Bahut kam ke main qaabil tha bahut kuchh de diya tune
Every time I start reading up on these lyricists of yesteryear, I can’t help but be amazed at their versatility. So many of them wore so many different hats with such ease and proficiency that one is left wondering – was it all done in just one lifetime? So far I have written on two personalities for GHZ, both primarily lyricists, and both extremely versatile, excelling in multiple fields in movie-making. Well, the personality featured in this episode is no different. This gentleman, popularly known as Qamar Jalalabadi, began his life on March 9th, 1917 in Jalalabad (now in Pakistan) as Om Prakash Bhandari. His father, Lala Harjasrai Bhandari, was a storekeeper for granaries in the British Raj for few years and later took care of the farms and family property in Jalalabad. Om Prakash started writing poetry at an early age though there was no legacy of music or poetry in the family. His poetic talent was recognized by another local poet in Jalalabad, who went by the takhallus “Amar”. This Amar rechristened Om Prakash Bhandari with the name/takhallus Qamar (the moon) and Qamar Sahib added Jalalabadi as per the prevalent trend of the time and Om Prakash Bhandari became Qamar Jalalabadi.
He completed his Matriculation from Kapurthala in Punjab and started a career in journalism in Lahore. He worked for papers like Daily Milap, Daily Pratap, Nirala, and Star Shahkaar. He also started gaining popularity as a shaayar. As a result he was recruited by Pancholi Arts Pictures in 1942 to write lyrics for some of the songs of their film Zamindaar whose music was being given by Ghulam Haider sahib. He wrote 4 – 5 songs for this movie and two of them were in partnership with Behzad Lakhnavi. Of these, “Duniya Mein Ghareebon Ko Aaraam Nahin Milta…” and “Mere Haal Par Bebasi Ro Rahi Hai…”, both sung by Shamshad Begum, gained a lot of popularity. This was followed by Sahara and Pagli in 1943 where again a couple of songs became reasonably popular.
In 1944 he moved to Pune from Lahore and started working for Prabhat Film Company. Here he wrote songs for films like Ramshastri , Chaand (1944), Lakharani (1945), Gokul (1946). All of these were films where he was the solo lyricist. Of these, Chaand is particularly noteworthy. It had 11 songs in varying moods ranging from comic to theatrical to romantic to pathos ridden to patriotic and many of these became particularly popular. With Chaand, he also started writing Dialogues for films, a cycle that was to repeat for dozens of films. It should be safe to say that this was the first film that gave a glimpse into the wide range of his talent as a writer.
In 1946 he moved to Bombay with erstwhile partner in Prabhat, Baburao Pai, and started working for his company “Famous Pictures”. This was a turning point in Qamar Sahib’s career. He wrote songs for films like Nargis (1946), Pyar Ki Jeet (1948) and Badi Bahan (1949) for Famous Pictures. In parallel he also worked in some “Filmistan” ventures like Eight Days (1946), Leela, Saajan, Sindoor (1947), Shaheed (1948), Shabnam (1949). There were also other outside ventures like Mirza Sahiban (1947), and Bazar (1949). Popularity of songs like “Main Kaise Kahoon Toote Hue Dil Ki Kahaani…”, “O Door Jaane Waale, Vaada Na Bhool Jaana…”, “Ik Dil Ke Tukde Hazaar Hue…”, “Koi Duniya Mein Hamaari Tarah Barbaad Na Ho…”, “Wo Paas Rahen Ya Door Rahen…”, “Bigadi Banaanewale Bigdi Banaa De…”, “Qismat Mein Bichhadnaa Thaa…”, “Aaja Tujhe Afsaana Judaaii Ka Sunaayen…”, “Rut Rangeeli Hai…”, “Kya Yahi Tera Pyaar Tha…”, “Saajan Ki Galiyan Chood Chale…”established Qamar Sahib firmly as a top-line lyricist. This was the beginning of the most charmed period of his career.
