Veteran lyricist and writer Abhilash is perhaps best known for penning the moving song – Itni shakti hume dena data for the film Ankush (1986), which was translated into several languages, and became a popular hymn to be sung by students in schools and colleges during assembly. He is known for his work in films such as Laal Chooda (1984), Hulchul (1995), Jeete Hain Shaan Se (1988), Jai Jagannath (2007), Begum Jaan (2016), Moksh (2013), Sawan Ko Aane Do (1979), Zahreelee (1977), and Raftaar (1975). Other meaningful songs he penned for films include Sansaar hai ik nadiya (Raftaar) and Tere bin soona more man ka mandir (Sawan Ko Aane Do). He is also remembered for his non-film songs such as Aaj ki raat na ja and Woh jo khat tune mohabbat mein likhe the mujhko, rendered by singers such as Lata Mangeshkar and Usha Mangeshkar. A screenwriter, storywriter, and dialogue writer, he also wrote for TV serials.
Born Om Prakash on 13 March, 1946, his passion for writing came to the fore in his early childhood days itself. Writing poems at the age of 12, he went on to compose several ghazals and pen stories which were published. He chose the pseudonym Abhilash. As a teenager in Delhi, he veered from his family’s dreams of academic excellence, to choose poetry and writing. As a young writer, he gained inspiration from poet and lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi, who also gave him valuable advice—namely, to find his own original voice, and to read copiously and write less—when they met at a poetry event.
Moving to Bombay to pursue his writing dreams, he worked the night shift as a timekeeper in a mill in Bhandup. Ludhianvi proved to be a source of encouragement to him, while a chance meeting with classical singer and composer K Mahavir resulted in his first break. Incidentally Mahavir also trained singer Usha Mangeshkar. Abhilash began writing lyrics to Mahavir's tunes which won the approval of legendary playback singer Lata Mangeshkar, and were also recorded. He also worked on a song for Salil Chowdhury for a documentary. Abhilash made his debut as a film lyricist with Phir Aya Toofan (1973). The film, starring Dara Singh and Madhu Malini, had music by Robin Banerjee.
Abhilash went on to pen the lyrics for films such as Raftaar (1975) and Awara Ladki (1975) and worked for composers such as Usha Khanna and Bappi Lahiri. He also wrote the dialogues and songs for Neetu Singh starrer Zahreelee (1977). In the course of his career spanning nearly five decades, he also penned songs for films such as Sawan Ko Aane Do (1979), Jeete Hain Shaan Se (1988) and Hulchul (1995).
At one point in his career, Abhilash was said to be struck by a creative block. It was a well-wisher’s comment about the artist’s inner strength that touched a chord and he went on to pen the lyrics of the iconic song, Itni shakti hume dena daata. It was to become a career-defining song and film for Abhilash. Abhilash's close friend and composer of the song Kuldip Singh revealed that the lyricist had spent a month writing, rewriting, tearing up pages, all in the bid to make the lyrics simple so that the common man could sing it. Combined with a simple tune scored by Kuldip, the song became an inspiring super hit, taking its place among other exemplary songs in the same genre such as Ae maalik tere bande hum, and Humko mann ki shakti dena. The N Chandra directorial Ankush was also the launching pad for Nana Patekar and starred Ashalata Wabgaonkar, Nisha Singh, and Madan Jain in pivotal roles.
Battling ill health, Abhilash passed away on 27 September, 2020. Aged 74, he was survived by his wife of 42 years - Neera, and their daughter.