Born On: March 8, 1921
Born In: Ludhiana, Punjab
Died On: October 25, 1980
Career: Poet, Lyricist
Best remembered for penning the renowned "Kabhi kabhi mere dil mein" song from the movie "Kabhie Kabhie", Sahir Ludhianvi etched a permanent mark on songs and ghazals in the Hindi film industry. True to his name, Sahir was a magician who fascinated his listeners and readers through his marvelous compositions. His wordings have successfully created a plethora of emotions with its simple language and distinguished feelings. Despite being unable to praise God, beauty, and wine, he divulged his bitterness with sensitive lyrics through his pen. For his illustrious and magnificent compositions, he was honored with two Filmfare Awards and Padma Shri Award during his lifetime.
Sahir Ludhianvi was born as Abdul Hayee into a rich Muslim Gujjar family in Ludhiana in Punjab. His father was a wealthy zamindar, while mother was Sardar Begum. Since birth, his parents were undergoing an estranged relationship and chose to separate when Sahir was just 13 years old. His father married for the second time and chose to take custody of Sahir, but lost due to his second marriage. As such, he threatened to snatch Sahir from his mother, no matter what step he had to take. Due to this, Sahir spent his childhood surrounded by fear and financial deprivation. He attained his formal education from Khalsa High School in Ludhiana. Thereafter, he graduated to Satish Chander Dhawan Government College For Boys in Ludhiana to pursue his higher studies. But he was expelled just after one year for being caught sitting with a female in the lawns in 1943. He left Ludhiana and traveled to Lahore in search of a better career prospect.
In Lahore, Sahir completed his first work in Urdu "Talkhiyaan" but was unable to find a publisher for the same. Finally, after two years of shuffling between Ludhiana and Lahore, he found a publisher in 1945. Thereafter, he started editing four magazines, "Adab-e-Lateef", "Shahkaar", "Prithlari", and "Savera". These magazines achieved immense success. However, due to his explosive writing in "Savera", the government of Pakistan issued an arrest warrant against him. As such, he fled from Lahore in 1949 and landed in Delhi. After spending a couple months there, he traveled to Bombay where he settled for the rest of his life and created history through his illustrious works. He made his debut into Bollywood by writing the lyrics for "Aazadi Ki Raah Par" in 1949. Though he wrote four songs, both the film and the songs sank unnoticed.
Sahir was next seen in 1951 "Naujawaan" with S.D. Burman as the music director. This movie acted as the stepping stone for him as the film worked decently. But his major recognition came with Guru Dutt's directorial debut "Baazi" in 1951, again paired with Burman. Thereafter, he was amongst the team of Guru Dutt. The combination delivered some marvelous musical performances that became legendary hits. Over his entire Bollywood career, Sahir delivered evergreen and immortal pieces of Hindi film music. Some of the most prominent movies include "Pyaasa", "Hum Dono", "Taj Mahal", "Phir Subah Hogi", "Trishul", and "Waqt". His 1976 "Kabhie Kabhie" saw the best in Sahir that went on to break all records, and bestowing him with another Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist, second to "Taj Mahal".
While writing lyrics for Bollywood films were reaching skies at that time, his poetry was not left behind either. His poetry revealed a "Faizian" quality of writing. His works had that intellectual element that caught the attention of people during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Though Sahir was egoistic by nature, probably due to his zamindari background, he was a compassionate man and felt for others, often neglecting his own needs. This nature reflected in his poetry which wrote as he aged. With different periods progressing, Sahir narrated various ages, which is not very common in many writers' style. Kahat-e-Bangal (The Famine of Bengal) talked about early maturity, while Subah-e-Navroz (Dawn of a New Day) spoke about the conditions of the poor. He was one amongst the few Urdu poets who illustrated his views towards the Taj Mahal in an entirely different manner.
Sahir Ludhianvi did not marry in his life and chose to remain a bachelor throughout. After experiencing two failed relationships, one with journalist Amrita Pritam and another with singer-actress Sudha Malhotra, he resolved to excessive drinking and became an alcoholic. Both the ladies' fathers rejected Sahir due to his perceived religion and atheism. Sahir and Amrita were so passionately in love with each other that she wrote his name a hundred times in sheets of paper during one press conference. Though the couple met quite often, they never spoke a word during their date. After Sahir was done with smoking and left, Amrita would pick up the butts and smoke them, hoping that they would meet someday in the other world. Another reason for rejecting Sahir as a compatible partner for Amrita's father was Sahir's inability to afford a house. As a result, Sahir built a taller house opposite Amrita's residence in Ludhiana.
Sahir Ludhianvi was honored with Padma Shri Award in 1971. He suffered a major heart attack on October 25th, 1980 and passed away in the arms of his friend Dr. R.P. Kapoor. He was 59 years old then. He was later buried in Juhu Muslim cemetery, but his tomb was destroyed in 2010 to make space for other dead bodies.
Aazadi Ki Raah Par, 1949
Alif Laila, 1953
Taxi Driver, 1954
House No. 44, 1955
Marine Drive, 1955
Naya Daur, 1957
Phir Subah Hogi, 1958
Barsat Ki Raat, 1960
Hum Dono, 1961
Taj Mahal, 1963
Naya Rasta, 1970
Laila Majnu, 1976
Kabhie Kabhie, 1976
Kala Patthar, 1978
The Burning Train, 1980
Aana hai to aa (Naya Daur, 1957)
Ye duniya agar mil bhi jaye to kya hai (Pyaasa, 1957)
Wo subah kabhi to aayegi (Phir Subah Hogi, 1958)
Tu Hindu banega na musalman banega (Dhool ka Phool, 1959)
Allah tero naam, ishwar tero naam (Hum Dono, 1961)
Chalo ek baar phir se ajnabi ban jaye hum dono (Gumraah, 1963)
Aye meri zohrajabein (Waqt, 1965)
Aagey bhi jane na tu (Waqt, 1965)
Main pal do pal ka shayar hoon (Kabhie Kabhie, 1976)
Kabhie kabhie (Kabhi Kabhie, 1976)
1921: Was born on March 8th in Ludhiana, Punjab
1934: Parents got divorced
1942: Admitted to Satish Chander Dhawan Government College For Boys, Ludhiana
1943: Expelled from college and went to Lahore
1945: Got his first Urdu poetry "Talkhiyaan" published
1949: Ran away from Lahore to Delhi and later to Bombay
1949: Got a break in his first Bollywood movie "Aazadi Ki Raah Par"
1951: Gained recognition with Guru Dutt's "Baazi"
1964: Won the Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist for "Taj Mahal"
1971: Honored with Padma Shri Award
1977: Won the Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist for "Kabhie Kabhie"
1980: Died in Mumbai on 25th October, aged 59