Ten of my favourite Sahir Ludhianvi songs

Among the most popular posts on this blog are my top ten lists of songs. They’re also among my favourites; old Hindi film music is one big, big reason for my watching these films in the first place. Which is why I’ve ended up doing so many lists of songs—for music directors (S D Burman, O P Nayyar), singers (Rafi, Mukesh, Hemant, Manna Dey, Talat, Lata, Mahendra Kapoor), even for actors (Madhubala, Asha Parekh, Johnny Walker). But lyricists tend to get left out. A song wouldn’t exist without someone to write the words, would it? So, a post honouring one of my favourite lyricists: Sahir Ludhianvi, on his birth anniversary.

Born Abdul Hayee on March 8, 1921, Sahir Ludhianvi debuted as a lyricist for Naujawan (1951)—and went on to become one of Hindi cinema’s most respected poets. [Anecdote: When I was in school, one year my Hindi text book contained a poem by Sahir Ludhianvi. I realised only later, when I watched Jaal, that the poem was actually a song: Pighlaa hai sona door gagan pe]. Sahir created the standard love songs that are a dime a dozen in any old Hindi film, but his forte was the intense, insightful, deeply emotional and/or revolutionary poem: the song that spoke of bitterness and reality, of hope and the strength inherent in mankind, of things that were reflective of an emerging India.

Shukriya, Sahir sahib, for your words. May they live long.

And now, the list. Ten Sahir Ludhianvi songs from 50s and 60s Hindi films that I’ve seen. These are not exactly in order, but my favourites are right at the top. And, to make things a little more interesting, no two songs are from the same film. Since it’s difficult to find subtitled songs, I’ve created a separate document that contains the lyrics of each song, alongside a translation of the song. You can download the document here.

1. Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko (Sadhana, 1958): Some would call this song hackneyed, perhaps, for its portrayal of women. There’s some truth in that; by the late 1950s, Hindi cinema’s sympathetic but predictable depiction of the exploited, downtrodden Indian woman (Mother India is another front-runner in that category) was getting clichéd. What makes this song special for me is the way in which Sahir doesn’t mince words. He is brutal, harshly so. He pulls into this song all that is wrong with man’s treatment of women, and winds it up with the shocking imagery of a woman raped by her own son… unforgettable.

2. Woh subah kabhi toh aayegi (Phir Subah Hogi, 1958): I love, deeply and completely love, this song. Not just because the music is so sublime or because Mukesh and Asha sing it with so much feeling, but because of the words. Woh subah kabhi toh aayegi alternates beautifully between present unhappiness—the dreams that are worthless, the ‘cups of poison that are drunk’—with the joy that is to come, the morning that will dawn and the nectar that will finally be in those cups. A wonderfully heart-warming song of hope.

3. Yeh mahalon yeh takhton (Pyaasa, 1957): Another of my favourites; I’ve already featured it in lists for music, vocals, and direction. So here we go again, this time for the brilliantly haunting lyrics of Yeh mahalon yeh takhton yeh taajon ki duniya. Sahir creates a bleakly realistic image of a world ruled by wealth and lust, a world that sets its hunger for things above all else. A world that he, speaking for the disillusioned poet Vijay, would not want to have anything to do with. This is very trademark Sahir: bitter, cynical, viciously outspoken.

4. Aage bhi jaane na tu (Waqt, 1965): On the surface, Aage bhi jaane na tu seems very different from the other songs I’ve listed. More glittery, elegant—but Sahir’s take on life comes through here too. The dominant note is one of grabbing every moment; of not letting one instant slip through one’s fingers. There is also a hint of fatalism (who knows what the next moment will bring?).
If you’ve seen Waqt, this song is an interesting reflection on what happens later in the film. While Erica Lal is exhorting the guests at the party to live life to its fullest because one doesn’t know what the future holds… the future, even then, is being shaped by events that will change the lives of many of the people at the party. One will be murdered; another will be accused; there will be a theft; and three long-lost brothers will eventually be reunited.
Note: Sahir had written lyrics in a similar vein for the song Ay meri zindagi aaj raat jhoom le, from Taxi Driver (1954).

5. Main zindagi ka saath (Hum Dono, 1961): A very short, seemingly extemporaneous insight into life. Sahir Ludhianvi offers a glimpse into the mind and heart of a young man forced by circumstances to take a look at his life, and then put that same life on hold—even perhaps for ever. What may have been cynicism is more a cheerful resignation, an acceptance of whatever destiny may throw at one. And it holds, for the rest of us, a lesson in life: that it is useless to weep over what has gone; it is better to celebrate the tragedies of one’s life and move on.

6. Pighlaa hai sona door gagan pe (Jaal, 1952): This song had to feature in my list, because of that long-ago association from my school days. But really, Sahir does have a way when it comes to describing nature, and Pighlaa hai sona is a lovely way of talking about the setting sun, the silence of twilight and the end of another day. Incidentally, another of my favourite Sahir poems about nature is Parbaton ke pedon par shaam ka basera hai, from Shagoon.

7. Mann re tu kaahe na dheer dhare (Chitralekha, 1964): I should perhaps have listed this song just before Main zindagi ka saath, because Mann re tu kaahe na dheer dhare seems like a precursor to that song. The hero here is still caught in the turmoil and angst of life, of a love that is unrequited. His attempts to explain to his heart that beauty is ephemeral, and that he is best off alone—who dies with another, after all?—are laudable. And yet also so sad; haven’t we all experienced rejection, known how difficult it is to try and get over it?

8. Tum apna ranj-o-gham (Shagoon, 1964): One of the main reasons I watched Shagoon was that its music featured the winning combination of Sahir Ludhianvi and Khayyam, both masters of their art (incidentally, also the combination that gave us Woh subah kabhi toh aayegi). Tum apna ranj-o-gham is the ultimate song of empathy, of a love so deep that it will gladly accept—even plead to be given—the loved one’s sorrows. A love that asks to be allowed to fight off the world, to take over one’s battles… if someone sang those words to me, I’d feel very comforted, very protected indeed.

9. Chalo ek baar phir se (Gumraah, 1963): It is said that Sahir Ludhianvi had originally composed this poem for Sudha Malhotra, whom he had wanted to marry but could not, because her family objected—they thought Sahir was a Muslim (he was an atheist, actually—which would probably have been even more of a no-no). Whatever its antecedents, this is a tragic song about two people, still passionate about each other, but unable to take that love any further. Sahir blends nostalgia superbly with a sense of impending loneliness, a useless passion that will not, cannot, be either forgotten or fulfilled.

10. Pyaar par bas toh nahin (Sone ki Chidiya, 1958): While Sahir may have been the master of the philosophical song, he was no stranger to the romantic song. Though, as one would expect, Sahir’s best romantic songs are not about the loved one flitting through one’s dreams, or of the moon and the stars and the popular shama-parwaana (‘lamp and moth’) analogy. Pyaar par bas toh nahin talks of the need for the loved one—the support she provides, the comfort her closeness brings—but does not assume that the love is returned. Or does it? Wouldn’t this song be sung only to one whose love one was sure of, really? Whatever; this is a sensitive and memorable love song.


