Shakeel Badayuni: Lyricist, the La Jawab!

As the fans of Shakeel Badayuni, an outstanding poet-lyricist of Hindi film world, have just conclude celebrating his birth centenary, I now wish to join them with my own humble tribute to those memorable lyrics that he left behind for us to ‘let go of life’, nay ‘to fly towards a secret sky’ of love.


Sound penetrates the silence. And a sound that is musical soothes nerves. Conveys tranquillity. Calms the mind. To make it more effective, a musician uses two tools: the Raga that offers melody and Tala, the rhythm. Melody do convey the context of the mood. Yet, ordinary mortals like me fail to connect to it, for its theme—the abstraction—is too difficult to discern. That is where language steps into music.

Once language becomes a part of raga and tala, it narrows down the music to a particular context, a theme. Once music is pinned down to a situation, time and place by beautiful words, we, the listeners instantaneously get connected to it. And that is what Shakeel Badayuni afforded to that famous Naushad’s film music. Or, should I say, he simply gave fragrance—like that of the rare attar—to Naushad’s artistry of combining melody with rhythm that drew people towards the magical effect that he had created in Hindi film songs.

As I think of Naushad—the foremost music director of Hindi films, who is known to have infused Indian classical and folk music into film-songs adopting innovative orchestration that often included full orchestras including western instruments such as violins, brass horns—and his ever-fresh film songs, I inevitably end up wondering at the brilliance of Shakeel Badayuni, the successful and prolific song-writer for Hindi films. Indeed, whenever these two names and their musical creations flash in my mind I end up in an enigma: Who inspired whom to scale ever-newer peaks in Hindi film music?

As the story goes, when Shakeel, an already accomplished Urdu poet, having come to Bombay in the late 40s in search of the greener pastures, approached Naushad for an opportunity to check his poetic skills in the film-world, it seems he and AR Kardar, Music Director and Director of the film Dard respectively, asked him to describe his poetic skills in one line. And the poet’s response was: Hum dard kaa afsaanaa duniyaa ko suna denge, har dil mein mohabbat ki ek aag lagaa denge.

And with it arrived the combination of Naushad and Shakeel Badayuni in the Hindi film-world hitting success in their very first film together, Dard (1947): Afsaana Likh Rahi Huan dil-e-beqaraar kaa (I am writing my saga of desperate love) / Aankhon mein rang bhar ke tere intajaar kaa (eyes reflecting the pain of my waiting for you). Though Uma Devi stole the show with this iconic song, it is indeed the other song that Suraya sang in that very film in which we encounter the real poetic intensity of Shakeel that had perhaps emanated out of his personal experiences of deprivation and the resulting dejection, frustration, and the muted anger against the almighty, which of course, brightly reflects the plight of the film’s protagonist too: Beech bhanwar mein aan phansa hai / Dil ka safeena Shah-e-Madina (Heart, like a boat, trapped in the center of the whirlpool, Oh Almighty!) … /Bekas ke ghamkhwaar tumhi ho (You are the consoler of the adrift) / Jo kuch ho sarkaar tumhi ho (Whatever is, you are the ultimate) / Dil ka sukoon jeene ka sahara (you are the relief of the heart and the supporter of the life) / Duniya ne sab chheena shah-e-madeena (World has stolen everything, Oh Almighty!). And this blazing intensity kept revisiting in many of his subsequent songs—Yeh duniya kaisi hai bhagawan yahan mar mar ke jiye insan (Diwana), O duniya ke rakhwaale (Baiju Bawara), Bekas pe karam kijiye Sarkar-e-Madeena (Mughal-e-Azam), and so on—enabling this combination of Naushad and Shakeel that ran for almost two decades to taste astounding success in the Hindi film-world.