The trend continued into fifties and sixties with songs in soundtracks like Gauna, Meena Baazaar , Chhoti Bhabhi, (1950), Sanam, Sarkar, Shabistaan (1951), Anjaam (1952), Aansoo, Farmaaish, Mashooka (1953), Pahli Tareekh, Waaris (1954), Adl-e-Jehangir (1955), Rajdhani (1956), Changez Khan, Jalti Nishani (1957), Howrah Bridge, Phagun, Ragini (1958), Basant, Kalpana, Chhaliya (1960), Apsara, Passport, Pyaase Panchhii (1961), Pyar Ki Jeet (yes a second one ), Naag Devta (1962), Rustom-Sohrab, Kahin Pyar Na Ho Jaaye, Shikari, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Yeh Dil Kisko Doon (1963), Himalaya Ki God Mein, Johar Mehmood In Goa (1965), Hum Kahan Jaa Rahe Hain, Preet Na Jaane Reet, Upkaar (1967), Mahua (1969), Aansoo Aur Muskaan (1970). A sampling of songs leads us to gems like “Agar Dil Kisi Par Lutaaya Na Hota…”, “Ye Teri Kahaani Hai…”, “ Hothon Pe Kisi Ka Naam…”, “Bedard Shikari…”, “Kabhi Aise Mein Aa Jaao…”, “Hai Ye Mausam-e-Bahaar…”, “Sun Mere Saajnaa Re…”, “Aap Ne Chheen Liya Dil…”, “Dil Mein Hamaare Aag Lagaakar Chale Gaye..”, “Din Hai Suhana Aaj Pehli Taarikh Hai…”, “Raahi Matwaale…”, “Chand Sitare Karte Ishaare…”, “Ae Meri Zindagi Tujhe Dhoondhoo Kahaan…”, “Mohabbat Zinda Rehti Hai…”, “Rooth Ke Tum To Chal Diye…”, “Aaiye Meherbaan Baithiye Jaan-e-Jaan…”, “Mera Naam Chin Chin Choo..”, “Ek Pardesi Mera Dil Le Gaya…”, “Dum Dum Diga Diga Mausam Bhiga Bhiga…”, “Mere Toote Hue Dil Se Koi To Aaj Ye Pooche…”, “Teri Raahon Mein Khade Hain…”, “Tu Hai Mera Prem Devta…”, “Aji Surat Ho To Aisi Ho…”, “Phir Tumhari Yaad Aayi Ae Sanam…”, “Yeh Kaisi Ajab Daastaan Ho Gayi…”, “Yeh Rangin Mehfil Gulabi Gulabi…”, “Main To Ek Khwab Hoon Is Khwab Se Tu Pyar Na Kar…”, “Aakhiyon Ka Noor Hai Tu…”, “Deewanon Se Ye Mat Poocho…”, “Donon Ne Kiya Tha Pyar Magar…”, “Guni Jano Bhakt Jano…” etc.
He continued to write songs through the seventies though the output began to decline both in quantity and quality. By the time eighties came around, he was down to 3 – 4 soundtracks in the decade. Same was the case in the nineties. His last confirmed movie soundtrack was likely Zid or Do Funtoosh – both in 1993. Buddha Mil Gaya and Dil Tere Hawaale are also likely from the 1990s though the exact year could not be ascertained.
Considering the span of his career, Qamar Sahib worked with a wide spectrum of Music Directors – including big names and not so big names like Ghulam Haider, Govind Ram, Husnlal-Bhagatram, Pt. Amarnath, S.D. Burman, Khemchand Prakash, C. Ramachandra, Sardar Malik, Hansraj Behl, Madan Mohan, Anil Biswas, Vinod, Avinash Vyas, O.P. Nayyar, Kalyanji-Anandji, Ravi, S.D. Batish, Sudhir Phadke, Sajjad Hussein, Iqbal Qureshi, Basant Prakash, Usha Khanna, N. Dutta, S. N. Tripathi, Sonik Omi and many more. There is one movie each with Roshan, Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Shankar-Jaikishan. Major names of the era during which Qamar Sahib was most active but did not work with at all are Naushad, Chitragupt, Ghulam Mohammed, Vasant Desai, Salil Chowdhary, Khaiyyam and R. D. Burman to some extent though his rise sort of coincides with Qamar sahib’s decline.