139 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite Sahir Ludhianvi songs

  1. It is sad how we forget the lyricist! Of course I knew of him, but he never registered on my radar till I payed attention to the poetry of Pyaasa. For a list of favorite Sahir songs, I’d just go with all his poetry in that film! I did not realise Pyar par bas to nahin and Chalo ek baar phir se ajnabi ban jaye were his lyrics. Now that you’ve pointed it out, I realise that the latter has his trademark sweet bitterness.


    • Pyaasa was one of the reasons I had to put in that clause about ‘no two songs from the same film’, otherwise I wouldn’t have stopped at just Yeh mahalon yeh takhton… Sahir’s poetry is at its best in that film.


    • “the poetry of pyaasa” Amen! REALLY looking forward to getting “The dialogue of Pyaasa” soon. Still my number 1 Hindi film, and in my top 5 of all films, thanks very largely to Sahir sahib’s sublime words.


      • And it had so many outstanding songs. My favourites, after Yeh mahalon yeh takhton would be Jinhe naaz hai Hind par and Jaane woh kaise log thhe jinke. Sahir is sublime here.


        • My copy of the dialogues arrived today, 5 days earlier than the delivery estimate, from the same Delhi reseller supplying me with The Englishman’s Cameo, as it turns out (a good sign, I’m hoping). The book is beautiful, and has renewed my desire to learn to read Nastaliq to do the Urdu proper justice


          • Congratulations! That is good news. I had learnt how to read Urdu as a child, but lack of practice has resulted in me losing that skill. On the other hand, my sister (who’s a historian and needs to know Urdu in order to do a good deal of original research) is fluent in it.


  2. Many happy returns of the day Sahir Saheb, we know you are up there some where watchin’ how much legacy you have left behind and how much it is being cherished by your fans.

    Your poetry was just out of this world and we will surely not see any more of these Legends for centuries to come.

    And DO fab job doing a very difficult task- to pick TOP 10, so difficult what to pick. But if I may add my bit, we have double combo album with 34 songs in Memory of Sahir Saheb on RPG under the TITLE


    For readers if I can quote what buddy Sunny bro wrote when he shared this album

    “Kabhi Khud Pe Kabhi Hallat Pe Rona Aaya…..” (Hum Dono) – Love’s Betrayal,Captured In Mesmeric Verses,The Highest Form Of Poetry That Hindi Cinema Has Ever Experienced,The Outpourings Of A Poet,Lyricist and Visionary – SAHIR LUDHIANVI.

    Sahir Ludhianvi’s Lyrics,Celebrated In The 34 Soul-Stirring Ganas Of This 2 Pack CD,Are Intensely Poetic.They Are Progressive,In The True Spirit Of A Visionary.

    Born In Ludhiana In 1921,Sahir Ludhianvi,Whose Original Name Was Abdul Hayee,Was A Member Of The Reputed “Progressive Writer’s Association”(Mumbai),Which Worked Towards Introducing Political Realism In Art.Sahir’s Lyrics Reflected A Quasi-Philosophical Bent Of Mind.Whatever The Subject,Sahir Seldom Wrote Servicable Lyrics For Situational Songs,Or For Pre-Conceived Tunes.Which Is Why His Poetic-Lyrics Transcended The Temporality Of The Script To Embrace Human-Kind In A Clasp Of Abiding Beauty And Grace.Variety Was Sahir’s Forte,From Immortal Songs On The Meaninglessness Of Existence To Celebration Of Romantic Bliss.Many Of Old Sahir’s Most Precious Cinematic Poetry Was Born From Incidents And Emotions From His Own Life.One Of The Last Songs That Sahir Ludhianvi Wrote Was “Main Pal Do Pal Ka Shair Hoon…..”,A Symbolic,Soul-Stirring Song That Captured His Refined Poetic Sensibilities.After This Song,Sahirsaab Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhate Nibhate Chale Gaye…..


    And if I may add a few more of my fav of this Legendary writer-

    Jeevan Ke Safar Me Rahi – [Munimji] – Kishore Kumar

    Dukhi Man Mere- [Funtoosh]- Kishore Kumar

    Chand Madham Hai -[Railway Platform] -Lata Mangeshkar

    Tum Mujhe Bhool Bhi Jao -[Didi]- Sudha Malhotra & Mukesh

    Na To Karavaan ki Talash Hai- [Barsat Ki Raat]- Manna Dey, ASha Bhonsle, Batish, Sudha Mlhotr & Mohd Rafi

    In fact all tracks of BARSAT KI RAAT, what qawaalis in this movie ! :)

    Ashkon Ne Jo Paya Hai -[Chandi Ki Deewar] -Talat Mahmood,

    Milti Hai Zindagi Mein- [Aankhen]- Lata Mangeshkar

    Kya Jawaab Dein- [Bahu Begum] -Lata Mangeshkar

    Ye Parbaton Ke Daayare -[Vaasana]- Mohd Rafi & Lata Mangeshkar

    Sansaar Ki Har Shae– [Dhund]- Mahendra Kapoor… WAH WAH

    Na Tu Zameen Ke Liye -[Dastaan]- Mohd Rafi,

    And ofcors songs from Hamraaz, Dharamputra ,Kabhi Kabhi, Ghazal,
    Dil Hi To Hai, Kaajal, Taj Mahal, Dhool Ka Phool, Gumrah… and many more.

    Most of these songs are on YT, enjoii them. Cheers :)


    • Ash, thank you for the songs you’ve suggested! I’ve seen the RPG album in shops, but have never got around to buying it, mainly because I have the songs scattered across other albums, here and there – a lot of them have not just great lyrics but also lovely music.

      I’d forgotten Jeevan ke safar mein raahi were Sahir’s lyrics; wonderful – both versions. Barsaat ki Raat I remember more because of the awesome music of those qawwalis than for the lyrics. A few of the songs you’ve listed are from films I haven’t seen… oh, and Yeh parbaton ke daayre is also such a beautiful piece of imagery about nature. Sahir was so good at that too!


  3. I was really ecstatic to see this post because Sahir happens to be one of my favorites too. Except for Nos. 6,8, n 10, I’ve heard all the others and love them all. Will try the unheard melodies too and I’m sure they’re equally wonderful – can’t go wrong with Sahir’s words!
    Ash’s list is also filled with some of Sahir’s best gems.


    • You’re so right; one can’t go wrong with Sahir’s words! Some of his songs – the more regulation romantic ones – probably lack the depth of songs like the ones from Pyaasa, but even an Abhi na jaao chhodkar has something much more than mere words. He always manages to touch one’s heart and appeal to one’s emotions.


  4. Abhi na jao chhodkar also has some serious touches to it – the part where he writes “Sukh aur dukh ke raaste bane hai subke waaste/Jo gham se haar jaoge/Toh kis tarah nibhaoge …. Jahan main aisa kaun hai ke jis ko gham mila nahin”! Wah – what a beautiful way to talk of pain and yet retain in it a sweetness that endears pain to the one feeling it!

    The songs from Naya Daur – esp Saathi haath batana/Ek akela thak jaega/Milkar bojh uthana…. is so inspiring and rings true through all ages and cultures in promoting the team spirit.