After the success of Dard, came that super-hit movie Mela (1948), for which Shakeel, proving his ability to write for every occasion, wrote all the 12 songs for the film, notable among them being: the most popular song by Mukesh that describes the eager heart of the protagonist that gales in the anticipatory meeting with his sajan, the beloved, Gaye ja geet milan ke tu apni lagan ke / sajan ghar jaana hai (sing songs of meeting your loved one, your devotion for her, you are heading for lover’s home); the haunting duets, Dharti ko aakash pukaare (Sky is calling the earth) and Mera dil todne wale mere dil ki dua lena (You, the betrayer of my heart, carry the wishes of my heart ); and finally that Rafi’s song which is so steeped in philosophy, Ye zindagi ke mele, duniyaa men kam na honge / afasos ham na honge (fairs of life, will never fall short…but am sorry that I won’t be there…).

Dillagi (1949), a romantic-tragedy that was based on Emile Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, is another film of the late 40s that proved the combination of Naushad and Shakeel highly successful. Who can forget the simple but mellifluous lyrics of the duet that Shyam and Suraya sang for themselves—Tu meraa chaand main teri chaandani (you are my moon and I am your moonlight) / main teraa raag tu meri raagini (you are my song and I am yours)/ nahin dil ka lagaanaa koi dillagi, koi dillagi (to fall in love is no mischief, no mischief)/ … saath hi jinaa saath hi maranaa (together we must live, together we shall die)/ … pyaar ki murali hardam gaae teri lagan ki geet (the flute of love must always sing the song of your assosiation)/ … Jab tak chamake chaand sitaaren dekho chute naa saath (so long as the moon and stars shine, our association shouldn’t break). Following this, Shakeel subtly warns the prospective lovers of the world at large with another song: is duniya mein aye dilwaallon dil ka lagaana khel nahin (O sweet-hearted of world, it’s no play to fall in love) / ulfat karna khel hai lekin kar ke nibhaana khel nahin (to love is a game but to fulfil it is no game…).

Then came Kardar’s film, Dulari (1949) with that unforgettable song of Rafi, which instantaneously made him the most sought after male playback singer for the next two decades. The lyrics that capture the angst of waiting, that too, indefinite waiting—Tadap Rahen Hein Ham Yahan, Tumhare Intazaar Mein—of a lover for his beloved to join him with such pretty expressions: Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki (The pleasant night has waned!), Nazare Apni Mastiyan, Dikha Dikhake Sogaye (sceneries, having thrown away their intoxicating beauty fallen into slumber!), Sitaare Apni Roshani, Luta Lutake Sogaye (Stars, relentlessly showing their light, have fallen asleep!), Har Ek Shamma Jal Chuki (Every candle has burnt to extinction), Khisan Ka Rang, Aa-chala Hai, Mausam-e-bahaar Mein (The hue of autumn is coming over the season of blossoms!), yet I don’t know Tum Kab Aavoge (when you will come!). What a sweet pain and how aptly captured by Shakeel!

This is followed by Deedar (1951) that established Dilipkumar as tragedy-king of Hindi film-world, with 12 songs, all written by Shakeel hovering around the theme of ‘unfulfilled love’, which yet wishes for the best to the deserted love thus: Huwe hamm jinke liye barbaad (for whose sake I’ve been ruined) / voh hamm ko, chaahe kare na yaad (even if she doesn’t think about me), Jeevan Bhar Unn Ki Yaad Mein, Hamm Gaaye Jaayenge (for the life time, I, in her memory, will go on singing); Meri Kahani Bhoolne Wale, tera jahan aabaad rahe (O, you the forgetter of my story, let your world be prosperous). A similar sentiment is expressed by a female protagonist of the film in the song, Ley ja meree duwaye ley ja pardes jane wale (O traveler, take my blessings with you), of course, pleading bhula naa dena dil se meree wafaye not to forget my [her] love, for tu hee suhag meraa, too hee singar meraa, you are my everything and you alone is my adoration, and assures Kar lungee jindagee bhar mai intzar teraa to wait for him lifelong, while of course wondering, Sunate hain yeh sitamgar, duniya nahee kisee kee / Jisne bhee kee muhabbat, dushaman huyee usee kee—about the tyrants who are for no one and the world that often turns against those who indulge in love, fears: Aisa naa ho key sajan ham tumse mil naa paye—It shouldn’t happen that I will not meet you! Aren’t these lyrics well capturing the yearning for and pain of love?

