Born on 1 October 1932, lyricist Gauhar Kanpuri spent his childhood in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. He was fond of writing poetry when he was studying in school and mastered the art when he was still in his teens. When he got praised for his work, he decided to pursue a career in writing songs for films and soon left for Bombay.
After struggling for ten years there, he finally got his first break with the Salim Productions’ Pyar Ki Bazi (1967). In the film, he wrote only one song, Bade haseen hai sarko jhukaaye baithe hai, that was composed by Jimmy and sung by Mahendra Kapoor and Usha Mangeshkar. He got his next assignment after three years with the film Oos Raat Ke Baad (1969) and then wrote one or two songs for films like Shiv Bhakta Baba Balaknath (1972), Kora Aanchal (1973), Nanha Shikari (1973) and Ek Huns Ka Joda (1975). Gauhar met Bappi Lahiri while working on the film Nanha Shikari (1973), which happened to be the first film Bappi Lahiri composed music for.
Bappi and Gauhar formed a team in the film Zakhmee (1975) that opened the door of success for them. It was the first time when Gauhar wrote all the songs of a film independently. The songs, Jalta hai jiya mera bheegi bheegi raaton mein and Abhi abhi thi dushmani abhi hai dosti became quite popular. After Zakhmee, Gauhar wrote songs for another 25 years, mostly in collaboration with Bappi Lahiri where he gave more hits. With Bappi he collaborated in films like Sangram (1976), Haiwan (1977), Phir Janam Lenge Hum (1977), Pratima Aur Payal (1977), Khoon Ki Pukaar (1978), Shikshaa (1979), and Jaan-e-Bahaar (1979). But as bitter as it may sound, Gauhar was never able to achieve the success he got with the film Zakhmee. One of the common reasons behind this steep fall was that he never got any independent projects. All the films he worked in, they always had a team of two-three lyricists there to write songs.
Some of his memorable songs were, Jhoomta sawan dekho aaya, barkha ne pyar barsaya (Do Khiladi, 1976), Chand ki payaliya bole chham (Sangram), Mangni ko barso huye, kahan hai shadi ka vaada (Pratima Aur Payal), Aankhon mein toh hai barsaat magar hai sulge huye jazbaat (Khoon Ki Pukaar), Teri chhot isi ek bhoolne saara gulshan jala diya(Shikshaa), Tumhe geeto mein dhaalunga (Saawan Ko Aane Do, 1979), More naino mein nand lala (Shaadi Se Pahale, 1980), Ae dulhe raja baaje band-baaja(Waqt Ki Pukar, 1985), Rone nadiya jaayega (Jaan Tere Naam, 1992) and Ae mere humsafar (Baazigar, 1993).
In his entire career, Gauhar wrote about 300 songs for 120 films. He also wrote singles and some of his records became popular, among them were Bam bhole shiv dani and Baba bhole shankar raakho sung by Suresh Wadekar and Chalo bhole baba ke dwaare which was sung by Hariharan.
Gauhar Kanpuri died of Kidney infection on 29 June 2002 in Mumbai at the age of 70.
1. Hindi Filmon Ke Geetkar by Anil Bhargava. Pp. 207-209