    A few additions from my side:

    – Mehfil se uthjane walon tum logon par kya ilzaam (Dooj ka chand)
    – Chhu lene do nazuk hothon ko (Kaajal)
    – Tora man darpan kehelaye (Kaajal)
    – Sansar se bhaage phirte ho (amazing and bold lyrics! from Chitralekha)

    The list is endless! Thanks so much for this post and for the chance to reminisce on some ageless songs/lyrics!


    • Yes, Naya Daur also had one good song after another. Agree totally re: Saathi haath badhaana – very inspiring! Another song from that film which I especially like is Yeh desh hai veer jawaanon ka; it always makes me feel very patriotic. :-)

      Thank you for those additions to that list. I hadn’t heard the Mehfil se uth jaane waalon song before, but have just finished listening to it on youtube. It’s excellent; touching, bitter, nostalgic – everything. Sahir had a really good grasp on human emotion, didn’t he? Wrote from the heart and was not scared about doing so. Love the three other songs you’ve listed, too – they’re all superb.


      • I am ashamed to admit that I love EVERY song from Naya Daur but did not know that Sahib wrote the lyrics – I guess their positivity had me fooled. Amazing to think that the alcoholic, cynical misanthrope who wrote Yeh Duniya Agar Mil and Jinhe Naaz could also dash off reshamii salawaar ku.Dataa jaalii kaa and mai.n bamba_ii kaa baabuu!


    • That was such a delightful article, bawa! Thank you – but now, despite having had lunch recently, I’m feeling like I’d love to have a nice hot samosa, with yoghurt and garam masala (it must be tasting wonderful – just the thought of it is making my mouth water!)

      Interesting comment on Sahir, that one about banda acchha nahin tha. Did he elaborate?


      • Dustedoff, wouldn’t elaborate much, but said meaness of character as opposed to a generous one.

        Well, the Mr. Kalia of my time had several sons, leading to the inevitable split on his demise. Although the shop on the corner still stands run by one or more sons, it is the son who moved down the road who seems to have taken the knack of making outstanding samosas and gulab jamuns with him.
        On busy days there is a man to keep the queue in order and sometimes restrictions are placed on the number of samosas one may order to eat in!
        Guests at our house always expected the samosas and gulab-jamuns if they turned up at tea-time…in fact, still get them although it involves a long car journey.

        At least in Delhii you can get your samosa fix: me, I can only think (although that is a lot better for my body I guess!)


        • Unless you decide to make your own samosas!! (Yes, too much bother, I know – but I do have a cookbook written in the UK which has an easy samosa recipe with filo pastry. Not something I’d even want to try!) But now I’m totally wanting my samosa fix!

          In north India especially, the whole thing about generosity versus meanness is quite pronounced… A lot of things which in other parts of the world (or even in other parts of India) wouldn’t draw comment, are derided as being ‘meanness’ here. Sometimes the generosity can get irritating, at least for me… I remember being bullied into eating more, even when I didn’t want to, on numerous occasions. Even having food forced into my plate (once when I was a child, and burst into tears as a result!). Whether or not one is considered ‘generous’ depends on the receiver of that generosity, I’d say.


          • I hate being bullied about such things too. I think the person referred to spirit or everyday doings in general….great poets, writers, musicians may not be great human beings. Examples abound: I love Cela’s novels (spanish nobel winning author) but he was such an ……… as a person! Anyway, hard to pass judgements on someone you don’t know even through things like interviews: it was just that comment was curious, from someone who obviously admired his songs so much!


            • We do tend to expect ‘great’ people – great singers, actors, poets, writers, etc – to be overall great, too, don’t we? I am guilty of that, and I think a lot of other Indians too… it’s hard to accept that these people are probably just talented in the one way, not necessarily role models in all the many aspects of life.

              I really must visit my cousin who lives in Ludhiana!! ;-)


  5. Madhu ji, ab main aapko kin labzon se shukriya adaa karoon? You’ve TOTALLY made my day!

    Thanks SO much for coming up with this list, paying tribute to one of my favourite song-writers/poets.

    I remember the first time I really got hooked to Sahir saab. It was when I read an obituary about him in “The Illustrated Weekly of India” in late 1980. I had heard his name before that time but never really knew much about his life or work.

    That obituary not only gave me an insight into the man but also listed some songs that made me sit up. It was like a virtual “who’s who” or rather Hindi film songs’ “Top 100”. It completely blew me away.

    Since then I’ve been a massive fan of Sahir saab. I’ve come across so many songs that I’ve just loved for their lyrics – and on checking I’ve found them to be his writing. His cynical songs are of course in a class of their own, but even his soft, romantic songs are special. It is just his poetry – it stands out!

    Coming to your list, I must say it takes a lot of guts to come up with a Top-10 Sahir list. :-) I wouldn’t be able to do it – I’d be torn between at least 20 songs.

    You’ve come up with a list that is absolutely outstanding. It brought tears to my eyes when I saw these songs lined up – they are my favourites too. All except one – and that’s because I’ve NEVER heard it before! I feel so humbled (and happily so!) because it gives me a chance to discover another Sahir gem. I’m talking about “pighla hai sona”. I’ve just listened to it now and it is amazing! Thank you for adding this to my already overflowing guldasta of Sahir’s must-listen songs. (The fact that it features a really sweet Geeta Bali does not harm either. ;-) ).

    Instead of this song then, I’d probably throw in a song from Taj Mahal. Either “paanw chhoo lene do” or “jo baat tujh mein hai”. I find both of these outstanding and personally prefer them to the far more popular “jo vaada kiya” (though that is lovely too). But the poetry in these two songs is vintage Sahir.

    Coming to your comment about “aurat ne janam diya” being possibly hackneyed in today’s times, I am not too sure about that. Yes, we’ve made a lot of progress on many fronts in India and women today are far more independent and aware than their predecessors of 50 years ago. But I think much of this is confined to urban India and a lot of rural India is still mired in discrimination and atrocities towards women. It is changing no doubt but not quickly enough for me. And that is where I find this song is still so relevant as a reminder to today’s male population of their origins in life.

    I feel extremely strongly about this and have also written about this on my blog last night. If you will permit me, I’ll mention the link here (Feel free to delete it if you like, I have no intention of flogging my blog. I have no illusions about my readership  and my blog exists mainly as just an emotional outlet for me anyway). http://rajaswaminathan.blogspot.com/2011/03/womens-day-sahir-ludhianvi-and-aurat-ne.html

    I’ve also written a guest piece for Atul’s blog which was posted today. If you have the time, it would be nice if you could read that too. http://atulsongaday.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/aurat-ne-janam-diyaa-mardon-ko/

    There are SO many Sahir gems out there, we’ve really been blessed to have had him amongst us. Like I’ve said on Atul’s blog, I’m so happy he came to India from Lahore (much like Rafi saab).

    In fact, I’ve also left a comment on Atul’s blog (tongue-in-cheek) that probably Sahir left this world just a few months after Rafi saab because he, together with Rafi saab and Roshan saab, wanted to set up a mehfil up there in heaven. I can imagine the three of them with their Taj Mahal, Barsaat Ki Raat, Chitralekha, Bahu Begum and other countless classics. :-)

    Thanks a lot for this wonderful, wonderful post, Madhu.

