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The Invisible Giant

, rajinder krishan

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> The Invisible Giant, rajinder krishan
post Jun 26 2006, 02:52 AM
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The invisible giant

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when he was writing about what was happening around him like Mahatma’s assassination or the horrors of Partition, he lay bare his feelings in no uncertain terms. The Rafi song, Suno suno ai duniawalo Bapu ki ye amar kahani ends with the terse line, Apne hi hathonse hamne apna Bapu khoya (We killed Bapu with our own hands).

A thin young man dressed in a white suit and a black bow-tie is sitting before a harmonium. He is about to begin a song with a small audience sitting around him. As the notes roll out, he poses a bemused look on his face and begins thanking love “for the exquisite misery it has given him, for those tears which are no less precious than pearls, for so much sorrow that nothing more seems to be left — shukria ai pyar, tera shukria!. And we instantly recognise the velvety voice and the well-known face — it is Talat! And with some effort we recall the composer, the great Anil Biswas, and the film Aaram (49) as well.

But how many of us can remember the name of the poet who wrote this lovely song? Even today, when people talk about lyricists, the first name which comes up is likely to be Sahir, then perhaps Majrooh and so on. But who remembers that unassuming man who wrote classic lyrics like Gore gore (Samadhi 50) Ai bad-e-saba aahista chal (Anarkali 53) and Chal ud ja re panchi (Bhabhi 57)? This is in fact the irony regarding Rajendra Krishan, whom one could call the ‘Invisible Giant’. His creations spanned three decades and hundreds of classics bore his signature, but very few are able to recall his authorship today.

Rajendra Krishan was born in Shimla, on June 6, 1919. Even when he was studying in the eighth class he was attracted towards poetry. However, fate led him to a clerk’s job in the municipal office, where he toiled upto 1942. During that period, he read eastern and western authors extensively and wrote poetry. He expresses his indebtedness to the Urdu poetry of Firaq Gorakhpuri and Ahsan Danish, as well as to the Hindi poems of Pant and Nirala.

In those days the newspapers in the Delhi-Punjab brought out special supplements and held poetry contests to mark Krishna Janmashtami, in which he participated regularly. Which may explain the large number of Krishna-Radha classics he wrote for films later on, Brindavan ka (Miss Mary 57), Kaise avun Jamuna ke teer (Devta 56), Mat maro Shyam (Durgesh Nandini 56), Radha na bole (Azad 55) to name a few.

In the mid-40s he moved to Mumbai to try his luck in films as a script-writer, as well as lyricist. His first lyrics were for Zanjeer, his first script for Janta, both in ’47. However, he had no luck with these. Then his script and lyrics for the Motilal-Suraiya starrer Aaj Ki Rat in ’48 brought him recognition. Then the miracle happened: a private song he wrote and Rafi sang, brought both into the classic class — it was Bapu ki ye amar kahani whose 78 rpm record in those days could be seen in every house which boasted of a hand-cranking gramophone.

Then in ’49 he tasted immortality, his lyrics for Shyam Sunder’s Lahore (Baharen phir bhi ayengi) and Hunslal-Bhagatram’s Badi Behan (Chup chup khadi ho) which celebrated silver jubilee, became immensely popular. The pleased producer of the latter presented Rajendra Krishan with Rs 1000 per month and an Austin car as well!

A new phase began in his life. His knowledge of Tamil made him the ideal choice for AVM, and others to use his services for their films like Bahar, Ladki, Bhai Bhai. He wrote in all 18 scripts for AVM itself. The music directors for whom he regularly wrote songs — C Ramchandra, Madan Mohan and Hemant Kumar were also composing for the South Indian Hindi movies. The combination chalked up a series of hits right into the Sixties.

Rajendra Krishan also participated in the struggle to get a status for lyricists. As a person he was amiable, easy-going and full of humour. These characteristics expressed themselves in his lyrics also. His songs are simple, inventive and full of meaning. He could write a swinging song like Mr John, o Baba Khan and in the same film Barish (’57) a philosophical song, Dane dane pe likha hai khanewale ka nam, lenewale karod, denewale ek Ram. The songs he wrote for Anarkali (’53), Yeh zindagi usiki hai and Jaag dard-e-ishq jaag have attained legendary status. His Nagin (’54) songs Man dole mera tan dole and Mera dil ye pukare aja are reverberating in our hearts even today.

