Majrooh Sultanpuri's 21st death anniversary: Remembering the legend, activist, wordsmith
Majrooh Sultanpuri, born as Asrar ul Hasan Khan, donned many hats like that of a poet, writer, lyricist and activist. Remembered for the lyrics of poignant songs like O Mere Dil ke Chain, Ek Din Bik Jayega and many others, he'll always hold a special place in the hearts of music lovers. On his 21st death anniversary, we pay homage to the celebrated logophile.
When jumping from medical practice to pursue writing proved right
After attending a madrasa, he enrolled in a 7-year course to study Dars-e-Nizami (religious affairs), Arabic and Persian. A young Sultanpuri then pursued a course in Unani medicine, and eventually started practicing as a hakim. Struggling in it, he resorted to Urdu poetry. When he recited one of his ghazals at a mushaira, the audience reception made him confident enough to quit his practice.
Sultanpuri had declined his first film offer to write initially
With time, his poetry reached a mushaira in then-Bombay, which impressed filmmaker AR Kardar, who offered Sultanpuri a film. The young lad declined, because he disliked Bollywood. Famous poet Jigar Moradabadi stepped in, and persuaded the 26-year-old. Sultanpuri eventually agreed and Shahjehan marked his debut.
Has written lyrics for 74 films composed by RD Burman
His illustrious career lasted over five decades, which had him joining hands with many of the greats. From the Burmans, OP Nayyar, Rajesh Roshan to Anand-Milind and Jatin-Lalit in the later years, his beautiful words have adorned many of their tunes. He and RD Burman have worked for a solid 74 films, with Teesri Manzil being the most notable of their collaborations.
When he recited poem against then-PM Nehru, and got jailed
Even though he was a notable lyricist, Sultanpuri didn't remain boxed within that identity. The Left-leaning wordsmith was an active member of the Progressive Writers' Movement. At a meeting organized for mill workers, he recited a poem written against then PM Jawaharlal Nehru. After refusing to apologize, he was jailed for two years, along with Balraj Sahni, but he kept writing inside prison too.
He had also protested the arrest of Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Writer of revolutionary couplets like "Main akela hi chala tha janib-e-manzil magar, Log saath aate gaye aur karvan banta gaya," he even attended a meeting to protest against the arrests of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Sajjad Zahir and others in the Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case in Pakistan.
He is the first lyricist to win Dadasaheb Phalke Award
Even though he irked authorities repeatedly, they couldn't ignore his powerful words. Honoring the legend he was, Sultanpuri was given the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke award in 1993, becoming the first lyricist to earn that prize. In 2013, a commemorative stamp was also issued on the poet, who passed away at the age of 80. Sultanpur's civic body also built a garden in his memory.