(posted on Trivia – The Spice of Life on 12/06/2022)
The other day while commuting to work, I heard a beautiful song from the movie Thakur Jarnail Singh, sung by Asha Bhosle; the song was Hum Tere Bin Jeena Sakenge Sanam. I kept wondering who the lyricist was. As one is wont to ascribe many a well-written song to Sahir, Shailendra, Rajendra Krishan or Majrooh, I initially felt the same. As I heard the RJ announce the name of the lyricist, I learnt that this song was penned by Asad Bhopali whose death anniversary it was (9th June). I also realised that Asad Bhopali is one lyricist who has not been talked or written about enough even though he was quite prolific for four decades and had penned some lovely film songs. It was then that I felt that I must write a post on Asad Bhopali.
It was perhaps not mere coincidence that Asadullah Khan, better known as Asad Bhopali, shared the same name as the renowned Persian and Urdu poet ‘Ghalib‘. The commonality was not just in the name but also in interests and proclivities. In fact, Asad Bhopali was so influenced by Ghalib that he named one of his sons Ghalib Khan.
Born on 10th July, 1921 at Bhopal, Asad Bhopali had the perfect foundation to become a proficient Urdu poet and lyricist of film songs. His father Munshi Ahmad Khan was a teacher of Arabic and Persian. He mastered these languages under his father’s tutelage. He also aced Urdu. He had a penchant for writing poetry; India was still in the clutches of the British when he started wielding the pen. He was even imprisoned for his revolutionary poetry. In prison, the jailor was very impressed with his writing. After he was released from prison, he started attending mushairas regularly. It was during one of these mushairas that the Fazli brothers spotted his talent and roped him in. The Fazli brothers were scouting for lyricists for their venture Duniya (1949) as their film’s lyricist Arzoo Lucknavi had migrated to Pakistan post-partition after penning only two songs. Thus, on 18th May, 1949 Asad Bhopali relocated to Bombay to be come a lyricist.
It would not be out of place to mention here that S.H.Bihari was another lyricist whom the Fazli brothers engaged for this film. The music director of Duniya was C.Ramchandra. The two songs he wrote for this film – armaan lute dil tut gaya and rona hain to ro chupke chupke – were both melancholic and became popular. But this by no means meant a flood of offers. He did write a song or two in a few films like Nirdosh and Aadhi Raat. It was in B.R.Chopra’s Afsana that he wrote 6 songs. This was perhaps the best offer he had received till then.; the music directors were Husnlal Bhagatram. Many of the songs he wrote became popular. Qismat Bigdi Duniya Badli sung by Mukesh was a real gem. But even here he was not the sole lyricist. He had to share his glory with three other lyricists.
कुछ इस तरह से वक़्त ने ली करवटें असद हँसती हुई निगाह भी मग़मूम हो गई
The lull continued. He would get an odd song in a movie or two. He did write some outstanding songs which became very popular. However, throughout the 1950s he could not forge a bond with music directors for whom he could pen lyrics as the sole lyricist. It was in the early 1960s that some success came his way. The one movie that catapulted him to the heights of success was Parasmani. Though it was a second rung fantasy film, its songs far made up for the mediocre story and direction. His two songs for this movie – Hansta Hua Noorani Chehra and Woh Jab Yaad Aaye – are immortal creations.
In the 1960s, music directors Ravi, Laxmikant Pyarelal, Ganesh Sharma and Usha Khanna were the ones who worked closely with him. It was in some of their projects that he got an opportunity to pen the lyrics of all the songs – Ravi (Ustadon Ke Ustaad, 1963), Laxmikant Pyarelal (Aaya Toofan,1964), Usha Khanna (Ek Sapera Ek Lutera, 1965) and Ganesh ( Thakur Jarnail Singh, 1966).
Here is a small audio clip of his where he reflects on his life and his songs.
Though he continued to write songs well into the 70s and 80s, success and recognition eluded him. His son Ghalib Khan says that he never liked to go to anyone to ask for work. Thus, he took up any project that came his way when he was approached. Misfortune perhaps never deserted him. The diary in which he wrote his nazms and ghazals got washed away in the rains. His reaction to the watery grave that his creativity met (as described by his son), perhaps sums up the story of his life –
जो मैं बेच सकता था मैं बेच चुका था, और जो बिक ही नहीं पाई वो वैसे भी किसी काम की नहीं थी।
Unfortunately, he took to alcohol to deal with his frustration – which is what many creative people have done and continue to do. Incidentally, a lot of the imagery in his songs is drawn from alcoholism. His health started failing. Ironically when success finally arrived at his door step in the form of the Filmfare award for the best lyricist for the movie Maine Pyaar Kiya (Dil Deewaana Bin Sajna Ke) in 1990, his condition was such that he could not even go to personally receive it. He soon passed away due to complications arising out of a severe paralytic stroke on 9th June, 1990 at Bhopal at the age of 68. He wrote more than 400 Hindi film songs (as per Hindigeetmala) – some of which are immortal thereby standing as a testimonial to his calibre and potential which was never fully harnessed. In 1995 the Madhya Pradesh Urdu Academy published a collection of his poetry – Roshni, Dhoop, Chandni. He was Ghalib no doubt but a largely unacknowledged one, at that.
