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“Mai To Har Mod Par Tujhko Doonga Sada” - Naqsh Lyallpuri

08 Apr, 2020 | Beete Hue Din by Shishir Krishna Sharma
Naqsh Lyallpuri. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

Naqsh Lyallpuri is the poet who will always be remembered as one of the finest lyricists in the history of Indian cinema. Naqsh sahib's six decades of enriching contribution to the music of Hindi and Punjabi cinema is amazing. During a meeting at his residence in Mumbai's Oshiwara area, he spoke to Beete Hue Din about his personal and professional lives in detail. Here is Naqsh Lyallpuri sahib's story in his own words:   

 
Shishir Krishna Sharma with Naqsh Lyallpuri. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

I was born on 24 February 1928 in the village Chak No. 118 in Lyallpur, West Punjab, which is now in Pakistan. My father was an engineer with the powerhouse. I was just 10 months old when my mother died and then my father had to remarry. I passed 4th from the village's primary school, 5th to 8th from Rawalpindi after my father's transfer there and then I shifted to a hostel in Lyallpur city for my further studies. 
 
Mohammed Rafi and Naqsh Lyallpuri. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

This particular period gave me a new direction to my life. Actually my Urdu teacher Ramlal ji was so happy with my handwriting and the style of writing that he would take my entire notebooks at the end of the year so that he could show them to the students of other classes as an example. With his inspiration, I started taking an interest in literature and also into writing. Masterji said, if I choose literature as a subject then I will definitely achieve new heights in my life. But my father wanted me to become an engineer like him and he compelled me to opt for science subjects, which I reluctantly did. But due to a lack of interest, I never attended science classes. Though I successfully passed my 12th, my marks in science subjects were very low. My father's dream to see me as an engineer shattered and he was very angry with me when he saw the mark sheet. 

Ultimately, I clearly told him that I did not have any interest in science or engineering. On this, he flatly refused to help me in my further studies. But the odd circumstances opened a new avenue for me. I shifted to Lahore and started working with a Lahore based Hero Publications Urdu Daily Ranjeet Nigara. This was the start of my career in journalism. 
 
rasm-e-ulfat ko nibhayein kaise - Dil Ki Rahein. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

I came in contact with many Lahore based writers and poets and started showing them my writings. I learned a lot from those genius people. But this did not last very long as the partition of the country took place very soon and we had to run away to India. We came to Lucknow where one of my father's friend's sons was in service. We settled in Lucknow with his help where my father opened a workshop but our financial conditions went from bad to worse. Apart from my parents, I also had two younger sisters in our family. I wanted to earn to help my father, but despite all my efforts, I could not find a job. I was so frustrated that one day, without informing anybody I left my home. With empty hands and empty pockets, I boarded a train to Mumbai. The only thing that I had in mind at that time was that I'll have to be self-dependent but I didn't know how to fulfill my dream. This happened in the summers of 1949. 
 
I had a pen-friend Pradeep Nayyar in Mumbai whom I had never met in person. I alighted at Dadar station at around 2 PM and reached Pradeep's address at Rehmat Manzil, Dadar (east). But I found his flat-locked. One lady who resided in his neighborhood informed me that Pradeep had gone to Pune and was set to return after 15 days. Hungry and thirsty, I was literally on road among strangers now, that too in a city which was completely unknown to me. Then I met one elderly sardarji coming from the opposite direction. I requested him to guide me to someplace to stay. He directed me to the Gurudwara behind City light Cinema at Matunga where I could stay and have food in Langar for free for 8 days. Somehow dragging myself I reached Gurudwara at around 4.30 PM, only to find that the Langar had already been closed. Too tired, I lay down on the floor. There was another boy lying nearby on his bedding. I saw a copy of Urdu magazine Naqoosh with him. As our conversation on the pretext of the magazine started, I came to know that his name was Kuldeep Singh and he was also from Lucknow. He had a motor part shop at Latoosh Road in Lucknow and was in Mumbai on a business tour. He was very happy to know that I was a poet. He gave me a fresh lungi and soap and after I came out from the bathroom after taking bath, I immediately fell down to sleep and got up only after Kuldeep ji forcibly woke me up for the dinner at Langar.…this was my first day in this unknown city!
 
Kuldeep ji helped me a lot during those 8 days. Before leaving for Lucknow not only he arranged for my stay at the Gurudwara for another week but also gave me 20 Rupees which was a handsome amount at that time. I always remembered and will never forget his generosity. We remained in touch forever.
I loved eating paan and this love opened a new avenue to me in this unknown city. Actually I often visited the paan shop for eating Paan. I had just 1-2 days left to check out from the Gurudwara when I met one of my friends Deepak Asha from Lahore at the paan shop. He had played the main villain in the movie Paraaye Bas Me (1946) which was made in Lahore in the year 1946. He was the same Deepak Asha who later directed the movies Ghamand (1955), Road No. 303 (1960), and Murder on Highway (1970) with the screen name Dharam Kumar.
 
