Anand Bakshi was perhaps the only poet apart from Majrooh Sultanpuri, who enjoyed such a long and illustrious career as a film lyricist. He was still going strong after more than 43 years since he broke through in Hindi films at the time of his death.
Born in Rawalpindi on July 21, 1930, Bakshi was an avid film buff. As his family finally settled in Delhi in post Independent India, he dreamt of coming to Bombay to join the film industry. Though he used to write poetry in his youth, Bakshi’s early dream was to become a successful playback singer and not a lyricist. So passionate was Bakshi about joining films that he ran away from home and joined the Navy with the hope of reaching Bombay. However, the Naval Mutiny in Karachi ended his career in the Navy. After the partition of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan in 1947, Bakshi returned to his family. A short stint as a telephone operator followed but he was still determined to move to Bombay.
But he could make no headway in Bombay. Dejected and disillusioned, Bakshi went back to Delhi and worked with the EME as a motor mechanic. But Bakshi persisted with his efforts to join the Film line and kept coming back to Bombay to try his luck. His persistence finally paid off when a chance meeting with actor Master Bhagwan materialized into an offer to write the lyrics for Bhagwan’s film Bhala Admi (1958). The film starred Bhagwan along with Anita Guha, Kum Kum and Chandrashekhar. Sadly for Bakshi, the film was a break but not a breakthrough. Thus followed more long periods of struggle for Bakshi in Bombay till he finally began to get noticed with his work in the films of filmmaker Suraj Prakash – Mehndi Lagi Mere Haath (1962) and Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965). The latter film’s box-office success and superb musical score by Kalyanji-Anandji brought Bakshi to the fore. The film looked at the love story between a Kashmiri boatman and a modern Miss, played by Shashi Kapoor and Nanda respectively. While each of the songs of the film proved to be smash hits, Pardesiyon Se Na Ankhiyan Milana, Na Na Karte Pyar Tumhi Se Kar Baithe and Yeh Sama Sama Hai Yeh Pyar Ka outdid the others in terms of popularity. It was followed by the reincarnation drama, Milan (1967), starring Sunil Dutt, Nutan and Jamuna that finally took Bakshi to the top as a film lycisit. Songs like Sawan Ka Mahina, Bol Gori Bol, Ram Kare Aisa Ho Jaye, Main To Deewana and of course Hum Tum Yug Yug Geet Milan Ke were hummed in every nook and corner of the country. Anand Bakshi had truly had arrived. And from then onwards he never looked back.
Followed a golden period for Bakshi whose association with Laxmikant-Pyarelal and RD Burman, in particular, led to several musical milestones like Farz (1967), Do Raaste (1969), Bobby (1973), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Ek Duje Ke Liye (1981) with the former and Kati Patang (1970), Amar Prem (1971) and Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971), just to name a few, with the latter. Of these, his work in Amar Prem particularly stands out and was among his favourites. Shakti Samanta heard Bakshi recite Chingari Koi Bhadke at a ‘kavi samelan’ or a gathering of poets and incorporated it specially into the film. Other musical masterpieces in Amar Prem, written by Bakshi, include Bada Natkhat Hai, Kuch to Log Kahenge, Yeh Kya Hua and Raina Beeti Jaaye.
Bakshi was highly versatile, flexible and was now working with all the top directors of the day. Mention must also be made of his long associations with filmmakers Raj Kapoor (Bobby, Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978)), Subhash Ghai (Karz (1980), Hero (1983), Karma (1986), Ram Lakhan (1989), Saudagar (1991), Khalnayak (1993) to Taal (1999) and Yaadein (2001)) and Yash Chopra (Chandni (1989), Lamhe (1991), Darr (1993), Dil to Paagal Hai (1997)). Bakshi has also sung two songs in the film Mom Ki Gudiya (1972) – Baaghon Mein Bahar Aayi with none other than Lata Mangeshkar. Recalls Lata, “I remember before the song was recorded he came up to me and said ‘since I’m going to sing with you, the song is bound to be a success’.” Mom Ki Gudiya saw him sing a solo song as well, Main Dhoondh Raha Tha. The songs for the film were composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal.
Even as he went from strength to strength Bakshi’s forte was that he always wrote simple yet evocative poetry, which could be easily understood by one and all. He was also one of the few lyricists who made it a point to attend all the recordings of his lyrics. In fact, according to him, “The lyrics of any song depend on the story, the theme and the situation for which it is created. A song can be written to match any mood, occasion or whatever age group the script demands. So whether it is a story of the sixties/seventies period or today, it doesn’t really make a difference.”
Among various honours bestowed upon him, Anand Bakshi won the Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist four times – Apnapan (1977) (Aadmi Musafir Hai), Ek Duje ke Liye (Tere Mere Beech Mein), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge (1995) (Tujhe Dekha to Yeh Jaana Sanam) and Taal (Ishq Bina). This out of a staggering 40 nominations in the Best Lyricist category!
Bakshi passed away in Mumbai on March 30, 2002 after writing lyrics for well more than 600 films. He had been ailing for quite some time and was undergoing treatment for lung and heart related problems when he died. He is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters. Some of his films that released posthumously include Mujhse Dosti Karoge (2002) and the long-delayed Mehbooba (2008).