Thus continued Shakeel’s association with composer Naushad till his death during the course of which as his sole lyricist from Dard (1947) to Sunghursh (1968) he wrote lyrics for many more films—indeed 99% of his work in film industry was confined to Naushad—that included best films like Babul (1950), Baiju Bawra (1952), Amar (1954), Uran Khatola (1955), Mother India (1957), Mughal-e-Azam (1960), Ganga Jamuna (1961), Mere Mehboob (1963), Leader (1964), etc.

Among them, Baiju Bawara is an award-winning musical-megahit film of 1952 directed by Vijay Bhatt, who, keeping in view the need for bhajans, etc. to flow with the script, initially wanted to take poet Pradeep but on Naushad’s suggestion and on examining the kind of lyrics Shakeel wrote, he had taken him as the lyricist and the rest became history. And remember, this hitherto Urdu exponent, wrote all the 13 songs in such suddha Hindi that even classical singers of Hindustani too happily came forward to sing some of them. In fact, this is one film in which Shakeel’s poetic prowess excelled matching the sublime beauty of the very classical music that Naushad had heavily resorted to compose the songs for this film. The all-time melodious bhajan from this film that was composed in raga Malkauns, Man Tarpat Hari Darsan Ko Aaj (Today my heart trembles for a glimpse of Hari) is a prardhana supplication of a sishya, student standing at his god like guru’s (Hari’s) hermitage—Tumare dwaar kaa main huan jogi (I am but a hermit at your threshold)—seeking with a Vyakul man, anxious-mind his kind-glance (hamari ore nazar kab hogi—when will you cast your glance at me), for he knows Bin guru gyaan kahaan se paau without a guru, where will I gain knowledge and so goes on his prayer: dijo daan hari gun gaauan grant me the alms that I may sing peons. Listening to this fervent prayer, his Hari’s eyes melt into tears. And no listener is an exception to this experience for such was the fort of the apt words that Badayuni studded the prayer with and of course, the silken vocals of Mohd Rafi.

As against the unflinching surrender of a devotee to his perceived god that we experienced in this song, we have another gem of a song in the film, O duniyaa ke rakhvaale! Sun dardbhare mere naale (Oh protector of this world! Please heed my woeful lamentations) where Badayuni’s protagonist defies his god so appealingly that even god could not turn his eye away without shedding a tear at his bhakta’s trauma. And notably, Badayuni succeeded in accomplishing this feat without resorting to elevated vocabulary. The injured bhakta accuses god of decking up the world with the two colours of hope and despair (aash nirash ke do rangon se duniya tuu ne sajayii ); creation of the storm along with the boat, separation along with union (naiyaa sang tuufaan banaayaa, milan ke saath judaayii) and perhaps being not able to reconcile himself with this duality and in that frustration, he even dares to allege god: betrayer (jaa dekh liyaa harjaayii). Frustrated by the plundered city of his love (O luut gayii mere pyaar ki nagarii,…), he, seeing, of course, metaphorically, the monsoon rains turning into fire, while the flowers have become embers (aag bani saavan kii barkhaa, phuul bane angaree) and the beautiful night becoming a snake, while the stars have turned into stones (naagin ban gayii raatsuhanii patthar ban gaye taare), appeals to god in that dejection thus: “Oh provider of life! Please take back this life from me (o jiivan apanaa vaapas le le jiivan denevaale). Thus, pelting Bhagavan with his accusations and mourning, as he nears the end of the song makes a marvellous confession: quismat tuutii aas na tuutii suffered misfortune without losing hope. That is the refrain of the lyric! Listening to the rendition of this song, one gets tempted to wonder if the lyricist is asking us to see through the apparent duality and lead the life with fortitude even in the face of misfortunes. The subtle suggestion of the whole lyric is: Never to give up hope. It is often heard that Shakeel Badayuni, unlike his contemporary lyricists of Hindi cinema, is not imprisoned himself in any ‘ism’ and that is well visible in this song, for the lyrics addressed to Bhagavan are steeped in fatalism, realism, and rational humanism.

