Kanakagiri Siddhartha

Sahir Ludhianvi

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This is something i always wanted to write. And it is with a lot of trepidation that i finally decide to put my thoughts on this site.

I am one of those who search youtube with tags like Sahir Ludhianvi, Gulzar etc.

I am a fan of poetry, and like most of us, i have my own standard by which i rate it. For me, a poem is something that is inherently lyrical, something that doesn't need a director to set it to a tune for it to be hummable. thats one quality that sets Sahir apart from most great lyricists. And of course, great poetry has one more quality. It breaks through the walls around your heart's deepest recesses. It connects with you at a deeper level. Sahir's poetry has that quality, loads of it.

Sample this


One of my favourite songs, from the time when i first watched this movie in Doordarshan. I didn't know who wrote then, but it didn't matter.

"jag se chahe bhag lo koi, man se bhag na paye"  - One may run from the world, but one cannot run from one's conscience". Now thats what i was referring to. A lot of variatons of this line have been written since, but this was written in the 1960's, remember.

Yet another special quality in his poetry that appeals me no end is, an undercurrent of melancholy.And who best to give melancholy a voice than Mukesh?


In the film, the context is supposed to be the protoganists trying to find hope in despair. Both Sahir and Mukesh capture the essence with such  subtelety that beggars belief. Listen to the part where Mukesh sings - "jis subah kee khaatir jug jug se, hum sab mar mar kar jite hain"...outstanding words and outstanding expression. Music, when done right, expresses the emotion. There is no need for acting, really. No translations needed either.

And it was Sahir who convinced Raj Kapoor to have Khayyam compose music for this film, over his court musician pair of Sankar-Jaikishan, speaks volumes of his stature and influence.

Melancholy is not his only forte though, he also penned these lyrics:


So, after a shakespearean mix of melancholy and zest, its only natural to expect some shakespearean pragmatism? Sahir ticks that box too, with aplomb.


Again, one of my all time favourites, every line in this song can be a proverb.

To write about Sahir, without mentioning Pyasaa, until now, is both a tribute and an insult to him. Seriously, all his brilliant work is one thing, and Pyasaa is quite another.

To write about Pyasaa would take another herculian effort, so i am just keeping it short and sweet. Had the artistes and technicians of Pyasaa not done anything else in their careers, that would still be enough for them to rank among the all time best in their respective fields.


What do i say? "Uff na kahenge, lab seelenge, aasoon peelenge..."

Hmmm...before the angry young man Vijay, there was an angry young poet Vijay. Sahir, for one, would have identified with Vijay. Nothing could explain the sheer power of these lyrics:


And it took Sahir's sensitive lyrics to recast the angry young man as a romantic poet. I wish they had retained the original Kabhie Kabhie in the film:


So, where does that place Sahir in the pantheon of great poets and lyricists in Hindi/Urdu? To me, he is the best, but in his own words,

"kal aur aayenge naghmo ki khilti kalian chunnewale, mujhse behtar kehnewale, tumse behtar sunne wale; kal koi mujhko yaad kare, kyun koi mujhko yaad kare, masroof zamana mere liye kyun waqt apna barbad kare?"


Siddhartha's books

A Christmas CarolMidhunamLate Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third WorldThe HobbitThe Emperor of All MaladiesThe Compleat Angler, or the Contemplative Man's RecreationThe Lord of the RingsMan Against MythOne Last Story and That's It
ChowringheeHarry Potter Boxed SetThe Sense of an EndingThe Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius RamanujanThe AlchemistThings Fall ApartA Time to KillThe Hungry TideSea of Poppies
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August 18, 2019

2017 Reading Challenge

Siddhartha has read 0 books toward his goal of 29 books.
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