Ten of my favourite Shailendra songs

Invariably, I find that when I’m discussing old Hindi film songs with like-minded friends, we end up praising a song for its music. Often, equally, we admire the singer(s). Then comes the picturisation, the actors and actresses who appear onscreen, even the scenario itself.
Rarely do we talk first and foremost about the lyrics. I’ve been guilty of that, too; more often than not, I pay attention to the words of a song only if the music has already got me hooked.

So, to make amends, a post on one of Hindi cinema’s greatest lyricists, Shailendra, who was born on this day, August 30, in 1923. Janamdin mubarak, Shailendraji!

Shailendra was born in Rawalpindi and later moved to Mathura, where he worked as a clerk in the railways, before shifting to Bombay in 1947, where he met Raj Kapoor—and thus began (with two songs in Barsaat), Shailendra’s innings in Hindi film music. Over the next almost two decades, Shailendra wrote some of the most beautiful songs in Hindi films—and won three Filmfare Awards for Best Lyricist.

Here, therefore, are ten songs in which I think Shailendra shows off his talent as a poet particularly well. As always, these are all from films I’ve seen (since Shailendra died in 1966, I don’t need to put in my usual stipulation for the period). And, no two songs are from the same film.
You can download a copy of the transcribed lyrics for these songs (along with translations) by clicking here.

1. Mere saajan hain us paar (Bandini, 1963): This is one of those hauntingly beautiful songs that almost resonate with anguish and deep (even if unrequited) love in every syllable. Kalyani (Nutan), waiting for the ferry to take her to the home of her fiancé, unexpectedly sees the man she once loved (and who jilted her); and a nearby singer simultaneously launches into a song that echoes Kalyani’s own feelings. Broken-hearted, yet pledging to remain true, no matter if the object of one’s affections has turned away…

2. Zindagi khwaab hai (Jaagte Raho, 1956): Songs defining zindagi (life) are a dime a dozen—and this one, cynical and philosophical at the same time, is one of the finest there is. A drunk, tottering through a deserted street, extols the virtues of drink as a means of bringing oneself to ‘life’. And what a life! Whether truth or falsehood, right or wrong, actually alive or really just in a zombie-like state: who knows? Who cares?

3. Dil ki girah khol do chup na baitho (Raat Aur Din, 1967): A change in style here from Zindagi khwaab hai, but the basic tenet is pretty much the same: that life is to be lived. In the here and now. Dil ki girah khol do chup na baitho is a sophisticated flirtation: a way of saying that yes, we are strangers; but let us come together, and forget what lies behind – and even disregard what lies ahead. In essence, remain strangers at heart, united only for the moment in the enjoyment of life.

4. Poochho na kaise maine rain bitaayi (Meri Soorat Teri Aankhen, 1963): The agony of a man rejected by everybody just because of his ‘ugliness’ is embodied in this poignant song. Shailendra uses the motif of a never-ending night, of lamps that fail to light up darkness; of a moon and stars that cannot be seen; even of a coming dawn that brings not a single ray of hope—to depict the gloom surrounding the singer. Very touching, and beautifully rendered by Manna Dey, to SD Burman’s music.

5. Wahaan kaun hai tera, musaafir (Guide, 1965): Guide had one great song after another—and this one, sung by SD Burman himself, is one of the best. It accompanies the credits, as Raju (Dev Anand), ex-tourist guide, ex-manager and lover of the dancer Rosie, and ex-swindler, emerges from prison and sets out into the unknown. While the entire song focusses on the loneliness of this solitary traveller, with no-one to look for his coming, it is the last verse that particularly appeals to me: Kehte hain gyaani, duniya hai faani; paani pe likhi likhaayi. Hai sabki dekhi, hai sabki jaani; haath kisi ke na aayi… what a wonderfully appropriate metaphor for life.

6. Hain sabse madhur woh geet jinhe (Patita, 1953): From several of the songs I’ve listed so far, it seems as if some of Shailendra’s best lyrics are reserved for sad songs—or songs of cynicism and world-weariness. In Hain sabse madhur woh geet jinhe, Shailendra himself proves it: by saying that our best, or most melodious, songs, are the ones that we sing in tunes of sorrow. I especially love that line about “Jab gham ka andhera ghir aaye, samjho ke savera door nahin”—it’s so comforting, and such a great message of hope.

7. Tu pyaar ka saagar hai (Seema, 1955): I am not a fan of bhajans, filmi or otherwise. One major reason for that is that most bhajans tend to confine themselves to flattering the deity in question, piling on the maskaa like nothing else.
That is why this one gets my vote. It doesn’t treat the Almighty as a somewhat detached but all-powerful being who can shower us with wealth/power/fame/etc, but as one who is a guide, a comforter, a dear friend, an ‘ocean of love’. Shailendra’s god becomes the one to whom we, confused, lost and without direction, turn for guidance. A very personal, intimate relationship.

