New Delhi :
Gulzar called him the best lyricist Hindi cinema has ever produced. His songs became the most widely acknowledged lyrics of Hindustani music across the globe and yet he himself apart with his commitment to the medium.
Shailendra Kesarilal was a poet par excellence. August 30, this year, marks the 93rd birth anniversary of the lyrical genius who gave us great numbers like ‘Awara Hoon’, ‘Pyaar Hua Ikraar Hua’, ‘Ramaiya Vastavaiya’ , ‘Aaj Phir Jeene Ki’, ‘Piya Tose Naina Laage Re and ‘Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh.
Shailendra’s simple words connected with listeners beyond generations and created an impact that few could match. Let’s have a look at five of his works to celebrate his birth anniversary.
Shailendra started his career as an apprentice with Indian Railways in Matunga workshop, Mumbai (then Bombay) in 1947. He started writing poetry during these days. The filmmaker Raj Kapoor noticed Shailendra at a mushaira and offered to buy the poem he recited. Shailendra, a member of the left wing IPTA, was wary of mainstream Indian cinema and refused. However, after his wife became pregnant, Shailendra himself approached Raj Kapoor in need of money. At this time, Raj Kapoor was filming Barsaat (1949), and two of the film songs had not yet been written. For â‚¹ 500, Shailendra wrote these two songs: Patli kamar hai and Barsaat mein. The music for Barsaat was composed by Shankar-Jaikishan.
The team of Raj Kapoor, Shailendra and Shankar-Jaikishan went on to produce many other hit songs. The song ‘Awara Hoon’ from the 1951 film Awaara, written by Shailendra, became the most appreciated Hindustani film song outside India at the time.
The lyricist won one of his three Filmfare awards for ‘Sab Kuchh Sikha Humne’ song in another renowned Raj Kapoor film Anari (1959).
In 1961 Shailendra invested heavily in the production of the movie Teesri Kasam (1966), directed by Basu Bhattacharya and starring Raj Kapoor and Waheeda Rehman. The film won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film. However, the film was a commercial failure. The falling health resulting from tensions associated with film production and anxiety due to financial loss, coupled with alcohol abuse, ultimately led to his death.
Shailendra passed away in an untimely manner on December 14, 1966, leaving some his work unfinished. However, Raj Kapoor enlisted his 17-year-old son Shaily Shailendra to complete a song as a tribute to the great poet. The finished song became one of the most famous numbers from critically acclaimed hit ‘Mera Naam Joker’.