Yogesh: The Wizard of Words
Manna Dey, the great classical master, is singing “Kuchh Aise bhi Pal Hoten Hain” in a very old program on DD Bharati. It was a time of black and white television and live singing. He is on harmonium with a small notebook opened on the harmonium. He is weaving a magic. The words of the song are so simple but meaning is very deep. I asked myself who had penned these beautiful lyrics. On searching the internet after a while I found out that lyricist is Yogesh.
Remember him or not? As we say that a man’s work speaks on his behalf, if you don’t know him then songs penned by him cannot escape anyone who is slightly inclined to music. He has written such beautiful songs as “Kahin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaye” for the movie Anand.
Google search does not yield much about the man. His is the case of forgotten genius of had not got his due. His real name is Yogesh Gaur and he belonged to Lucknow and came to Bombay where his cousin elder who was a screenplay writer in Bollywood.
In the beginning, he used to write lyrics for C-grade potboilers. But when Basu Chatterjee who made some very beautiful movies about the lives of ordinary people, discovered him, his demand rose. He mostly composed in Hindi whereas from the beginning Bollywood movies were dominated by the Urdu. His style was similar to Gulzar and many people confused that the song “Maine Tere Liye” was also written by him.
So, he mostly wrote for Basu chatterjee and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Once was a man in great demand among the slice-of-life filmmakers like Basu Chatterjee and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. His first song with Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Kahin door jab din dhal jaaye, shot the lyricist to overnight popularity and he was also told to pen another song, Zindagi kaisi yeh paheli for Anand too.
He was very popular amongst the actresses of his time. On the sets, they insisted on his reciting some “shaayari”. He was nicknamed “shaayar” due to this. Some producers were wary and thought that he distracted the actresses from the routine. Due to working in the sensible projects which were limited in numbers, his work was restricted and output was not high.
Working with Basu Chatterjee was not the easiest, says Yogesh. “Basuda was a master of his craft, but brainstorming sessions with him weren’t all that fun. While discussing a song for Rajnigandha, he would say, in true Bengali style: ‘Uske baad, Vidya wahan se aata hai.’ I had to stop him and ask if he meant heroine Vidya Sinha’s character or hero Amol Palekar’s. He got angry and said he was referring to Vidya. I didn’t bother explaining to him that he had actually mixed up the gender while speaking in Hindi,” Yogesh says. But the collaboration was a fruitful one. Yogesh wrote some of his best songs for Chatterjee, like Kai baar yunhi dekha hai from Rajnigandha and Na bole tum na maine kuch kaha from Baaton Baaton Mein.
He worked with the tough task master and perfectionist Salil Choudhary also. He recalls about his first visit to the composer “He lived in a room full of encyclopedias and stuff, and appeared oblivious to the world. I had to make repeated visits to make my presence felt.” The break, however, came a few months later. After the death of his regular collaborator, lyricist Shailendra, Chowdhury was looking for another writer. He gave Yogesh half an hour to write a song.
Their magic is visible in the songs of movie Annadata. One particular song “Guzar Jayen Din” was specially requested by Kishore Kumar to be sung by him.