8. Na main dhan chaahoon (Kala Bazaar, 1960): Yes, another bhajan: it just goes to show what a fine lyricist Shailendra was. Here, again, the song doesn’t dwell incessantly on how mighty and all-bestowing the Almighty is; instead, it focusses on the frailty of us humans, our weaknesses and flaws. My favourite verse is the one that turns the image of a snake and snake charmer on its head: Moh-mann mohe lobh lalchaaye, kaise-kaise yeh naag lehraayein—in this world, greed is the snake, swaying enticingly and mesmerising us.

9. Mud-mud ke na dekh (Shree 420, 1955): … and, like Dil ki girah khol do or Zindagi khwaab hai, another of those songs that centre around the fulfilment of one’s own dreams, regardless of whether in pursuit of those dreams, we trample over others or not. Here, Raj (Raj Kapoor), lured into the glittering world of fashionable Bombay, stops briefly to look back at Vidya (Nargis) as she rushes away from a party—and he is immediately pulled back by this song, sung by the shrewd, calculating Maya (Nadira). The words of the song—extolling constant change, constant movement, and looking blindly towards the future—are Maya. (or maya, if you look at that literally). And these words end up governing Raj’s life as the film progresses.

10. Ae chaand zara chhup jaa (Laat Sahib, 1967): Finally, a romantic song. Not philosophical, not devotional, nothing—just loving. It’s slightly shy (the scene preceding the song is where the hero and heroine—played by Shammi Kapoor and Nutan—first declare their love for each other), and very sweet. The moon is implored to hide its face (an idea Shailendra had earlier used in Dum bhar jo udhar moonh phere); time is begged to stop (Shailendra used that idea, too, in Ruk jaa raat thehar jaa re chanda). And what we have is a magical little song that is a lovely declaration of first love.

What are your favourites, from among Shailendra’s songs?

89 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite Shailendra songs

  1. Let me be the first to say that it is a very enjoyable list; for me, number 2 and 3 are outstanding by any yardstick. My own small contribution from the great man’s vast repertoire–sajanwa bairi ho gaye hamaar (Teesri Kasam) and Jin raato ki bhor nahin hai, aaj aisi hi raat aayi (door gagan ki chaon main

    • Thank you, Sidharth! And i’m glad you agree with Zindagi khwaab hai and Dil ki girah khol do. When I was compiling this list, I was struck by how the ‘aimless wandering’ of Dil ki girah khol do is reflected in Awara ae mere dil – both versions of it – in Raat Aur Din. The songs tie in very well with each other.

      Sajanwa bairi ho gaye hamaar was on my shortlist – that, along with Sajan re jhooth mat bolo: such a simple philosophy, so well put.

      I had never heard Jin raaton ki bhor nahin hai; am just listening to it. Beautiful! – thank you for that recommendation.

  2. Wonderful Post, madhu!
    Agree with each and every song in the list!
    See so many favs of mine and also many of them were in some lists of mine!
    And from Guide and Bandini one could include the whole album!
    Choosing ten must have been a difficult task!
    Will come later with my choices

    • Thanks, Harvey! When I was writing about Na main dhan chaahoon and O re maanjhi, in particular, I thought: Harvey will like these! :-)

      Yes, the songs from both Bandini and Guide could easily form a list of their own when it comes to not just great music, but fabulous lyrics too. I did think of including Din dhal jaaye here, but decided I’d used it in too many lists – so thought I’d give Wahaan kaun hai tera a chance instead!

  3. O re maajhi would top my list too! I would never be able too pick only 10, but if I had to then I would have Mera joota hai Japaani for being so iconic.

    Other faves -
    - every song in Teesri Kasam
    -Apni to har aah (i wonder whose idea that was, that person is a genius)
    -Munna bada pyara, Chun chun karti aayi chidiya, Yeh chaman hamara apna hai
    -Mere sapne mein aana resajna
    -Daiyya re daiyya chad gayo paapi bicchua
    -Lal chaddhi maidan khadi
    -Chhakke mein chhakka
    -Savere wali gaadi
    -Arrey bhai nikal ke aa ghar se

    • Lines from Arrey bhai nikal ke aa:
      Duniya badal gayi pyaare
      Aage nikal gayi pyaare
      Andhe kuye mein chhup kat tu
      Baith hua hai man maare

      And one more favourite: Chhota sa ghar hoga

      Forgot to say I love all your picks

    • Thank you, Sunny. That’s an interesting list you’ve put up – very mixed bag! :-) I agree totally about Apni toh har aah; it’s a great song, both from the point of view of scenario (and lyrics) plus the music. I also love Chhota sa ghar hoga. Such a sweet song!