Here I present a list of 10 songs of the golden era penned by Asad Bhopali which I like. I have tried to capture the various moods in his songs. The songs he wrote for Ravi were perhaps his best according to me.
1) Do Dil Dhadak Rahe Hain (Insaaf, 1956) Music Director : Chitragupt; Playback Singers : Talat Mahmood & Asha Bhosle. This is a lovely duet of Asha and Talat perhaps featuring Ajit and Nalini Jaiwant (video not available). The song begins with an enchanting hum. The lyrics of Asad Bhopali try to show how both the man and his lady are made for each other. The words – nagma and saaz, kahaani and raaz, ada-nazar-dard-andaaz – all of them fall in place so wonderfully.
Do dil dhadak rahe hain aur aawaaz ek hain nagme judaa-judaa hain magar saaz ek hain rangeen har adaa hain, bechain har nazar hain ik dard saa idhar hain, ik dard saa udhar hain donon ki beqaraari kaa andaaz ek hain tadpaaiye na hamko, sharmaayiye na hamse donon ki zindagi hain ek doosre ke dam se ham do kahaaniyaan hain magar raaz ek hain
2) Pyaar Jagaanewala (Zara Bachke, 1959) Music Director: Shaukat Dehlvi ‘Nashad’ ; Playback Singers : Lata Mangeshkar & Manna Dey. This is a lesser known movie of Nanda, though it was released in the same year as Dhool ka Phool and Chhoti Behen, which established her as an actress to reckon with. The music of Nashad and the lyrics of Asad Bhopali are enthralling. This romantic duet also has a sad version which is a solo sung by Manna Dey. There is also a third truncated version of the song sung by Lata alone. The YouTube link below has all the three versions. This duet has great recall value and is quite hummable. The words aa gaya add a wonderful zing to the song.
bhool na jaana baatein apni waade apne kasmen apni dekho munh na modnaa dil na todnaa jee aaa aaa pyaar jagaane waala neendein churaane waala aa gayaa
3) Yeh Meri Chalti Phirti Laash (Nirdosh, 1950) Music Director: Shyam Sunder; Playback Singer : Lata Mangeshkar. The lyrics of this melancholic song are rather hard hitting. It talks of the inequalities in society and the lyricist asks – if this is life then how does one live? The lady is described as a corpse who is just going through the motions.
gareebon ki taraf bhi dekh o neele gagan waale hamaari beqasi se khelte hain aaj dhan waale yahi hain zindagi to zindagi kaise basar hogi ye meri chalti phirti laash kal gairon ke ghar hogi
4) Yeh Rang Bhare Baadal (Tu Nahin Aur Sahi, 1960) Music Director: Ravi; Playback Singers: Asha Bhosle & Md.Rafi. Despite my best efforts I was not able to get the entire plot of the movie. But as the title (if not you some other person) suggests, it is perhaps a person falling in love with one but finally settling down with someone else. This romantic song shot in a train has a foot tapping rhythm. The lyrics of Asad do great justice to the mood of the song. The word sahal (सहल) was new to me. It is a synonym of aasaan (आसान). One of Asad Bhopali’s capabilities was to churn out synonyms for any word, given his command over Urdu. The words used to rhyme are – sahal, aanchal, baadal, chal, mahal.
Tere ye haseen andaaz sanam deewaanaa banaa kar chhodenge ye soch liyaa thaa pahle hi tumhen apnaa banaa kar chhodenge ab raahen zindagi ki ho jaayengi sahal aaa aaa ye rang bhare baadal ye udtaa huaa aanchal kehtaa hai ishaaron se mausam hai bahaaron kaa aa door kahin chal
5) Zara Si Baat Pyaar Ki (Salaam Memsaab, 1961) Music Director : Ravi; Playback Singers : Md.Rafi & Suman Kalyanpur. This playful duet is a piano song sung at a party. it features Subbiraj (who happens to be a cousin of Raj Kapoor) and Kumkum. The lyrics are top class. While the hero flirts, the lady gives him a fitting reply in the last stanza. I love the way Asad Bhopali has written the repartee.
Zaraa shareef ladkiyon se baat karnaa seekhiye phir uske baad aayine mein apni shaql dekhiye hamaare mehmaan thhe to baat aake tal gayi nahin to log poochhate ke shaql kyun baadal gayi
6) Main Khushnaseeb Hun (Tower House, 1962) Music Director : Ravi; Playback Singers : Mukesh & Lata Mangeshkar. I would rate this song as one of the best duets of Mukesh and Lata. I also like the song because of the mutual respect that is displayed for each other by the hero and heroine – Ajit and Shakila. It is such an enjoyable piano song. It has multiple versions – duet and solos of Mukesh and Lata. Again the words that rhyme – raazdaar, baar, ikhtiyaar, shaandaar and bahaar – are very tastefully written. The other song of Tower House – Ai Mere Dil-e-nadaan – is a favourite too.
