Updated on: Monday, March 09, 2020, 11:31 AM IST

Sahir Ludhianvi's centenary year: 'Pal do pal ka shayar' would be considered 'woke' in this day and age

On the occasion of Sahir Ludhianvi's centenary year (March 8, 2021), the 'Pal do pal ka shaayar' has proven true to his reconsidered premise, writes NIKHIL BHAGAT
 Dhool Ka Phool |

Dhool Ka Phool |


Among the many meanings of the word Sahir are wakeful and magician. But in the 21st century, the word ‘woke’ would aptly describe the poet and lyricist, Sahir Ludhianvi, who would have entered his 100th year today.

He always had his eyes open to the many injustices of life and unflinchingly voiced the angst of the oppressed with his mighty verse. He stood for meritocracy, inclusiveness and was the eternal humanist.

In 1959, for the black-and-white film Dhool Ka Phool, he wrote:

Tu Hindu banega na Musalman banegaa/Insaan ki aulad hai insaan banegaa.

His perception remained unchanged in the era of colour. Take the following lines from the song Ponchh kar ashq apni ankhon se from the film Naya Raasta:

Rang aur bhed, jaat aur mazahab

jo bhi ho, aadmi se kamtar hai. ...

Kaala Patthar

Another stanza in the same song has these words, eerily relevant in the now and here:

Zindagi bheekh mein nahin milti/ Zindagi badh ke chheeni jaati hai/ Apna haq sangdil zamane se/

Chheen paao to koi baat bane...

The mukhda has the lines: Sarr jhukaane se kuchh nahin hota/

Sarr uthaao toh koi baat bane...

And while you are fighting the good fight, he reminds you, Zindagi hasne gaane ke liye hai pal, do pal (Zameer).

His writing is unabashedly and brutally honest and served with such sophistication that one is left slack-jawed.

His Pyaasa outpouring mirrored his life:

Jaane woh kaise log thhay jinke pyaar ko pyaar mila...

Who has not felt the existential pangs of Tungg aa chuke hain kashmakash-e-zindagi se hum...

Naya Daur

But life has to be lived and it is best done like this: Main zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya... (Hum Dono). He also penned a moving prayer for world peace in the same film, Allah Tero Naam...

Could any other heart have beaten for love as ardently as espoused in the marvellous qawwali, Yeh ishq ishq hai (Barsaat Ki Raat)? It begins on a combative note but by the time it ends, it sounds like a prayer from the depths of the soul.

His ‘community numbers’ too pleased immensely: Udain jab jab zulfein teri and Saathi haath badhana from Naya Daur and Dhoom machi dhoom from Kaala Patthar.

Only an eternal romantic could have written Abhi na jao chhod kar (Hum Dono) and Jo waada kiya woh (Taj Mahal). Will wait for you until the Day of Reckoning, he recklessly wrote: Hum intezaar karenge tera qayamat tak (Bahu Begum).

For the swinging Seventies, he wrote the ebullient Pyar kar liya to kya in Kabhi Kabhie. He gave voice to the impetuous rebellion of lovers in Ab chahe maa ruthe yaa baba

Naya Daur

(Daag) and the predicament of lovers racing against time in Simti hui yeh ghadiyan (Chambal ki Kasam). He spoke for Laila and Majnu in Koi patthar se naa mare and the desperate Main tere durr pe aaya hoon respectively (Laila Majnu).

Naturally, the romantic had a flair for the natural —Yeh raat yeh chandni from Jaal, Thandi hawayein (Shararat), Phaili hui hai sapnon ki baahein (House No. 44) and Yeh parbaton ke daayre (Vaasna). He could explain divinity to tots: Hawa chale kaise (Daag).

He can audaciously lead you in any direction with his words, depending on the situation. In Aurat Ne Janam Diya Mardon Ko (Sadhana), he bears testimony to the state of woman. And then does a 360-degree turn, getting bitter and cynical about the heartless inamorata, if such were the case — Kisi patthar ki moorat se (Humraaz), Dekha hai zindagi ko (Ek Mahal Ho Sapnon Ka) and Kya miliye aise logon se (Izzat).

As for renunciation, he has this to say: Sansar se bhaage phirte ho, Bhagwan ko tum kya paaoge?....Yeh bhog bhi ek tapasya hai/Tum tyaag ke maare kya jaano... (Chitralekha).

In sorrow and sadness too, he offers a profound sense of intimacy, beauty, grace and optimism — again, Jaane woh kaise log thhey (Pyaasa), Woh subah kabhi to ayegi (Phir Subah Hogi), Kabhi khud pe kabhi haalat pe (Hum Dono) and Kiska rasta dekhe (Joshila).

The shaayar is a treat even as he waxes philosophical: Tadbeer se bigdi hui taqdeer bana le (Baazi), Aage bhi jaane na tu (Waqt), Zindagi ittefaq hai (Aadmi Aur Insaan), Jab bhi jee chaahe nayi duniya (Daag) and Ik raasta hai zindagi (Kaala Patthar). The philosophy of spirituality:

Gham aur khushi mein pharq na mehsoos ho jahaan

Mein dil ko us maqam pe laata chala gaya (Hum Dono)

On the occasion of Sahir’s centenary year, the Pal do pal ka shaayar has indeed proven true to his reconsidered premise:

Main har ik pal ka shaayar hoon,

Har ik pal meri kahaani hai,

Har ik pal meri hasti hai,

Har ik pal meri jawaani hai...

(A former R&D scientist, the writer is a music and sports enthusiast)

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Published on: Sunday, March 08, 2020, 06:31 AM IST