      I’ve heard Arre bhai nikalke aa ghar se, but had not really paid much attention to the words. The ones you quote are delightful yet hard-hitting. Good one.

  4. Nice article. You are absolutely right. Songwriters have for long been taken for granted. I request you to write about others too…Shakeel, Sahir, Majrooh, Rajinder Krishan, many many others….thanks :)

  5. A great idea for a post. Lyricists rarely receive the recognition due to them. My favourite source for old Hindi film songs on the net http://www.hamaracd.com does not even index songs according to the lyricist, although it does that for singers, music directors, film and even the actor on whom the song is filmed!

    Each song chosen by you is outstanding. I do find it odd that Raj Kapoor, the person most closely identified with him, is under-represented. Any particular reason?

    I remember reading that Shailendra left his last song ‘Jeena yahan, marna yahan’ from ‘Mera Naam Joker’ incomplete when he passed away; and it was completed by his son Shaily. These lines are supposed to be Shaily’s: ‘Kal khel mein, ham hon na hon; Gardish mein tare rahenge sada/ Bhoologe tum, bhulenge wo, par ham tumhare rahenge sada/

    Two songs that come to my mind are ‘Jaane kaise sapnon mein kho gayi ankhiyan’ from Anuradha and ‘Kisi ki muskurahaton pe ho nisaar’ from Anari. Teesri Kasam songs have already been mentioned in preceding comments.

    Thanks for reviving the memory of a great poet and human being.

    • I identify with what you’ve written about even song indexes being skewed towards people other than the lyricists. When I was transcribing these songs, I came across a couple of words which I wanted to cross-check, so I looked up a few online sites for lyrics. – And, mostly, I’d find that even a webpage that has only the lyrics for a song, lists the music director, the singer(s), and the film – but not the lyricist himself! Ironic, and sad.

      Well, two of the songs out of these ten are from Raj Kapoor’s films, and that was enough for me! (I’m not a Raj Kapoor fan). More to the point, the songs that came immediately to mind were not RK ones, but other ones – as you can see. Somehow songs like Hain sabse madhur or Mere saajan hain us paar or some of the others have a deeper impact on me than many of the songs Shailendra wrote for RK.

  6. My personal favourite in this list is Zindagi khwaab hai. It has the kind of appeal like Macbeth’s Porter Scene(which is usually cut down in production). Anyway, I’d like to add “Yeh raat bheegi bheegi” from Chori Chori. Interestingly, the lyrics of this song was once in the syllabus of Hindi Literature in JNU, for a short period! Did you deliberately give this miss because because it was co-authored by Hasrat Jaipuri? Or do you think, there wasn’t much left for Shailendra to do, after Lata, Manna Dey and Shankar Jaikishan!

    • Interestingly, the lyrics of this song was once in the syllabus of Hindi Literature in JNU, for a short period!

      Wow. That is interesting! I didn’t know that – reminds me of the fact that when I was in high school, we had Sahir’s Pighla hai sona (from Jaal) in our curriculum. But then, we were in school, not college.

      Why I gave this a miss was because what strikes me about this song is the music and the singing, not the lyrics – so your last sentence is correct. ;-)

  7. Wonderful post and a marvelous tribute to a great poet! I absolutely love Mere saajan hain us paar …, Wahan kaun hai tera…, Zindagi khwab hai …, and Tu pyar ka saagar hai… for their lyrics. I would also add Sajanre jhoot mat bolo… and Kisiki muskurahaton pe … as two of my personal favorites. Jeena yahan marna yahan … is meaningful, but it is too sorrowful for me. I will come back with more thoughts and songs later.

    • Thank you, Lalitha! Sajan re jhooth mat bolo and Kisi ki muskuraahaton pe ho nisaar were among the songs I’d thought of including in this list, but with the first, I ended up thinking it a bit too sanctimonious… and the second, I realised I liked it more for the music and Mukesh’s singing than for the words!

  8. Madhu, wonderful post as always, and a great selection – an impossible task, I know, considering his output. Love all the songs on your list – my personal favourites among them are Zindagi khwaab hai, Mera saajan hai us paar and Yeh sabse madhur woh geet.