    Now that you’ve whetted my appetite on Sahir (well, inasmuch as one’s appetite for Sahir songs can actually be whetted), I’m here with my next top-10 lists request.

    Roshan saab please?

    Or do I have to tell myself “mann re, tu kaahe na dheer dhare? “ ;-)

    (You should of course only do this if you are also a Roshan saab fan like me. But looking at your various lists and how many of those songs resonate with me, I think our tastes are close enough for me to make this assumption. ;-) ).


    • Raja, thank you so much. Your appreciation is very heartening! I’m so glad you liked this post – but then, what’s not to like in something honouring Sahir Ludhianvi? That man was a genius. I must admit I paid attention only to his more serious, cynical lyrics till recently, but compiling this post made me sit up and take notice of more ‘usual’ songs he’s written, and I realised that Sahir, even when writing what would have been run-of-the-mill songs on love or devotion or whatever, managed to infuse them with something deeper.

      Re: Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko, I didn’t actually mean that women’s emancipation is hackneyed; simply that ‘some people’ (not me!) might feel that Hindi cinema had gone on and on about it a little too much. Personally speaking, I don’t think so. I even don’t think that it’s only women in rural areas that are still in need of emancipation – a lot of women, even educated and from upper class backgrounds, end up in circumstances that are certainly not enviable.

      And yes, I like Roshan a lot. Another person for whom it would be difficult to draw up a top ten list, but I’ll certainly give it a shot. Oh, and by the way: I had initially put a Taj Mahal song on the Sahir list: Jurm-e-ulfat pe humein log sazaa dete hain. The quietly dignified defiance of that song never fails to enthrall me! It finally didn’t make it to the final list, but it’s certainly one of my favourite Sahir songs.

      Am off to read your posts on your blog and on Atul’s. I do check both blogs now and then, but not I think frequently enough! Thank you for pointing me to them. :-)


      • Just realised that there’s another Sahir song that would be a MUST in y top-10. I wouldn’t know which one to drop though but this would definitely be in my top-10.

        “Tu Hindi banega na musalmaan banega”.

        I ABSOLUTELY love this song.

        Like I told you, there’s NO way I’d be able to make a top-10 list for Sahir. :-) Just WAY too many gems out there.


          • You should! :-)

            I myself saw the film only a couple of years ago. I happened to see a BR Chopra interview on youtube where he talked about Sadhna and how Vyjanthimala got the role. (Apparently he had Nimmi in mind but she did not have the dates. Vyjanthimala’s mom, hearing the storyline and knowing that he was looking for a lead actress, rushed to him and virtually begged him for the role for her daughter. He had just finished working with Vyjanthi in Naya Daur and he was quite happy with her, so he went with her).

            Anyway, I got curious after this and just HAD to see Sadhna. And I was SO impressed by it that I got into major BR Chopra mode and followed it up soon with Dhool Ka Phool, Dharam Putra and Ek Hi Raasta. BR Chopra is one of my favourite film-makers.


            • Yes, Sadhna is a superb film. Didn’t know about that back story to it – somehow I can’t imagine Nimmi doing as credible a role as Vyjyantimala did. She was excellent in this.


          • And thanks for your kind comments on my post on Atul’s blog and on mine.

            Aap aaye, khuda ki kudrat hai…kabhi hum aapke blog ko, kabhi apne blog ko dekhte hain. ;-)

            Nah, doesn’t quite cut it, does it? Maybe I shouldn’t defile a Sahir tribute with such drivel. :-) Cheers.


  6. WOW! Just started with “Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko”. I didn’t find it hackneyed at all. As a man, it made very pleased that a man could write such honest words, and reminded me very much of jinhe naaz hai hind par in sentiment. Not an easy listen, but I’m loving his work even more now and looking forward to checking out all the others I haven’t heard. Thanks!


    • You’re welcome, Stuart! I hope you like the songs. And, as I mentioned in my reply to Raja’s comment: no, I’m not the one who thinks the song is hackneyed. And even if it were, I’d say that the brutally outspoken way in which Sahir puts across his hatred for those who exploit women… well, that in itself is great poetry.


  7. It is getting hot with so many replies of this g8 lyricist, so let me add a few more which are in my filmi collection-

    Izzat 1968 -“Kya Miliye Aise Logon Se Jinke Fitrat Chupi Rahe”

    Laila Majnu 1979 – “Barbad-E-Mohabbat ki Dua” and “Tere Dar Pa Aaya Hoon”

    Dooj Ka Chand 1964- “Phool Gendva Na Maro”… classical ACE by Mannada

    Amaanat 1977- “Bhoos Bhar Diya Mere Chaahat Mein, Bhoos Bharnewale Logon Ne” and “Buje Buje Rang Hai Nazaron Ke, Lut Gaye Khafilen Baharon Ke”

    Joshila 1973 – “Kiska Raasta Dekhen”

    Daastan 1972-“Na Tu Zameen Ke Liye, Hai Na Aasmaan Ke Liye”

    Do Kaliyaan 1972 – “Bachey Mann Ke Sachey” and “Tumhari Nazar Kyon Khafa Ho Gai”

    Aaj Aur Kal 1963 – “Zindagi ke rang kayi re”

    Bahurani 1963- ANOTHER CLASSY “Balma Anari Mann Bhaye kya karoon samaj na aaye ”

    Mujhe Jeene Do 1963 – Ab koi gulshan na ujDe, ab vatan aazad hai”

    All romantic songs of Bees Saal Baad 1962

    Must dig out more, do listen to these, yu will love ’em, cheers


  8. Thank you for reminding me about Kiska rasta dekhe. I love that song – it’s so beautiful that I actually rented and watched Joshila just because of the song. It turned out to be quite a bekaar film, but I forgave it, simply because of the song. I haven’t watched Mujhe Jeene Do yet (it’s on my wishlist, though), but I love Ab koi gulshan na ujde. So many fabulous songs! Sahir Sahib was a poet par excellence.


  9. Lovely lovely post, and like Bollyviewer said one is quick to remeber the composer but forget the lyricist, its something i shall start addressing in my tags alongside the actors and actresses, i’ll ensure i add the lyricist

    Seems a lot of his gems came from his work with Ravi and of all the songs on here ‘Aage bhi jaane na tu’ is my utmost favourite, as its the first hindi song i learnt very quickly (the chorus that is) without looking up the lyrics online

    Phir subah hogi is a film that has long intrigued me, it was one of Mala’s earlier hits and such a pity no decent dvd with subs are around, any chance of you reviewing it as well as Chitralekha soon


    • Aage bhi jaane na tu is very dear to me too – it featured on the first ‘top ten’ list I ever did, and since I used to actually put songs in sequence at the time, Aage bhi… was listed at #1 in my list of ‘dance party songs’. It’s such a wonderful song, so gorgeously sung, such fabulous music – and, when you take the time to listen, such great lyrics too.

      I have seen both Phir Subah Hogi and Chitralekha, but years ago, when I was a kid – I remember very little about them, except that both were a bit too depressing for me back then. I’d been meaning to rewatch Chitralekha again, especially as my DVD rental company does have it in its catalogue. Will push it to the top of my wishlist!


