19 June, 2021

Pal, Do Pal Ka Shayar

Who was Sahir? Met with benign neglect by intellectuals, not quite a mass poet either. His poetry was touched by romance, but his romance was too touched by life to be frothy.

Sahir Ludhianvi 1921-1980
Pal, Do Pal Ka Shayar

Before he was Sahir Ludhianvi, he was Abdul Hai, born in a family of Punjabi landowners a hundred years ago this month in Ludhiana. He passed away in Mumbai in 1980. He was the only son of a rich landowner who had divorced Sahir’s mother. According to the great Urdu poet Ehsan Danish, Sahir declared his decision before the court to go with his impoverished mother rather than the rich father. From this very place, the rights of women became the foundation for human values for Sahir, so much so that the social exploitation of his mother left a deep impact on him, even affecting his romantic life. He rem­ained a bachelor all his life.

His anger at his class position led to his expulsion from college. However, even before he turned 25, he had published Talkhiyan (Bitterness), a bestseller till date. Sahir, of course, is known in the public imagination for his incredible career as a film lyricist. A partial collection of his film lyrics titled Gaata Jaaye Banjara (And the Gypsy Sings On) outsells most poetry books in serious bookstores. He has been...

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