Sahir Ludhianvi

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Sahir Ludhianvi or Abdul Hai was a poet, lyricist and an important member of the Progressive Writers Association. Before the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan he left for Lahore from Ludhiana but then came back to India and settled in Bombay in the year 1949 to avoid persecution by the Pakistani state which thought his writings in Journal Savera were inflammatory. In Bombay, he made his dubut in the film industry as a lyricist with the film "Azadi Ki Raah Par" in 1948 and his first song being "Badal Rahi he Zindagi", he made a mark for himself by writing songs for movies like Naya Daur/The New Age (1957) and Phir Subha Hogi/Morning Will Come (1958). On October 25th, 1980, Sahir Ludhianvi died due to a massive heart-attack.

His first collection of poems in urdu came in the year 1943 when he was only 23 years, it was titled Talkhiyaan (Bitterness); this was followed by AaoKe Koi Khwaab Bunen(Come That We May Weave A Dream) published in 1971 and Gaata Jaaye Banjaara (The Gypsy Sings On), which was the collection of his film songs. He was one of the founding members of the Film Writers Association, formed in the year 1954 and registered as a Trade Union on 13.05.1960. Although he was not a member of the Communist Party of India but had marxist leanings and adopted the genre of socialist realism. Many of his songs for films set a tone for a social transformation or were a direct and sharp critique of the world around. His writings tried to give voice to the voiceless-the workers, the prostitutes, the lovers; addressed world politics-second world war, suez canal crisis, anti war movement, indo-pak relations.

One such song was Jinhe Naaz He Hind Par for the Guru Dutt's film Pyaasa. The song was a sort of an anti-anthem as it questioned the rulers and symbolised the disillusionment with the Nehruvian idealism.

Ye kooche, ye neelaam-ghar dilkashi ke

Ye lut-te hue kaarvaañ zindagi ke

Kahaañ haiñ, kahaañ haiñ, muhaafiz khudi ke?

Jinheñ naaz hai Hind par voh kahaañ haiñ?

These streets, these auction houses of pleasure These looted caravans of life Where are they, the guardians of self-hood? Those who are proud of India, where are they?

Cheen-o-Arab humaara’ song for the film Phir Subha Hogi(1958) was a satirical take on two of Iqbal’s poems, ‘Taraana-e-Hind’ (Anthem of Hindustaan) and ‘Taraana-e-Milli’ (Anthem of the Community). The former goes ‘Saare jahaan se achcha, Hindustaan humaara’ (Better than the entire world is this India of ours), while the latter’s opening lines are the same as the song in Phir Subah Hogi, namely, ‘Cheen-o-Arab humaara’, Sahir turned the nationalist call into a call of the oppressed. In grand narrative of Iqbal is contrasted by the grim everyday life where the only recourse are the footpaths of the city.

The two songs penned by Iqbal reflect a change in his philosophical thinking. Taraana-e-Hindi was composed around the year 1904 when the hope was of a single composite nation and just one country-India. While the second song Taraana-e- Milli or the 'anthem of the community' was composed a few years later where Iqbal talks of the muslims as an international community characterised by Pan-Islamic philosophy. Below are the lyrics of the three songs, chin-o-arab by Sahir and Iqbal's Taraana-e-Hind’ and ‘Taraana-e-Milli’.

Chin-o-arab hamaara hindostaan hamaara

Chin-o-arab hamaara hindostaan hamaara rehneko ghar nahin hai, saara jahaan hamaara

China and Arabia may be ours,and Hindustan too we have no home to go to, all the world belongs to us

kholi bhi chhin gayi hai benchen bhi chhin gayi hai sarkon pe ghoomta hai ab kaarvaan hamaara

Evicted from our hovels, not even benches for rest our weary caravan now roams, this city’s streets, forlorn

jeben hai apni khaali mite tawar mein gaali voh santari hamaara voh paasbaan hamaara

Our pockets are empty, why else would we be abused by our very own sentries by our very own sentinels

jitni bhi buildingen thi sethon ne baatli hai footpaath bambai ke, hai aashiyaan hamaara

All the buildings in this city are usurped by the wealthy Only Bombay’s foot-paths remain our true homes

sone ko hum kalandar aate hai bori bandar har ik kuli yahaan ka hai raazdaan hamaara

Wayward ascetics, we come to Bori Bunder to rest every coolie here is our confidant

taalim hai adhuri milti nahin majoori ma'lum kya kisi ko dard-e-nihaan hamaara

Our schooling was left undone, we cannot find a decent wage Who can really comprehend the grief, deep in our heart

patla hai haal apna lekin lahu hai gaada faulaad se banaa hai har naujawaan hamaara

We may be ill and listless, still, our blood runs thick Every youth in our country is forged out of steel

mil-jul ke is watan ko aisa sajaaenge hum ghairat se mu sakegaa saara jahaan hamaara

Together shall we fashion a homeland to marvel the world will regard us with jaws dropped in awe