  10. An absolutley lovely post and considering from all the enthusiatic comments much appreciated :)

    Each song of Pyasa is an absolute gem. I still get goose bumps when I hear “Yeh mahalon yeh takhton yeh taajon ki duniya”

    Keep these fantastic posts coming in. The lyrics and thier english translations were a very thoughtful addition in your post :)


  11. You words flow so beautifully! I hope I can learn from the way you write and imbibe it in my writing!

    I love “Man re tu kahe” – it’s just SO different from the run-of-the-mill songs on love and angst; my eyes tear up every time I hear it, and Rafi’s rendition of the song is spell binding!


    • Thank you so much for the appreciation, Neha!

      And yes, Mann re tu kaahe na dheer dhare is actually one of my favourite Rafi songs too. There are hundreds of favourite Rafi songs for me, but this one, so beautifully sung, with such wonderful music and such perfect lyrics… it’s a memorable combination.


  12. On a more serious note than Sahir & samosas, here is an example of what i admire about Sahir. His song for Pyasa, Jinhe naaz hai hind par woh kahaan hain, was originally a more difficult Urdu poem, titled Chakley
    Here is a link to the original (on a great website on Sahir)


    Apparently this song was banned for great many number of years on AIR for being demeaning to India. Anyone else know more about that story?


    • Thank you for that link, Bawa. I hadn’t known about Chakley, but reading it was very fulfilling – I think it was more hard-hitting than Jinhe naaz hai Hind par.

      I hadn’t known that AIR had banned the song. I don’t exactly see it as demeaning to India (after all, he’s just turning the spotlight on a harsh truth; the truth exists, whether or not Sahir writes a poem about it… I feel it would be demeaning only if it was all lies). But censorship by Govt departments was probably vastly more sensitive to perceived slights back then…


      • “censorship by Govt departments was probably vastly more sensitive to perceived slights back then” I wondered about this when I listened to and read aurat ne jamam too. I was surprised that such sentiments could be broadcast so widely under a censorship regime like India’s. Perhaps it was the transcendence of his poetry that enabled him to get away with telling the truth so forcefully?


        • Possibly. Yes, that surprised me too – the imagery in Aurat ne janam diya is close to as brutal (if not more) than Jinhe naaz hai Hind par. I’d have thought that if one was banned, so would the other. Or was Pyaasa more in the limelight than the relatively lesser-known Sadhna – could the mere fact of its being a more prominent film have attracted a ban while letting Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko slip through?


        • Talking about sensitivities and censorship esp by AIR,

          who can forget when Kishoreda was also banned when he sang some lines from that wonderful wonderful song-

          guni janon re bhakt janon hari naam se naata re jodo bhai maaya se mukh modo re……….. peeche pa gaya incometaxum………MD Kalyanji Virji Shah, Anandji Virji Shah and lyrics by another Master- Qamar Jalalabadi Saheb and movie was Aansoo Aur Muskan- 1970 !!



            • Amin Sayani, speaking at my university in 83/84; said the reason for Binaca Geetmala being broadcast on Radio Ceylon was then Union I&B Minister (Keskar or Kelkar) refused permission to air on AIR. And I do remember the actions against Kishore Kumar during the Emergency.


  13. Dusted off–just stopped by after a long time. What an excellent write-up. Maybe it is always this way –I’ve been away that long and I’ve forgotten. I haven’t myself been tracking Sahir’s songs so can’t offer anything to add/subtract to your post.


  14. Excellent!!
    Love the way you have drawn attention to the salient features contained in the lyrics.

    Isn’t it great how he shows his masterful knowledge of *shudh hindi * in songs like ‘man re tu kahe na dheer dhare’ and then perfect urdu in others. Even his qawaalis contain such interesting exchanges between the two parties.
    Thanks DO. I really have nothing more to add, expcept that I love the lyrics/songs of Taj Mahal, Pyaasa, Chitralekha etc.

    Citralekha is a very watchable film. My standards aren’t that high as I like nearly every film :) so can’t say whether it’s a great film, but its not depressing. In fact it did transfer me to an era long past.
    The sets for those times are OK though one can see that they are … well, ‘sets’ :)

    The theme is philosophical, as that excellent song ‘man re’ shows.


    • You’re very right about the shudh Hindi and the perfect Urdu Sahir uses in his poetry. To have such superb command over two languages – even though they are related to such a great extent – is a big thing. And then to be able to work such magic with those words… fantastic.

      Thank you for the feedback on Chitralekha! If it’s not depressing (well, my threshold was much lower when I was a child), I will certainly watch it again soon. :-)


  15. In all my excitement of reading your post this morning and discussing Sahir saab and his songs, I completely forgot to check out your translations.

    Have just downloaded them and what can I say? Madhu, they are just brilliant! The translation itself must have taken quite some time – I can imagine that Sahir’s lyrics are not the easiest to translate.

    Besides this, as we know, often the essence of content tends to get lost in translation. But what amazes me is that you’ve managed to not just retain the content but also provide an English translation that reflects exactly what Sahir would have intended to convey as his message. And that’s truly outstanding!

    I salute you!


    • *blushing* Oh lord, Raja – you are being too kind. Thank you so much. I did the translations one song a day because I wanted my mind to be fresh and clear, and to concentrate on just that one song. Strangely enough, the songs that were the most difficult were the shorter ones – Main zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya and Mann re tu kaahe. The marathon ones, from Sadhna and Pyaasa, for instance, were actually much easier to do – probably because there were more literal translations there, not amorphous concepts that would be difficult to translate into English.

      Thank you, again.


  16. Before I get kicked out for spamming you, here’s a quick teaser.

    Can you come up with any song that Sahir has written for Shankar Jaikishen? I don’t know even one! I checked all of earthmusic (44 pages!) but not one song!

    I know that Sahir had this practice of charging royalty for his songs, that may have kept him out of the S-J world, not to mention that they had Shailendra and Hasrat as their team.

    The closest I see a Sahir – S-J association is when they almost composed for Phir Subah Hogi but Sahir wanted somebody who’d read the story (Crime and Punishment) to compose it. So it went to Khayyam and not S-J. (Picked this up from Sahir’s wiki entry. I must say I am always a bit cautious using wikipedia).

    So can you (or anybody) come up with a Sahir, Shankar-Jaikishen song? Could be a good trivia question. :-)


    • That’s an interesting question – hadn’t thought about it at all! I had read somewhere that Sahir used to insist that he be paid at least a rupee more than the music directors were paid, in order to stress the importance of the lyrics. So yes, you’re probably right that that wouldn’t have fitted in with the SJ gang. And anyway, as you do mention, Shailendra and Hasrat were as much a team with Shankar-Jaikishan as Shankar-Jaikishan were a team in themselves. SJSH?

      I’ve just been going through my notes of all my film watching over the past 7-8 years, and the bulk of Sahir’s work seems to have been done with either Ravi or S D Burman. There are some films with N Dutta, a couple with O P Nayyar, Hum Dono with Jaidev and Barsaat ki Raat with Roshan, but his portfolio seems to be dominated by Ravi and SDB.

      If you ever do get to know the answer to that question, I’d love to know too!