    My other favourites?
    1. Kisi ki muskurahaton from Anadi for its philosophical tone (I’m taking a leaf out of Harvey’s book here)
    2. Ae dil na mujhse chhupa from Badal for its romanticism
    3. Ajab tori duniya from Do Bigha Zameen for its cynicism and despair (especially in the lines: parabat kaate saagar paate mahal banaaye hamne
    patthar pe bagiyaa laharaai phuul khilaae hamne
    ho ke hamaarii huyi na hamaari
    alag tori duniyaa ho more raamaa)
    4. Ajeeb dastan hai ye from Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi for its unrequited love and longing which still wishes the beloved the best in life.
    5. Dum bhar jo udhar munh phere for its inherent sensuality
    Dekh chaand ki aur musafir from Aag is a close second in this category.
    6. Duniya bananewaale from Teesri Kasam for its simple questioning – what went through the creator’s mind when he made this world?
    7. Jaago Mohan pyaare from Jagte Raho – like you, I’m not a great fan of Bhajans, but this one really touches my heart. It also helps that the lyrics are metaphorical.
    8. Kaanton se kheench ke yeh aanchal from Guide for its sheer abandon.
    9. Neend pari lori gaayen from Char Diwari – not just a lullaby, but an expression of a mother’s emotions.
    10. Tumhe yaad karte karte from Amrapali for its sheer longing…

    • Thank you, Anu – both for the appreciation, and for that fabulous list of songs! For once, I hadn’t even shortlisted any of the songs you’ve listed (are we losing our touch?!), though I did toy with the idea of including Tumhe yaad karte-karte and Ajeeb daastaan hai yeh.

      I’d completely forgotten about both Dekh chaand ki ore musaafir and Ae dil na mujhse chhupa, though I’ve seen both films. And Neend pari lori gaayein was a new one for me. Sweet! I’m not a lullaby fan, but on my shortlist was another lullaby, from Do Bigha Zameen, Aa jaa ri aa nindiya tu aa:

      • For once, I hadn’t even shortlisted any of the songs you’ve listed (are we losing our touch?!),

        :) Not really. The first seven songs on your list are on mine too. I would definitely have had Kisi ki muskurahaton pe instead of Mud mud ke na dekh for instance, and Dekh chaand ki ore would have been a definite inclusion. And instead of the Laat Saab song, it would have been Ae dil na mujhse chhupa from Badal.

        Other than that, my other recommendations were from my owm shortlist, if I ever do a post on Shailendra. :))

        • Isn’t ‘dekh chand ki ore’ (Aag) by Saraswati Kumar ‘Deepak’?
          An wonderful song nevertheless – and while Urdu shayars keep the maqtaa for the end, Deepak (intentionally or otherwise) begins with ‘kahii.n kaa diipak kahii.n kii baatii’ …

          -Amarendra

  9. Read the translations, Madhu, and I know how time-consuming that is – you’ve done a fantastic job.

    In your translation of Zindagi khwab hai, you have interpreted Ek qatra mai ka jab patthar ke honthon par pada,
    Uske seene mein bhi dil dhadka, yeh usne bhi kaha
    Kya? Zindagi khwaab hai…
    as When one drop of liquor
    fell on the lips of a stone, In its bosom too a heart began to beat
    and this is what it said:
    What? Life is a dream…

    I have always interpreted those two lines as In its bosom too a heart began to beat, or so it said. With Kya? being the singer’s (rhetorical) question. Y’know, the way we end a statement with ‘kya?’ as in ‘Right?’

    What do you think?

    • Interesting question, Anu. The reason I interpreted it as I did was because of the picturisation: Motilal wakes up a man sleeping on the pavement and sings this verse to him, and the man asks grumpily, “Kya?“, actually (or so I thought) asking what the patthar had said.

      I find it intriguing that two of the songs that have been mentioned on this web page can actually be interpreted in two ways. Shailendra was quite a wordsmith. :-)

      • sings this verse to him, and the man asks grumpily, “Kya?“, actually (or so I thought) asking what the patthar had said.

        Went back and watched the song. So the ‘kya’ is not ‘Right?’ as I thought, but exasperation – more like ‘What the he!! do you want?’ :) Nothing to do with what Motilal was singing, but the irritation of being woken up from some much-needed sleep to listen to what the man sees as nonsense – what does he need to know what a stone said when the liquour touched its lips? Does he even care?

        Or at least, that is my interpretation. :) (Maybe because I lived in Bombay for too long. I can just hear that intonation in my ears!)

        • Yes, that’s what I thought – that the “Kya? is a “What the hell do you want?!” thing. I’ve always associated this song only with the visual, so even when I’m not watching it, I’m remembering that the “kya?” is from a sleepy and irate pavement-dweller. :-)

  10. Lovely lovely list. It is indeed a very tough task to pick merely 10 songs from the many that Shailendra wrote. Yet you chose the best of the lot. :)

    The lyricist puts life in a song, in my opinion. We need to have MORE POSTS ON LYRICISTS. Are you listening Harvey and Raja?

  11. DO, what you wrote in the first para fits me like a glove. Those are exactly the steps that make me like a song. First the melody – if it touches me then I’m hooked, but the voice to go with it has to be almost parallel.
    The lyrics – honestly speaking, the only time I listen to them are when they are either too silly/crude/stupid (like several contemporary songs) or when they are fantastic and poetic/philosophical, like the pyaasa songs.