Lastly, to highlight the rustic beauty of the khadi raw Hindi that Shakeel used in penning the lyrics that are meant for the saheelees friends of the female protagonist to tease her, I would like to draw your attention to these lines: Circling Meenakumari, they draw her attention to the song: door koyi gaaye dhun ye sunaaye (Somebody is singing afar, letting me listen [that]) / tere bin chhaliyaa re baaje na muraliyaa re i(Without you my dear, my flute is not playing)/ … man ke andar ho pyaar ki agni (within heart there the fire of love) / …/ nainaa khoye-khoye ki are raamaa naina khoye-khoye (eyes lost in dreams, Hey! Ram eyes lost in dreams) / … / yaad kisi ki jab-jab aaye (Whenever [he] comes to memory)/ laage jiyaa pe teer (arrow hits the body)/ laage dil pe teer (arrow hits the heart) / … / aankh bhar aaye jal barsaaye (eyes swell up, tears roll down). What a simple and sweet expression!

Continuing with this philosophy of reconciling with the duality in the world and as though advocating a kind of acceptance of it as the given, he wrote a beautiful song for Amar (1954) that needs a special mention. Starting with the recital of a couplet that tells us what has happened, O tamanna lut gayi phir bhi tere dam se muhannat hai / Mubarak gair ko khushiyaan mujhe gham se muhabbat hai, (Ah I have been robbed of all my desires, but your every breath I love / Let others be blessed with all the happiness, I am now in love with my sadness), he goes on questioning”, Na milta gham to barbaadi ke afsaane kahaan jaate / Agar duniya chaman hoti to veerane kahan jaate (Had sorrow not befallen my fate, where would the tales of my destruction have gone? / If the world was a blooming garden, where would the desolate deserts have gone?); Chalo achchha hua apno mein koi gair to nikla / Agar hote sabhi apne to begaane kahan jaate (It is good that there was a betrayer among my close ones / Had everyone been my own, where would the strangers have gone?); Na jalte shamma mehfil mein to parwane kahan jaate (Had the flame not burnt itself where would the moths have gone?) and with it concludes his questioning as though with an acceptance saying, Tumhi ne gham ki daulat di Bada ehsaan farmaya / Zamane bhar ke aage hath failane kahan jaate (I am so grateful to you for giving me the riches of sadness / Where else would I have gone with begging arms?). Very rarely we hear such questioning in the film-world!

Incidentally, we see this streak of his thought process reflecting even in his songs written for Mother India (1957)—a film for which he wrote 12 songs—where he, perhaps in utter resignation to the fate put those stoic words in the mouth of that spirited mother, Nargis: Duniya mein hum aaye to jeena hi padega / Jeevan hai agar zehar to peena hi padega (If we have come into this world, then live we have to / If life is poison so we have to drink it) and never they were found giving up; Gir-gir ke museebat mein sambhalte hi rahenge (Falling again and again in troubles, shall keep going yet), with of course, retaining faith in ‘fair-treatment’ of the Khuda—gum jisne diya / gum jisne diya hai wohi gum door karega (Whoever has given us the sadness / Whoever has given us the sadness will also make it vanish). How effectively he draws our attention to the odds confronted by the individual and the nation that just got freed from the colonial rulers! This unflinching faith of Badayuni reflects once again beautifully in that colorful song: Dukh Bhare Din Beete Re Bhaiya (The days of sadness have passed) / Ab Sukh Aayo Re (Now happiness has come) / Rang Jeevan Mein Naya Laayo Re (It has brought new color in life) which, of course, ends in a realistic tone when the lyricist leaves a caution—a caution that alone enables the caravan to go on and on: Aaj To Jee Bhar Naach Le Paagal (O crazy one, dance as much as You can today) / Kal Na Jaane Re Kya Hoye (No one knows what’s in store tomorrow).

