Yogesh – Simplicity Defined
By Archana gupta,
(Read ***Hindi translation*** )
सुनें : ‘रजनीगंधा’ की महक लिए योगेश को
There is so much information, so easily available about our Living Legend of the month, Yogeshji, that I will try to present the basic background information as succinctly as possible without compromising the quality of the end result…
Yogeshji originally hailed from Lucknow. His father, Mr. Than Singh Gaud, was an engineer. After his father’s demise, a 17 year old Yogeshji, an only son out of three children, moved to Bombay in 1961 in search of employment along with his childhood friend, Mr. Satyaprakash. He had a deep-rooted interest in poetry writing but had not thought of making it his vocation at all. His cousin, Mr. Brajendra Gaud, was already in Bombay and was fairly well established as a writer in the industry. Yogeshji was not very well-received by his cousin and his pride was hurt. On the insistence of his friend, he decided to establish himself independently in film line. He had no background, training, experience or even any exposure at all in any discipline of film-making. He started expressing his thoughts and feelings in poems while looking to fulfill his goal of establishing himself in films. He was then introduced to Mr. Robin Banerjee working with whom he learnt that the tune for a film song is composed first and then the words are written to fit the same meter. So he wrote a few songs based on Robin Banerjee’s tunes and gave them to Mr. Banerjee. It is thus not incorrect to state that time and circumstances turned Yogeshji into a lyricist but his ultimate goal of success in films was far from realization at this point.
In 1962, six of his songs written on Robin Banerjee’s tunes were used for a movie called “Sakhi Robin”. Of these, one song “Tum jo aao to pyaar aa jaaye” became fairly popular. For next 7-8 years, he wrote some lovely songs for small budget stunt films where neither the films nor soundtracks gained any traction. These B & C grade movies included “Junglee Raja”, “Rocket Tarzen” (’63), “Krishnaavtaar”, “Marvel Man”, “Tarzen and Delilah” (’64), “Adventures of Robinhood” (’65), “Husn Ka Ghulam”, “Rustom Kaun”, “Spy in Goa”, “Tarzen Ki Mahbooba” (’66), “Ek Raat” (’67), “Lutera aur Jaadugar” (’68), and “S.O.S. Jasoos 007” (’69). Robin Banerjee was the Music Director for many of these ventures. The 1967 release “Ek Raat” also featured a song sung by Sh. Mohammed Rafi sahib, “Sau baar banaa kar maalik ne sau baar mitaaya hoge” that gained some popularity but on the whole, success still eluded him.
In the picture: Sitting: Yogeshji, wife Sundariji and grandson Yash Standing left to right: Dhananjay (son-in-law), Late sister Beenaji, Daughter Tulika, Daughter Divya, and son Anurag
Yogeshji’s fortune took a distinct turn for the better when he came in contact with the renowned Music Director, Sh. Salil Chowdhury, via Ms. Sabita Banerjee (who later became Mrs. Salil Chowdhury). In 1968-69, Salil Da recoded a couple of songs penned by Yogeshji but as the misfortune would have it, the films got canned on some pre-text or the other. Finally, in 1970, Salil Da gave Yogeshji a chance to write songs for a big banner film – “Anand”.
Yogeshji also lived up to the expectations and demonstrated his abilities as a lyricist by writing meaningful and beautiful sounding lyrics of two immortal numbers – “Zindagi kaisi hai paheli haay…” and “Kahin door jab din dhal jaaye…” (*). Both the songs became extremely popular and the rest, as they say, is history. “Anand” marked the beginning of the most successful phase of Yogeshji’s career as a lyricist.
It also was the start of the most significant and fruitful partnership of this lyricist’s career that spanned well over a decade and produced lovely, melodious and popular songs for films like “Anand “(’70), “Annadaata”, “Anokha Daan”, “Mere Bhaiya” (’72), “Rajnigandha” (’74), “Chhoti Si Baat” (’75), “Anandmahal”, “Minoo” (’77), “Jeena Yahan” (’79), “Chemmeen Lehren”, “Naani Maa”, “Room No. 203” (’80), “Agni Pareeksha” (’81) et. The last film for this successful partnership was “Akhiri Badla” in 1988. The fact that as soon as one thinks of Yogeshji, the first few songs that come to mind are all by this partnership, is a testimony to their success and the mark that they made together.
