Remembering Ludhiana’s star poet & lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi on his 100th Birth Anniversary
–By Brij Bhushan Goyal
Remembering its seers and peers, poets and philosophers of yesteryear by any nation helps the society to nourish roots of its cultural depth and diversity which are always a cherished common heritage of its people. One such heritage is poetry and lyrics of Sahir Ludhianvi (1921-1981) whose 100th birth anniversary (8th March) is being celebrated by Sahir’s fans internationally by singing his lyrics through various online forums and also in public discussions on his poetical thought.
Born in Ludhiana with his schooling in Malwa High School, Ludhiana and later in Govt. College, Ludhiana he was given his family name as Abdul Hayee. As his family life since his childhood was tense because of his Jagirdaar father’s cruel behavior(with multiple marriages) who shunned Sahir’s mother. Sahir chose to remain with her mother before a judge in a court case.
He chose his pen name as Sahir in his youth and later Ludhianvi was also affixed. Sahir is a Muslim Arabic name which means “Charming and Enchanting” and literally the word symbolises a magician(jadoogar) .It is believed that he started his niche for writing poetry in the Government College, Ludhiana itself. Sahir was honoured by his Alma Mater with a Gold Medal when he came at college’s Golden Jubilee Celebrations by the then GOI Education Minister DR V K V Rao in the presence of college Principal S. Pritam Singh who himself was a great Punjabi writer.
College also named a Botanical Park after Sahir’s name as ‘Gulistan-e -Sahir’ .
Sahir was not influenced by Shjahan’s Taj Mahal’s beauty of its superfluous structure which for him was a symbol of luxurious monarchy only .
He disliked ostentatious postures in love and life .Rather, he wrote suitably strong in college times itself in his poem titled by the same name “TAJ MAHAL” in which he writes :
Ek Shahensha Ne Daulat Ka Sahara Lekar,
Hum Gharibon Ki Mohabbat Ka Udaya Hai Mazaq
Sahir Ludhianvi started penning for struggle of peasantry and hardworking class by highlighting their miserable and pitiable plight by echoing their aspirations suitably in his poetry. He writes:
Aaj se eh majdoor kissanno,mere raag tumaharei hein
Faka kash insaano mere jog bihag tumahare hein
Jab tak tum bhookhei nangei ho,jeh sholey khamosh na honge,
jab tak beaaram ho tum ,yeh nagme rahat kosh na hongei
Sahir was pained at massacre in partition of the nation in 1947. He made a passionate appeal to those who incited communal frenzy to retrain:
Mulak ki wadian, ghatian, khetian,Aurtein,Bachhian–
Haath failyei kheiraat ki muntjir hein,
Unko aman aur tehjibh ki bheek do .
He proved himself a magician of words who made his presence felt so strongly in the Bollywood Cine World Mumbai through his lyrics for films besides his passion for Urdu poetry .The great music composers like Khayyam, Laxmikant Pyarelal and S.D. Burman acknowledged his lyrics. Many a films like ‘Taj Mahal’, ’Bahu Begam’, ’Baaji’, ’Jaal’, ’Angaarie’, ’Taxi Driver’, ’Kabhi Kabhi’ and ‘Pyasa’ became hits only because of his songs. His lyrics raised the literary standards bar for film songs written by others too.
He was awarded Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist multiple times, was given a coveted Padam Shri award besides Soviet Land Nehru Award. Punjab government too honored him by presenting ‘Abhinandan Granth’
The beauty of Sahir’s personality lied in the fact that he remained a down to earth person despite Bollywood dazzle and his writings endeared him to the common man. Sahir was against communal hatred. This lyricist who rose from the Ludhiana’s soil to give many a immortal songs to the Bollywood films like “Tu Hindu Banega na Musalman Banega…insaan ki aulaad hei insaan banega..”(Film Dhool Ka Phool1959).He respected womanhood which was amply depicted from many of his poems. He was pained at the sight of brothels in the cities .In his poem ‘Chakle’, he out rightly challenges the power corridors and conscience keepers of Eastern social ethos when he writes :
Yeh Kuche yeh neelamghar dilkashi ke ,
Yeh lute hue karvan jindgi ke
Kahan hein kahan hein,muhafiz khudi ke
Snakhvaane takdees-e-mashrik kahan hein.
Equally thought provoking song, he wrote for film ‘Mujhe Jeene Do’ (1963):
Ab koī gulshan na ujde ab vatan azad hai,
ruuh ganga ki himala ka badan azad hai……
loot kaisi bhi ho iss des mein rahne na paie,
aaj sab ke vaste dharti ka dhan azad hei.
Sahir’s poem written by him after Indo-Pak 1965 War — titled ‘Eh Sharif Insaano’ contains a very terse message which remains relevant today too :
“Jang to khud hi ek masla hai ,
jang kiya maslon ka hal degi.
Aag aur khoon aaj bakshegi,
bhookh aur ahtiaj kal daigi .
Is liye ai shareef insano
jang talti rahe to behtar hai,
hum sabhi ke angan mein
shamma jalti rahe to behtar hai”
Sahir kept writing for peace and communal harmony in the world .He disliked senselessness of war and politics. Sahir’s Books-‘Talkhian’, ’Parchhayian’, Gaata Jai Banzara’, ‘Aao keh koi Khaab Bunein’ are still are very popular. Punjabi University had once published his complete writings in Gurumukhi script too.
In Sahir’s 100th birth centenary celebrations year, the least the present government of Punjab do is to construct a promised Sahir Cultural Centre in the city for which land was allotted by the then Beant Singh Government in Punjab in 1995.
Brij Bhushan Goyal—An Alumnus of SCD Govt. College, Ludhiana who was also organising secretary of Sahir’s Writers Association in the college in its Golden Jubilee Years .