A new book by his son reveals Anand Bakshi’s struggles and successes as a lyricist
Having served in the Army, renowned lyricist Anand Bakshi valued punctuality and discipline. During his days of struggle, with work not coming in regularly, he wanted to meet music director Roshan. Each time he got an appointment, it would get cancelled. Finally, the composer called the aspiring geetkar one evening and told him to be at his house the next morning. That night it rained heavily in Bombay and the next morning there was no public transport. But Bakshi was determined to meet the music director, and walked for over three hours, from Borivili to Santa Cruz, reaching before the appointed time of 10 a.m. Impressed, Roshan gave him a chance to write the songs for the 1959 film, CID Girl.
Hindi film music fans have followed Bakshi’s work closely since 1965, especially after the songs of Jab Jab Phool Khile became a hit. Then came Farz, Milan, Aradhana, Amar Prem, Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Bobby, Dost, Ek Duuje Ke Liye, Karz, Chandni, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Taal and more.
Kamal Hassan and Rathi Agnihotri in Ek Duje Ke Liye
He was nominated for the Filmfare awards 40 times, winning on four occasions.
His son Rakesh Anand Bakshi’s book, Nagme, Kisse, Baatein, Yaadein: The Life and Lyrics of Anand Bakshi (published by Penguin Random House), speaks not only about his contribution as a lyricist, but also contains numerous anecdotes that showcase his personality. His upbringing in Rawalpindi, his days in the army, the early struggle in Mumbai, his writing style, success and family life, the book has it all. The role of his Bansiwale (Krishna) and his belief in taqdeer (destiny) and tadbeer (actions that shape destiny) are mentioned too.
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Anand Bakshi was always known for using simple words. A huge influence was lyricist D.N. Madhok. Rakesh recalls his father saying, “Madhok saab was a man of the masses. He taught me that the main aim of a lyricist should be to connect people through simple and effective words.”
On his life and career
Anand Bakshi developed his passion for writing as a teenager. He also loved to sing, and as a 19-year-old, when he watched Raj Kapoor’s Barsaat, he was fascinated by the romance in Shankar-Jaikishen’s songs. Besides Madhok, he was deeply influenced by lyricists Sahir Ludhianvi and Shailendra.
Shahrukh Khan and Kajol in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge
The book’s foreword has been written by Salim Khan, who describes Bakshi as a simple, unpretentious and sincere man, while talking also of his fear of flying and elevators. The book’s ten main chapters describe Bakshi’s life in chronological order. The despair of losing his mother early in life, the family shifting after Partition, and his first unsuccessful attempt to get work in Bombay are described vividly. During his second visit to Bombay, he waited outside actor-director Bhagwan Dada’s office, and finally got a chance to write four songs for music director Nisar Bazmi in the film, Bhala Aadmi. The film was released two years later, in 1958, before Roshan signed him on.
The role of his two mentors deserves mention. Bismil Saeedi, a poet-editor who stayed in Old Delhi, encouraged Bakshi to pursue his passion for writing. And Chhitar Mal Swaroop, a ticket collector and lover of poetry, met him at Marine Lines station in Bombay and invited him to stay after hearing of his struggle.
One of the interesting chapters is titled, ‘Inking his way to the top’ and covers the period 1959 to 1967. Beginning with Roshan’s CID Girl, it ends with Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s Milan, and shows his slow but steady rise to fame. Other important films during this period were Phool Bane Angaare and Jab Jab Phool Khile with Kalyanji-Anandji, Mr X In Bombay and Aaye Din Bahar Ke with Laxmikant-Pyarelal, and Devar with Roshan.
Stories behind songs
Rakesh also mentions stories about the making of some of these songs. For instance, ‘Saawan ka mahina’ (Milan) was created when Laxmikant and Bakshi heard a paanwaala say ‘sor’ instead of ‘shor’, and ‘Chingari koi bhadke’ (Amar Prem with R.D. Burman) was conceptualised after Bakshi threw a burning match in the rain. ‘Roop tera mastana’ (Aradhana, S.D. Burman) was created when he and a friend saw a beautiful girl in Khar in Bombay.
A scene from Amar Prem
The book contains a special section of tributes by well-known names such as Pyarelal, Lata Mangeshkar, Subhash Ghai, Gulzar and Dharmendra, besides young lyricists who have been inspired by him. Lata Mangeshkar talks about how Bakshi attended the recordings of his songs and would sometimes suggest changes in pronunciation and correct emphasis on words to make the song more effective — like he did in the Chandni song, ‘Tere mere honton pe’, where he wanted the ‘th’ in the word ‘meethe’ to be stressed.
Though Rakesh reveals many lesser-known facets of his father’s life, one wishes more songs from the 70s had been covered in detail. Though songs from Bobby, Aap Ki Kasam, Ek Duuje Ke Liye and Khalnayak are mentioned, one was keen to read about other favourites.
But, as the writer says, it would require more than one volume to cover the entire span of his father’s work. For his admirers, however, this book strikes a fine balance between Anand Bakshi the person and Anand Bakshi the lyricist.
The writer is a Mumbai-based music journalist.
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