    Each and every song in the list is worthy of being in it. My special favourites being the Bandini song and the Jaagte Raho song (not sure if Motilal had a lot to do with it ;-). A special mention of the romantic Laat Saheb song too.

    A post full of great interpretations and much thought put into it.THanks :)

    • Pacifist, what you say about the Pyaasa songs (to which I’d also add Dekhi zamaane ki yaari and Waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam from Kaagaz ke Phool) are among the few songs that strike one as being superb poetry… otherwise, too many songs simply blow me away with the beauty of their music and their rendition, leaving me to discover – only after (and not necessarily always) that the lyrics are great too.

      I’m glad you enjoyed this post! Thank you. :-)

  12. Wonderful post, Madhu. And a superb selection of songs. Must be really difficult to pick 10 songs from Shailendra’s rich collection. But I’ve got to go with at least 9 of them – maybe, just maybe, not the last one. But then I don’t really know that Laatsaab song, so maybe I need to listen to it more..

    A lot of people have come up with many other good songs (he just had SO many) – I don’t think anybody has mentioned this one in the romantic songs category “tum to dil ke taar chhed kar” from Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja.

    I love the soft music of course – and Dev and Waheeda (my Waheeda! :-)). But the lyrics are simple and sweet too – like when Waheeda sings “tum ko neend aayegi tum to so hi jaaoge…kis ka le liya hai dil, ye bhi bhool jaoge…ye to keh do ek baar, khwab mein to aaoge”. How sweet is that!

    I’ve always paid attention to lyrics – you know me! :-) That is why it bothers me when I see lots of songs talked about with only reference to music director or actors involved but no reference to lyricist!!! A song is first and foremost the creation of the lyricist.

    • Thank you, Raja! Yes, finding just ten songs to put in this list was a problem; Shailendra’s body of superb work is huge.

      I’ve heard Tum toh dil ke taar chhedkar before, but not enough to pay too attention to the lyrics. Am listening to it all over again, and loving it! It’s very sweetly romantic. And that first verse is cute. :-)

  13. Great tribute to a great lyricist! It’s always difficult to pick a list of favourites from so many. I was thinking about what songs I would have on my list and it’s an almost impossible task for me. The ensuing debate and lists of personal favourites from readers after you’ve posted one of your blogs, leading to discovery and/or nostalgia is the best recognition for any artiste. Thanks to everyone for making this such an interesting blog and to you, Madhu, for initiating these discussions.

    • Thank you, Anoushka. And yes, I agree about the discussions being a lot of fun, and entailing some delightful discoveries – that is one major reason for my liking lists! I’ve also learnt so much through these posts – for instance, I didn’t know till yesterday that one of Shailendra’s songs was actually part of the syllabus at JNU!

    • Thank you, Karthik!

      Since there are, as yet, very few videos embedded in this page, let me embed the two you’ve suggested:

      Ketaki gulaab juhi:

      and Bhai bhanjana vandana (I’d never heard this one before… am listening to it right now):

      I like the fact that Shailendra invariably uses fairly commonplace, uncomplicated words that make it easy to understand – his skill lies in the way he puts those words together, and the emotions he manages to convey.

  14. Ooh, awesome list! My birthday was on August 29! Yaaay! So happy that such a great lyricist was born just a day after me many years ago! Right now I’m sitting in a half-zombie state, having not slept all night. You see, I had promised to edit some chapters for a teacher, and the backlog is HUUUGE now (30 chapters, oh God), so I had to stay up all night. To add to that, I plugged in my earphones and had fun listening to songs… and got distracted. (Note to self: Listening to Dil Deke Dekho songs while editing = inadverdently messing up EVERYTHING.) First I couldn’t stop staring at whoever the hero was – Shammi, Dev, or Rajesh, and then I tried to sing along. So now I have 11 more chapters to go and it’s almost noon. Oh God. X_x

    But enough about that. I’m not a big fan of bhajans either, and I almost forwarded the one in Kala Bazaar (:X Don’t kill me!), but I managed to get some awesome screenshots of Dev! Heeheee! I’d have chosen Khoya Khoya Chand, cause there was an awesome story behind it. S.D. apparently sent R.D. to go to Shailendra and not come back without the lyrics. So R.D. went to Shailendra’s house, and Shailendra took him to the beach. R.D. said, “Please write the lyrics already, it’s getting late!” And Shailendra looked up at the sky and exclaimed, “Khoya khoya chand, khula aasmaan!” Cute, isn’t it? :D

    And this comment took me 15 minutes because I kept going back to the Youtube video and staring at Shammi. :D I must admit, I’m really really REALLLLLY liking him now! Tumsa Nahin Dekha ~ <3

    • Well, you also share your birthday with Ingrid Bergman, so that’s something to be pleased about. :-)

      I love that story about how Khoya khoya chaand came about – hadn’t heard before! Sweet.

