Lyricists of Lucknow in Hindi Cinema
Be it a peppy number like “Balam Pichkari” from Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani or a devotional track like “Mann Mohana” from Jodha Akbar, be it any inspirational patriotic song from film Border or some emotional melody from children drama flick Taare Zameen Par, be it Anjaan’s melodious evergreen oldies or Kaifi Azmi’s unforgettable ghazals, one can’t deny the impact of Lucknawi culture and its language in the Hindi film lyrics.
Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh has always been famous for its polite mannerism and refined dialect. It is one of the optimum cities of the country that has retained its old-world charm absolutely intact. The people of Lucknow have their own polished way of doing things, which reflect their etiquettes and supreme level of sophistication. Even if they are just rolling paan leaves, they will do it with such elegance that one cant stop but admire their gesticulation.
Lucknow people are the epitome of tehzeeb and nazakat that we rarely get to see in metropolitans like Mumbai and Delhi. They pride themselves about addressing another person as ‘aap’ rather than ‘tu’, following its famous “Pehle Aap” or “After You” culture. Here, majority of the people speak in Lucknawi Urdu, which is one of the sweetest languages and a delight to listen. Urdu poetry and prose have their own charm and andaaz, which is prominent since ages in this region. Though, the languages in this “City of Tehzeeb” vary from one region to another, yet Urdu remains its official and extensively used language.
The culture of Lucknow is so diverse and deep-rooted that with all the importance given to literature, fine arts, drama, dance and music, the city has become a landmark artistic center in itself. Nowadays, Lucknow is being regarded as an outstanding place where every facet of art is celebrated and preserved. The entire credit for this goes to the city’s historic rulers called the Nawabs of Awadh who promoted Persian art and literature. Owing to their immense contribution to the city’s rich heritage, Lucknow is now being fondly called as the “City of Nawabs”.
Many of the legendary Urdu poets such as Mirza Ghalib, Mir Anees, Mirza Dabeer and several others, were based in and around Lucknow but became popular all over the nation. The Marsiyas (Persian name for an elgiac poem) composed by Mir Anees and Mirza Dabeer are still recited during the Muharram festival at various events. Even today, Lucknow hosts the maximum number of poetic events organized in India where renowned poets from multiple centers unite and showcase their talent. Lucknow is also the hometown of an eminent Ghazal singer Begum Akhtar who took this beautiful form of poetry to an incredible level.
Also, a traditional event named ‘Mushaira’ happens to be one of the most fascinating aspects of Lucknow’s custom and culture. It’s basically a rejuvenating gathering wherein poetry recitation is undertaken and the audience takes pleasure in the sweet verses of all kinds of Rasas. This poetic spirit is so ingrained in the souls of Lucknawi people that even a hard-core revolutionary like Ram Prasad Bismil got tremendously influenced. Before being hanged by the British at Kakori near Lucknow, he wrote several patriotic verses under the pen name of “Bismil”.
It must be the beauty of their polished language and the charm of their rich culture that attracts many of the Hindi filmmakers to the booming lyricists of Lucknow region. As a tribute to this rich ancient city and its poetic essence, Pandolin presents you a list of ten Hindi lyricists who came from the land of Uttar Pradesh and ruled our hearts with their sonorous words.
Kaifi Azmi: Born in the city of Azamgarh and lyricist of many olden Hindi films, Kaifi Azmi is considered to be one of the greatest Urdu poets of 20th century. Merely at the age of eleven, Azmi wrote his first ghazal “Itna To Zindagi Mein Kisi Ki Khalal Pade” and recited it in a mushaira where his talent got discovered and immensely appreciated. Azmi’s earliest collection of poems eventually got published in the year 1943 under a title named Jhankar. During his lifetime, he wrote songs for numerous movies such as Arth, Haqeeqat and Heer Ranjha, but the world will always remember him for Guru Dutt’s Kaagaz Ke Phool.
Shakeel Badayuni: Entailing the name of his hometown Badayun in his pseudonym, this Urdu poet from Uttar Pradesh wrote numerous ghazals and songs for films like Baiju Bawra, Chaudhvin Ka Chand and Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. Though he came from the lands of Lucknawi Urdu Shayars, yet his inclination towards literature was not hereditary like others. In spite of his father wanting him to have a good career, Shakeel opted for a different path and started participating in inter-university mushairas. In his poetry also, he had an altogether different taste, which prompted him to write more of the romantic verses that were closer to his heart.
