Ten of my favourite Kaifi Azmi songs

Yes, this post is four months late: Kaifi Azmi’s birth centenary was on January 14th this year. I will not make excuses about why I missed that date. Let me just say that I didn’t know about it until the 14th itself, and by then, it was too late. I cursed myself for having forgotten that 2019 marked the birth centenary year of one of Hindi cinema’s finest lyricists. But today is the death anniversary of Azmi Sahib, and in any case, all of this year is his birth centenary, so I thought better late than never.

Born Syed Akhtar Hussain Rizvi in Mizwaan (Azamgarh, Eastern Uttar Pradesh) on January 14th 1919, Kaifi Azmi famously wrote and recited his very first ghazal when he was just 11 years old—a feat that so baffled those who heard it that they could not believe it, and set the boy a challenge to prove his worth by creating a ghazal to a set metre and theme: a task he performed ably. Azmi’s poetry was initially the stuff of popular Urdu poetry—love and heartbreak and similar themes—but his growing affinity for the leftist movement, his joining of the Communist Party of India (the CPI) in 1943 and the Progressive Writers’ Movement, gave a whole new tone to his shaayari. Themes of social consciousness, revolution and an empathy towards the downtrodden became an integral part of much of his poetry.

In 1951, Azmi made his first foray into Hindi cinema, by writing songs for the Shaheed Latif-directed Buzdil. Over a span of almost fifty years, he wrote lyrics for nearly an equal number of films. A telling fact, this restraint: several of his contemporaries far outnumbered Azmi Sahib in their output when it came to sheer quantity, but Azmi Sahib may have stolen a march over most of them when it came to quality.

But, to cut a long story short, a selection of ten of my favourite songs written by Kaifi Azmi. As always, these (barring one, from Pakeezah) are from pre-1970s films that I’ve watched, and no two songs are from the same film.The transcription and translation of each of these songs is available here.

1. Dekhi zamaane ki yaari (Kaagaz ke Phool, 1959): Dekhi zamaane ki yaari is my favourite Kaifi Azmi song. One of those rare songs that pretty much contains within it the essence of the film, this one does not occur in a single stretch, but in bits and pieces, starting at the time when a hugely successful film maker, Mr Sinha (Guru Dutt), surrounded by adoring crowds, finds himself realizing that fame and wealth do not necessarily bring happiness. It reaches its climax near the end, when, now a broken and old man, Sinha returns to the place where he had once ruled but is now derided by all.

The cynicism of this song is somewhat similar to that of Sahir Ludhianvi in Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai, but with one difference: instead of the anger bubbling forth in Sahir’s verse, here there’s a softer, more heartbroken realization that the glitter and beauty of this world hide a mercenary selfishness. It’s as if the singer blames the world, yes; but he also blames himself, for having been so gullible as to be dazzled by the world. A brilliant song, and what powerful imagery: the bumble bee, buzzing madly about among paper flowers; the boat, stuck in the sand but with its oars working madly to move forward towards its goal; the world, giving with one hand, taking away with a hundred. SD Burman and Rafi do total justice to Azmi’s lyrics.

2. Chalte-chalte yoon hi koi mil gaya thha (Pakeezah, 1972): Dramatically different in tone from Dekhi zamaane ki yaari is Chalte-chalte yoon hi koi. Meena Kumari’s tawaif, Sahibjaan, is a sad and lonely young woman, yearning for the man whom she has not even seen, but who in a memorable encounter on a train, left behind a note praising the beauty of her feet, which he watched as she slept.

Since then, though she goes through the motions of entertaining her clients, the love songs she sings, the desire and the anguish of separation that wells up in her is addressed to that unknown admirer. He is the one whose praise, whose love for a woman of whom he knows nothing, has made her his. For him she waits, glowing like the flickering lamps of her haveli, and dying out too, like those lamps do… will he come to her before her lamp flickers out? There is a restlessness, a hopeless waiting in Chalte-chalte that I find very touching. That, and the loneliness that shines through in the words: she is alone, she waits—and she knows that she will perhaps never meet him again.

