Saturday December 03, 2022

Shortened session dedicated to ‘Pal Do Pal Ka Shair’ Sahir Ludhianvi disappoints audience

December 11, 2021
Shortened session dedicated to ‘Pal Do Pal Ka Shair’ Sahir Ludhianvi disappoints audience

Given our tendency to overlook contributions of Indian writers to the Urdu literature, it was indeed a praiseworthy decision of the Arts Council to have a dedicated session for Sahir Ludhianvi (1921-1980), one of the prominent progressive Urdu poets and great film lyricists, at the 14th Aalmi Urdu Conference to celebrate the 100 years of his birth.

However, the session turned out a bit disappointing for two reasons. Firstly, as the earlier session at the venue had exceeded its time, the moderator had just around 20 minutes to start and finish the talk. It was announced that critic Farasat Rizvi and musicologist Sultan Arshad — the two experts who were to speak on Sahir at the session — were supposed to deliver lengthy speeches, but due to time constraints, they would now answer questions posed by Khurram Sohail.

The second reason for disappointment was technical issues, due to which Arshad, who had selected some songs penned by Sahir to show the immense skill of the poet in describing a natural setting, could not have them played to the audience, which severely disrupted how he wanted to discuss the film songs of Sahir.

Rizvi told the audience that Sahir, whose real name was Abdul Hayee, was born to his father by his 11th wife. He said the poet chose to live with his mother after the separation of his parents, and he abhorred his father and in a way he took revenge on himself for his father’s vices, by not marrying and having a streak of failed relationships.

He said the poet would fall in love, but when the time came for consummation, he would back down. The theme of failed relationships is recurring in his poetry, Rizvi said, prompting Arshad to interrupt and mention a poem of Sahir starting with “Chalo Ik Baar Phir Se Ajnabi Ban Jayen Hum Donon”, which was also used as a song in a film.

Arshad earlier said that Sahir was a unique film lyricist as many of his published poems which he had not composed with the intention to be taken as a film song were later taken in films and scenes were specifically created in films to incorporate Sahir’s already published non-film poetry. Two examples of such poems -- “Kabhi Mere Dil Mein Khayal Aata Hai” and “Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaye To Kia Hai” -- are extremely popular today as film songs.

Both the experts agreed that Sahir was one of those film lyricists who raised the bar of film poetry by including elements of classical poetry in their film songs. The speakers said the lyricists like Sahir raised the aesthetic standards of the public through their songs.

Arshad also highlighted the versatility of Sahir as a lyricist who could employ both the Persian and Sanskrit diction in his songs according to the requirements of the film. He cited the example of Chitralekha, a film which depicted the story of a courtesan in an ancient Indian empire. He said that due to the setting of the film, Sahir penned songs like “Sansaar Se Bhaage Phirte Ho, Bhagwan Ko Tum Kia Pao Ge/ Is Lok Ko Bhi Apna Na Sake, Us Lok Mein Bhi Pachtao Ge” and “Man Re Tu Kaahe Na Dheer Dhare/ Woh Normohi Moh Na Jaane Phir Kia Moh Kare” in the tradition of Hindi poetry.

When asked if film songs could be considered quality poetry, Rizvi said “Ghairon Pe Karam, Apnon Pe Sitam/ Ae Jaan-e-Wafa Yeh Zulm Na Kar”, written by Sahir, was great poetry.

Rizvi was of the view that as Sahir gained fame as a lyricist, he did not give much attention to his non-film poetry, so his first collection of poems, ‘Talkhian’, was his best collection. He and Arshad also heaped praise on Sahir’s long poem Parchaiyan.

Rizvi also recited some lines of ‘Taj Mahal’ that made Sahir famous overnight after he recited it in a college. As he recited “Ik Shahenshah Ne Daulat Ka Sahara Le Kar/ Hum Ghareebon Ki Muhabbat Ka Udaya Hai Mazaaq”, many in the audience responded with a collective “Waah”.

The two speakers recalled how Sahir championed the cause of lyricists. They said that when broadcasting a song, the All India Radio did not announce the name of the lyricist. It was Sahir who demanded his name be announced before any of his songs was broadcast, and as his demand was accepted, the lyricists got their due recognition when any song was broadcast.