The seventies indeed proved to be a golden decade for Yogeshji. The other most noteworthy music directors that collaborated a lot with Yogeshji during this period were the Burmans – both father and son. He did mere two films with SDB – “Mili” and “Us Paar”, but the listeners still remember the songs very readily. With RD Burman, his association was about eight movies long amongst which soundtracks of “Chala Murari Hero Banane” (’77), “Hamare-Tumhare”, “Manzil” (’79) are considered more successful. In this decade, he also produced some really beautiful songs in partnership with Usha Khanna and Rajesh Roshan. Some of the other music-directors that he worked with are Suresh Kumar, Surinder Kohli, Vijay Raghav Rao, Bhappi Lahiri, Vasant Desai, Bhupinder Soni, Meena Mangeshkar, Shyamal Mitra, Vanraj Bhatia, Kalyanji-Anandji, etc.
As a lyricist, Yogeshji has remained active till as late as 2009, though he had a quiet period from 1998 – 2002 with no releases at all during that time. During his illustrious career, he also got the opportunity to write words to the tunes of the greats like Hemant Da (“Do Ladke, donon kadke” ’78), Mr. C. Ramachandra (“Toofani Takkar” ’78) and Mr. Madan Mohan (“Chaalbaaz”, ’80). Amongst the newer Music directors, he has worked with Nikhil-Vinay, Annu Malik, Aadesh Srivaastav, and Dilip Sen- Sameer Sen, etc. Sanjoy Chowdhury, son of Sh. Salil Chowdhury, is the MD of “Suno Na”, Yogeshji’s last film, to date, as a lyricist. Chowdhury family’s non-film presentation, “Generations”, also features songs by Yogeshji.
Two film-directors who have undoubtedly contributed non-trivially to Yogeshji’s success are Mr. Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Mr. Basu Chatterjee. While he penned soul-stirring numbers for Hrishi Da in outstanding films like “Anand”, “Mili”, Rang-Birangi” etc, his output with Basu Da is no less impressive and includes euphonious songs from movies like “Rajnigandha”, “Chhoti si Baat”, “Baaton Baaton mein”, “Priyatamaa”, “Dillagi”, “Shauqeen”, “Manzil”, etc. Infact, for most part, Yogeshji’s most remarkable, memorable and inspired creations belong to the films of these two directors. So it is completely fair to state that these two men brought out the best in Yogeshji.
So far, Yogeshji has written about 350 songs for about 100 odd films. Other than film and non-film songs, he is also credited with penning title songs for a variety of T.V. serials as well as jingles for Ad Films.
So far we have talked about basic facts and figures without which no profile or career sketch can be considered complete. Lets now explore a little more about Yogeshji’s mastery over his craft and his unique lyric-writing style, which actually is the crux of this whole discussion. As soon as I hear his name, a number of songs inevitably rush to my mind immediately. Afterall, I have spent my formative childhood period during his golden era and have heard his creations endlessly on radio and Doordarshan (think Chitrahaar). When I first thought about writing about Yogeshji, and spent a couple of moments reflecting on his writing style and its distinctiveness, a couple of thoughts instantaneously flashed through my mind. His defining trait is Simplicity – both in terms of language and for most part the thoughts as well. Add to that, the ability to present perplexing subjects dealing with emotional predicaments in seemingly effortless and lucid fashion. And these attributes are apparent in many of his songs.
