Anand Bakshi’s Generation-Spanning Work

[Starting this week, we’ll re-publish here the Bollywood Retrospective series published in DNA blogs. This post was originally published here.]

This post is based on a question posed a few years ago on Twitter by film historian Pavan Jha, a passionate follower and chronicler of films and film music. The question – “Name the 5 pairs of father-son composers for whom Anand Bakshi has written lyrics”. It’s a fantastic question because it gives us a sense of how extensive Anand Bakshi’s career was. Anand Bakshi’s long career is indicative of compromises he had to make along the way (quality may have suffered at the expense of quantity) but more importantly, it speaks to his ability of connecting with the common man over several generations and his success in adapting himself to changing times.

Here are my pick of Anand Bakshi’s songs for the five father-son composers he worked with out of the 3000+ songs he wrote for Hindi films:

S.D. Burman and R.D. Burman

Anand Bakshi had debuted in 1958 and proven his mettle earlier with films like “Jab Jab Phool Khile” (1965) and “Devar” (1966), but he had to wait till 1969 for an opportunity to work with S.D. Burman. It is well known that R.D. Burman played an important role in the music of “Aradhana” (1969) – he was credited as Associate Music Director – and one wonders if the younger Burman had anything to do with picking Anand Bakshi for the first time for S.D. Burman. Anand Bakshi went on to work with S.D. Burman in many other films including “Jugnu” (1973), “Prem Nagar” (1974) and “Chupke Chupke” (1975), but couldn’t quite match Aradhana’s success. My pick from Aradhana – “Kora Kagaz Tha Yeh Man Mera”:

Anand Bakshi’s body of work with R.D. Burman is far richer than that with his father. It contains bona fide classics like “Kati Patang” (1970), “The Train” (1970), “Amar Prem” (1971), “Hare Rama Hare Krishna” (1971), “Namak Haram” (1973), “Aap Ki Kasam” (1974), “Ajanabee” (1974) and “Mehbooba” (1976. I consider “Amar Prem” to be the pinnacle of their partnership. Although I am in awe of the powerful lyrics of “Chingari Koi Bhadke”, my pick from the film is “Kuchh To Log Kahenge” because of the deftness with which Bakshi saab took a song of compassion and transformed it into an unflattering commentary on society.

Roshan and Rajesh Roshan

Roshan was one of the big-name music directors to work with Anand Bakshi early on in his career but they worked together on just a handful of films. “Devar” (1966) was the only film in which the two enjoyed a measure of success. My pick from “Devar” is “Baharon Ne Mera Chaman Loot Kar” because it’s one of the few songs in which Anand Bakshi challenges the average Hindi film music listener with limited knowledge of Urdu, while keeping his trademark simple core intact.

Rajesh Roshan’s only Filmfare Award came in a film for which Anand Bakshi wrote lyrics, “Julie” (1975). My pick though is from a film which came the next year “Tumhari Kassam” (1978).  “Hum Dono Milke Kagaz Pe Dil Pe” belonged to a category of Hindi film songs Anand Bakshi did very well in – the conversational romantic duet. As with other songs in this category penned by him, Anand Bakshi keeps the lovers’ exchange light-hearted, flirtatious and very real.

Kalyandji – Anandji and Viju Shah (son of Kalyanji)

After almost a decade of a rather unremarkable career, it was Kalyanji – Anandji who gave Anand Bakshi a blockbuster hit record with “Jab Jab Phool Khile” (1965), and almost overnight transformed him into the industry’s leading lyricist. I am not particularly fond of the album, but clearly I am in the minority. The film’s music was very popular and with its range of themes and genres, it had something for everyone. My pick from the film is “Ek Tha Gul Aur Ek Thi Bulbul”. Contrived as the situation is, I think Anand Bakshi does a masterful job of telling the film’s story in three verses.

In terms of popularity, “Mohra” (1994) and “Gupt” (1997), would surpass anything else Anand Bakshi wrote for Viju Shah. At the age of 64, Bakshi saab managed to write something as juvenile (some may say crass) as “Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast”. We could see the song’s lyrics as an unnecessary compromise by a senior lyricist or we could marvel at an old man’s ability to read the pulse of a generation far removed. My favourite Viju Shah – Anand Bakshi coming together, however, happens in the lesser heard “Tere Mere Sapne” (1996) with its two outstanding romantic duets “Kuchh Mere Dil Ne Kaha” and “Mere Piya Maine Jise Yeh Dil Diya”.  My pick – “Mere Piya Maine Jise Yeh Dil Diya”.

Chitragupt and Anand – Milind

There isn’t a lot to choose from when it comes to Anand Bakshi’s lyrics for Chitragupt – just six songs from two obscure films “Aadhi Raat Ke Baad” (1965) and “Angaaray” (1975). In fact, I came upon those songs only while writing for this post. My pick is Lata Mangeshkar’s ghazal from “Aadhi Raat Ke Baad” – “Mera Dil Baharon Ka Woh Phool Hai“.

Anand – Milind did 10 films with Anand Bakshi but nothing really clicked. The duo could not really get the best out of the aging lyricist. My pick of this combination is an OK melody but to be honest, I picked it for the resplendent Madhuri Dixit. The song – Kumar Sanu and Sadhna Sargam’s “Kitna Pyar Karta Hoon” (“Phool”, 1993).

Nadeem – Shravan and Sanjeev – Darshan (sons of Shravan Rathod)

Nadeem – Sharavan did just two films with Anand Bakshi. Bakshi saab’s advancing age and the disruption in Nadeem – Shravan’s career due to Nadeem’s legal troubles (he was named accused in T-Series’ Gulshan Kumar’s murder) meant that they didn’t work together after “Pardes” (1997). But what an album “Pardes” was! The film had many good songs and deservedly won Nadeem – Shravan a Screen the award for Best Music Director. My pick is the mellow love ballad sung by Kumar Sanu, “Do Dil Mil Rahe Hain”.

Anand Bakshi’s work for Sanjeev – Darshan came in the last two years of his life when he was a spent force, although still prolific and with the ability to produce a sporadic good song. I’d rather not pick a Sanjeev – Darshan song.

Instead, I will end the post with a song Anand Bakshi wrote for his most significant collaborators, Laxmikant – Pyarelal. About half of all the film songs Anand Bakshi ever wrote were for LP. Theirs was a hit making team as they churned out one chartbuster after the other – “Do Raaste” (1969), “Aan Milo Sajna” (1970), “Mehboob Ki Mehndi” (1971), “Bobby” (1973), “Anurodh” (1977) and “Karz” (1980) – to name just a few. My pick is “Aadmi Musafir Hai” (“Apnapan”, 1977) which won Anand Bakshi the Filmfare award for Best Lyricist and is an apt song to revisit the beautiful memories the people’s poet left behind.