Main khushnaseeb hoon mujhko kisi ka pyaar mila bada haseen mere dil ka raazdaar mila hain dil mein pyaar zabaan chup jhuki jhuki nazrein ajab adaa se koi aaj pahli baar milaa kisi ko paake mere dil ka haal mat poocho ke jaise saare zamaane pe ikhtiyaar milaa kisi ne poore kiye aaj pyaar ke waade meri wafa ka sila mujhko shaandaar milaa mere chaman ka har ik phool muskuraane laga wo kya mile ke mujhe mausam-e-bahaar mila
7) Teri Ada Pe Nisaar Karne (Darbaar, 1955) Music Director : Hansraj Behl; Playback Singer: Talat Mahmood. This is another light hearted song penned by Asad Bhopali with Talat singing it in his silken voice. The video of the song is not available.
main aisi kaafir nazar ke sadke ki jisne mera guroor toda jo sar kahin bhi na jhuk saka thha wo sar jhukaaya teri gali mein Bade maze ka hua ye sauda teri amaanat tujhi ko de di jo dil mila thha teri gali mein wo dil lutaaya teri gali mein teri ada par nisaar karne main dil ko laaya teri gali mein
8) Woh Jab Yaad Aaye (Parasmani, 1963) Music Directors: Laxmikant Pyarelal; Playback Singers : Md. Rafi & Lata Mangeshkar. If there is one song for which Asad Bhopali would be remembered for generations to come, it is this song. It is a song of pining for one’s lover. It has mixed feelings beautifully expressed. A feeling of joy in the midst of sorrow is so wonderfully worded – magar rote rote hansi aa gayi hain khayalon mein aakar woh jab muskuraae. This song showcases the calibre of Asad Bhopali.
Wo jab yaad aaye bahut yaad aaye ghame zindagi ke andhere me hamne chirage muhabbat jalaaye bujhaaye aahaten jaag uthin raaste hans diye thaam kar dil uthe ham kisi ke liye kai baar aisa bhi dhokha huaa hai chale aa rahe hain wo nazre jhukaaye dil sulagne lagaa ashq bahne lage jaane kyaa kyaa hamen log kahne lage magar rote rote hansi aa gayi hain khayaalon me aake wo jab muskuraae wo juda kyaa huye zindagi kho gayi shamma jalti rahi roshni kho gayi bahut koshishen ki magar dil na bahla kai saaz chhede kayi geet gaaye
9) Hum Tumse Juda Hoke (Ek Sapera Ek Lutera, 1965) Music Director: Usha Khanna; Playback Singer : Md. Rafi. Rafi was very emotional as he recorded this song in the studio. He came out of the recording room and praised Asad Bhopali for his lyrics. While the movie was nowhere in the reckoning, this song immortalized both Asad Bhopali and Rafi. This song is one of hope, despair and defiance.
Hum tum se judaa hoke mar jaayenge ro ro ke duniyaa badi zaalim hain dil tod ke hansti hain ik mauj kinaare se milne ko tarasti hain keh do na koi roke... sochaa thaa kabhi do dil milkar na judaa honge maaloom na thaa ham yoon naaqaam-e-wafaa honge qismat ne diye dhokhe... vaade nahin bhoolenge kasmen nahin todenge ye tay hain ke ham donon milnaa nahin chhodenge jo rok sake roke
10) Hum Tere Bin Jee Na Sakenge Sanam (Thakur Jarnail Singh, 1966) Music Director : Ganesh; Playback Singer : Asha Bhosle. This was the song which was instrumental in my writing this post and so I end my list with it. Featuring Helen and Dara Singh, this is a melodious song composed by Ganesh Sharma – the brother of music director Pyarelal.
Saari duniyaa mein aisaa shabaab nahin hai ye haqeeqat hai teraa jawaab nahin hai kisi aur mein kahaan ye adaa tere jaisaa nahin hai koyi doosraa koyi bhi tujhse badhke azeez nahin hai dil ke aage jahaan koyi cheez nahin hai tujhe kyaa khabar tere pyaar se zindagi ko milaa hai badaa aasraa pahle hi din se ham dil mein thaan chuke hain tere banke tujhe apnaa maan chuke hain tere saamne karen kyaa bayaan umr bhar saath rahne kaa ye faisalaa ham tere binaa jee na sakenge sanam ham tere binaa jee na sakenge sanam
As I end this post, I am amazed at the depth of Asad Bhopali’s vocabulary and his way with words. It is evident that most of the movies that figure in the list above did not do very well at the box office. In fact, many were low budget films with second rung actors. But that in no way deterred Asad Bhopali from putting his best foot forward. He wrote songs of different kinds – happy, sad, tongue-in-cheek, philosophical and romantic. I have not included his song songs of the 1970s and 1980s in this post. As the golden era ended, he did try to still keep the old world charm alive in the lyrics of film songs. It is unfortunate that he could not scale the heights of success that he deserved to. Thus, he remained the unsung Ghalib of his times.
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