Let us consider language first. In an era dominated by Urdu words in lyrics, this lyricist chose to write songs in simple, chaste and beautiful Hindi. His expressions were not difficult but the word selection did tend to favor more refined or pure words. He used elegant, meaningful yet easily understandable imagery in his expressions with enviable spontaneity and eloquence. “Anuraagi man”, Man ki seemarekha”, “Madhur geet gaate dharti-gagan”, “avgun aur durgunon ka dekha jaana”, “bojhal saansen”, “ghanii uljhan”, “raat ke gahre sannaate”, “sapnon kaa darpan”, “din suhaanaa, mausam salonaa”, “albelaa geet”, “bandhan ka sukh” और “Saajan ka adhikaar”, are some Yogeshji’s very graceful expressions that are instantly recognizable and which most of us can readily associate with the correct songs that they are drawn from. Here, it is appropriate to mention that Yogeshji gives credit for his very poetic lyric-writing style to his association with Salil Da. According to him, Salil Da himself was such an accomplished poet that using lose lyrics/words for his compositions was an absolute No-no. The words had to measure up to a certain standard. Over time, these songs became so popular that this writing style became Yogeshji’s recognized trademark and became a general expectation from him.
Let us move on to the simplicity of thoughts now and the ability to present simple thoughts in beautiful, heart-warming terms. In this context, the song that first comes to mind is one that was supposedly not even written for the movie that it finally appeared in. It was actually written for a Basu Bhattacharya film that got canned. It was bought by L.B. Lachhman but Hrishi Da liked it so much that Rajesh Khanna , Salil Da and Hrishikesh Mukherjee all repeatedly requested and convinced LB Lachhman to give that song up. The song in questions was finally used in Anand – yes, the reference is to “Kahin door jab din dhal jaaye…”.
If we examine the words, the only sentiment expressed in the entire song (with the possible exception of one antaraa) by the hero/singer is that of missing someone. The expressions used to convey this feeling take various forms like “Mere khayaalon ke aangan mein koi sapnon ke deep jalaaye”, “Machal ke, pyaar se chal ke chhue koi mujhe par nazar na aaye”, and then an imagery of a lost dream is used to say “Ye mere sapne, yahi to hain apne, mujhse judaa na honge inke ye saaye” – the same basic thought but the elucidation is so exquisite that the song takes on almost sublime proportions. The remaining antaraa is cleverly used to reinforce Anand’s plight as well as describe his emotional bond with other characters.
“Kahin to ye dil kabhi, mil nahin paate
Kahin se nikal aayen janmon ke naate
Ghani thi uljhan, bairii apnaa man
Apna hi ho ke sahe dard paraaye, dard paraaye”
Yogeshji states that he penned the above lines in honor of his relationship with his friend Sh. Satyaprakashji.
The second song that I would like to talk about today, also deals with the same emotion – that of missing someone. Though its style of articulation is different, it is no less beautiful or effective. Yes, the song under question is “Na jaane kyun hota hai yun zindagi ke saath” from the movie “Chhoti si Baat”. This song describes the heroine’s mental state in plain and straight words. Here, she is simply used to meeting the hero every day – its just a habit since he started pursuing her and following her around predictably – neither of them has expressed their love to each other and the lady hasn’t even admitted it to herself before this juncture, AFAIR. Now one day, Mr. Hero quietly disappears. At this point, this song is picturized as background song to illustrate our heroine’s exploration of her own psyche to figure out the cause of her restlessness and anxiety when he remains missing. Other than the mukhda that plainly states the crux of the issue of missing someone you didn’t even think you will miss, the words chosen to bring her emotions to the fore are “Jo anjaan pal, dhal gaye kal, aaj vo rang badal badal, man ko machal machal rahe hain chhal, na jaane kyun vo anjaan pal, saje bina mere nayanon mein toote re sapnon ke mahal”. And then in the next antara, she actually has decided what his place in her life is, rest is stating the obvious – “Vahii hai dagar, vahii hai safar, hai nahin paas mere magar, ab mera hamsafar, idhar-udhar dhoondhe nazar, vahi hai dagar, kahan gayiin shaamen madbhari, mere vo din gaye kidhar”. I’ll leave you to decide if there could be more compelling words than “saje bina mere nayanon mein toote re sapnon ke mahal” to express a love whose first realization comes hand in hand with its supposed loss?