Chin-o-arab hamaara hindostaan hamaara rehneko ghar nahin hai, saara jahaan hamaara

China and Arabia may be ours,and Hindustan too we have no home to go to, all the world belongs to us

Tarana-e-Hindi The Indian Anthem, 1904

Sare Jahan Se Acha Hindustan Humara Hum Bulbulain Hain Iss Ki, Ye Gulistan Humara

The best land in the world is our India, We are its nightingales; this is our garden

Gharbat Mein Hon Agar Hum, Rehta Hai Dil Watan Mein Samjho Waheen Humain Bhi, Dil Ho Jahan Humara

If we are in exile, our heart resides in our homeland, Understand that we are also where our heart is

Parbat Woh Sub Se Uncha, Humsaya Asman Ka Woh Santri Humara, Woh Pasban Humara

That is the highest mountain, the neighbour of the sky, It is our sentry; it is our watchman

Godi Mein Khailti Hain Iss Ki Hazaron Nadiyan Gulshan Hai Jin Ke Dam Se Rashak-e-Jinaan Humara

In its lap play thousands of streams, And the gardens that flourish because of them are the envy of Paradise

Ae Aab-e-Rood-e-Ganga! Woh Din Hain Yaad Tujh Ko? Utra Tere Kinare Jab Karwan Humara

Oh, waters of the river Ganges! Do you remember those days? Those days when our caravan halted on your bank?

Mazhab Nahin Sikhata Apas Mein Bair Rakhna Hindi Hain Hum, Watan Hai Hindustan Humara

Religion does not teach us to be enemies with each other, We are Indians, our homeland is our India

Yunan-o-Misar-o-Roma Sab Mit Gye Jahan Se Ab Tak Magar Hai Baqi Naam-o-Nishan Humara

Greece, Egypt and Byzantium have all been erased from the world But our fame and banner still remain

Kuch Baat Hai Ke Hasti Mitti Nahin Humari Sadiyon Raha Hai Dushman Dour-e-Zaman Humara

It is something to be proud of that our existence is never erased, Though the passing of time for centuries has always been our enemy

Iqbal! Koi Mehram Apna Nahin Jahan Mein Maloom Kya Kisi Ko Dard-e-Nihan Humara

Iqbal! No‐one in this world has ever known your secret, Does anyone know the pain I feel inside me?

Tarana-e-Milli The Anthem Of The Islamic Community, 1910

Cheen-o-Arab Humara, Hindustan Humara Muslim Hain Hum, Watan Hai Sara Jahan Humara

China and Arabia are ours, India is ours, We are Muslims, the whole world is ours

Touheed Ki Amanat Seenon Mein Hai Humare Asan Nahin Nitana Naam-o-Nishan Humara

God’s unity is held in trust in our hearts, It is not easy to erase our name and sign

Dunya Ke Butkadon Mein Pehla Woh Ghar Khuda Ka Hum Uss Ke Pasban Hain, Woh Pasban Humara

Among the idol temples of the world the first is that house of God, We are its keepers, it is our keeper

Taighon Ke Saye Mein Hum Pal Kar Jawan Huwe Hain Khanjar Hilal Ka Hai Qoumi Nishan Humara

Brought up in the shadow of the sword, we reached maturity, The scimitar of the crescent moon is the emblem of our community

Maghrib Ki Wadiyon Mein Goonji Azan Humari Thamta Na Tha Kisi Se Seel-e-Rawan Humara

In the valleys of the west our call to prayer resounded, Our onward flow was never stemmed by anyone

Batil Se Dabne Wale Ae Asman Nahin Hum Sou Baar Kar Chuka Hai Tu Imtihan Humara

We, oh heaven, are not to be suppressed by falsehood!, A hundred times you have tested us

Ae Gulistan-e-Aundlas ! Woh Din Hain Yaad Tujh Ko Tha Teri Daliyon Par Jab Ashiyan Humara

Oh garden of Andalusia! Do you remember those days, When our nest was in your branches?

Ae Mouj-e-Dajla! Tu Bhi Pehchanti Hai Hum Ko Ab Tak Hai Tera Darya Afsana Khawan Humara

Oh waves of the Tigris! You also recognize us, Your river still relates our story

Ae Arz-e-Pak! Teri Hurmat Pe Kat Mare Hum Hai Khoon Teri Ragon Mein Ab Tak Rawan Humara

Oh land of purity! We fell and died for your honour, Our blood still courses through your veins

Salar-e-Karwan Hai Meer-e-Hijaz Apna Iss Naam Se Hai Baqi Aram-e-Jaan Humara

The Lord of Hijaz is the leader of our community, From this name comes the peace of our soul

Iqbal Ka Tarana Bang-e-Dra Hai Goya Hota Hai Jadah Pema Phir Karwan Humara

Iqbal’s song is like the bell of a caravan, Once more our caravan measures the road