  17. I need to add my thanks for the wonderful translations you’ve provided. Although my Hindi is good enough for me to understand the songs (with the help of a few dictionaries when the Urdu stumps me!), I can’t translate them well enough to share their brilliance with my wife and friends. I hope to learn A LOT from studying your translations, since most of my old films have no subs on the songs. Not just outstanding work, but very, very generous of you to have spent the time needed to do all that.


  18. Whenever I see Sahir Saab’s name in the credits, I settle down into the film happily, sure that whatever else may happen, there will be some soul-searing poetry. Thanks for putting this post together. There are way too many lovely songs, lovely lyrics out there, and it must have been a task putting up 10.


    • “and it must have been a task putting up 10.”

      Yes, I did end up transcribing a lot more songs than just these 10, only to realise – after I’d written them up – that perhaps the poetry in song X was better than this. Or in Song Y… perhaps I should have done a top 20, actually.


  19. Excellent post, really loved all the songs & their description. And, as usual, nice to see other suggestions; here is mine
    “Phalii Hui Hai Sapno Ki Bahe” — House # 44


    • Lovely. :-) I love this song – such a beautiful one. Hadn’t paid much attention to the lyrics earlier, but they’re lovely. Thank you!

      Even though I have been watching and appreciating Hindi films for so many years (definitely more than 25, closer to 30!), I am amazed still at the VAST corpus of absolutely stunning work that was created, especially during the 50s and 60s. Phaili hui hain shaam ki baahein is a fine example.


  20. Though a die-hard Sahir fan, I wasn’t aware of yesterday being his birth anniversary.

    So to celebrate both his lyrics – most of which are soaked in drunkennes – and his birth anniv, I had a few “pegs” of whisky (which I read on the web to be his favorite drink) last night after work and listened to some of his soaked in stupor gems. It was raining outside making the evening perfect for indulging in some Sahir, shayaris, and sharaab. And of course, the 101 International women’s day – liberated by Sahir’s songs!


  21. A friend of mine just tweeted some good news, so after reading this thread, I’m listening to all the upbeat, cheery Sahir songs I have – basically the Naya Daur soundtrack and the qawwalis from Barsaat ki Raat lovely to have Sahir and sukh in the same sentence.


    • Fortunately, there is a fair bit of cheerful Sahir too – he isn’t bleak all the way. And any excuse to listen to the Barsaat ki Raat album will do for me, thank you! Like Pighlaa hai sona (which, as I mentioned in my post, I first came across in my Hindi text book at school), Na toh karvaan ki talaash hai also has a school link to it, for me. When I was in Class VII (or maybe VI, I don’t remember), our music teacher got us to do a qawwali for Annual Day. I’ve forgotten specific words (it was all about patriotism) but the tune and the general lyrics were from Na toh karvaan ki talaash hai. I saw Barsaat ki Raat much later and was taken aback to find the song there.


      • I hadn’t heard Pighla hai sona before. I did after you listed it here and by God, it’s been an obsession with me – at least for the past 2 days and I’m listening to it as I write this. Amazing song and music is great too! Thanks for introducing me to it.


  22. Reading the Ludhiana samosa story reminded me of a conversation I had with an erudite gentleman, who was a contemporary of Sahir Ludhianavi in the Governmnet College, Ludhiana. He said Sahir had achieved great name even as a student. But his wild ways did not enamour him to the authorities. Finally he was expelled from the college. While leaving he posted a poem on the college notice board, one line of which would take your breath away for its beauty and genius:

    ग़र यहां के न हुए
    यहां के निकाले तो हुए हैं.

    So what if I was not accepted here
    Is it not an honour to be expelled from this exalted place

    Now this poem has become an integral part of the college folklore. I am sure other alumni of the college or the residents of Ludhiana can confirm this story.

    I am myself a great fan of Sahir, Pyasa is of course everyone’s favourite. Incidentally I wrote an article on Chalo ek bar phir se on my blog http://www.songsofyore.com/a-mahendra-kapur-sahir-ludhiyanvi-ravi-classic/ a few months back.


    • Thank you, harvey! Yes, Tora man darpan is also a good song – somehow it didn’t strike me until some other readers pointed it out; perhaps because I don’t readily remember the songs of Kaajal – the ones I usually remember are Chhoo lene do naazuk hothon ko and Yeh zulf agar khulke bikhar jaaye, both of which I recall primarily because of the music. I should revisit the Kaajal score!


        • Yes, I have watched Kaajal, but it’s been a while, so I don’t remember it too well. Much weeping on Meena Kumari’s part, and somehow Meena Kumari as Dharmendra’s sister was an odd bit of casting… plus, the two jodis – Dharmendra-Padmini and Meena Kumari-Raj Kumar seemed to lack chemistry. I guess I should rewatch it sometime.

          Am looking forward very eagerly to your list!! Whatever it is. :-)


  23. Raja I can pretty well vouch that Sahir Saheb and super duo SJ never paired together, we will never know what would have been the result if they did.

    We had a same issue when Maestro O P Saheb started to work with Kishoreda. I remember statements like Kishoreda would never fit in O P style compositions but how wrong we were when in 1972 we got Ek Bar Mooskura Do, unfort by this time O P was doing very very few films !

    Btw Sahir Saheb had a peppy side also, check this wonderful song from Amaanat 1977, with Rafi,Manna,Asha Chorus-

    cycle pe haseeno ki toli dekhi toh tabayeet yoon boli ae kaash hum cycle hote

    full version is here

    Zindagi Hansne Gaane Ke Liye” from Zameer 1975


    all songs from Daag: A Poem of Love 1973-like

    “Hum Aur Tum”, “Ab Chahe Maa Roothe”, “Mere Dil Mein Aaj”, “Hawa Chale Kaise”, “Jab Bhi Jee Chahe”, “Ni Main Yaar Manana”, “Main To Kuch Bhi Nahin”)


    “Maria My Sweetheart”, -Dastaan 1972

    “Sar Mein Lamba Top Leke Ayega from Izzat 1968

    chaahe koi khush ho chaahe gaaliyaan hazaar de- Taxi Driver 1954

    we can add from same phillum

    dil se milaake dil pyaar kijiye koi suhaana iqraar kijiye

    and from House No. 44 1955 – Oonche Sur Mein Gaaye Jaa by Kishoreda.

    A man of all seasons.



    • Ash, thank you for that delicious list of Sahir in lighter mood! I don’t recall some of them (I haven’t seen Zameer or Dastaan, for instance), but the ones I do know – like the songs from Taxi Driver or House No 44 – are delightful. So is Main Bambai ka Babu from Naya Daur:

      or, actually, even Sar jo tera chakraaye, such a relief from the otherwise grim tone of Pyaasa:


  24. DO……………….. Runnnnnnnnnnnn here :) and refresh it

    to get this

    guni janon re bhakt janon hari naam se naata re jodo bhai maaya se mukh modo re

    All around g8 performers, yur day wil lighten up…:)


  25. Did Sahir write the lyrics for Sar jo tera chakraaye? The reliably unreliable internet keeps telling me it was written by Shakeel. I love it for the reason you give, the way it breaks the tome of that not-very-cheerful film. It was also the very first time I’d ever seen Johnny Walker, and was the start of my fondness for him, a fondness even my non-filmi wife shares.