Talking of first expression of love reminds me of another song, this one from the movie “Manzil” – “Rimjhim gire saawan, sulag sulag jaaye man”. This song also manages to convey a certain degree of sensuousness without the words ever becoming over-explicit or crossing any bounds of decent expression. The poetic phrases employed to this effect are “Bheege mausam mein lagi agan” , “Bheega aanchal”, “Dahkaa saawan”, and “Bahkaa mausam” etc. The oft expressed “inability to sleep on a lonely, rainy night” finds Yogeshji whimsically delivering the lines “Jab ghunghruon si bajatii hain boonden, armaan hamaare palken na moonden”. And the hesitation that one felt (yes in a different era – not in today’s times) in admitting this new-found love in front of family, friends and society in general is beautifully communicated via “Mahfil mein kaise kah den kisee se, dil bandh rahaa hai kis ajnabii se” – is it possible to find more apt or more ingenious words to convey the same? Hopefully, it is obvious that this song is not as simple in meaning and intent as it may appear on casual hearing and the words are actually very well chosen.
Lets explore this third distinctive characteristic of Yogeshji’s poetic/lyrical style – ability, to express complex emotional issues simply yet effectively, further. In my opinion, the one song that personifies this trait is “Kai baar yuun bhi dekha hai…” from Rajnigandha. This background song is used to depict the mental state of the heroine, Deepa, who is disconcerted by her simultaneous attraction to two men in her life. If one pays a little attention to the lyrics, the lady’s dilemma becomes very apparent. In the opening lines themselves, the lyricist clearly indicates that there is a contention between the heart and mind of the character by use of words “Ye jo man ki seemarekha hai, man todne lagtaa hai” and then “anjaanii aas” and “anjaani pyaas” of the heart that the mind seemingly fails to understand.
The head is perhaps trying to evaluate the heart’s desires within the bounds of socially acceptable norms and finding them at odds with what makes sense. In the first stanza, the lyricist has cleverly hinted at the impasse using flowers as symbols when he says “Jeevan ki raahon mein jo khile hain phool phool muskuraake, kaun sa phool churaake, rakh loon man mein sajaa ke” while in the second one, he clearly states the whole predicament as “Uljhan ye, jaanoon na suljhaaoon kaise, kuchh samajh na paaoon, kisko meet banaaoon, kiskii preet bhulaaoon”. This single song actually zeroes in on the core issue of the movie with such precision. And that, to me, is the irrefutable evidence of this lyricist’s complete command over his craft.
Other than sentimental songs, Yogeshji also has some immortal creations in Philosophical category. The one song that really stands out in this category is “Zindagi kaisi hai paheli hai…” from the movie “Anand”. This song brings to fore the fleeting nature of life, its ever changing character and uncertainty after death. The words chosen here are “Zindagi… kaisii hai paheli haaye, kabhi to hansaaye, kabhi ye rulaaye…”, “ek din sapnon ka raahii, chalaa jaaye sapnon se aage kahaan…”. And the complete last stanza is extremely thought provoking – “Jinhonen sajaaye yahaan mele, such-dukh sang sang jhele, vahii chunkar khaamoshi, yuun chale jaayen akele kahaan”. It is rare for me to listen to these words dry-eyed – what bigger accolade can be there for the lyricist than this? Yogeshji told that this was a song that was literally given to him to write due to extreme pressure exerted on Hrishi Da by Lachhmanji. Salil da by mistake asked Yogeshji to write a song for Annadaata on a tune that was already used in Anand. When the situation became clear, Lachhmanji insisted that Yogeshji be given a second song in Anand instead. Initial plan was to have this song play during opening credits but Rajesh Khanna liked it so much that he insisted that it be picturized on him. And as luck would have it, a song that was not even supposed to be written became one of the key songs that are considered prime representation of this lyricist’s repertoire.
These distinctive traits of Yogeshji’s style are evident in many other songs including “Rajnigandha phool tumhaare…”, “Aaye tum yaad mujhe…”, “Badi sooni sooni hai…”, “Koi roko na deewane ko…”, “Guzar jaaye din…”, “Kabhi kuchh pal jeevan ke…”, “Hum aur tum the saathi…”, “Nis din, nis din…”, “Nain hamaare, saanjh sakhaare…”, “Kahaan tak ye man ko andhere challenge…”, “Ye jab se hui hai jiya ki chori…”, etc.