Amongst all Qamar Sahib’s MDs, one must make a special mention of Husnlal-Bhagatram. These two gentlemen had moved to Pune from Lahore at the same time as Qamar Sahib at the invitation of D. D. Kashyap who was with Prabhat at that time. All three started working for Prabhat and with Chaand started a partnership that was good for at least 147 songs spread across at least 22 films (I may have missed one or two here and there) over a span of nineteen years – not all for Prabhat, of course. A quick look tells us that the gems these gentlemen produced together include “Ik Dil Ke Tukde Hazaar Hue…”, “O Door Jaanewale…”, “Likhnewale Ne Likh Dii…”, “Wo Paas Rahen Ya Door Rahen…”, “Do Dilon Ko Ye Duniya…”, “Chand Sitare Karte Ishaare…”, “Agar Dil Kisi Par Lutaaya Na Hota…” and many more…
The list of singers who have sung his words also reads like the who’s who of playback world. We have the expected names like Lata, Asha, Geeta, Suman, Shamshad, Suraiyya, Rafi, Mukesh, Kishore, Manna Dey, Talat, Mahendra Kapoor. But this is just the beginning, we also have Noor Jehan, S.D. Batish, Sudha Malhotra, Zeenat Begum, Zohrabai Ambalewali, Amirbai Karnataki, G.M. Durrani, Mubarak Begum, Usha Timothy, Binapani Mukherjee, Kamal Barot, S. Balbir, Sulochana Kadam, Shanta Apte, Rajkumari, Paro Devi, Lalita Deolkar, Mohantara Talpade, Surinder Kaur … From the modern times there are Hemlata, Suakshna Pandit, Alka Yagnik, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Anuradha Paudwal , Amit Kumar, SPB and the lists – both old and new – go on and on…
Within the bounds of HFM lyrics, if one ponders a little, Qamar sahib has demonstrated a proven ability to write songs of various genres and moods. Chaand was discussed before. Looking at the rest of his repertoire, one sees Qawwalis like “Hamne Unke Saamne…”, Mujras like “Rajaji Tore Raaj Mein…” and “Ghazab Kiyaa Tere Vaade Pe … – Sauten Ghar Na Jaa…”, Club Songs like “Mera Naam Chin Chin Choo…” and Ghazals like “Dil ka Qaraar Lut Chuka…” and “Khayegi Thokrein Yeh Jawani Kahaan Kahaan…”. And then there is the wide variety in moods – the romance of “Chaand Sitaare Karte Ishaare…” and “Rahi Matwaale…”, pathos of “Jab Raat Nahin Katatii…” and “Rooth Ke Tum To Chal Diye…”, Challenge of “Mohabbat Zinda Rahti Hai…”, Liveliness of “Ek Pardesi Mera Dil Le Gaya…”, Invitation of “Aaiye Meharbaan…”, Devotion of “Bana De Bana De Prabhuji…” and “Kahan Hamaare Shyaam Chale…”, Patriotism of “Watan Se Chala Hai…” and “Shaheedon Tumko Mera Salaam…” , not to mention comedy which was the mood Qamar sahib was considered an expert of.
In fact, towards 1970s there were movies where he was called upon to pen only the comic relief numbers while other lyricists wrote most of the other songs. Cases in point are “Mere Mehboob Mujhko Tu Itna Bataa Main Kunwaaraa Maroongaa Ya Shaadishudaa…” from Haseena Maan Jaayegi (1968 – he had one more song here though), “Oh Haseenon…Meri Lottery Lag Jaane Waali Hai…” from Holi Aayii Re (1970) where all other songs were by Indeevar, and “He Re Rama Raam Qasam Kaisaa Aayaa Ii Jamaanaa…” from Ek Haseena Do Deewaane (1972) etc. Now, Qamar Sahib was also a “timely” lyricist. There are two examples I would like to cite here. In 1946, he wrote a song “Hum Todenge Bandhan Azaad Honge…” in a movie Gokul. That was ostensibly a song set in Kamsa’s jails. If one listens to it, it is amply clear that it’s a call to the pre-independent nation, barely disguised. Stronger examples of his timeliness and even satire are seen in his “comic” songs. “He Re Rama…” is a clear comment on pseudo-feminism while the song that takes the cake is “Gunijanon, Bhaktjanon…” from Ansoo Aur Muskaan (1970) – the song starts as a bhajan professedly, and then gets really interesting and becomes a comment on fraudulent Godmen and Sadhus and their tendency to seduce women (rings a bell? Sounds relevant even today? ) – a sadhu in the middle of a bhajan is enamored by a beautiful woman and mouths:
जय गोविन्दम जय गोपालम
दुनिया करती रूप की भक्ति कैसी माया-रूप रे
अरे हम तो उसके भक्त हैं भक्तों जिसने बनाया रूप रे
(सुन्दर नारी प्रीतम प्यारी) -२ छवि दिखलाए
रूप नारायण की जय जय बोलो बोलो
जगद नारायण को छोड़ो रे
When pulled by his chelas and in face of public discomfort, comes back to
हाँ हाँ जगद नारायण की जय जय बोलो बोलो
रूप नारायण को छोड़ो रे
Then the song becomes a comment on the status given to film stars by our hero-worshiping public.
