Ludhianvi (8 March 1921 – 25 October 1980) was a popular
Urdu poet and Hindi lyricist and songwriter.
Ludhianvi is his pseudonym. He won the Filmfare Award twice,
in 1964 and 1977, and in 1971 was awarded the Padma Shri.
was on Sahir's insistence that the All India Radio started
naming the lyricists along with the singers and the music
composers for the songs being aired. Before Sahir, the music
composer, followed by the play-back singers usually took
credit for the popularity and success of the songs in films.
Ludhianvi was born into the wealthy family of a Muslim Gujjar
as Abdul Hayee on 8 March 1921 in Ludhiana, Punjab in India. His
mother's name was Sardar Begum. Sahir's parents had a very loose
and estranged relationship. In 1934, when he was thirteen years
old, his father married for the second time. At that time, his
mother decided to take the bold step of leaving her husband, forfeiting
all claims to the financial assets. Sahir's father then sued his
mother for child custody but lost. He threatened to make sure
Sahir did not live with his mother very long, even if that meant
taking the child's life. Sahir's mother then found friends who
kept a close watch on him and didn't let him out of sight. Fear
and financial deprivation surrounded the formative years of this
young man. His parents' divorce brought him and his mother face
to face with poverty and struggle in life. The house in which
Sahir was born, a red sand-stone haveli, stands in Karimpura,
a Muslim neighborhood of Ludhiana, with a small plaque announcing
its importance upon the arched mughal darwaaza - the only effort
by this teeming industrial city to remember him.
studied at and graduated from Khalsa High School in Ludhiana.
Upon Matriculation, he joined the Satish Chander Dhawan Government
College For Boys, Ludhiana, from which he was famously expelled
within the year 'for sitting in the Principal's lawn with a female
class-mate'. Amrita Pritam became his most ardent fan in the college
days at government college Ludhiana. She has openly acknowledged
her love for Sahir in interviews and her books. He was quite popular
for his ghazals and nazms in the college.
1943, after being expelled from college, Sahir settled in Lahore.
However, inflammatory writings (communist views and ideology)
in Savera resulted in the issuing of a warrant for his arrest
by the Government of Pakistan. So, somewhere in 1949, Sahir fled
from Lahore to Delhi. After a couple of months in Delhi, he moved
to and settled in Bombay. A friend of his recalls Sahir telling
him "Bombay needs me!"
lived on the first floor of the main building of an Andheri outhouse.
His famous neighbours included the poet, Gulzar and Urdu litterateur,
Krishan Chander. In the 1970s, he constructed Parchaiyaan ("Shadows"),
a posh bungalow, and lived there till his death. Journalist, Ali
Peter John, who knew the poet personally, says real-estate sharks
have been eyeing Sahir's abode after the death of his sister.
His belongings and trophies are in a state of ruin, according
to the journalist.
Ludhianvi made his debut in films writing lyrics for the film
Aazadi Ki Raah Par (1949). The film had four songs written by
him and his first song was Badal Rahi Hai Zindagi.... Both the
film and its songs went unnoticed. However, with Naujawaan (1951),
he gained recognition. S.D. Burman composed the music for Naujawaan.
His first major success came the same year with Guru Dutt's directorial
debut, Baazi (1951), again pairing him with music composer, S.D.
Burman. Thus he became, part of the Guru Dutt team, and after
the success of Naujawaan and Baazi, the combination of Sahir Ludhianvi
and S.D. Burman came out with many more everlasting songs.
worked with many music composers, including Ravi, S.D. Burman,
Roshan and Khayyam, and has left behind many unforgettable songs
for fans of the Indian film industry and its music. Later, Sahir
Ludhianvi teamed up with composer Datta Naik in several films.
Datta, a Goan, was a great admirer of Sahir's revolutionary poetry.
They had already worked together to produce the music for Milaap
(1955). Sahir wrote many unforgettable gems for Datta.
1958, Sahir wrote the lyrics for Ramesh Saigal's film Phir Subah
Hogi, which was based on Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel Crime and Punishment.
The male lead was Raj Kapoor and it was presumed that Shankar-Jaikishan
would be the music composers. However, Sahir insisted that only
someone who had read the novel could provide the right score.
Thus, Khayyam ended up as the music composer for the film and
the song Woh Subah Kabhi Toh Aayegi with minimal background music
remains an all-time hit. Khayyam went on to work with Sahir in
many films including Kabhie Kabhie and Trishul.
and critics rate Sahir's work in Guru Dutt's Pyaasa as his finest.
Pyaasa, some say, bears resemblance to Sahir's early years as
a poet. The onscreen poet, Vijay played by Guru Dutt, bears a
strong likeness to the man whose poetry gave the film its soul.
Ludhianvi's work in the 1970s was restricted to films mainly directed
by Yash Chopra. Though his output in terms of number of films
had thinned out, the quality of his writing commanded immense
respect. Kabhie Kabhie (1976) saw him return to sparkling form.
These songs won him his second Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist,
the first being for Taj Mahal (1963).
25 October 1980, at the age of fifty-nine, Sahir Ludhianvi died
after suffering a massive heart attack in the midst of a card
game. He was buried at the Juhu Muslim cemetery. His tomb was
demolished in 2010 to make space for new bodies.
final works were released for the Hindi film Lakshmi (1982). He
will always be remembered along with Kaifi Azmi as the poet who
brought Urdu literature to Indian motion pictures. Over twenty-five
years after Sahir Ludhianvi's death, his poetry and lyrics remain
an inspiration for lyricists of the day. Composers and singers
of Sahir's time swear by the depth, intensity and purity in his
poetry. As singer, Mahendra Kapoor said in a Vividh Bharati interview,
"I don't think a writer like Sahir Ludhianvi will be born
Sahir Ludhianvi remained a bachelor all his life, he had two failed
love affairs with journalist Amrita Pritam and singer/actress
Sudha Malhotra, respectively. These relationships could not be
cemented in marriage because these women's fathers refused to
let them marry a Muslim. In fact, Sahir Ludhianvi was an atheist.
These relationships had left Sahir Ludhianvi an embittered man
and he also had taken to drinking heavliy and drank himself deep
into alcoholism. The tragedies and pathos of his personal life
most truly reflected in his poignant poetry. He remained single
all his life.
relationship with Amrita Pritam was so passionate, that at one
time while attending a press conference, Amrita wrote his name
hundreds of times on a sheet of paper. The two of them would meet
without saying a word and Sahir would puff away with his cigarettes,
and after he left, Amrita would smoke the cigarette butts left
by him. After his death, she hoped the smoke from her cigarettes
would meet him in the other world.
Filmfare Best Lyricist Award: Jo Wada Kiya ( Taj Mahal)
and meant for information only.
1977: Filmfare Best Lyricist Award: Kabhi Kabhie Mere Dil Mein
( Kabhi Kabhie )