Apart from the three music directors mentioned above, he also wrote for other great composers like Sajjid Hussain (Saiyan ’51, Sangdil ’52), SD Burman (Bahar ’51, Sazaa ’51, Ek Nazar ’51), S Mohinder (Papi ’53), Chitragupt (Bhabhi ’57, Kangan ’59), Salil Choudhry (Chaya ’61), Laxmikant-Pyarelal (Intaqam ’69).

He could pen love-ballads and comedy songs with equal ease and effect. In the first category come the standards like Ye hawa ye raat ye Chandni (Sandgil), Koun aya mere man ke dware payal ki jhankar liye (Dekh Kabira Roya ’57), Mera Qarar leja mujhe beqarar kar ja (Ashiana ’52) and Ai dil mujhe bata de (Bhai Bhai ’56).

As the whole world knows C Ramchandra and Madan Mohan put a special ingredient into the songs they gave to Lata. Who can remain unmoved when listening to the following songs Rajendra Krishan wrote for her: Ham pyar me jalnewalon ko chain kahan aram kahan (Jailor ’58), Sapne me sajan se do bate ik yad rahi ik bhool gayen (Gateway Of India ’57), Dil se bhulado tum hamen (Patanga ’49)), Balma bada nadan re (Albela ’50), Ai chand pyar mera (Khazana ’51) and Wo bhuli dastan lo phir yad agayi (Sanjog ’61)?

On the other hand, the comedy songs he wrote for the same composers are a totally different kettle of fish. Here Rajendra Krishan’s comic music soared to delightful heights. He would take a central idea and keep on adding layer after layer of fancies to create a bright new world.

In Patanga, Lata and Shamshad take turns to describe a world of love where all the known institutions operate under strange rules — Pyar ke jahan ki nirali sarkar hai the post-office is actually the human eye and telegrams are glances; there is a school but it has only one class in it, lakhs of students enrol there but very few pass; the lessons are tough but oh so enjoyable! In fact if you fall in love you’ll join the unemployed masses. Every day will be holiday for you — har din itwar hai!

In the film Chandan (’58) we see Johnny Walker as a traffic constable singing the praises of the Super Cop in the Skies, who has a key for every lock and a lock for every key. Bada hi CID hai vo neeli chhatriwala, no one sees him receiving reports, but the moment a crime occurs he gets an “automatic telephone” and he has with him a pocket book in which has been noted sabka maal masaala, his thana stretches in all directions and it is always open. Everyone has to go there sometime or other. You can’t influence him, for all are equal so far as he is concerned — kya saali kya saala! (This is obviously a reference to Raj Kapoor’s story in Shree 420 (’55) of his being hauled up before the boodha daroga of a police station, and of being released the moment he was discovered to be the thanedar ka saala.

Again the same Johnny Walker in the ’65 film Bombay Racecourse (Madan Mohan) narrates the tale of a zalim snatching away his throbbing heart mistaking it for a ticking watch — Le gaya zalim ghadi samajkar and trying to pawn it. However when she learnt its market price, it being after all the heart of an ardent lover, she was struck by remorse and brought it back to him undamaged.

The imagery of Parwana (moth) and Shama (flame) for lover and beloved is a standard one in Urdu poetry. There was even a film called Shama Parwana (’54) where the moth (Shammi Kapoor) literally got burnt in the flame in the end. Rajendra Krishan wrote a straight lyric for Raj Kapoor in Paapi (S Mohinder, ’53) Tera kam hai jalna parwane chahe shama jale ya na jale whose climatic line states — jeene me hai teri ruswayi, marte nahijalkar parwane — the parwana gets a bad name only when it lives!”

Years later, in Khazanchi (Madan Mohan, ’58) he wrote about the modern parwana who is afraid of going near the fire naye zamane ka parwana jalne se dare! So this ingenious moth tries to solve the problem by sending his petition by post to the flame. She replies, “You’re there and I’m here, so what’s this talk of love between us?” The moth replies, “Everyone knows your penchant for burning. And this happens to be my new suit, and I bought this tie only this morning. Do you want me to risk all these? so, goodbye! Kon mufi me mare?

