Sahir Ludhianvi: The king of romance and his unfulfilled love story with Amrita Pritam

Pyaar par bas toh nahi hai mera,

Lekin phir bhi tu bata de

Ke tujhe pyaar karu ya na karu...!

- Sahir Ludhianvi

Sahir Ludhianvi and Am​​rita Pritam’s unfulfilled love story is something that is waiting to be told and every Indian should know about. The story was a popular one and often spoked about in the 1960s and 1970s.

Sahir’s stubs of cigarettes and Amrita’s used teacup! These are the essential memories of poet and lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi and novelist and poetess Amrita Pritam’s unfulfilled love story. It was in 1944, when budding poet Sahir and poetess Amrita Pritam met for the first time, at a poetry reading session at Preet Nagar, a village between Lahore and Delhi. At the time, Amrita was already married to Pritam Singh. Her marriage, however, was not a successful one. Call it cliché, but Sahir and Amrita’s love story began with eye contact at the session. The two, later, met at several occasions and love bloomed. She was in Delhi and he was in Lahore. Letters were exchanged. Secret meetings were arranged. In Amrita’s biography, author Rasidi Ticket mentions, Sahir was a chain-smoker. After their secret meetings, Amrita would pick up cigarette stubs and smoked them.

Sahir was never committed to any woman. It was believed that Amrita was ready to walk out of her marriage, but Sahir was never fully committed, as he always considered ‘love’ and ‘marriage’ as a secondary part in his life. According to FirstPost, Akshay Manwani, the author of ‘Sahir: A People’s Poet​’ ​believes Pritam was the only one who could have convinced Sahir to give up his bachelor status. It is also said that Sahir once said to his mother, “Woh Amrita Pritam thi. Woh aapki bahu ban sakti thi.” Meaning, ‘That’s Pritam. She could have been your daughter-in-law.”

After the Partition in 1947, Amrita, along with her husband moved to Delhi. Sahir moved to Mumbai. The love from his side was compelling enough to sparkle some beautiful lyrics. It is also said that their unfulfilled love story inspired him to pen the lyrics of the song ‘Mehfil Se Uth Jaane Walo’ for the 1964 film ‘Dooj Ka Chand’.

'Mehfil Se Uth Jaane Walo,

Tum Logo Par Kya Ilzam

Tum Aabad Gharo Ke Vasi

Main Awaara Aur Badnaam.'

According to Akshay Manwani, the author of ‘Sahir: A People’s Poet’, the above lines were penned after Sahir met Pritam in 1964. She, along with her partner and artist Imroz, was in Mumbai to meet Sahir. Amrita walked out of the marriage and stayed with Imroz for four decades. Imroz and Amrita never got married. Amrita also had deep feelings for her friend from radio days ‘Sajjad Haider’. While Sahir was said to be in a relationship with singer Sudha Malhotra.

Sahir and Amrita’s love story wasn’t the one with a happy ending, but surely was unconventional in a number of ways.

Biopic on Sahir Ludhianvi

Poet and lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi has inspired Bollywood to honour him with a biopic starring Abhishek Bachchan in the lead role. Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the love story might feature Taapsee Pannu as celebrated Punjabi poetess Amrita Pritam. There was earlier speculation about the lead actress who would play Junior Bachchan’s love interest in the film. According to reports, actress like Deepika Padukone, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan were in talks for Amrita Pritam’s role.

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