Majrooh Sultanpuri: This finest songwriter of Indian cinema who spent the early days of his life in Azamgarh near Lucknow grew up to pen lyrics for films like Pakeezah, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Teesri Manzil. In the 1950s and early 1960s, he became one of the dominating figures in the Progressive Writers’ Movement and was considered to be an artist much ahead of its time. He created some of the best-known verses of 20th century Urdu literature and will always be remembered for his poetic piece “Main akela hee chala tha janibe manzil magar, Log saath aate gaye aur carvan banta gaya!”
Javed Akhtar: Born in a small village called Khairabad in Uttar Pradesh, Javed Akhtar was lovingly named Jadoo by his poet father, Jan Nisar Akhtar and a singer-writer mother, Safia Akhtar. Right from his childhood, he grew up in the company of great artists and developed a knack for Urdu poetry. Later on when he came to Mumbai, he not only wrote some masterpiece screenplays for Hindi films but illustrious lyrics for movies like Border, Jodhaa Akbar, Lagaan and Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobara. Also, a major set of his serious Urdu poems got compiled under a book named “Tarkash”, which was further rendered into audio in his own voice.
Anjaan: Anjaan was the pen name of Lalji Pandey, who was the lyricist behind some marvelous Hindi songs such as “Khaike Paan Banaraswala” from Don and “Rote Hue Aate Hain Sab” from Muqaddar Ka Sikandar. Exemplifying the ethos and culture of Uttar Pradesh, this inhabitant of Varanasi often used Bhojpuri dialect in his poetry and film lyrics.
Sameer: Carrying his father’s legacy forward, Sameer, son of popular lyricist Anjaan, penned lyrics for many successful bollywood films like Deewana, Hum Hai Rahi Pyaar Ke, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Saawariya and Tere Naam. Though, he got his first break as a songwriter for a Bhojpuri film Bairi Saawan yet he finally got accolades for his hit songs in films such as Aashiqui and Dil. Recently, this acclaimed lyricist from Varanasi got associated with a wide promotional platform called Tumbhi, which nurture & review young budding artists and their artwork.
Faaiz Anwar: Arriving from the city of Kanpur on a sightseeing visit to Mumbai, this god-gifted UP localite just happened to join film industry by chance. If the stories are to be believed, it is said that after listening to his Shayari, Mahesh Bhatt got so much impressed that he offered Faiz to write lyrics for one of his popular movies Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin. And in just 40 minutes, Faaiz gave him the title song for the film, which later went on to become a musical milestone. After that, there was no looking back for him and till date he has penned various lyrics for bollywood blockbusters like Saajan, Jab We Met, Dabangg, Rowdy Rathore and many more.
Prasoon Joshi: This National Award winning prolific writer and poet published his first book, Main Aur Woh, a ‘conversation with himself’ at the age of 17 only. Hailing from a small town named Almora in Uttarakhand, Prasoon Joshi had a rich artistic exposure and a strong sense of literature very early in his life. Coming from the family of qualified classical vocalists, this Indian Hindi lyricist has till date penned songs for films like Delhi-6, Rang De Basanti and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.
Neelesh Misra: Born and brought up in the city of Nainital, this award-winning Indian journalist not only pursued his love for writing but also became an exceptional storyteller mainly because of his popular radio show, Yadoon Ka Idiotbox on BIG FM 92.7. After writing intense lyrics for films like Gangster, Jism and Rog, he started connecting with more and more people by means of his books, stories and especially voice. Coming from the inspired heartlands near Lucknow, this young creative writer now occupies a unique space on the nation’s artistic landscape.
Amitabh Bhattacharya: This Lucknow-bred lyricist cum singer, tasted success in bollywood with Anurag Kashyap’s Dev.D when the song “Emotional Attyachar” from it became an instant hit among youngsters. Since then, he has been writing lyrics for a variety of Hindi films and his recent works include movies like Agneepath, Udaan, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Lootera.
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