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Home» Book Review» Book Review» Living on one s own terms

Living on one's own terms

Sudhirendar Sharma | February 11, 2014, 03:59 PM IST
living on one s own terms

New Delhi :

True to his name, which literary translates to ‘magician’, Sahir Ludhianvi weaved magic with his verses and lyrics. So deep has been the impact of his poetry that there are moments which impromptu bring his timeless verses to life. While discharging Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrochhi’s extradition from the two-decade-old Bofors pay-off case, chief metropolitan magistrate, Vinod Yadav had aptly quoted Sahir:

‘woh afsaana jisey anjaam tak laana na ho mumkin,
usey ek khoobsurat modh dekar chhodna achchha

This was in March 2011 whereas the lyrics had come to light in January 1963. Poetry to Sahir was a reflection of his personality, and the experiences he had gained in his life. He gave the film songs the subtle charms of beauty and the pain of love, without losing out on social, material and economic consciousness. Sahir’s troubled childhood and equally troubled relationships found a permanent place in his poetry.

Hum ghamzada hain, laaye kahaan se khushi ke geet
Dengey wohi jo paayengey is zindagi se hum?

Sahir’s life was beseeched by troubles and that is what he returned to the society without any hyperbole, except the necessary embellishment. Sahir was always on the lookout for an opportunity to incorporate the pain and torment of this country’s workers and peasants in his songs. No wonder, he was a powerful poet of dissent who always held a mirror to the society. His songs in films like Pyaasa, Naya Daur and Phir Subah Hogi are acknowledged classics.

Sahir was first a poet and then a lyricist, the only songwriter whose poetry made its way into films in its purest form. He was an eternal romantic too, conveying the physical aspect of love while talking of nature. Sahir was a literary genius who held his creativity second to none and often lamented the shallowness of film stories, film melodies and film lyrics. Not many would know that his collection of poems Talkhiyaan is considered second most popular work in Urdu literature after the Diwan-e-Ghalib.

In his painstaking work, Akshay Munwani has brought Sahir to life by exploring his childhood, by peeping into his personal life and by interpreting his career as a poet and a lyricist. For Munwani, Sahir has been as much an enigma as a poet of extraordinary briliiance. What comes out is an immensely readable book that traverses the golden era of film music of the 1950s and 1960s. In many ways, the poetic excellence of Sahir justified what Munshi Premchand had said, ‘on our touchstone, only that literature will be judged genuine, which embodies thought, the desire for freedom, the essence of beauty, the spirit of progress, and the light of reality.’ Without doubt, Sahir Ludhianvi stood up to each of those qualities and rightfully earned the title ‘the people’s poet’.


Sahir Ludhianvi: The People’s Poet

by Akshay Manwani

Harper Collins, New Delhi

Extent: 320, Price: Rs. 399


Sudhirendar Sharma

Sudhirendar Sharma

Trained as an environmental scientist, Sudhirendar Sharma efficiently performs multiple roles of writer-commentator, academic, activist and development strategist. Having varied interests and rich experience gained from travelling all over the world, he enjoys playing with words and sharing ideas. 


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