There is yet another all-time great vidai song that merits mention here: Pee ke ghar aaj pyaari dulhaniya chali / roye maata pitaa unki duniya chali (The bride leaves today for her beloved’s house/ The father and mother cry, their world is going away)—an emotion laden song sung by Shamhsad Begum accompanied by plaintive strains of shehnai that depicts a typical Indian wedding scene at every (maika) natal home—the scene of a bride biding goodbye to her home and migrating to in-laws. This, coupled with another similar song penned by same Badayuni and tuned by Naushad and sung by same Shamshad Begum earlier—Chhod Babul Ka Ghar, mohe pi ke nagar aaj jana pada…. (Leaving father’s home, today ‘am to head for my beloved’s town)—(Babul, 1950), are sure to remain fresh forever, for the marriage-bands are known to invariably play one of these two songs—songs that is a fusion of sweetness and sourness at every marriage hall.

Then came Mughal-e-Azam, where we witness Naushad and Sahkeel Badayuni at the zenith of their creative talent. Of course, while working on this movie they had a challenge too: a likely comparison with Anarkali, an earlier film of the same theme that was highly successful with hit songs, which indeed might have acted as a great motivator for the duo. And they came up brilliantly: Shakeel wrote 12 songs for the movie and there sparkles his brilliance in all of them. Indeed, he reached his zenith as lyricist, for each song of this film is a microcosm of the cosmos. Among them. pyaar kiyaa to darnaa kyaa? is the most popular song. It starts with a recital that is unique of this duo: insaan kisii se duniyaa mein ek baar muhabbat kartaa hai (An individual only falls in love once in this world) / is dard ko lekar jiitaa hai, is dard ko lekar martaa hai (He lives with this pain, and he dies with this pain). This universalization of the statement, an individual living with the pain of muhabbat and dying with the same pain is something remains with me an enigma till date, for every muhabbat need not necessarily end up in dard, pain. That aside, the rest of the lyrics serves the female protagonist’s so well and so regally, that the courtesan could stand with dignity of her muhabbat in the court, indeed could assert herself, questioning, pyaar kiyaa to darnaa kyaa? / pyaar kiyaa koii chorii nahiin kii / chhup chhup aahe bharna kyaa? — If I have loved, then why must I be afraid? / I have simply loved; I have committed no theft / Then, why must I heave these sighs of pain in secrecy?, announces her …dil kaa fasaanaa/ jaan bhii le le chaahe zamaanaa—story of my [her] heart / even if the world takes my [her] life. Here, we must see the defiance of the courtesan that sparkles in Shakeel’s words: maut vahii jo duniyaa dekhe / ghut ghutkar yuu marnaa kyaa?—If death is only accepted when witnessed by the world,/ then why must I die by suffocating alone? The lyrics literally reach crescendo when Anarkali proclaims, chhup na sakegaa ishq hamaraa / … / pardaa nahiin hai jab koi khuda se, / bandon se parade karnaa kyaa? — My love cannot be hidden, / If I do not wear a veil in front of God,/ why must my love remain veiled from society? that made Shansha to cast his eyes down, perhaps, in shame. Defying an invisible god as by Baiju is perhaps more easy than Anarkali defying a king that too on his face, and yet she did it—did make the king to silently put up with the reality, trembling in shame. That is the power of Shakeels’ lyrics.

Next, we see Shakeel entertaining a heart-wrenching dialog with khuda through the imprisoned Anarkali, as she first seeks audience with god thus: Ai mere mushkil-kushaan fariyaad hai / aap ke hote hue duniyaa merii barbaad hai—O my Savior! Heed this complaint / Though I am devoted to you, my world is being destroyed. Then she narrating her plight: gardish men hai taqdiir … / zakhmon se bharaa hai kissi majbuur kaa siinaa / … / tuuffaan ke aasaar hain dushvaar hai jiinaa—my fate revolves in a vicious cycle… / this helpless devotee’s chest is marked by many wounds / with signs of an impending storm, my life is in danger”, she prays, bekas pe karam kiijiye, Sarkar-e-madiinaa—please have mercy upon this wretched soul, oh King of Madina [prophet].