      P.S. Have you seen Shammi in Professor? I was reminded of that yesterday, and had to admit it’s my favourite of all his films. If only he’d been paired with somebody I really liked, rather than Kalpana, who’s all right, but nothing to write home about.

      • And Micheal Jackson! Hahahaha! And one of my friends too! :D

        I know, it’s cute, right? I wish I could have known more about this kinda stuff… get my hands on some Filmfare magazines, anything, really! But I’m not in India. :(

        Yup! I watched that, and I was scrambling to take screenshots! Shammi is soooooo handsome there! And in color too! And in “Main Chali”, with him holding the shopping bags over his shoulders and staring, OH MY GOD. I MELTED. COMPLETELY. He just looks soooooooo handsome! What can I say! What can I sayyyyyyy!

    • I’d forgotten about that one! (the songs I remember best from Raat aur Din are Dil ki girah khol do andAwara ae mere dil – I think the latter too has wonderful lyrics.

      I think this one has great poetry too. Very much in keeping with the essence of the two songs I’ve mentioned.

  15. It was indeed good that you selected a lyricist – and that too Shailendra this time. His song “Hai sabse madhur woh geet” is directly inspired from Shelly’s “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts” (To a Skylark). That is why he selected that poet’s name for his son.Many of his songs are not just film-songs, they are genuine poetry.

    He has given many”title songs” for films.

    Among his most notable songs is film Nagina’s “tune haye mere zakhm-e-jigar ko chhu liya” beautifully sung by Lata in Shanker-Jaykishan’s music. He gave his best for SJ and S D Burman but he had given good songs for such veterans like Salil Chaudhari and Roshan also.He got his Best singer’s Filmfare awards for the years 1958 and 1959 for “Ye mera diwanapan hai” (Yahudi) and “Sab kuchh sikha hamne” (Anari) respectively.

    I would put in the lilst of his memorable songs, Dharti kahe pukarke (DO Bigha Zamin), “Rahi tu mat ruk jana” (Dur ka raahi), “Poochho na kaise maine rain bitayee” and “Tere bin sune nayan hamare” (both from Meri Surat Teri Ankhen), “Haye re wo din kyun na aye” (Anuradha), “Rula kar chal diye ek din hansi bankar..”(Badshah), and his lovely lyrics for Guide. The music composed on these lyrics had a huge share of the element of poetry in the beauty of the songs. Sometimes, the song would not be as good as th epoetry, like “bahut diya denewale ne tujh ko, anchal hi na samaye to kaya kijey”. The list can be too long even if one takes only one music director like Shanker-Jaikishan who has benefited from his poetry.

    • Didn’t Shailendra also win the Filmfare Award for Main gaaoon tum so jaao from Brahmachari?

      I knew about Hain sabse madhur woh geet being very akin to To a Skylark, but hadn’t known that it was actually inspired from Shelley’s poem. Or that Shaily Shailendra is named for PB Shelley. Thank you for that bit of trivia!

      • Yes he got the third award in 1968 for the song from film Brahmachari. Though the detail about his son’s name is given by a renowned columnist, I am not certain that it is true as Shailendra’s son is not named Shelley. The other trivia he has given is about the name of Shailendra’s house: Rimzim, from the RK’s first production, the superhit Barsat! And that sounds more probable.

  16. I am one of the most serious culprits when it comes to ignoring a lyricist. Right from the school days when I became enchanted with old film music, the three identities that remained etched in my mind, were the singer, music director and the film. You deserve compliments for doing justice to the real creators. I am reminded of Javed Akhtar’s campaign for copyrights for the lyricist. A friend of mine, who is an expert on IPR, agrees that there is a case for their rights.

    I was tempted to give my own list of favourites. But there are so many that choosing ten was almost impossible.

    • Thank you, AK. I think you speak for most of us when you admit to being a serious culprit when it comes to ignoring a lyricist. I can probably name, on the tips of my fingers, songs that have attracted me first because of the words rather than the music or the singing. Come to think of it, while I can often identify the music director of a song, it’s rare that I know who wrote the words of the song.

      And I agree about copyrights for lyricists. After all, a lyricist is a poet. And if other writers – of prose, poetry, whatever – hold copyrights for their work, why not lyricists too? It seems logical…

  17. As always a great topic and great artist to remember and appreciate. Shailendra, alongwith Sahir is my favorite Hindi film lyricst so I cannot possibly come up with a top ten list. I love so many of his songs! A few that haven’t already been mentioned include:

    Baag mein kali khili from Chand aur Suraj – a wonderful evocation of expectant but still innocent youth

    Bahut diya denewaale ne tujhko from Surat aur Seerat – I think Mukesh with his unmatched sincerity may have been the best renderer of Shailendra’s simple but poignant words.

