Shiv Kumar Batalvi: Master of Metaphor

In the Punjabi literature, the name of Shiv Kumar Batalvi stands out amongst the poets. He was the master of metaphor. He drew his metaphors from the rural life of Punjab, animals, birds, farming, Ramayan, Mahabharat, Guru Granth Sahib and the Patwaris and quarrels about the land. As with all gifted poets, he had keen eye to observe the life around him. This closeness to the soil may have been the effect of his father being the Land officer.

His poetry expressed the anguish and helplessness of the downtrodden, oppression of the women in the male dominated society.  The epic “Luna” as narrated by him is the fitting example of the latter. Luna, daughter of poor man was forced to marry the King who was like her father in the years and she was just a young woman. The king who had a son by his another wife was just about the same age as Luna. Luna, naturally chanced to see him and developed a soft corner for him. A society which was intolerant to women freedom and equality labelled her a ignoble and characterless woman. The story was rewritten by Shiv, who questioned such insults to her and instead asked why the society never raised a finger at the king for marrying a girl the age of his daughter with poverty and beauty as her only faults.

He never compromised about his poetry in his life. He wrote for some films also but poems were already written by him and these were adopted in the films. Many of his poems became the anthem of the youth in Punjab and even today no upcoming serious Punjabi singers is satisfied till he renders some poetry of Shiv. The last in this line is the singer Rabbi Gill who sang the sufi song of Baba Bulleh Shah namely “Bulla ki Jana main Kaun” and the song became a rage. Other prominent singers who have sung the poetry of Shiv are Jagjit Singh, Surinder Kaur, Asa Singh Mastana, Mohamad Rafi and Mohinder Kapoor.

He fell in love with a girl belonging to Sikh community. The girl was married off to someone else by her father. Heart broken, Shiv resorted to fatalism and turned to the drinking. Many of his poems reflect the chasm between rich and poor and helplessness. He went away so soon and deprived us more of beautiful literature.

Anand Bakshi: Master of Simplicity

One lyricist dominated the Hindi films scene as no one has done before and after till yet. His name was Anand Bakshi. From seventies to the end of 2nd millennium, he penned innumerable songs for Hindi films. So many of his songs were instant hits. The secret lies, I think, in simple words and day to day human chat which touched the chords in simple folks. Many songs were describing the simple dialogues between two lovers on the trivial things like color of bangles and clothes. It may be due to the fact that he was a Punjabi and simplicity of the land found an outlet in his songs. It is also a fact that many of his song had their echoes in Pakistani Punjabi songs. This does not mean he could not write the serious songs. He was able to express the sentiments in simple words as against the difficult style of many of his contemporaries like Sahir Ludhiyanvi and Shakeel whose poetical standard was much higher.

Like so many Indians who bore the trauma of partition and had to leave their established homes in the Pakistan, Bakshi’s parents had migrated to Lucknow after partition and rebuild their lives. Many of the migrants were wise and foresaw that East Punjab which is now the Punjab state in India cannot accommodate all the migrants and besides that East Punjab had its economy based almost entirely on agriculture and was inferior in many aspects to its sibling Punjab which was then West Punjab. The land there was more fertile, weather was better and most of the rivers passed through that area. Then there were industries and education centres. So these people fanned out and settled in big cities like Delhi, Dehradun, parts of Hariyana and cities like Kanpur, Lucknow and Bariely in Uttar Pradesh. Being the diligent they have once again rebuild their lives and even surpassed the original standards. They have also become cleverer due to hindsight.

Anand Bakshi wrote songs and poems when he served in the Indian Army. His heart was set on making it big in the Hindi cinema. After leaving the job, he resolutely stayed and struggled in the filmdom and when chance came became the most prolific song writer. He was nominated 20 times for best song writer and won the prize for 4 times.

He also wanted to sing. If you are a lyricist and your songs are being sung by so many singers, then you must also be thinking of trying to sing what you have written. He only got 1 chance to sing a full duet with melody queen Lata Mangeshkar in a movie called Mom Ki Gudiya. The song is “Baghon mein bahar“. Incidentally, a Punjabi song similar in tune to this song had been sung by Noorjahan in Punjabi for a Punjabi film in Pakistan. I have somewhere read an anecdote that Anand Bakshi came wearing his best suit for the recording and when Laxmi Kant commented jokingly about his, he told that today is a big day as I am singing with the greatest singer of this world and surely cameramen would take many snaps.  In addition to this he has sang the opening lines (mukhdas) in some other songs like “aaja teri yaad aiye” in charas movie. He paired up with Laxmikant and Pyarelal duo of music directors in more than 100 films followed by R.D.Burman.