Jaggu (1952).
Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

Deepak took me along to his home and thus I got a place in this city to stay for some more time. Gradually I started making friends. Meanwhile, I got a job in the post and telegraph department which helped me to properly settle in Mumbai. But within a year I got bored with the job and resigned. Now, some of us friends prepared a stage play in which well-known actor Rammohan was also playing a role. He was also working as an assistant director with Jagdish Sethi in the movie Jaggu (1952). Rammohan was so impressed with the script and the songs of the play written by me that he introduced me to Jagdish Sethi. Jaggu (1952) had Hansraj Behl as composer and 7 lyricists who were working in the movie on a trial basis. I was told to write one song in Jaggu. The other selected lyricists were Asad Bhopali, Verma Malik, Bharat Vyas and A.Shah Shikarpuri. I wrote a cabaret song mai teri hoon tu mera hai in that movie which was picturized on Kuldeep Kaur. Thus I debuted as a lyricist in the 1952 release movie Jaggu

Since there has always been a tradition to add the name of the native place with the pen name in Urdu poetry, I had already changed my name from Jaswant Rai Sharma to Naqsh Lyallpuri while in Lahore. Meanwhile, my parents had learned that I was in Mumbai and we had revived our relations but as soon as they came to know that I am working in the films, they again severed the relations with me.  On the other side, my struggle continued even after the release of Jaggu. One fine day, I received a letter from one of my friends from Lucknow. It was a proposal of marriage for his sister. I wrote him back that I had always tried to do the things at my own but marriage is one thing that I will do with the blessings of my parents. He showed my reply to my father which made him very happy. And then, my father showed my letter with pride to his friends who said that his son had gone out of his control. Eventually, I got married in the year 1953 and my relationship with my parents became cordial. 
 
Choron Ki Barat (1960) from Cinemaazi archive

My responsibilities were increasing. And there was no shortfall in my struggle. My Urdu was so fine that nobody believed that I was a Punjabi. Still one fine day, Sapan Jagmohan gave me an advance of Rs. 100 and asked me to write songs for a Punjabi movie. Being an Urdu poet I did not have the confidence to write in Punjabi. But due to acute financial problems, I readied myself and without taking rest for a single second I wrote 16 mukhdas of Punjabi songs in one night. I instructed my wife not to spend a single penny as I was afraid that I might have to return the money. I met Sapan Jagmohan in the morning and when they heard the songs, excitingly they jumped out of the chair. 
That Punjabi movie was the 1953 release Jijaji which was so big a hit that within no time offers for Punjabi movies started pouring in. After Jijaji, I wrote songs in approximately 40 Punjabi movies like Eh Dharti Punjab Di, Paubara, Dharti Veeran Di, Satt Saliyan, Laiye Toad Nibhaiye, Satguru Teri Oat, Kunwara Mama, Neem Haqeem, Sapni, Jagwala Mela, Maa Di Goad, Patola, Taqraar, Madhi Da Deeva and Watna Taun Door for composers Sapan Jagmohan, Harbans, S.Madan, Dattaram, B.N.Bali, Raj Soni, Surinder Kohli, Hansraj Behl, Jagjeet Kaur, Ved Sethi, Babul, Husnlal Bhagatram, Khayyam, Chitragupt, Mohinderrjit Singh, Master Allarakha and Kuldeep Singh
 
Though financially settled to some extent, I was afraid to be typecast as a Punjabi movie lyricist. Despite starting a career with the social film Jaggu, all the offers I was getting for Hindi movies were for C-grade stunt movies which I was outrightly refused. Tired with my response to such movies, my wife told me one fine day that there are 3 types of people, first are those who do not know their work, second those who know the work but they don't get chance and the third one are your kind of people who know your work, you get the chance but you don't want to work. Her straightforward talk shook me up and I started writing for all kinds of movies that came my way. 
 
 Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

I worked with composers like Gulshan Soofi, Harbans, Shafi M.Nagri, Manohar, C.Arjun, Sapan Jagmohan and G.S.Kohli and wrote songs in many stunt movies like Ghamand (1955), Rifle Girl (1958), Circus Queen (1959), Choron Ki Barat ( 1960), Road No. 303 (1960), Black Shadow (1961), Zimbo Finds A Son (1966), Naujawaan (1966), Sangdil (1967) and Jaalsaaz (1969). Of these, Choron Ki Barat was directed by Pradeep Nayyar, the same pen friend of mine who resided in Dadar (east) and whose door was locked when I reached his home on my first day in Mumbai. 

