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Majrooh Sultanpuri (c. 1919 - 24 May 2000), was an Urdu poet, lyricist and songwriter. He was one of the dominating musical forces in Indian Cinema in the 1950s and early 1960s and was an important figure in the Progressive Writers' Movement., and is considered one of the finest the finest avant-garde Urdu poets of 20th century literature
Majrooh Sultanpuri was born as Asrar ul Hassan Khan in Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh in either 1919 or 1920. Since his father was a police sub-inspector, he couldn't afford the expensive English education for his son. Majrooh instead completed the seven year course of Dars-e-Nizami in Arabic and Persian and went on to take the degree of becoming an Alim. He then joined Lucknow's Takmeel-ut-Tib College of the Unani (Greek) System of Medicine. He was an established Hakim when he happened to recite one of his ghazals at a mushaira in Sultanpur. The ghazal became famous with the audience and Majrooh decided to drop his prosperous medical practice and begin writing poetry seriously. Soon he became a fixture at mushairas and became great friends with the renowned Urdu poet, Jigar Moradabadi..
In 1945, Majrooh visited Bombay to attend a mushaira at the Saboo Siddique Institute. Here his ghazals and poetry were highly appreciated by the audience. One of the impressed listeners was film producer A.R. Kardar. He contacted Jigar Muradabadi who helped him to meet Majrooh. However, Majrooh refused to write for films because he didn't think very highly of them. But Jigar Muradabadi persuaded him, saying that films would pay well and would help Majrooh to support his family. Kardar then took him to music composer Naushad who put the young writer to test. He gave Majrooh a tune and asked him to write something in the same metre, and Majrooh wrote Jab Usne Gesu Bikhraye, Badal Aaye Jhoom Ke.... Naushad liked what he wrote and Majrooh was signed on as the lyricist of the film Shah Jehan (1946). The songs of the film became so immensely popular that K.L. Saigal wanted Jab Dil Hi Toot Gaya to be played at his funeral. But before he could react to the large-scale appeal created by these lines, he fell ill. The harsh Bombay weather made him leave the city and return to his hometown in the North.
Shah Jehan was followed by S. Fazil's Mehndi, Mehboob's Andaaz (1949), and Shahid Latif's Aarzoo. Just as Majrooh was establishing himself as a lyricist and songwriter of repute, his leftist leanings got him into trouble. The government wasn't amused by his anti-establishment poems and he was jailed in 1949 along with other leftists like Balraj Sahni. Majrooh was asked to apologise, but he refused and was sentenced to two years in prison. While he was in prison, his eldest daughter was born. During this time his family experienced considerable financial difficulties. Raj Kapoor commissioned a song ("Ek din bike jayega maati ke mol") from Majrooh for which he paid him Rs. 1000.
Majrooh's political beliefs were further manifested when his second daughter married the son of the Urdu writer and socialist Zoe Ansari. Toward the end both Majrooh and Zoe Ansari were disenchanted with the direction socialism had taken in the Soviet Union and China. Their desire to better the lives of the masses found an outlet in their writings.
Majrooh went on to write lyrics for popular films throughout the 1950s. Along with Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Majrooh was considered the most notable ghazal writer. Majrooh won his only Filmfare Best Lyricist Award for the song "Chahunga mein tujhe sham savere" in Dosti. He was also awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1993. He was the first lyricist to win the prestigious award named after Dadasaheb Phalke.
Association with Nasir Hussain
Majrooh and Nasir Hussain first collaborated on the film Paying Guest, which Nasir wrote. After Nasir turned director and later producer they went on to collaborate in several films, all of which had huge hits and are some of Majrooh's best remembered works:
* Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon
* Teesri Manzil
* Baharon Ke Sapne
* Pyar Ka Mausam
* Yaadon Ki Baraat
* Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin
* Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai
* Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak
* Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander
* Akele Hum Akele Tum
Majrooh also was instrumental in introducing R.D. Burman to Nasir for Teesri Manzil. The trio worked in 7 of the above mentioned films. Burman went on to work in 2 more films subsequent to Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai.
Majrooh Sultanpuri had a severe attack of pneumonia and died in Bombay on 24 May 2000.