That sad Wednesday afternoon, a little after he died, the radio sang :
“Aye mere dil kahin aur chal
gham ki duniya se dil bhar gaya
dhoondle ab koi ghar naya“.
It was Shailendra’s own lyric from `Daag’. He, too, had just told his weary heart : “I am full of the world’s sorrows. Let me seek a new home!”.
At the nursing home where he lay, we, his close friends, tried vainly to hold back our tears. Twenty years is a long time to know anyone, particularly in the film industry where “friendships” are made and broken easily, too easily.
Twenty years ago, we – a small group of people – had started from nothing. We had dreams, and nothing else, to sustain us. We had stood together, to the surprise and possibly dismay of many, and together we had worked out a common destiny. And today, without warning, death has laid an icy hand on one of us.
“Dhoond le ab koi ghar naya.”. He had done it.
For “Teesri Kasam” his own production, he had written :
“Sajan re jhoot mat bolo, khuda ke paas jana hai, na haathi hai na ghoda hai, vahaan paidal his jaana hai.”
True enough. We all have to go on foot. There will be no elephants to carry us, no horses, no Impalas. Poets have to go there when the call comes and ordinary men too.
But do the poets of the world, true creative artistes, really die?
Born and brought up a man of the people, Shailendra remained that all his life. His lyrics, like he himself, were simple, and had depth. And what a variety! He could dash off a frothy love lyric, he could compose a deeply philosophical poem. He wrote of sadness, gaiety, resignation, despair, hope.
“Ye poorab hai, poorab wale, har jaan ki keemat jaante hain“, he said, in the theme song of `Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai’. That was the pariot. “Awara hoon“, he sang, in a manner at once, light-hearted and serious. The song became world famous. And it was the same patriot who laughingly wrote “Mera joota hai Japani” in `Shri 420′.
When Shailendra joined our fold – at the time of Raj Kapoor was making “Barsaat” – it was with two lyrics he had ready – “Barsaat mein humse mile tum” and “Patli kamar hai“. He said goodbye to the R.K. Banner, again with two lyrics, for “Mera Naam Joker”. In between, from his work done not only for us – Shanker and myself – but for other composers, I can name scores of lovely lyrics, songs which have been on everyone’s lips.
By the way, Shailendra has written lyrics for all films for which my partner Shanker and I have composed the music with the exception of `College Girl’ and `Aarzoo’. In the latter film, he didn’t work with us because he was ill.
Shanker and I met Shailendra for the first time twenty years ago. Raj Kapoor introduced us at his office which was then at Famous Studios, Mahalaxmi. Shailendra had a job in the railway workshop at Parel. He wrote poetry in his spare time. One of his poems – “Jalta hai Punjab” – moved Raj Kapoor so much he wanted to put it in `Aag’. But Shailendra was then not keen on contributing lyrics to films. He later changed his mind and joined us for `Barsaat’.
The last time I ever saw him in good health was at Rajkamal studios about a month ago where I was doing some back-ground music recording. And you know what he was saying? Despite all the difficulties he had experienced in producing `Teesri Kasam’ he wanted to launch another film!
In the early days, Shailendra was living in a one room tenement at Parel. After `Barsaat’, my partner had been offered our first contract outside R.K. ( the film was Mr. Dalsukh Pancholi’s `Nagina’) and wanting to persuade Shailendra to write the lyrics, I visited him for the first time at his home. Like us, he was quite needy then, but his work caught on quickly and he became much sought after. His address had a few changes – from somewhere, Parel, to `Rim Jhim’, his own home at Khar, but all along the man himself never changed.
He was intelligent, very gentle, full of knowledge and very sensitive. His love of poetry and literature was paramount. Tagore was an early favourite as also Khalil Gibran. He was always nice company, whether you were discussing poetry or politics. He was very emotional and wept when something moved him. When he was composing a lyric, he would walk restlessly about the room. He loved writing on the beach. From the early days, he smoked incessantly – I wish he had been more careful.
He was young – only 43. Why did he have to go that early and with so much mental suffering?
In the music room of Shanker-Jaikishan at our homes where he was so welcome, there will be a void. There will be a bigger void in our hearts.
“Dhoond le ab koi ghar naya…”.
Goodbye, my friend.
`FILMFARE’ – JANUARY 20, 1967
This is courtesy : Jay Subramanyam who composed it on Jan 12, 2009 at 1:54 PM