    Aa ab laut chalen from Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behit Hai – to me this song is more about home than paitriotism

    Do nainon ne jaal bichaya
    from Sanskaar – passionately romantic

    Kuch aur zamana kheta hai kuch aur zid hai mere dil ki from Chhoti Chhoti Baaten – disillusioned defiance Shailendra-style :-)

    • Thank you, Shalini, for those contributions. As I’d done for some of the other songs suggested by readers, I’ll edit your comment too, to link the songs to their Youtube videos. All except this one, which is a favourite of mine too, and which I’d certainly have included if I’d seen the film – and if I’d taken the trouble of finding out who the lyricist was! I didn’t know it was Shailendra’s. Coincidentally, I was listening to this just the other day.

  18. And I just had this hilarious conversation with a friend. She watched “Badan Pe Sitare” and it went like this:
    Me: Did you like it? :D
    Friend: Yes, it was nice, but why doesn’t the girl just walk away or stop him?
    Me: BLASPHEMY! One simply does not stop anybody singing in Rafi’s voice, and especially not Shammi! And you’re supposed to take it as the highest of high of compliments if Shammi sings a song to YOU! -slaps-
    Friend: -dodges- HAHA.
    Me: -throws chair at you like how Manoj Kumar did in Gumnaam-
    Friend: OW! That was uncalled for!
    Me: You said something blasphemous! So you deserve it! Hey… you should watch Kashmir Ki Kali. I’ll watch one of your anime episodes. Deal?
    Friend: Okay.
    Me: Okay. I’ll go get a link. DO NOT click on any of the recommendations without asking me. (I had just sent her a link to Zindagi Ek Safar)
    Friend: Ooh… what’s this? Rajesh Khanna hamming his ass off?
    Me: NONONONONNONNONO DO NOT CLICK ON THAT OH MY GOD DO NOT CLICK ON THAT. JUST. DO. NOT. CLICK. ON. THAT.
    Friend: Why, what’s that?
    Me: IF I CANNOT MUSTER UP THE COURAGE TO GO NEAR THAT, YOU SHOULD STAY AWAY FROM IT. ONE OF HIS NEWER FILMS. I DON’T WANT TO KNOW. -CRINGE-
    Friend: …Now I want to see it.
    Me: DAMN YOU DO NOT CLICK THAT. IT’LL SPOIL RAJESH’S IMAGE FOR YOU. HERE GO LISTEN TO YEH SHAAM MASTANI.

    …Yes, I’m quite crazy. :P

      • And we were watching Teesri Manzil yesterday, and the conversation was like this:

        Friend: Why does everyone wear their pants so high? (We were at “O Haseena Zufonwali”)
        Me: I dunno. Although this is the first time I’ve seen Shammi do it. I know Rajesh had these really skinny pants in Kati Patang.
        Friend: Skinny pants…?
        Me: Not what you’re thinking, but they were too long for him. So he had to wear them high. I HAVE YEH SHAAM MASTANI PANTS. YOU JELLY?
        Friend: NO ‘COS I HAVE RED PANTS AND YOU DON’T.
        Me: Fine you win. :( I want Rajesh’s Ittefaq pants! -cry-
        Friend: Ooh, the spoon in glass thing is cool.
        Me: Yes, I used to do it all the time at home! :D
        Friend: …Is that why you broke 31 glasses in one year? HOW HARD IS IT TO DO THAAAT?!
        Me: HEY. It’s hard when you’re dancing along with the music and trying to imitate Shammi.
        Friend: …You are loony.
        Me: SHUTUP. Do you know that when I pretended to be a boy I said I’d be wearing Shammi’s outfit in this song to my graduation? :D I wanted to do this song at our graduation night.
        Friend: WHAT THE- You. Are. Crazy. ARE YOU GONNA DANCE LIKE THE GIRL? HAHAHA. AND THE PROPS. HAHAHAHA.
        Me: No. I was gonna be in Shammi’s role. :D
        Friend: So that means you wanted ME to dance like that?!
        Me: …And if I say yes?
        Friend: IJHIGFDODF;L;L DAMN YOU -PUNCHES-
        Me: HEY. -GRABS STICK- IF YOU COME CLOSER I’LL HIT YOU ON THE HEAD AND YOU WILL LOSE YOUR MEMORY.
        Friend: That won’t happen.
        Me: IN FILMS IT DOES. -HUMS JEWEL THIEF SONG-
        Friend: …-sigh-

        • I rest my case. You are a nutter. :-D And your friend seems to be headed the same way. Poor girl.

          Time for a little education, now. Shammi isn’t wearing his trousers very high in O haseena zulfonwaali. What he’s wearing is a cummerbund wrapped around his waist. In some parts of the song, you can see that it shines a little (for instance, when he just enters the hall, singing). His trousers, on the other hand, are completely matte.