    • I’ve just cross-checked my notes for Pyaasa, made when I last saw the film. The only lyricist credited in the film is Sahir – unless Shakeel went uncredited for Sar jo tera chakraaye, I’d say that was written by Sahir.


      • Thanks. I assumed he did, because I thought it was unusual for two lyricists to write for the same film. I’m pleased I instinctively give little credence to website “facts”


        • You’re welcome! Though I would add that it’s not unusual to come across more than one lyricist writing for the same film. Hasrat Jaipuri and Shailendra are of course probably the first lyricist jodi that springs to mind, but there are a number of films – Dil bhi tera hum bhi tere, Bandish, Dilli ka Thug, Dulha-Dulhan, Dr Vidya, 12 O’Clock, Upkaar, Tum Haseen Main Jawaan, Sone ki Chidiya, Hum Hindustani, Pakeezah, Razia Sultana, Kabuliwaala, Kahin Din Kahin Raat, etc etc – for which two or more lyricists wrote songs. The Rajesh Khanna-Babita starrer Raaz had a line-up of six lyricists.


          • In Bandini all the songs were penned by Shailendra except for mora gora ang lai le, which was written by Gulzar. Thus it is quite common for movie scores to have one or more lyricists.


    • In Giitaayan Shakeel is mentioned though it has been corrected to Sahir on rec.music.indian.misc.
      And since lots of sites just copy from Giitaayan the mistake must have been published again and again.


      • That probably also accounts for a site on which I saw Waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam being attributed to Sahir Ludhianvi. Much as I would have liked it (and much as I would have believed it – that song too has a depth to it that few lyricists are able to plumb), it isn’t Sahir, but Kaifi Azmi.






  27. You like Sadhir Ludhianvi! I love you! :)

    It’s amazing that a man whose poetry dripped cynicism and tomtommed his communist sympathies could also write such lyrical romantic verse. (Main zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya is a perennial favourite.) Some other gems that I haven’t seen mentioned:

    (In no particular order, because it is difficult to look for favourites from among Sahir’s poetry.)

    1. Bhool sakta hai bhalaa kaun ye pyaari aankhein – Dharmputra (Mahendra Kapoor / N Dutta / Shashi Kapoor / Indrani Mukherjee)

    And if you haven’t seen this yet, please do see it. Cannot believe it is the same Yash Chopra who suffocates us with mustard fields who made this senistive film on religious differences.

    2. Kisi pathar ki moorat se – Humraaz (Mahendra Kapoor / Ravi / Sunil Dutt /Vimmi)

    If ever a song called out for Rafi, this was it. And Ravi, I think, was one music director who was underutilised by the Bombay film industry.

    3. Rang aur noor ki baarat kise pesh karoon – Ghazal (Rafi / Madanmohan / Sunil Dutt / Meena Kumari)

    One of my favourite music directors. It’s a shame that he never won a Filmfare award while lesser talents walked away with the honours.

    4. A lesser known gem from Didi – Tum mujhe bhool bhi jao to yeh haq hai tumko (Sudha Malhotra/ Mukesh / Sunil Dutt / Shubha Khote). Interestingly, the music was by Sudha Malhotra and N Dutta.

    5. Cheen o arab hamara – the absolutely cynical parody of Iqbal’s Sare jahan se acha, yeh hindustan hamara – from Phir Subah Hogi (Mukesh / Khayyam / Raj Kapoor). I don’t want to add another song from the same movie, but aasman pe hai khuda aur zameen pe ham, aaj kal woh is taraf dekhta hai kam, is an absolute delight.

    6. Main pal do pal ka shaayar hoon – Kabhi Kabhie (Mukesh / Khayyam / Bachchan saab)

    It had a foreshadowing, especially when he wrote ‘kal koi mujhko yaad kare, kyun koi mujhke yaad kare, mashroof zamana mere liye, kyun waqt apna barbaad kare’. One of the few songs that Mukesh sang for Amitabh.

    7. Sansar se bhaage phirte ho, Bhagwan ko tum kya paoge – Chitralekha (Lata Mangeshkar / Roshan / Meena Kumari / Ashok Kumar)

    A completely satirical take, from a court dancer to a priest. With all its flaws, it was also a wonderful look at love, personal responsibility, and morality. I loved these lines – “Ye bhog bhi ek tapasya hai, Tum tyaag ke mare kya jano”

    8. Jaayen to jaayen kahan – Taxi Driver (Talat mehmood / SD Burman / Dev Anand)

    9. Laaga Chunri mein daag chupaaoon kaise – Dil Hi to Hai (Manna Dey / Roshan / Raj Kapoor). Mohammed Rafi is once said to have told reporters “You listen to my songs; I listen only to Manna Dey’s songs.”

    10. Raat bhi hai kuch bheegi bheegi – Mujhe jeene do (Lata Mangeshkar / Jaidev / Sunil Dutt / Waheeda Rehman).

    And oh, so many more, as you have discovered. :)


  28. Interestingly, nearly all of the songs you’ve mentioned would probably have been on my list, if it hadn’t been for my two self-imposed restrictions: one, that I wouldn’t list songs from films I hadn’t seen, and two, that I wouldn’t list any two songs from the same film! If it hadn’t been for those restrictions, my list would have been endless, no doubt.

    Incidentally, Tum mujhe bhool bhi jaao is one song I really, really love. So beautiful – and actually also rather reminiscent of Tum apna ranj-o-gham. Thank you for the Dharmputra recommendation – I’ll put it on my must-watch list!


  29. Pingback: Some timeless songs of Jagjit Kaur | Songs Of Yore

  30. Chalo ek Baar-was it amruta preetam or Sudha Malhotra I wonder!?
    Yes, Tora Man Darpan Kehlaaye is brilliant! You can see traces of Sahir’s viewpoint on love in “Tere Pyar Ka Aasra chaahta hoon” to which the lady retorts -“Haseenon se ehd-e-wafa chaahte ho, bade nasamajh ho, yeh kya chaahte ho”. Chandrakantha had “Maine Pyar aur sitaron ki tamanna ki thi” and Railway Platform had “Basti Basti”,
    2 of his completely different songs on Aankhen-one the title song (during the titles, lovely lyrics) and the other one, a lighter romantic in the 80’s from dhanwaan.
    But philosophy at its best in “sansaar ki har shey ka”(dhundh) and a romantic “Neele Parbaton ki Dhaara”(aadmi aur insaan) and zindagi ittefaq hai (aadmi aur insaan).
    Lots more to write, but this is the beginning :-)


  31. I had heard it was Sudha Malhotra, not Amrita Pritam, but who knows. Whatever, it’s a brilliant piece of poetry about a thwarted/forbidden love.

    Really like Sansaar ki har shay ka, Neele parbaton ki dhaara and Zindagi ittefaq hai, too. (I must admit that I love not just the lyrics of those songs, but also the music – each one is superb).


  32. all of his beggar songs have great lyics too. You have mentioned Jurm-e-ulfat somewhere else, the lyrics are so wonderful. Even Khuda-e-bartar from Taj mahal is excellent, perhaps a reference to the Indo-Chinese war?