Every song of this film is so well written that each one merits equal attention, but let me take you round one more song, listening which, eyes are sure to melt into tears, for it is the solo of Lata which is topped by melancholic Shehnai. Dragging her feet slowly towards her proposed living Samadhi (tomb), Anarkali silently sends her dhadakte dil kaa payaam message from my [her] heart beats: khuda nigehbaan ho tumharaa / … / tumhari duniyaa se jaa rahe hai / Utho hamaraa salaam le lo / Uthe janaazaa jo kal hamaraa / kasam hai tumko, na denaa kandha / na ho mohabbat hamari rusawaa… —May god be your protector / I am going away from you / Get up and accept my salute / when my coffin is taken in procession tomorrow / promise me not to give it a shoulder / may our love never be disgraced.”

After Mughal-e-Azam, the creative talent of both Naushad and Badayuni appeared to have tapered off. Of course, there were flashes of brilliance in the later work of Badayuni, but it was mostly reflected in his work with other music directors like Ravi and Hemant Kumar. But before I switch over to Shakeels’ work with other music directors, I must draw your attention to the speciality of Naushad-Badayuni combination that treated the music lovers with an unique experience: they created a charming effect by preceding a song with a recital of couplet without tune as in Mughal-e- Azam where Madubala dares Shahenshah by a recital, Insaan kisi se duniya mein ek baar mohabbat karta hai/Is dard ko lekar jeeta hai is dard ko lekar marta hai, before she sings in his face Jab pyar kiya to darna kya. If you go back to their creations you come across many such delightful preludes: Khushi ke saath duniya men hazaaron gham bhi hote hain….Mera jeevan saathi bichhad gaya (Babul); Akeli mat jaiyo Radhe Jamuna ke teer…Tu Ganga ki mauj main (Baiju Bawara); Chale aaj tum jahan se… O door ke musafir (Udan Kathola); O tamanna lut gayi phir bhi tere dam se muhannat hai ….Na milta gham to barbaadi ke afsaana kahaan jate (Amar); Asir-e-panja-e-ahad-e-shabab kar ke mujhe…Hue hum jinke liye barbaad (Deedar) and indeed continued this practice into their films too such as, Laaga gori gujariya se…Nain lad jaihain (Ganga Jamuna), etc. And you would agree that there is a certain speciality, certain charm associated with these recitals.

That is the dear delight that this combination —Naushad and Badayuni—had treated us with… even today that nostalgia transports us into an undefinable joy!

Ironically, though 90% of Shakeel’s writing for films was confined to Naushad, it was while working with Ravi for Guru Dutt’s film Chaudhvin ka Chaand that he wrote the all-time favourite song of music lovers, Chaudhvin ka chaand ho, ya afataab ho [Are you the full moon or the sun?] / Jo bhi ho tum Khuda ki kasam, la-jawaab ho [Whatever you are, by God you are peerless!”] that fetched him his first Filmfare Award (1961) for the best Lyricist. Shakeel Badayuni, starting his description of the beauty of the heroine with no ostentation—to begin with referring to chaand (full moon), aftaab (Sun), kanval (lotus), sharaab (wine) reaches the zenith saying Duniya-e-husno-ishq ka tum hi Shabaab ho you are the ultimate of the world’s beauty and love, which reminds us of Shakespeare’s Sonnet N0.18— “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate…”

This is one of the most haunting romantic ballads of Hindi cinema history that pays highest tribute to the gorgeous beauty of the female protagonist of the film in true tareef-(laud) tradition: zulfein hain jaise kaandhe pe baadal jhuke hue (your hair is like the cloud that is winding around your shoulder); Aankhen hain jaise maey ke pyaale bhare hue (eyes are like the goblet filled with wine); Chehra hai jaise jheel mein hasta hua kanwal (face is like a smiling lotus in a brook) / Ya zindagi ke saaz pe chhedi hui ghazal (Or, like a sonnet tuned by the music of life); Jaane Bahaar tum kisi shaayar ka khwaab ho (My love you are simply the dream of a poet) and so goes on Shakeel’s praise that reaches the zenith when he concludes penning, Duniya-e-husno-ishq ka tum hi Shabaab ho (you are the ultimate of the world’s beauty and love). So fine imagery, and any wonder if Sahir Ludhiyanvi, his contemporary in the film-world, considered Shakeel Badayuni the best writer of this genera in the Hindi cinema!