3. Ya dil ki suno duniyawaalon (Anupama, 1966): Anupama is a beautifully sensitive story of a young woman repressed and unloved (or loved only when he’s completely drunk) by a widowed father who blames her for the death of his beloved wife, who died in childbirth. Uma (Sharmila Tagore) is painfully retiring, scared not just of her father but of the world itself—and the world, misunderstanding her, tends to regard her with a mixture of pity and derision. It is this world, in the form of a party crowd, whom Uma’s lover and friend (Dharmendra) addresses in this song. He sings, unlike most party singers, not of his own sorrow and sense of betrayal, but that of someone who will never be able to pluck up the courage to do so for herself.

The sadness of these words, the loneliness and sorrow that weighs them down, is beautifully expressed. Tragic, yes, but not melodramatically so.

4. Jaane kya dhoondti rehti hain (Shola aur Shabnam, 1961): Kaifi Azmi wrote lyrics for several films starring Dharmendra. Shola and Shabnam, one of the star’s earliest films, was fairly forgettable, except for a couple of songs. Jeet hi lenge baazi hum-tum was a repeated song, played in a couple of versions—and there was this one, a sad lament for a love that cannot be. She is certain she loves him, and certain, too, that it is reciprocated; but he tells her no. He is merely a heap of ashes, the ashes of a love that once was and cannot be again—and he does not blame her for it, but the world: the world, cruel and materialistic and unable to accept love, which will not let them be together. The despair and pain in the words is palpable, yet controlled.

5. Main yeh sochkar uske dar se utha thha (Haqeeqat, 1964): Another Dharmendra film, though Haqeeqat—arguably the most realistic Hindi war film ever made—also starred Balraj Sahni, Vijay Anand, Jayant, Priya Rajvansh, and featured many other known faces, including Sanjay Khan (in his debut role), Mac Mohan, Sulochana, Jayant, Bhupinder… and Sudhir, who went on to gain an audience as a villain in 70s cinema, but played some likeable characters in the 60s. Here Sudhir’s character, a soldier at the China front, sings a song of regret. He acted as all lovers sometimes do, manipulating a loved one, deliberately putting on airs to entice her, to tease her into manaao-ing him. He left her home in the firm belief that she would call him back, but she did not.

And there his life is stuck, because her not calling him back, and his stubbornly going on, has turned into a separation forever. Because he has gone into battle and chances are he will never return from here.

Kaifi Azmi wrote some wonderful songs for Haqeeqat, from the beautiful song of anticipation, Zara si aahat hoti hai, to another song, full of yearning, about missing home and loved ones: Hoke majboor mujhe. There is the joyous, carefree Masti mein chhedke taraana koi dil ka, and the very epitome of patriotism, Kar chale hum fida jaan-o-tan saathiyon. While all these songs are good, there is a heartbreaking woe about Main yeh sochkar that makes it for me the most poignant song in Haqeeqat.

6. Jhoom-jhoom dhalti raat (Kohraa, 1964): Kohraa, the Hindi version of the Hitchcock classic (or Daphne du Maurier classic, if you go back to the original, literary source), Rebecca, had just a handful of songs. Of those, the one which was repeated was this hauntingly beautiful one. Considering the character who’s singing it, an adulterous wife and a woman who is, by all appearances, thoroughly depraved, the song is surprisingly anguished. These are not the words of a black-hearted villainess, but those of a woman so lonely and in so much pain that she lets the night take her where it will. She tries to drown her sorrows in whatever she thinks will assuage it—drink, sex, finery—but nothing does: that pain remains, that pain grows. And nobody will understand it.

If you were to listen to Jhoom-jhoom dhalti raat as a standalone song, not in conjunction with the film, you may well feel a sense of empathy or at least pity for the singer. Azmi Sahib was good at using his words to evoke sympathy.

