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Sahir Ludhianvi is probably the only songwriter in Hindi films whose poetry was accepted in its purest form and incorporated as a film song. So great was his stature as an Urdu poet that he never had to mold his poetry to suit the demands of film songwriting; instead, producers and composers adapted their requirements to his poetry. His songs in films like Pyaasa, Naya Daur and Phir Subah Hogi have attained the status of classics. This exhaustive biography traces the poet's rich life, from his troubled childhood and his equally troubled love relationships to his rise as one of the pre-eminent personalities of the Progressive Writers Movement and his journey as lyricist through the golden era of Hindi film music, the 1950s and 1960s.
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Born in March 8 1921 as Abdul Hayee, Sahir was the only son of a zamindar. The separation of his parents and the event of partition caused him to shuttle between India and Pakistan...and also brought him face to face with the struggles of life. He made a living as a journalist and editor in Pakistan, but an arrest warrant from the Pakistani government of the day after publishing some unflattering articles caused him to flee to Bombay in 1949, where he began to write film songs.
In 1948, Sahir started work as editor for Shaahkaar and Savera. He also published Shaahraah from Delhi and did some editorial work for "preet kii laDi"/"Prithlari", all of which were successful. He also became a member of the Progressive Writers' Association. Soon, however, his inflammatory writings in Savera resulted in the Government of Pakistan issuing a warrant for his arrest. So, Sahir fled to Delhi but after a couple of months, moved to Bombay (present day Mumbai).
Sahir made his debut as a lyricist with the film "Azadi Ki Raah Par" in 1948. The film had four songs written by him. His first song was "badal rahii hai zindagii". However, it was the year 1951 that would bring him fame and recognition. Two films, released in 1951, had songs that sky-rocketed in popularity and are hummed even today. First was "ThanDii hawaayeN lehraa ke aayeN" from Naujawan. The second was a landmark film, marking the directorial debut of Guru Dutt - Baazi. Both films, coincidentally, had music by S. D. Burman.
Sahir had a long and successful career as a lyricist and worked with most music directors in the 50s and 60s including Roshan, Madan Mohan, Khaiyyam, Ravi, S. D. Burman and N. Dutta. He was an integral part of Guru Dutt's team and along with S. D. Burman, gave numerous hits. His work with Roshan resulted in fabulous music for several period films, including Taj Mahal for which he won his first Filmfare award for Best Lyricist. In the 70s, most of his work was for Yash Chopra films but the paucity of films certainly did not diminish the quality of his writings and he won his second Filmfare award for Best Lyricist for Kabhie Kabhie in 1976. He was also awarded the Padmashri by the government of India in 1971.
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