It would not be fair on my part to end this discussion without talking about Ravi, that most underrated music director of Hindi cinema who composed this song so beautifully in raag Pahadi, the magical rendition of the song —there is warmth, passion, and soul in his voice —by Mohd Rafi and the brilliant picturization of the song by Guru. Incidentally, Rafi received his well-deserved first Filmfare award for this song.

There is yet another beautiful song that he wrote for Ravi in the very next year—Husnwaale tera jawaab nahin koyi tujh sa nahin hazaaron mein, (O beauteous one, matchless as you’re / there is none like you among thousands)for the film Gharana (1961) that was well rendered by that honeyed voice of Rafi. This romantic lyric that caresses the lady protagonist with such beautiful adjectives as: Tu hai aisi kali jo gulshan men, / saath apane bahar laai ho (you’re such a flower-bud in the garden / that brings spring in its wake); tu hai aisi kiran jo raat dhale, / chandni mein naahaake aayi ho (you’re such a beam which at the night’s decline / has emerged after bathing in the moonlight); yeh tera noor yeh tere jalwe, / jis tarah chaand ho sitaaron mein (this lustre of yours, your splendors as these, /resemble the moon among the stars); teri aankhon mein aisi masti hai, / jaise chalke huye ho.n paimaane, (such is the drunkenness of your eyes / as though the goblets are spilling over); tere honton pe voh khaamoshi hai, / jaise bikhre huve ho.n afsaane, (your lips have such silence / as if fables are strewn all over); … teri soorat jo dekhle shaayar, / apne shero.n mein taazgi bhar le, (if a poet were to observe your countenance / he would fill them with newness); naghmagar dhoondle agar tujh ko, / dard bharle voh dil ke taaro.n mein (if a lyricist were to find you / he would stuff the chords of the heart with tenderness), earned him his second Filimfare Award as Best Lyricist (1962).

His working with Hemant Kumar too proved to be highly fruitful. For, who would not like to listen over and over again the song that he wrote for the film Bees Sal Bad (1962), Kahin deep jale kahin dil / zaraa dekh le aa kar parwaanae (somewhere lamp is burning / as the heart somewhere else), sung by Lata so melodiously, more in a haunting voice. Shakeel’s obsession with ‘dard’ reflects in this haunting song too when the singer warning the protagonist, dushman hain hazaaron yahaan jaan ke / zaraa milnaa nazar pahchaan ke / kayi roop mein hain qaatil, confesses that naa main sapnaa hoon naa koyi raaz hoon / ik dard bhari aawaaz hoon. This haunting but simple lyrics fetched him his third consecutive Filmfare Best Lyricist Award in 1963, while Lata bagged Best Female Playback Singer award.

There is however another beautiful song in the same film that we never get tired of listening to penned by same Shakeel: Bekarar Karke Hume Yun Na Jaiye (Please do not go away like this making me restless) / Aapko hamaari kasam laut aaiye (for my sake, please comeback) that makes even the listeners bekarar—indeed teases us with innocent romance. For, hardly in three stanzas, he enables the protagonist tell his love how beautiful she is (Aapki ada chura na le kahin— may they not steal away your elegance), and hence warns her not to go alone into a garden that is full of bumblebees, her fans (Koi aapko bana na le sanam— may one of them not make you their own) and finally woos her take him as her companion for life (Khair hai isi mein aapki huzoor—for your welfare, your majesty / Apnaa koi saathii dhoondh liijiiye—please find yourself a companion / Sun ke dil ki baat yun na muskuraiye—please do not smile upon hearing these words of my heart).