7. Badal jaaye agar maali (Bahaarein Phir Bhi Aayengi, 1966): Kaifi Azmi’s socialism comes through with impact in the title song of Bahaarein Phir Bhi Aayengi. The singer addresses the poor and hopeless, telling them to shoulder the responsibility for their own dreams. The world may deride them, the world may look down on them, but it is up to them to keep their dreams alive. Because spring will come again; it always does, the cycle of the seasons is inevitable.

The metaphor here, of the relationship (or not) between a garden and the coming of spring, is an excellent one. What if the gardener should desert his garden, what if the winds should set the garden aflame—will it stop the coming of spring? No, because come what may, no matter what destruction the world may work, spring will come.

8. Tum poochhte ho ishq bala (Naqli Nawab, 1962): Love has been, classically, one of the major themes of Urdu poetry. In this song, a half-defiant, half-poignant ode to love, Azmi raises the ultimate toast to love. It is destructive, it lays waste—but by giving in to love, you can understand what it is to gain everything even after losing all. For love is immortal, love is eternal and powerful. Love knows no boundaries, love makes a human being human.

Interestingly, if you listen to the song on Youtube, the first verse does not contain one line—bande ko khuda karke dikhaata hai yehi ishq—which appears in some transcriptions of the lyrics. While I wonder why there seems to be this discrepancy, it also strikes me as an echo of a line that appears in Sahir Ludhianvi’s classic qawwali for Barsaat ki Raat, Yeh ishq ishq hai: Intehaa yeh hai ke bande ko khuda karta hai ishq. An intriguing similarity in expression by two stalwarts of Urdu poetry.

9. Hai kali-kali ke labh par (Lala Rukh, 1958): Another love song, and one that’s flirtatious all the way. The singer is no more than an accompaniment to a dancer, and so his song is full of the imagery of infatuation: there is, deliberately, none of the depth here that comes through in some of the more achingly beautiful love songs of Kaifi Azmi. This is pure serenade, a man singing in praise of a beautiful woman. The metaphors and similes he uses are charming, comparing her features to various forces of nature—her flashing eyes are lightning, her black hair are clouds—and telling her to slow down a bit, for his heart is threatening to give way. Light-hearted swooning, but not to be taken seriously.

10. Tumhaari zulf ke saaye mein (Naunihaal, 1967): And, to end, another love song, but this one a heartfelt one, not the light-hearted flirting of Hai kali-kali ke labh par. A very romantic (though far too short, as far as I’m concerned) serenade, Tumhaari zulf ke saaye mein is a wonderful paean to the woman this man loves. The song isn’t full of praise for the woman; it doesn’t say how beautiful she is, or how sensuous or anything—all it says is what a devastating effect she has on the heart of the man who loves her. If for nothing else, this song would be on this list for just one verse, the last one, where the singer congratulates his beloved for ruling on the realm which is his heart—hers is the victory, and ‘Rahi shikast toh woh apne naam kar loonga’ (‘As for the defeat, that I will accept as my own’). Wah!

Which Kaifi Azmi songs would you add to the list?


48 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite Kaifi Azmi songs

  1. Beautiful post, Madhulika. Read in the middle of a fairly chaotic morning and feeling happier for it…. thank you much!

    My favourite from Anupama though, is the wonderful “Aise bhi baatein hoti hain…. “


    • Aise bhi baatein hoti hain is a beautiful song. It had been on my shortlist, but when I compared the lyrics of that and Ya dil ki suno, I figured I liked the lyrics of the latter just a bit more. :-)

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you.


    • Thank you! Yes, Haqeeqat had several good songs. But even if I’d made an exception to my rule and included more than one song from a film, I’d still not have been able to do the post – because then I’d have not been able to fit all my favourite songs into a list of ten. I decided therefore to just mention the other songs of the film which I especially like.


  2. You have added all of my favourites.
    Others would be
    Ja ja re pawaniya piya ke desh ja although it is out of the period here as are
    Tum bin jeevan kaisa jeevan or the ghazals from “Arth”.