    Nature-Jhukti ghata gaati hawa(dhool ka phool)

    i also gather for Chitralekha, he got his lyrics reviewed by Indeevar.

    Me thinks we should have a separate topic on Sahir and Qawwalis, for his lyrics and also beautiful Urdu. People tend to forget some of his other qawaali gems than the famous trio in Barsat ki raat(which are brilliant), the ones in Bahu Begum(2), Nigahen milane ko jee chaahta hai, chaahe yeh maano from dhool ka phool etc. These are so rich in lyrics, he was in full flow in this genre.


    • Another of the readers of my blog, Stuart, has been requesting for a long time for me to do a ‘ten favourite qawwalis list’. You’ve just given me clues to two films I should finally watch! – I haven’t seen Bahu Begum or Dhool ka Phool yet, though the qawwalis from Barsaat ki Raat were definitely going to feature in that post!

      I hadn’t known Indeevar reviewed Sahir’s lyrics for Chitralekha. Even other than Mann re tu kaahe na dheer dhare, there are some beautifully soul-stirring songs in that film.


  33. One of the reasons why I love Sahir is the ability to combine light and darkness, optimism and pessism in such a wondeful way. the man who wrote such a depressing “Aurat ne Janam diya mardon ko” has a word of advice for aurat zaat (read husn).

    Here is the gem, the lyrics are mind-boggling. No Persian, no Urdu, sublime colloquial Hindi and yes, Chitragupt saaheb! Closely read the comments in youtube for this song, the use of the various instruments and keep it in mind while listening to the song. It gave me a new dimention.


    • The empty suitcase is such a standard accessory in Hindi films when people are travelling anywhere – silly, considering that when a suitcase is soft, it’s so obviously empty even when you see it closed. And it’s obvious in the way the person holding it walks, etc… or did they think Biswajeet was too naazuk to carry an even half-full suitcase?! ;-)

      On a more serious note: I’ve heard this song often enough, but had never seen it before – and had never really paid attention to the lyrics. Yes, mind-boggling, so very unashamedly Sahir.


    • Thanks, Anu. This is really an old favourite of mine – I first saw this song when I was about 11 years old or so, and have loved it ever since. The only reason I’ve avoided seeing the film is that I sort of know the story of Rustom and Sohrab, and I didn’t want to see Premnath come to a sorry end in a film where he was obviously a hero, too! :-(

      But this is such a brilliant qawwali, I just might try to get hold of the film so I can watch it and put it in my list.


  34. Now if only Faiz’ poetry had been used for more songs…. he’s the only one whose poetry is more critical, cynical and condemnatory than Sahir….. and as beutiful in its use of the language.


  35. I am surprised that no one has mentioned about (1) Phir Na Kije Meri Gustakh Nigahika Gila & (2) ab jaa-balab hun shiddat-e-dard-e-nihaan se main aise me tujh ko dhundh kar laoon kahaan se main.
    I heard somewhere that Sahir was super egoist and used to charge one rupee more than Lata Mangeskar (rightly so) and once called her Nadan on her face (as she pocked her nose and wanted to change few words of his lyrics)


    • Yes, I’d heard that about Sahir too, about him charging a rupee more – though my recollection was that he charged a rupee more than the music directors too, not just Lata.


  36. Another of those lists that is close to my heart. Sahir was an outstanding lyricist. His lyrics for what should have been hackneyed situations were always different. I do not think “Aurat ne janam diya mardoN ko” is like any other song in its ilk. But there are a couple of songs that I consider his best which were not in the list:
    a) Sansaar se bhaage phirte ho bhagwaan ko tum kya paaoge from “Chitralekha”
    The very concept of the prostitute singing that to the jogi is just brilliant – and of
    course the lyrics are nothing short of divine/inspired/spiritual. Nothing atheistic
    in his thoughts here.
    b) Tere bachpan ko jawaani ki dua deti hooN from “Mujhe jeene do”
    Listening to this song by myself in my car will almost always move me to tears.
    Lata’s sublime rendition of some of the most powerful lyrics for the situation put
    it over the top.
    There are a whole lot of Sahir love songs that are amazing for how different they are like “Kashti ka khamosh safar hai” from “Girlfriend” (music by Hemant Kumar) and “Tum mujhe bhool bhi jaao” from “Didi” or the unusual “Hum aap ki aaNkhoN me” from “Pyaasa”. Well Pyaasa by itself stands out as a testament of lyrical genius.


  37. Great list! I agree with Ash that Chaand Madhdham Hai from Railway Platform is a great song…but more so because of the tune…Sahir’s lyrics are good but not exceptional..


  38. Hmm it appears like your website ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I
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  39. Some Sahir songs that are simply beautiful and haven’t been mentioned in the post…there are just so many gems when it comes to Sahir that some are bound to seep through the cracks. Here’s reminding you of those…
    1. Aa Bhi Ja (Gumraah)
    2. Allaah Tero Naam (Hum Dono)
    3. Dhadakne Lagi Dil Ke Taaron Ki Duniya (Dhool Ka Phool)
    4. Dil Jale To Jale (Taxi Driver)
    5. Dil Jo Na Kah Saka (Bheegi Raat)
    6. Maine Chaand Aur Sitaaronki Tamanna Ki Thi (Chandrakanta)
    7. Tang Aa Chuke Hain (Pyaasa)
    8. Teri Duniyame Jeenese To Behtar Hai (House No. 44)
    9. Ye Dil Tum Bin (Izzat)


    • Yes, all lovely. Tang aa chuke hain, especially, was one which I debated over for a long time, because its lyrics are so good. I didn’t end up putting it here, but it’s a great song.


      • I am not sure if this story is anecdotal or real: Sahir used to insist that he be paid one rupee extra than the remuneration of the music director. His lyrics embody this attitude. They stand tall and proud, and many times over and above the tune of the song. Considering the golden era of music when melodies were pouring in, this was no mean feat.


        • If I remember Akshay Manwani’s biography of Sahir correctly, that story is true and not merely rumour. Sahir was very vocal about the rights of lyricists – and rightly so. After all, without lyrics, songs aren’t songs – they play as important a part as the music. At times, more important.


  40. a suggestion
    ‘jinhe naaz hai hind par’ from Pyaasa. I think this song has the power to enlive all the acute detailing and picturesque as mentioned by the poetic giant. He quastiona and compalins. Madhuji, you can get more of sahir,s great poetry at http://www.rektha.org . login for an account and search for him. But do make sure you use it on android as on PC its a mess. Not enough suited frr a large screen. BTW loved the post.


    • a suggestion
      ‘jinhe naaz hai hind par’ from Pyaasa. I think this song has the power to enlive all the acute detailing and picturesque as mentioned by the poetic giant. He questions and complains. Madhuji, you can get more of sahir’s great poetry at http://www.rektha.org . login for an account and search for him. But do make sure you use it on android as on PC its a mess. Not enough suited frr a large screen. BTW loved the post.


      • Yes, I’ve read quite a bit of Sahir’s poetry, both on Rekhta as well as elsewhere – especially in Akshay Manwani’s biography of him.

        Glad you liked this post, thank you.


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