I was one of 5 lyricists of Choron Ki Barat. Other 4 were Farookh, Ghazi, Saajan Bihari and Gulzar Deenvi, who is known as Gulzar today. Of total 6 songs in this movie I wrote one song le maar haath pe haath goriye kar le pakki baat and Gulzar Deenvi wrote ye duniya hai taash ke patte issko karo salaam

(Gulzar claims that his debut film song was Bandini's mora gora ang layi le which was a 1963 release. But his claim is incorrect. Truth is that Gulzar had already written 3 songs in the movie Deler Haseena (1960), 1 song in Choron Ki Barat, and 4 songs in Shriman Satyawadi with the pen-name Gulzar Deenvi and all these 3 movies were made in 1960. He also wrote ganga aaye kahaan se in Kabuliwala in 1961. The reason behind his false claim regarding mora gora ang layi le should be best known to him only but Naqsh Sahib confirms the truth as mentioned above.)      
 
Call Girl (1974) 
Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

Road No. 303 was composer C.Arjun's debut movie whereas Rifle Girl and Black Shadow's composer Harbans's identity was as the son of composer (late) Pt. Amarnath. I worked with Harbans in 3 movies with the pen-name Shaad. My identity as the lyricist of Punjabi movies was so strong that composer Ravi's song ghoda pishori mera tanga lahori mera from the movie Pyaar Ka Bandhan (1963) which was written by Sahir Ludhianvi was played on the Akashwani for long with my name only because there was an abundance of Punjabi words in it. Meanwhile credit to my song dhani chunar mori haaye re jaane kahan udi jaaye re in the 1959 release movie Madhu was given to Shailendra for the same reason.
 
Chetna (1970) ImageCourtesy: Beete Hue Din

I wrote approximately 350 songs in 40 Punjabi movies. Simultaneously I also kept on writing for Hindi movies like Captain Sheroo (1963), Sarfarosh (1964), Teri Talash Me (1968), Purani Pehchan (1971), Gustakhi Maaf (1969), Gunah Aur Kanoon (1970) but I got proper recognition with 1970 release Hindi Movie Chetna (1970). Chetna's song mai to har mod par tujhko doonga sada which was sung by Mukesh was a big hit. The grand success of this movie gave me a chance to work with all the then great maestros including Madan Mohan, Jaidev, Khayyam, Ravindra Jain, Naushad, and Shankar jaikishan. Many of the songs which I wrote for them were big hits. 

These included rasme ulfat ko nibhayein kaise (Dil Ki Rahein, 1973), kai sadiyon se kai janmo se (Milap, 1972), ulfat me zamaane ki har rasm ko  thukrao ( Call Girl, 1974), tumhe dekhti hoon to lagta hai aise (Tumhare liye, 1978), ye mulaqat ik bahana hai (Khaandaan,1979), mana teri nazar me tera pyaar hum nahin (Ahista Ahista,1981), chandni raat me har baar tumhe dekha hai (Dil-e-Nadaan,1982), tumhe ho na ho mujhko to itna yaqeen hai (Gharonda,1977), Qadar tone na jaani (Noorie,1979), na jaane kya hua and pyaar ka dard hai (Dard, 1981), chitthiye (Henna,1991) and mumtaz tujhe dekha (Taj Mahal,2005).
 
Gharaonda (1977). from Cinemaazi archive

I also wrote title songs for many T.V. serials telecast on Doordarshan and private channels. These include Intezar Aur Sahi, Shikwa, Daraar, Adhikar Waris, Kartavya, Abhiman, Milan, Sukanya, Ankahi, Savera, Chunauti, Virasat, Ashiyana, Bazaar, Grihdaah, Shrikant, Mujrim Hazir Hai, Amanat, Campus, Kitty Party, Dehleez, Mulq, Ye Ishq Nahin Asaan, Sarhadein, Vikram Vetaal, Savera, and Bikhri Aas Nikhri Preet

I wrote a ghazal saaz-e-dil naghma-e-jaan for the 2006 release movie Yatra which was sung by Talat Azeez under the baton of composer Khayyam. After a gap of almost 8 years, recently I wrote a bhajan laagi re lagan for the movie Sabka Saibaba. Composed by Anchal Talseria, this bhajan is sung by Sukhwinder Singh
 
Taj Mahal: An eternal Love Story (2005)
Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

In my career spanning 60 years, I got an opportunity to work with almost all the great composers of Hindi cinema. During this period I wrote around 1200 songs in approximately 200 movies. I completed 86 on the last 24 February. My family consists of my wife and 3 sons. My eldest and youngest sons are working as managers with well known private sector companies. Median son Rajan Lyallpuri is working in the field of cinema as a cinematographer. He is also a good writer. Punjabi movie Watna Taun Door is made on the story written by him.
 
I am living a peaceful life with my blessed family. When I look back at my journey, which was full of struggle, reach a respectable destination, I feel very content. 
I am especially grateful to my wife who firmly stood by me at every moment and every step in life.   

(This interview took place before Naqsh saheb's demise on 22 January 2017 at the age of 89 in Mumbai.) 

[part of Shishir Krishna Sharma's Beete Hue Din blog series]


 

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