When the new decimal coinage was introduced, the first and most famous song about it, which was also a hit in the Binaca Parade that year, was written by him for Miss India (SD Burman, ’57) Badla zamana — where he lovingly describes how you can obtain for a mere rupee no less than 100 tiny round pretty coins, gol mol nanhe munne akhionke tare with which you can fill up your treasury.

In an interview, Hemant Kumar had this to say about Rajendra Krishan’s style of working, “Let’s suppose the recording of a song is fixed 15 days hence; he will come to the studio alright, but won’t work. He’ll say, ‘Come I know a place where this item is great! Let’s go eat.’ So we go there. Next day it’s something else. Then he’ll be away at the races. Thus we come to the 12th day. Now we put pressure on him. Then he’ll sit somewhere quietly and come back after 15-20 minutes with the complete song!” When one considers that both Ramchandra and Madan Mohan, for whom he did most of his work, believed in having the full lyric in their hands before composing, it is obvious that most of the great songs of that era owed their original inspiration to Rajendra Krishan’s lyric alone.

Rajendra Krishan could be satiric as well as playful. In Minister (Madan Mohan, ’59), he gave Asha a song where she taunts a gallivanting husband with apt imagery — Jab ghar men chulha jalta hai, phir hotel me kyun khate ho?

But when he was writing about what was happening around him like Mahatma’s assassination or the horrors of Partition, he lay bare his feelings in no uncertain terms. The Rafi song, Suno suno ai duniawalo Bapu ki ye amar kahani ends with the terse line, Apne hi hathonse hamne apna Bapu khoya (We killed Bapu with our own hands).

Again in the film about Partition, Lahore (Shyam Sunder, ’49) he gave a song to Manna Dey which begins,

Dunia to kehti hai insaan kahan hai?
Insaan ye kehta hai Bhagwan kahan hai?
Insaan ne insaan par kya zulm kiya hai
Ana hi lahu tha jise haske piya hai

He wrote a whole series of lovely songs for Hemant Kumar. The biggest hit was Nagin (’54), then there was Miss Mary (’57), Champakali (’57), Lagan (’55), Payal (’57), Durgesh Nandini (’56) and so on.

We have heard Hemant Kumar mention Rajendra Krishan’s fondness for the races; strangely enough he actually won a jackpot for an estimated 46 lakhs! This obviously took the edge off his struggle for existence! He won the Filmfare award for 1965 for the film Khandan (Ravi).

At the time of his death in 1988, he had written songs for 300 films, of which 100 carried his screenplay as well. HMV gave him the honour of being a major lyricist and brought out an LP containing 12 of his songs.

He deserved all the honours he received, but none of them can do justice to the legacy of sheer listening pleasure he has bequeathed us.A BharatMillenium

Subhash K Jha

When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others
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post Jun 26 2006, 03:16 AM
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thanks Mahesh ji for this article. smile3.gif

i never knew he was a screen-play writer. this came as a surprise!

and i think his ability to pen songs based on different situations and moods,
made him popular lyricist.

more than recognitions, the never-ending popularity of his songs is the best award one can get!

jha is quite a journalist!


"Never explain - your friends don't need it, and your enemies won't believe you anyhow."
- Elbert Hubbard
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post Jun 26 2006, 09:25 AM
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Very informative, thanks mahesh
we genarally tend to overlook people behind the scene/s , simply forgetting their importance. I am happy that here at hf due credit is being given to them........
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post Jun 26 2006, 01:46 PM
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thanks mahesh ji
for such a informative post
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post Apr 2 2007, 11:30 AM
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A song written by Rajinder Krishan is here:

Here is the best singer of universe

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." -George Bernard Shaw ."

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post Nov 17 2007, 07:30 PM
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Here I upload my all time favorite song written by Rajendra Krishan

Rang Dil Ki Dhadkan
Film - Patang
Year - 1960
Lyricist(s) - Rajendra Krishan
Musician(s) - Chitragupta
Duration - 3.21 mins
Bitrate - 128kbps
Format - mp3

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