          • You might be right! Today in school the teacher was absent for the first period, so my friend and I went outside and started to imitate Shashi in “O Meri Sharmeeli”. The teachers were quite horrified with me jumping all around the tree and wrapping cloth over a rock and then throwing it, but it was fun. :D

            OH, SO THAT’S A CUMMERBUND. Cool. :D I need one now. -giggle- -giggle- -gigggggleeee- :D Excuse me while I go take my scarf and pretend it’s a cummerbund while wearing my black pants. :DDDDD

  19. This is quite an education, about Shailendra, about lyricists, about how people are attracted to music, and a few other issues !!! Other comments have significantly contributed to this post, and have made it a fulfilling experience. Several songs listed in here are among my favorites, and always glad to find others.
    I have said it before and I will say it again — “There is no way I can write like this”; and it is always a pleasure to come here.

    • That’s a refreshing take on the Shailendra angle, Richard! Thank you – I hadn’t even realised there were songs in which he appeared onscreen. One of the few (only?) lyricists to do so?

      I especially love Chali kaun se desh – lovely lyrics too, and the music is wonderful.

  20. Watching the Musafir song, I am struck by the fact that itinerant musician songs have vanished from our screen, perhaps because they too are nowhere to be found. Time was that no film was without one, because this was a device used to express a romantic sentiment on behalf of the hero and the heroine (presuming they were too shy to say so). CID’s leka pehla pehla pyar is a good example. Shailendra wrote the above and also another fantastic song in Halaku–dil ka na karna aitbar koi. Here it is-

    • Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve seen ‘itinerant musician’ songs in Hindi films. Offhand, I can’t recall any from the past decade or so…

      I love that song from Halaku, by the way.

  21. And incidentally, I would like to also push the case of Aawara ae mere dil, the Laxmi Chhaya version. Fun songs always remain under appreciated, but there is often an underlying message there. This one certainly has. I know Madhu mentioned it earlier, but I thought I would give it an extra plug. Besides, Laxmi Chhaya is always a pleasure to watch.

    • I am so glad you decided to give this an extra plug, Sidharth! I love this song (and must admit I like this version far better than the sad one – the beat here, and of course Laxmi Chhaya – make it one of those hard-to-beat songs). Love it.

      Incidentally, this one reminds me in some ways of Aage bhi jaane na tu: both are, on the surface, party songs that seem to be just nice, Westernised songs with pretty people dancing – but if you listen to the lyrics carefully, there are interesting philosophies there. I remember putting Aage bhi jaane na tu in my list of favourite Sahir songs.

  22. While I was hibernating all of you have moved on and I see you have reviewed Spellbound a film I love to watch time and again and you have compiled this list of Shailendra’s songs. Listing out just 10 of Shailendra’s songs is a tall order, particularly for me for I love the words of each and every song of his, invariably they strike an answering chord in my heart. But if I were to be asked to name just one song, I would unhesitatingly choose this one for I often find myself asking the duniya bananewale the same question.

  23. Thanks for this post and the translations – made very interesting reading.

    A few observations:
    1. Shailendra’s Filmfare Awards :: Shailendra won his first Filmfare for Best Lyricist in 1958 (Yahudi). Prima facie, one would wonder why it took 9 years for the great lyricist to won this award. Of course, only until one realizes that the Best Lyricist award was first given in ’58.

    2. mere saajan hai.n us paar :: Kalyani’s first love (the man who jilted her) is to travel on the ferry. She is to take the train to go meet her fiancé.
    Not broken-hearted but caught in a dilemma – which is resolved through ‘mai.n ba.ndinii piyaa kii, …’, though she’s out of jail, she’s still bound by the ties of (her first) love.

    3. zi.ndagii Kvaab hai :: ‘sab sach hai’ – can also be interpreted as ‘everything is plausible or even possible’ …

    Shailendra’s elaborate take on Kabir’s couplet of paradoxes is in ‘are waah mere maalik’ (Half Ticket).

    4. hai.n sabase madhur vo giit :: ‘jab Gam ka a.Ndheraa …’ – somehow always brings to mind the opposite thought in ‘jin raato.n kii bhor nahi.in hai, aaj aisii hii raat aa_ii’ (Door Gagan ki Chhaon Mein) , which is also notable for the use of almost the same idea/line used previously in sapano.n kii suhaanii duniyaa ko (Shikast, another expression of despair and pessimism) :: “raah kisiikii hu_ii na raushan , meraa jalanaa yuu.N hii gayaa”.

    5. kisiikii muskuraahaton pe – it’s just so difficult to leave it out from any list of Shailendra songs – only because it contains these lines that exemplify Shailendra’s life like no other –
    rishta dil se dil ke aitabaar ka …
    ki mar ke bhii kisii ko yaad aa_e.Nge …

    Thanks,
    Amarendra
    http://songsofshailendra.wordpress.com/

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