  3. A wonderful post, as expected of course!
    If I were to post only ten songs on my blog, the list would have the same nine songs, except the Lala Rukh one. I just love pyas kuchh aur bhi.
    But my next post, that will cover his other associations would have some songs again in common. The songs for the next part of my post are already been selected.
    As with Shamshad, Kaifi sahab’s birthday is also not confirmatorily on 14th Jan. It’s an assumed date, or so the book I have, mentions.
    Enjoyed all the songs,
    To add songs,
    Of course, akhri khat,
    Baharon Mera Jeevan, which I didn’t include on my list, just because I liked the lullaby a lot and was very much moved by the baby walking alone on the streets. And the lyrics were too touchy, too!
    Rest of my favourites, in my next part of the post!


    • Oh, I hadn’t realized even Kaizi Azmi’s birthdate was not confirmed. Chalo, koi baat nahin. Even if we got the year right, that’s okay. :-)

      The Aakhri Khat song is a beautiful one too. I couldn’t include it because it’s from a film I haven’t watched. But then, considering I already had a list of ten songs I liked very much, I guess it made things easier for me!


  4. My favourite Kaifi Azmi song is from Anupama – the Lata solo – Kuchh Dil Ne Kaha, Kuchh Bhi Nahi… I missed it in your list.Other Kaifi Azmi songs that I love are – Kohraa – Yeh Nayan Dare Dare, songs from Heer Ranjha, Hanste Zakhm, Arth…


    • Yes, Aise bhi baatein hoti hain was on my shortlist, but on closer comparison of the lyrics with those of Ya dil ki suno, I decided that when it came to lyrics, I preferred – marginally – the latter. But still, a lovely song. As is Yeh nayan dare-dare (though I must admit I love that for the music and the rendition more than for the lyrics).


  5. Wow. All these are my favourites.
    I see that, barring few, most songs are by Mohd. Rafi. Last year there was a telephonic interview of Dharmendra on Vividh Bharti, on his birthday. He said: “Rafi sahab mere hero the. Jab unhone mere liye pehla gana gaya (Jaane kya dhoondti rahti hain) maine sab doston, rishtedaron ko phone karke bataya tha”. And he said that so sweetly.
    Another thing my favourite song of Kaifi Azmi is: “Meri awaaz suno, pyar ka raaz suno” from Naunihal. It’s so heartbreaking, so moving. The lyrics, the music, and especially Mohd. Rafi’s singing.


  6. Madhu ji,
    As usual,a nice post. Good details along with the songs.
    Since Mehfil Mein Meri also posted on Kaifi Azmi, for the readers, एक रात में दो दो चांद नजर आए।
    When a movie has more than one iconic songs, the personal favourite will always vary from person to person.

    For me,KAAGAJ KE PHOOL is always Geeta Dutt and Waqt ne kiya kya haseen situm..As said in the beginning itself, this does not take away anything from the brilliance of Rafi’s Bichde sabhi baari baari.
    Again, NAUNIHAL: Meri awaaz suno,pyaar ki raaz suno..
    KOHRA: Ye nayan dare dare…
    But it is same pinch when it comes to ANUPAMA. The beautiful Lata solos Dheere dheere machal & kuch dil ne kaha pale a wee bit in front of Ya dil ki suno…. Surprisingly,a music lover senior colleague of mine,an encyclopaedia of Hindi old songs likes the two Asha numbers from the movie more than all of these! Bheegi bheegi Fiza & Kyon mujhe itni khushi de dee.. A matter of personal choice, again!
    How repetitive have I been in the comments!


  7. Madhu,
    Excellent post Madhu. Kaifi Azmi’s songs have high literary merit. His film songs we all know. I wanted to share this last stanza of a poem he wrote on the incident of 6 December.

