End of Po­etic Era in B’town Mu­sic!

His po­etry is ded­i­cated to the phi­los­o­phy of hu­man­ity and love. Like the philoso­pher Kabir, Neeraj too was a saintly fig­ure who did not run af­ter money and led a sim­ple life

The Day After - - CONTENTS - By DANFES

Vet­eran poet and noted lyri­cist Gopal­das Neeraj passed away on July 19th af­ter he suf­fered a se­ri­ous head in­jury. The 93- year-old who gave Hindi cin­ema nu­mer­ous ever­green hits like ‘Prem ki pu­jaari hum hain’ and ‘Rangeela re mere man main’ was a Padma Bhushan and Padma Vib­hushan re­cip­i­ent. As In­dia mourns leg­endary Neeraj, the Dayafter News, Fea­ture and Edi­to­rial Ser­vices (DANFES) tries to find out is the era of po­etry over in Bol­ly­wood mu­sic?

While search­ing an­swer to this ques­tion Team DANFES came across Hindi au­thor and poet Ashok Chakrad­har, who summed up his en­tire think­ing on Neeraj and Bol­ly­wood con­nec­tion in one liner, “Neeraj was much fa­mous be­fore Bol­ly­wood wanted him.” There is no doubt that Neeraj’s demise means the end of an era. He was the zenith of Hindi lit­er­a­ture’s oral po­etry tra­di­tion. The for­mer pro­fes­sor at Jamia Milia Is­lamia went on to add, “Neeraj took for­ward a wave of lit­er­ary cul­ture that le­gends like Hari­vansh Rai Bachchan started in the 19th cen­tury. He is cred­ited with mak­ing po­etry pop­u­lar, tak­ing it to vil­lages and com­mu­ni­ties. His as­so­ci­a­tion with Bol­ly­wood was much later and it was not Bol­ly­wood that brought him fame. Rather, be­cause he was so pop­u­lar, Bol­ly­wood sought his pres­ence. While as­so­ci­ated with the in­dus­try, he wrote close to 200 songs.”

Sug­gest­ing see­ing an artist like Neeraj in to­tal­ity and not as­so­ci­at­ing him with Bol­ly­wood Chakrad­har said, “His po­etry is ded­i­cated to the phi­los­o­phy of hu­man­ity and love. Like the philoso­pher Kabir, Neeraj too was a saintly fig­ure who did not run af­ter mone­tary gains and led a sim­ple life. As far as po­etry in to­day’s Bol­ly­wood mu­sic goes, po­etry never dies. Each time pe­riod sets its own trend and those be­come the sig­na­ture styles of that era. Ear­lier too, not ev­ery­thing was po­etry. Some­times, rhythm over­pow­ers the mu­sic and vice versa. Iron­i­cally, to­day rhythm has taken over all as­pects of mu­sic. Sub­tlety is not only ab­sent from mu­sic, but even from our thoughts and the so­ci­ety.”

Com­ment­ing upon the cur­rent sta­tus of po­etry in Bol­ly­wood mu­sic and its con­nec­tion with Neeraj Film his­to­rian Gau­tam Chin­ta­mani said, “With the ex­cep­tion of the last of the great po­ets like Gulzar, po­etry in Hindi films, with due re­spects to con­tem­po­rary lyri­cists, died a long time ago. A huge part of it has left us for­ever with Neeraj.”

In the late 1990s, Karan Jo­har ’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) played an all-im­por­tant role in Hindi cin­ema’s trans­for­ma­tion

from the an­ti­quated to cool. This was not the kind of film in which you would ex­pect to hear the word ‘san­jota’ in a song but you did. If it was sur­pris­ing to come across a line like ‘tan­hai mein dil yaadein san­jota hai ’ back then, to­day, it would prac­ti­cally be im­pos­si­ble to even imag­ine a main­stream Hindi film sound­track to fea­ture such words. In just two decades, many words have nearly been for­got­ten be­cause their usage in pow­er­ful tools like pop­u­lar Hindi cin­ema has re­duced. The death of poet-lyri­cist Gopal­das Neeraj is one such in­stance that re­minds us how much Hindi film songs have changed.

Neeraj was a breath of fresh air in the late 1960s and early 1970s. His words re­vived the beauty of songs in Hindi films. Much like the doyens of the pro­gres­sive writ­ers’ move­ment like Ma­jrooh Sul­tan­puri, Sahir Lud­hi­anvi, Shailen­dra, who changed the lex­i­con of Hindi film lyrics and made po­etry and ghazal ac­ces­si­ble to the com­mon man, Neeraj, too, with his sim­ple style that never com­pro­mised on the qual­ity gave au­di­ences a rea­son to smile. In a short span of time, Neeraj penned gems like ‘Mera mann tera pyaasa’ (Gam­bler, 1971), ‘Phoolon ke rang se’ (Prem Pu­jari, 1970) with the sub­lime line ‘San­son ki sargam, dhad­kan ki beena, sap­non ki gee­tan­jali tu mann ki gali mein mehke jo hardum aisi juhi ki kali tu’ and many more.

When the Team DANFES asked the same ques­tion from Pa­van Jha, Founder, gulzaron­line.com Jha’s re­sponded cit­ing, “With Neeraj’s death, Hindi cin­ema has lost a distinc­tive voice but era of po­etry not over.” He said that Neeraj’s demise is a great loss for In­dian lit­er­a­ture and Hindi film mu­sic. Although he was not a pro­lific lyri­cist as his con­tem­po­raries, his con­tri­bu­tion to Bol­ly­wood is highly sig­nif­i­cant as he brought a re­fresh­ing change to film songs with a unique po­etic im­agery as well as sim­pler words. He was a poet of the high­est or­der and yet a re­luc­tant lyri­cist. Neeraj found it dif­fi­cult to ad­just to the prac­tices and deemed him­self a mis­fit for the place. He re­stricted his col­lab­o­ra­tion to just a few film­mak­ers and mu­sic di­rec­tors.

Neeraj has been a sig­nif­i­cant sig­na­ture in Bol­ly­wood, but he avoided be­com­ing an in­flu­ence. “With the de­par­ture of Neeraj, Bol­ly­wood has lost a distinc­tive voice, but I don’t think it is the end of the era of po­etry. We still have vet­eran po­ets like Gulzar and Javed Akhtar ac­tively con­tribut­ing to film lyrics,” said Jha.

On the other hand, as Bol­ly­wood is now serv­ing a gen­er­a­tion of mil­len­ni­als with newer sen­si­bil­i­ties, younger lyri­cists like Swanand Kirkire, Kausar Mu­nir, Amitabh Bhat­tacharya, Varun Grover, Raj Shekhar are still hold­ing the flag for po­etry in film lyrics. With times Bol­ly­wood has changed too and Neeraj him­self has de­scribed the change so well in his po­et­ries.

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