Poetry is heart’s deepest feelings shared in words. Words form the basic structure of poetry, but word smithing is not poetry. Poetry goes beyond mere words. It has a soul that reflects the soul of the poet. Poet’s soul is often a reflection of his society and how he/she interprets that society. Some times and some societies are great breeding grounds for thoughtful poetry but not all poetry in those times rise above the fray. The ones that rise above all else are the ones where the poet looked at the already ripe poetic times in a way that was very compelling and difficult to forget.
Indian experience is not complete without its movies and movies have provided the canvas where the times of the society – within and without have been chronicled. These movies had a soul – as abused and revered it may have been but it did reflect our combined selves. The Indian soul – how ever you may define it from time to time has been refelcted and aggregated by the large screen. We may feel shocked by our own reflection but that is part of us.
Arguably, the most important of part of our movies have been the songs. Songs that made the Indians in India and outside, their kids and their spouses laugh, cry, love, hate, get up with courage, challenge the status quo and seek more responsibility. The poets from the begining of the times when movies were made have given our souls a voice. It has often been accepted at a superficial level by the audience but the poet was at many times very honest. Even those who were not completely honest to their own selves reflected the dilemma that the society lived in. The revolutions that we saw are participated or ignored were all part of this growing up and evolution that is eternal.
Given such a rich history of poetry in India cinema, specially the Hindi, it is rather tough to pin point any list of poets who rose above the fray. There were scores who were revered and have pushed to become better or startled us at our dishonesty and hypocrisy or made us love better. Nevertheless, there are three poets that have, in my view and mind heads and shoulders above all others of their times. They may have seen the same things that their peers saw but they gave those an interpretation that defied straight lines. The complexity of their thought process to arrive at a very simple but profound line in a very mundane setting has baffled me always. Who were these three?
Sahir Ludhianvi, Gulzar and Santosh Anand. Sahir and Gulzar have been written about and talked about the most. Santosh Anand was probably the most enigmatic of the trio of my list. His thought anything but contemporary or direct. He could take a simple concept of Inflation and expensive living to a level of a poetry that linked it to the spiritual thought and yet hit a common man directly. He could turn any situation into a hair raising experience. All the while you felt as if you knew exactly what he said but only when you reflected you came to know how wrong you were!
He is the guy I want to talk about. He baffles me and exposes my ignorance in front of me so openly and ruthlessly that I find it difficult to revive back after his songs.
Probably Santosh Anand’s most memorable number has been – Ek Pyaar ka nagma hai. This song has a serenity yet some kind of madness – a invocation of ideal love. While discussing her love, the protagonist also weaves the meaning of life – almost highest level of philosophy in simple yet intricate cross-stitches.
Do pal ke jeevan se, ek umar churaani hai – is probably the most striking line in this song for me. And then comes another stroke of Anand’s crazy genius at interplay of words – Ankhon mein samandar hai, aashaaon ka paani hai. Its the relation of the large with the smallest and ability to see the big picture in the details of life that strikes one instantly.
There are several of Santosh Anand’s songs that I like specially the ones from Roti Kapda aur Makan. Santosh Anand won two Filmfares for the best lyricist – 1974 for “Main na Bhoolunga” (Roti Kapda aur Makan) [although his other song – which is my favorite “Aur Nahin Bus Aur Nahin” also got nominated] and 1982 for “Mohabbat Hai Kya Cheez” (Prem Rog).
Santosh Anand wrote his best songs for Manoj Kumar. Only he could have gotten the real songs out of him (except Raj Kapoor for his movie Prem Rog). It is sad that both these master Directors were not as prolific after the 1980’s which is when Santosh Anand was ripe. That explains why not many discuss or talk about him as much as I believe he should have been.