    पांव सरयू में अभी राम ने धोये भी न थे
    कि नज़र आए वहां ख़ून के गहरे धब्बे
    पांव धोये बिना सरयू के किनारे से उठे
    राम ये कहते हुए अपने दुआरे से उठे
    राजधानी की फज़ा आई नहीं रास मुझे
    छह दिसम्बर को मिला दूसरा बनवास मुझे


    • AK, thank you for telling me about this poem. I had never come across it before. So hard-hitting, yet in a gentle sort of way (which, perhaps paradoxically, increases the impact of it). Superb.


      • Madhu,
        I was sure you will like it. The full poem is worth reading and keeping it in your folder. I have come across another brilliant poem by the celebrated poet (late) Kunwar Narayan on the same theme. I will mail it to you, with my English translation.


  8. Great post, thank you for this!
    What a brilliant poet Kaifi Azmi was, and what an impressive person…
    My own personal fave, Waqt ne kiya, has been mentioned before in the comments. Which of course does not come as a surprise, but let me add yet another song from “Kaagaz Ke Phool”. It’s probably not the first one that comes to your mind but imo a masterpiece in it’s own right: Ek do teen char aur panch.
    I remember how baffled I was when I watched KKP for the first time.
    It starts so harmlessly and nice and cheerful, with all those cute kids, and cows and geese, and Shanti apparently enjoying her new job – and then the feeling that something is totally not okay here creeps in when the double meaning of this nursery rhyme unfolds.
    How Geeta Dutt’s voice breaks when she sings Chheena ek dooje ka sahara ek bechara tanha tanha phirne laga phir se awara…Good God…And Waheeda Rehman’s acting is heart-rending too, when Shanti struggles to get back on track and what an effort it costs her.


    • Thank you for the appreciation!

      Ek do teen chaar aur paanch, I must admit, was a song that I’d completely forgotten about. Actually, to tell you the truth, ever since I thought of doing an Azmi tribute, the only song – irrespective of film – that I was truly excited about was Dekhi zamaane ki yaari. That had to be, as far as I was concerned, on my list – and so I didn’t even bother to look again at the other songs of Kaagaz ke Phool. But this one does deserve to be paid more attention to. I agree, it’s quite an amazing song. Thank you for reminding me of this.


  9. Wonderful collection of songs written by the great Kaifi Azmi! It must have been challenging to restrict yourself to just one song each from Haqeeqat, Kaagaz ke Phool and Anupama, all of which were blockbusters in terms of lyrics written by him. Here are two relatively lesser known songs written by Kaifi Azmi – lighter, romantic songs which may not have high flown poetry, but are quite hummable

    “Tu shokh kali main mast pawan” from Main Suhagan Hoon

    “Tera husn rahe mera ishq rahe” from Do Dil

    This recitation, lip-synched by Balraj Sahni, from the movie Sone ki Chidiya, is in the voice of Kaifi Azmi himself


    • Thank you for these songs! The first two are especially lovely when it comes to tunefulness. I hadn’t realized that the song from Sone ki Chidiya (which I have seen, as well as reviewed) was by Kaifi Azmi himself.


  10. You have picked such wonderful songs, and this was a lovely read. Thanks for this. In addition to your usual guidelines for picking songs, you have also tried to spread the choices among the music directors, I am guessing.
    I think a lot of MDs and lyricists had a sort of ‘ideal’ pairing (That may be a topic for a post for you Madhuji :) ) Like Sahir and Roshan (for the Mughal period pieces), Gulzar and RD Burman (for their 70’s romances) , SH Bihari and Op Nayyar (for the Shammi/Joy jaunty songs), even Sameer and Nadeem Sharavan (for the super simple 90s tunes and even simpler lyrics :) In that vein, I think Kaifi Azmi and Khayyam made the best pairing because of their ghazal roots, but a strong case can be made for Madan Mohan as well.


    • To be honest, I hadn’t set out to deliberately choose different music directors – that didn’t occur to me at all, I only went by song lyrics, no more.

