Poet and film lyricist Balkavi Bairagi is known for penning the lyrics of songs that featured in films such as Gogola (1966), Veer Chhatrasal (1971), Reshma Aur Shera (1971), Do Boond Pani (1971), Achha Bura (1972), Kshitij (1974), Rani Aur Lalpari (1975), Jadu Tona (1977), Pal Do Pal Ka Saath (1978), Mausam Badlaa Hai (1978), Chautha Paalna (1978), Azadi Pachchees Baras Ki (1978), and Ankahee (1985). A huge draw at poetry gatherings, he also enjoyed a successful career in politics, and was also a member of the Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh from 1998 to 2004.
Born Nand Ramdas Dwarkadas Bairagi on 10 February, 1931, he came to be popularly known as ‘Balkavi’ Bairagi after he penned some classic poems during his childhood. Obtaining his post-graduate degree in Hindi from Vikram University, Ujjain, he composed several Hindi poems and wrote extensively for children. He wrote in the style of Uttar Chhayawadi (post-romantic) poets, best represented by poets such as Rameshwar Shukla ‘Anchal’, Shivmangal Singh ‘Suman’, and Pandit Narendra Sharma. In fact, his poem Jhar gaye paat, bisar gayi tehni (The leaves have fallen, the branch has forgotten) is regarded by many Hiindi poets, as a masterpiece. He was a crowd-puller at Hindi poetry gatherings drawing attention with his compelling and dramatic recitation style. People were known to wait hours to listen to him at gatherings. He was also awarded the Rashtrakavi Pradeep Samman by the department of Culture, Government of Madhya Pradesh.
Balkavi Bairagi also penned lyrics for at least a dozen Hindi films. He worked with some of the finest composers in Hindi films, including Jaidev in Reshma Aur Shera and Ankahee, Vasant Desai in Rani Aur Lalpari, and S N Tripathi in Veer Chhatrasal. Some of the songs penned by him include Tu chanda main chandi rendered by Lata Mangeshkar, Mujhko bhi Radha bana le Nandlal rendered by Asha Bhosle, Zara keh do fizaaon se, Ammi ko chummi papa ko pyaar, Ek baar ek ladki thi, Kirno se jagmagaye, Mera phool badan, and Haaye bedard piya kaali raat mein to aa re. Bairagi was versatile enough to create pure poetry as seen in Tu chanda main chandni, as well as pen simple, uncomplicated songs without needing to compromise on quality.
Bairagi also enjoyed a successful career as a politician. Affiliated to the Indian National Congress, he was elected to the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly from Manasa twice, in 1968 as well as in 1980. In the course of his political stint, he served as Minister of State for Information, Minister of Language and Tourism, and Minister of Food and Civil Supplies in the Madhya Pradesh Government. A Member of the Lok Sabha between 1984 and 1989 during which time he represented Mandsaur constituency, he was also a Rajya Sabha member from 1998 to 2004.
Balkavi Bairagi passed away on 13 May, 2018.
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