of money he went back to the army and enlisted with the E.M.E. (The Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) in 1951 with the rank of “Ex-Boy”. This time he registered himself as “Anand Prakash Bakshi”.
After serving another five years in the army Bakshi Saab took voluntary discharge in the year 1956 and returned to Mumbai to chase his dreams of becoming a song writer in the film industry. This time Bakshi Saab had armed himself with sixty poems which he believed would serve him as baseline to get some good breaks. But fate had other things in store. As he ran out of money again, pressure started building up on him to support himself and his wife.
Yeh shaam mastani – Kati Patang (1970)
The Godfather’s Blessings
He still could fall back on his stable army job and that thought did keep ticking at the back of his mind. While sitting at the Marine Lines railway station to take the train back home a young ticket collector by the name Chitramal Swaroop caught Bakshi Saab without a valid ticket and asked him to pay the fine. But Bakshi Saab had no money. The ticket collector looked at Bakshi Saab and asked, “Have you eaten?” Bakshi Saab did not reply. The golden-hearted ticket collector then bought him some food and asked what kept him busy in Mumbai to earn a living. Bakshi Saab who by now was totally despondent narrated the mental turmoil he had gone through and how he had almost given up all his hopes of becoming lyricst.
Aadmi musafir hai – Apnapan (1977)
Emotionally touched, Swaroop asked Bakshi Saab to narrate few of his poems. Impressed with Bakshi Saab’s work, Swaroop took him to his residence at Western Railway Staff Quarters at Borivali. He allowed Bakshi Saab to stay at his residence for couple of weeks so that he could hunt and find himself job in Mumbai. Weeks turned into months and months into years and Bakshi Saab lived with the family of Chitramal Swaroop in Borivali for almost three years. He also gave Bakshi Saab some pocket money so that he could travel and eat during his daily struggles to meet producers and directors for work assignments.
What this humble ticket collector Chitramal Swaroop saw in Bakshi Saab is not clear but his faith in the young poet’s talent stopped Bakshi Saab from going back to the army job. In other words, this unconventional ‘Godfather’ gave the world of Hindi cinema an eminent and successful lyricist Anand Bakshi.
— Learning&Creativity (@LearnNCreate) March 12, 2015
Zindagi ke safar mein – Aap Ki Kasam (1974)
It is indeed creditable that Bakshi Saab could place his stamp of creativity in Hindi films for over four decades. What enabled Anand Bakshi to write so much?
The story goes back to the year 1956. One day Bakshi Saab was sitting outside the office of well-known film director Bhagwan Dada when he learnt that the lyricist had not turned up for the day. Bakshi Saab offered his assistance to Bhagwan Dada and was put on the project immediately.
Bhagwan dada gave Bakshi Saab a chance for a song in the film Bhala Aadmi (1958). The person who really gave him a break was producer Hiren Khera and director Suraj Prakash with Mehndi Lagee Mere Haath. But the wait for success was longer and finally in 1964, the superhit musical romance “Jab Jab Phool Khile” pitchforked Bakshi Saab into the limelight. All the songs of this movie became popular, from Ek tha gul aur ek thi bulbul, Na na karte pyar tumhin se, Pardesiyon se na ankhiyan milana and Ye samaa samaa hai pyar ka.
The success of this Shashi Kapoor-Nanda starrer ensured that there never would be a dearth of work in the life of Anand Bakshi. He worked with the top actors, producers and directors in Hindi cinema as one of the busiest lyricists ever.
Music director Roshan was the first person who recognised the talent of Bakshi Saab. People remember one of his earliest songs very well Aaya hein mujhe phir yaad wo zalim guzra zamana bachpan ka (Devar).
Do lafzon ki hai dil ki kahaani – The Great Gambler (1979)
Interestingly, Bakshi Saab had a signature style of using opposite words in a stanza in his songs. For example, notice the use of:
– Andar-Baahar in Baahar se koi andar na aa sake…Andar se koi baahar na jaa sake (Bobby);
– Bhool-Yaad in Bhool gaya saab kuch…Yaad nahin ab kuch;
– Door-Paas in Itana bhi dhoor mat jao, ke paas aana mushkil ho (Julie);
– Kiya waada-tod diya waada in Jumme ke din kiya jumme ka wada… Jumme ko tod diya jumme ka wada (Hum);
– Sach-Jhooth in Sach jhooth hum kyun sabko bataayen (Mr. Natwarlal).
This clever usage of opposites in the same stanza made Bakshi Saab’s songs become hummable chart toppers. The superhit Chingari koi bhadke explores the two extreme opposites by highlighting the intense agony that happens when the creator becomes the destroyer – Saawan jo agan lagaaye; pathjhad jo baag ujaade; manmeet jo ghaav lagaaye; madira jo pyaas lagaaye; maajhi jo naav duboye.…
Chingari koi bhadke – Amar Prem (1972)
His long innings in the Army had made Bakshi Saab respect punctuality, commitment and discipline. Even when songs from Sholay, Shaan, Bobby, Ek Duuje Ke Liye or Hare Rama Hare Krishna became superhits, Bakshi Saab did not hike his fees. He did not ever have to lower his fees either.
Bakshi Saab had immense self-respect. He had built a simple bungalow in Panchgani. Next to his bungalow was another bungalow much larger in size than Bakshi Saab’s bungalow. The owner was the chief of some food products company based in Pune. He once said to Bakshi Saab, look at my bungalow and look at yours. It looks like a hut. Bakshi Saab immediately replied, “When anyone passes by and sees my hut they immediately say this hut belongs to Anand Bakshi. Once they see my bungalow they never look at your bungalow however tall your structure might be”. The fellow apologized to Bakshi Saab immediately. Point taken!
Panna ki tamanna hai kii heera mujhe mil jaaye – Heera Panna (1973)
Apart from being nominated numerous times for the Filmfare award Bakshi Saab won the coveted lady in black three times in his illustrious career. He won it for the first time in 1978 for the song Aadmi Musafir Hai from the film Apnapan. In 1981 he won it for the song Tere mere beech mein from Ek Duje Ke Liye and after 14 years he won it for the third time in 1995 for Tujhe dekha to yeh jaana sanam from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge.
Behind every successful man lies an untold pain in his heart and this pain is usually revealed when the man rises to the top. The powerful as well as emotional lyrics written by Bakshi Saab in his long career is indeed the testimony of the pain he underwent in life and missing his mother’s care from a very young age. To sum it up in the words of Bakshi Saab and the journey he underwent in life, “Zindagi ke safar mein guzar jaate hain jo makaam who phir nahin aate woh phir nahin aate”.
Tujhe dekha to yeh jaana sanam – Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995)
Anand Bakshi pic courtesy Internet and all other pics courtesy Niilesh A Raje
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