      “I think a lot of MDs and lyricists had a sort of ‘ideal’ pairing (That may be a topic for a post for you Madhuji :) )

      Thank you for the confidence you have in me! I must admit I do not have the calibre to do a post like that – it requires far more research and far more indepth knowledge of Hindi cinema music than I possess! Someone like AK (Songs of Yore) or Anup (Mehfil Mein Meri) might be able to do it justice. Personally, a couple of MD-lyricist collaborations stand out for me: Sahir-SD Burman, Sahir-Roshan, and of course Shailendra-Shankar Jaikishan. The ones you’ve named are very good too.


      • Thanks a lot Madhuji for believing in me, such combos do attract me a lot. I like such posts a lot. If I get an opportunity I’ll certainly have a post like this.
        And I agree with Magi ji that even Sameer and Nadeem Shravan would make a good pair for such a post.
        Right now, I’ll do the ninety’s posts, as per my schedule, year wise favourites. But such posts would also make appearance, once I finished with those proposed.

        Thanks again for considering me suitable for that. Means a lot really to me.



  11. Uff! I wish I had the words to tell you how much I appreciated this post, Madhu. For me, while the melody is what would initially attract me to a song, it was always the lyrics that made the song a favourite and kept it evergreen in my memory. That became all the more so when I began to be interested in Urdu and Hindustani poetry.

    You have listed some of my favourites, though I would have put Waqt ne kiya instead – not because I don’t like Bichde sabhi baari baari but because the former had such deep emotions expressed in such a simple way.

    Some of my other favourites include:
    Rote rote guzar gai raat re from Burzdil for SD

    Dhadakte dil ki tamanna ho from Shama for Madan Mohan

    Log peete hain from Faraar for Hemant Kumar

    Tum jo mil gaye ho for Madan Mohan from Hanste Zakhm

    Meri duniya mein from Heer Ranjha for MM again

    Aaj ki kaali ghata from Uski Kahani – Geeta Dutt for Kanu Roy

    Jhuki jhuki si nazar from Arth for Jagjit Singh

    I guess I better stop now, or I’ll be making another ’10’ list. :)


    • Thank you so much, Anu! Both for the appreciation and for the songs you’ve posted. :-) Some of these (the Buzdil one, especially) were new to me, and some I’d forgotten (the one from Faraar), but they’re all good. Special shoutouts for Jhuki jhuki si nazar and Tum jo mil gaye ho, both of which I wished I’d been able to include in my list!


  12. Thanks a lot Madhuji for believing in me, such combos do attract me a lot. I like such posts a lot. If I get an opportunity I’ll certainly have a post like this.
    And I agree with Magi ji that even Sameer and Nadeem Shravan would make a good pair for such a post.
    Right now, I’ll do the ninety’s posts, as per my schedule, year wise favourites. But such posts would also make appearance, once I finished with those proposed.

    Thanks again for considering me suitable for that. Means a lot really to me.



  13. Wonderful list! I admire Kaifi Azmi’s work a lot! ‘Jaane kya dhoondti rehti hain’ is my mother’s favorite and I agree with both you and her on that count. His words can evoke different emotions within me. ‘Main yeh sochkar’ almost always makes me cry, on the other hand, ‘Badal jaaye agar maali’ always makes me hopeful.

    Speaking of my personal favorites, I believe he wrote ‘Mile na phool to kanton se dosti kar li’ from “Anokhi Raat” and it’s one of my favorites. And, though it goes beyond the era this blog concentrates in, his “Koi yeh kaise bataye” from “Arth” is probably one of my all-time top 10 favorite Hindi songs.


    • I’m so happy to hear that, like me, you too find very varied emotions being evoked by Azmi’s poetry – he does manage to express emotion so well, doesn’t he? In simple words, but so real that you cannot help but empathise.

      I love Mile na phool too (it was on my shortlist for this post). And Arth has some brilliant songs, more evidence of his prowess as a poet – Koi yeh kaisa bataaye is an excellent one.


  14. I love your lyricist posts, Madhu and this one is no exception. Kaifi Azmi has long been a favorite and it’s heartening to see someone of your writing caliber put a spotlight on him. Azmi saab’s lyrics are so powerful that it can even overcome my aversion to Hemant Kumar (the singer, love him as a music director) in “ya dil ki suno.”