Then came Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, that noted film of Guru Dutt for which Shakeel Badayuni wrote lyrics for Hemant Kumar to compose music in 1962. He wrote all the eight songs for the film and the notable among them are: Na Jao Saiyan Chhudaake Baiyan, Koi Door Se Aawaaz De Chale Aao, and Piya Aiso Jiya Mein Samaaye Gayo Re, all the three sung by Geeta Dutt. Of all these three, I simply admire the lyrics of Piya aiso jiya mein samaaye gayo re for the sheer beauty of imagination that they exhibit. Using the rural idiom of UP, Badayuni portrays the state of mind of the heroine that is hopefully looking forward to the arrival of her husband, so beautifully and poignantly: Her beloved has got so suffused in her soul that ki main tan man kii sudh budh gavaan baithii—I [she] lost the awareness of body and mind, wondering, har aahat pe samajhii vo aay gayo re at every sound that he has come, jhat ghoonghat men mukhda chhupa baithi—I [she] just hide my [her] face in my [her] veil; more angana men jab puravayya chali—when wind blew through my [her] courtyard, O daiyaa! dwaare ki khul gai kivaadiyaan—door of threshold opened, maine jaana ki aa gaye saavariyaa more—I [she] thought my [her] beloved has come jhat phoolan ki sejiya pe ja baithi instantly I [she] sat on the flowery decorated bed; I [she] maine sindoor se mang apani bhari—filled my maang with sindoor, and having O maine saiyaan ke kaaran sajaaya bedecked myself with finery, because of my beloved, and I [she] is dar se kisi ki nazar na lage—was scared lest someone cast evil eye, I jhat instantly put nainan men kajaraa lagaa baithi kohl in my eyes.” What a romantic imagination and what a sweet expression, that too, using the rural idiom of UP! And before concluding, I could not refrain from saying here that Geeta Dutt had thrown out these cute and realistic lyrics with an urge in her mellifluous voice and Meenakumari was equally adept at emoting matching feelings through her beautiful face—and all the three putting their best made this song a rare experience.

Before concluding this rendezvous with Shakeel Badayuni and his contribution to Hindi cinema, I must draw your attention to the beautiful songs that he penned for ‘Do Badan’ (1966) for Ravi to compose music. Who can forget those memorable songs: Bhari duniya mein akhir dil; Nasseb main jiske jo likha tha; Rahaa gardishon mein hardam mere ishk ka sitara renderd by the mesmerizing voice of Mohammad Rafi and that heart wrenching Lo aagayi unki yaad by Lata Mangeshkar? Of these, I love the song Rahaa gardishon mein hardam mere ishk ka sitara (the star of my love always remained in misfortune), not because as my friends accuse I love melancholic songs but because no one could have better worded the pathos of a lover who lost his love than Shakeel: “Ye hamaare badnasebe jo naheen to aur kyaa hai / ke use ke hog aye hum jo naa ho sakaa hamaaraa” (If this is not my bad luck, what else is it? / that I became a devotee of a person who could never be mine).

Besides his popularity as a successful writer of film songs, he is also an accomplished ghazal poet of the classical tradition. Indeed, connoisseurs of Urdu poetry often say that Shakeel Badayuni would be remembered forever merely for that one ghazal alone—Aye Mohabbat tere anjaam pe rona ayaaa (O love your outcome makes me cry) / Janey kyun aaj tere naam pe rona ayaaa (Today I don’t know why the mention of your very name makes me cry) / youn to har shaam sham ummidon mein guzar jaati hai (as it is every evening passed away in expectations) / Aaj kuch baat hai jo sham pe ronaa aayaaa (today something is there that the evening makes me cry)… which was sung by that legendry ghazal singer, Begum Akthar.

As we come to the end of this narration, I am sure you could realize that Shakeel Badayuni is engaged all-through his life in giving words to the matters of heart alone—describing its emotional and sentimental experiences in choicest words. It is no exaggeration to say that he essentially remained as a poet of love. The passionate words that he has chosen to describe beauty, love—its Ujala/Andheri light/darkness, the cravings of the love-loran heart, its courage even to challenge the gods, its emotional responses to the grandeur of love’s failure, the scars of love, the stoicism of the love-stricken souls that pray for the salaamat/aabad (welfare) of the other—romance and its radiance are so sweet and realistic that they often strike a chord nudging us to sail along the rhyme of his lyrics.

This great lyricist, aged 53, passed away in Mumbai on 20th April, 1970. But the poet in him, who beating the ‘personal’ stretched out to the ‘universal’ in presenting his love for love—jo dil se dil ko sunayatha—is certain to remain with us enthralling music lovers for ever.


More by :  Gollamudi Radha Krishna Murty

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