जय गोविन्दम जय गोपालम -२
सुनो-सुनो चल-चित्रम की कथा सुनाए
कथा सुनाए भक्त किशोरम
ब्र्ह्माण्डे कोटि सितारम पृथ्वी पर भी अनेक सितारम
अरे आशीर्वादम अशोककुमारम
पृथ्वीपुत्रम राजकपूरम शम्मीकपूरम शशीकपूरम
रामम श्यामम दिलीपकुमारम पूरबपश्चिम मनोजकुमारम
अरे प्रेमपुजारी देवानन्दम
रूपपुजारी आई. एस. जौहरम
अरे नीलमकमलम राजकुमारम
यादम यादम सुनीलदत्तम
अरे इत्तेफ़ाक़म राजेशखन्नम जय जानी राजेन्द्रनाथम
उछलमकूदम जय महमूदम
अरे स्वर्ग लोक में एक है इन्द्र
अरे पृथ्वी का रे तीन हैं इन्द्र
अरे जय जितेन्द्र जय धर्मेन्द्र जय-जय-जय हो जय राजेन्द्र
And then a comment on how these film stars run after money only and commit Income Tax frauds – IT Raids were big deal in the seventies
जगत नारायण को छोड़ के सन्तों
नगद नारायण के सब हैं यारम
इन सबके पीछे अरे पड़ गया इन्कम टैक्सम
All of these are handled in a light manner in the perfect guise of comedy and frankly end result is quite funny in all the cases, bearing a testament to his pen’s wit, wisdom and repartee.
As stated in the beginning, Qamar Sahib was a fairly versatile, multi-talented gent. It is estimated that he was associated with about 166 films. He wrote lyrics for about 156 films with around 700 or so songs, dialogues for about 41 films like already mentioned Chaand, Baazaar, Badi Bahan, Shabnam, Durgesh Nandini, Phagun, Basant, etc., screenplay for a few films like Ujala, Singapore, Meri Surat Teri Aankhen, etc., and story for some films like Shart, Ansoo, Chhoti Bhabhi, etc. He also produced two films Chhoti Bhabhi in 1950 and Ansoo in 1953. He was also one of three chief assistant directors of a movie called Gyaniji in 1977.
Outside of HFM, Qamar Sahib tried his hand in Punjabi movies also and wrote lyrics for at least some like Sassi-Punnu in 1982. He also wrote some songs for T.V. Serial “The Sword Of Tipu Sultan”.
Besides this, Qamar Sahib was also a mushayaraa regular for a while. His daughter, Subhashini Swar, is in possession of a number of written non-film ghazals and various personal recordings of the recitation of his poems in his own voice. She plans to get those published and get a CD released sometime soon. Here is a she’r as a sample of the thought process of this poet outside of the Hindi Film Lyrics world.
तदबीर से तो अपनी बड़ी दोस्ती रही
तक़दीर ने सुलूक कुछ अच्छा नहीं किया
On the personal front, Qamar Sahib was a staunch family man and was far more content spending time with his wife and family of four girls and three boys rather than be out partying, recounts his daughter. She further recalls that he was deeply religious and his day began with daily prayers. According to her blog, some of his favorite people were poet Qateel Shifai, Ameen Sayani, Kalyanji and Anandji, as well as O.P Nayyar who visited him some time before his demise, Music Composer S.D Batish, C.L Kavish, D.D Kashyap etc. From his past associations he remembered G.Damle of Prabhat Film Company, Dattaram Pai of Filmistan, Babubhai Mitra, Husnlal-Bhagatram and S.Mukherji the most as they had been a significant part of his heyday as a lyricist.
After living a full life, Qamar Sahib succumbed to old age and Diabetes on January 9th, 2003 at the age of 86. Though he is no more, he has left behind a rich legacy of unforgettable songs that will keep him alive in the memories of Hindi Film Music lovers forever.
1. Hindi Filmon ke Geetkaar – Anil Bhargav
5. Hindi Film Geet Kosh – Harminder Singh Hamraaz
1. Ms. Subhashini Swar for answering some questions and clarifying some ambiguities in data.
2. Apoorv Moghe for giving me the initial compilation of Qamar Sahib’s filmography. That provided me an excellent start and saved some hours of painful research.