    “kya dard kisi ka legaa koi
    itna bhi kisii mein dard nahi”

    Such true words that it gives me goosebumps just reading them.

    Anyway, many of my favorites have been mentioned by you or others, but here are a few more. I’m deliberately skewing outside of your time preference as a way of showing how great lyrics can elevate music even in less (allegedly) melodic eras. :-)

    Pyar ki dastan tum suno to kahe – Farar/Lata Mangeshkar/Hemant Kumar/1966

    Tu hi sagar tu hi sahara – Sanklap/Sulakshana Pandit/Khayyam/1974

    Nigahen churao na daman chudao – Faslah/Bhupinder-Meena Purushottam/Jaidev/1974

    Roshan roshan raatein apni – Hum Rahe Na Hum/Asha Bhonsle – Kishore Kumar/Bappi Lahiri/1984


    • Thank you, Shalini! I’m glad you liked this post. Yes, Kaifi Azmi was truly in a class by himself. He puts so much depth of feeling into his songs, no matter what the emotion. Of the songs you’ve posted, the only one I was familiar with was Pyaar ki daastaan. Have just finished listening to them (having given up a little way into the Sankalp song – Sulakshana Pandit’s voice grates on my ears), and liked them.


  15. ज़िंदा रहने के मौसम बहुत हैं मगर
    जान देने की रुत रोज़ आती नहीं
    हुस्न और इश्क़ दोनों को रुसवा करे
    वो जवानी जो खूँ में नहाती नहीं
    Just that portion of Kar chale hum fida is enough to make it a classic. But yes, Haqeeqat had so many good songs. As did Aakhri Khat.

    He did reasonably well in the vapid Anu Malik stuff too. I remember Phir Teri Kahaani Yaad Aayee had some pop romance lyrics.

    Rarely does a classic song make you pause the music and start scrabbling around to find out more about the poet. Perhaps being a non-native Hindi speaker meant I heard many old songs for the first time as an adult . This was one such – the combination of singer, the music magnified the impact of the lyrics. Floored me the first time I heard it.

    शब-ए-इंतज़ार आखिर,
    कभी होगी मुक़्तसर भी
    ये चिराग़ बुझ रहे हैं,
    मेरे साथ जलते जलते


    • I think it’s not just a question of hearing the songs the first time as an adult. Even as a native Hindi speaker, I must have heard those lyrics dozens of times as a child, but actually never paid enough attention to the lyrics themselves to appreciate them. Perhaps it took growing up to help me listen to the lyrics better. The particular stanza you have quoted is such a fine example of yearning, of waiting with dwindling hope. Azmi was superb.


  16. Too bad songs I wanted to add has already been mentioned. They were Farar song -Pyar ki dastan tum suno to kahe and Buzdil song-Roterote guzar gayi rat re.
    I also feel that Kaifi Azmi should have got as much as place as Sahir in Hindi film song world.


    • I think one reason a lot of people may not readily recall Kaifi Azmi (especially when compared to Sahir Ludhianvi) is in the relative sizes of their filmi corpus – Sahir wrote the lyrics for many more films, as far as I know. Plus, I think Sahir also had the good fortune to write for some films with really top-class music. For most people (me included, I have to admit) the music is the first point of recall and appreciation; it’s only when I like the sound of a song that I start paying attention to the lyrics.

      Just my two paise.


  17. Can you kindly let me know the meaning of one line from the song ho ke majboor mujhe….
    Ek ik harf jabi par ubhar aaya hoga


    • ‘harf’ means ‘word’ and ‘jabeen’ is ‘forehead’. So, going by the previous line (“Band kamre mein jo khat mere jalaaye honge”), this means “Each word would have stood out on her forehead” – in other words, even burning his letters would not have erased his memories from her mind; it would only have imprinted each word from those letters even more firmly in her mind.


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