Over the last few days, re-listening to all the familiar songs of Yogeshji while paying close attention, revealed some interesting trivia. Its very clear that basically Yogeshji forte is poetry addressing human emotions especially love – that is where most of his songs are focused. He also seems to be fascinated by dreams possibly because of the well accepted correlation between dreams/daydreams and the state of being in love. Whatever the reason, words like “Sapne”, “swapn” and “khwaab” find a mention in many a songs penned by him.
Lets look at a few other than “Kahin door jab din dhal jaaye…”, “Zindagii kaisi hai paheli haaye…”, “Na jaane kyun hota hai…” references in which we have already discussed. We find a “dream” reference as “Jis pal nainon mein sapna tera aaye” in “Aaye tum yaad mujhe…”, “Hamaare-tumhaare sapne jo sach hue the, thaamen hain mera haath” in “Hum aur tum the saathi…”, “Khwaab mere ho gaye rangeen” in “Guzar jaaye din…”, “Umar ke safar mein jise jo yahaan bhaaye, usii ke sapnon mein ye man rang jaaye” in “Koi roko na deewane ko…”, “Mainen kahaa sapnon se sajo, to vo muskura ke saj gaye” in “Mainen kahaa phoolon se…”, “Tere sang dekhe the jo sapne haseen” in “Man kare yaad vo din…”, “Mujhmen aise tum samaaye, mere sapne muskuraaye” in “Man chaahe mehndi rachaa loon…”, “Kaise dekhen sapne nayan” in “Rim-jhim gire saawan…”, “Nain hamaare saanjh sakhaare, dekhen laakhon sapne” in “Nain hamaare…”, “Sapna dekhen mere khoye khoye naina, mitwaa mere, aa tu bhi seekh le sapne dekhnaa” in “Ni sa, ga ma pa ni, sa re ga, aa aa re mitwaa…”, “Lagtaa hai honge nahin sapne ye poore mere” in “Raaton ke saaye ghane…”, “Har pal meri in aankhon mein, bas rahte hain sapne unke” in “Rajnigandhaa phool tumhaare…” etc. Dreams find a mention even in his non-film presentations, a case in point is “Chubhane lagtaa hai saanson mein bikhare sapnon ka har darpan” in “Kuchh aise bhi pal hote hain…”.
By the way, he also tends to use “Man” and “Nayan” fairly frequently. The first 7-8 years of his career saw him using some Urdu words also before he found and settled into his particular style. The last decade has seen a sharp decline in the quality of lyrics all round and public has generally stopped paying much attention to them. This decline is somewhat noticeable in Yogeshji’s output as well but sense of decorum is still very visible in his creations. In all honesty, Yogeshji can’t be called a very versatile lyricist but he is certainly a master of his niche. In these changing times, his popularity has certainly declined but the songs he penned in seventies still get the appreciation and recognition that they are worthy of.
There are 3-4 films in the pipeline for which Yogeshji is writing the song lyrics. One of these, “Ye Deewanagi” is almost ready while others are work in progress.
On Family front, Yogeshji is a proud father of two daughters and a son. All his children are married and he lives with his son and daughter-in-law in Mumbai. When I first spoke to him, he was excitedly waiting the arrival of a grandchild. When I spoke to him a few days later, he had become a proud baba of a little grand-daughter. We heartily congratulate him and his family and wish their new arrival all the best in life.
Finally, I will only pray for a long and healthy life for Yogeshji and hope that he continues to pen not only film but non-film songs and poems as well.
1. A conversation with Yogeshji conducted in January 2013
2. “Hindi Filmon ke Geetkaar” by Mr. Anil Bhargav
1. Mr. Apoorv Moghe – For sharing his painstakingly compiled list of Yogeshji’s Film songs which saved me hours of research
2. Mr. Arun Mudgal – For putting me in touch with Yogeshji and putting in a word with him – Big Thank You…
3. Mr. Aditya Pant – For Reviewing both the original Hindi write-up and its English translation
4. Mr. Shyam Uttarwar – For providing me the opportunity to write about one of my favorite lyricists