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'A lyricist has to be a shayar at heart'

Dr Rajiv Vijayakar

Exactly a day after the release of his latest film Kitne Door Kitne Paas, Anand Bakshi passed away, seeming to live the title of his last film released.

It was an Anand Bakshi score or song, after all, that launched the careers of a mind-boggling array of film personalities.

Composers Kalyanji-Anandji, R D Burman, Rajesh Roshan, Viju Shah and Jatin-Lalit, singers Amit Kumar, Shabbir Kumar, Manhar, Mohammed Aziz, Pankaj Udhas, Shailendra Singh, Anuradha Paudwal and even stars, from Sanjeev Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Jeetendra to relatively recent entrants like Manisha Koirala owe their success to the self-effacing lyricist.

Anand Bakshi's most memorable tunes
Song Film
Pardesiyon se na ankhiyaan milana Jab Jab Phool Khile
Sawan ka mahina Milan
Bindiya chamkegi Do Raaste
Jhilmil sitaron ka Jeevan Mrityu
Accha to hum chalte hai Aan Milo Sajana
Maar diya jaaye Mera Gaon Mera Desh
Sacchai chhup nahin sakti Dushmun
Chingari Koi Bhadke Amar Prem
Dum maro dum Hare Rama Hare Krishna
Hum tum ek kamre mein Bobby
Mehbooba o mehbooba Sholay
Parda hai parda Amar Akbar Anthony
Dafli wale Sargam
Om shanti om Karz
Tere mere beech mein Ek Duuje Ke Liye
Tu mera jaanu hai Hero
Chitthi aayi hai Naam
One two ka four Ram Lakhan
Tirchhi topiwale Tridev
Jumma chumma Hum
Choli ke peeche Khalnayak
Tu cheez badi hai Mohra
Tujhe dekha to Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge
Pehli pehli baar Dil Toh Pagal Hai
I love my India Pardes
There are any number of lyricists in the film industry, but none matched Anand Bakshi in writing for a situation and a character.

He could write a song complete with a vocabulary, an idiom and a thought so perfect that one could never imagine any other lines in place of the ones he had written.

Unlike the great poet-lyricists who excelled in specific areas like philosophy, romance, patriotism, ghazals or lightweight songs, Anand Bakshi had no limitations, because he was the supreme example of the all-rounder that a film lyricist should be.

It was his pen that spawned songs as completely diverse as Maine maa ko dekha hai, maa ka pyar nahin dekha (Mastana) and Choli ke peeche kya hai(Khalnayak), One two ka four (Ram Lakhan) and Chitthi aayi hai (Naam).

"Even now, when he had written over 5000 lyrics, Anand Bakshi still wrote seven to ten antaras for every song and told us (the composer and director) to choose the best two or three," raved Ismail Darbar, who worked with him in a few songs in Deewangee.

Poet and Hindi scholar Padma Shri Neeraj said, "Jo situation ki pakad Bakshi ko hai, kisiko nahin. He has proved that film writing is actually a higher art than writing poetry for one's literary and creative satisfaction."

Anand Bakshi's razor-sharp brain would analyse and expand the scope of a song situation like no one else could.

His songs would come to him in a flash or take weeks and even involve research (as he did in Bol gori bol tera kaun piya in Milan since he was dealing with devotion to Lord Shiva).

But Bakshi had always said, "It's not necessary that more time spent on a song necessarily means a better product."

Convalescing from a fractured limb, he was once visited by Raj Khosla (Bakshi wrote the last song of Anita and gave the cheque to the original lyricist Raja Mehndi Ali Khan's widow) and composer Laxmikant.

"We had finalised the title of my film Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki and Laxmi (kant) had set it to a beautiful tune but we could not think of a second line to rhyme with it," Raj Khosla said.

"We told Bakshi the subject and explained our problem. In an instant, he said, 'The second line is very simple. It should be Koi nahin main tere saajan ki!' In six everyday words that fitted the tune perfectly, Bakshi had encapsulated the complete theme of my film," Khosla said.

And a perennial Lata gem was born.

For all his brilliance as a man who could write the deepest of philosophies in everyday language (Tum besahara ho to kisika sahara bano/Tumko apne aap hi sahara mil jaayega [Anurodh], Kuchh to log kahenge logon ka kaam hai kehna [Amar Prem]), Bakshi never claimed to be a great poet.

"But a lyricist has to be a shaayar at heart," he once told me.

The strangest point in Bakshi's life was that he came to Mumbai to become a singer, though he finally sang only in just half-a-dozen films like Mom Ki Gudia and Charas.

An army officer and a bank employee before he joined films, he made his debut with the late Bhagwan's Bhala Aadmi in 1956 and struggled till he hit big time with Mehendi Lagi Mere Haath (Kalyanji-Anandji/1962).

"S D Burman wanted me for Kaagaz Ke Phool, but Guru Dutt wanted a top lyricist," he had said.

"The film flopped, probably because I was destined to form a hit team with Dada Burman with Aradhana only a decade later. Destiny is all-powerful," he had added.

After his breakthrough in 1962, Bakshi unleashed an unparalleled array of hits with incredible consistency, his most famous and prolific association being in his 250-plus films with the phenomenal Laxmikant-Pyarelal beginning with Mr X in Bombay and going on to Milan, Jeene Ki Raah, Aya Sawan Jhoom Ke, Farz, Do Raaste, Mera Gaon Mera Desh, Dushmun, Bobby, Dharam-Veer, Amar Akbar Anthony, Satyam Shivamn Sundaram, Sargam, Karz, Ek Duuje Ke Liye, Hero, Ram Lakhan and Khalnayak.

Bakshi's other aces included his hits with Kalyanji Anandji (Himalay Ki God Mein, Jab Jab Phool Khile), Viju Shah (Tridev, Mohra, Gupt) , Roshan (Devar), S D Burman (Aradhana, Premnagar, Naya Zamana), Rajesh Roshan (Julie, Mr Natwarlal), R D Burman (The Train, Kati Patang, Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Amar Prem, Jawani Diwani, Aap Ki Kasam, Sholay , Love Story, Betaab), Shiv-Hari (Chandni, Lamhe), Jatin-Lalit (DDLJ, Mohabbatein), Nadeem-Shravam (Pardes), A R Rehman (Taal) and Uttam Singh (Dil To Pagal Hai).

Very pragmatic and flexible, Anand Bakshi considered the late lyricist Dinanath Madhok as his idol. He always believed in simple language, and in keeping up with the times, which is why his pen went younger with every year, writing Hum's Jumma chumma at 60, Do dil mil rahe hain (Pardes) at 68 and Ishq bina (Taal) at 70.

"You cannot show off your talent at the expense of the situation and the film," he used to stress frequently.

"Neither can you ask the producer to pay you for what you want to sell him rather than what he wants and for which he is paying you," he used to say.

But he would often be wryly amused at the decline of the sad song, which gave him so much scope. "People must be very happy today" he commented once.

Anand Bakshi never had any hang-ups about working with composers young enough to be his grandsons.

"If you do not intimidate them by your seniority and age, you can have a mutually enjoyable relationship with the young composers," he would say.

Retiring and reserved by nature, Bakshi would prefer to be a loner, recording life around him for use in his work with his penetrating eyes and even more penetrating mind.

The myriad awards -- big and small -- that he won stand testimony to his calibre.

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