Life is all about revealing the art, concealing the artist. If that be the Oscar Wilde-like yardstick, then noted lyricist Anand Bakshi was successful in life. And death. Of course, for a society that judges you by what you have, not what you are, he may not always make the cut — he had no charisma, no swagger, just an ability to play with words.
His trade called for solitude, he happily pursued it in the shadows. Almost predictably, his birth anniversary (July 20) too went largely unnoticed. His songs were on everybody’s lips, he remained unsung. Just recently when Rajesh Khanna, the eternal romantic passed away, there was mass hysteria with connoisseurs and common man alike singing praises of the superstar for giving the nation reasons to smile in the 1960s and much of the 1970s. Not to be outdone, the electronic media too played popular songs of Rajesh Khanna as part of ‘special’ tributes. For a few days, you could just switch on a TV channel and be certain you will get to see, hear and admire the songs of films such as Aradhana, Amar Prem, Haathi Mere Saathi and the rest.
While everybody sang deserved hosannas to Rajesh Khanna, not much thought was spared for the song writers — Anand Bakshi in most cases, or Yogesh in a couple of instances. Occasionally, people remembered Kishore Kumar’s contribution to Rajesh Khanna’s popularity. In a rare case or two, a thought was spared for S.D. Burman too for his haunting music. Yet nobody deemed it appropriate to give due credit to Anand Bakshi for penning songs such as ‘Chingari Koi Bhadke’, ‘Kora Kagaz Thha’, ‘Mere Sapno Ki Rani’ and the rest. Why, it did not strike anyone that indeed Anand Bakshi had reserved his best for Rajesh Khanna!
His song ‘Nafrat Ki Duniya Chhodke’ not only left the audiences in tears in Haathi Mere Saathi, it also spoke eloquently about the man who initially used to write songs to impress his colleagues in the Army where he served before coming to Bombay to become an artist. Incidentally, the song ‘Nafrat Ki Duniya’ was the only song sung by Mohammed Rafi in the film and it was only Rajesh Khanna’s persistence that made sure the song reached the masses. Of course, it charted its own course, winning an award from animal rights activists for sensitive portrayal and soothing lyrics!
Yet in the current hysteria (was it just hero worship?), Anand Bakshi was forgotten. Never mind that without songs Rajesh Khanna was half the genius he was touted to be. But then, Anand Bakshi was a wordsmith, a fine one at that. And Rajesh Khanna was a manifest face of a dream, a superstar. The difference in the trajectories of a writer and a star going back all the way to their early days in Bombay. While Rajesh Khanna went around in a sports car in his days of so-called struggle, Anand Bakshi had to sleep on railway platforms. Indeed, for some time railway stations were the place where he churned out some of the finest songs. He had no house, no home, no bank balance. Yet he dreamed big. Big enough to write
‘Mere Sapno Ki Rani’!
While Kaka flaunted his sports car, Anand Bakshi kept a driving licence in his pocket, just in case he needed to turn a chauffeur if he did not make it in the film world! Fortunately, he was never required to dip into his pocket as the film world offered him over 650 movies with all possible best song nominations. Why then did Anand Bakshi remain unsung? Why did it capture nobody’s mind that the wonderful songs which they all hummed were written by someone, in the first place? Somebody called Anand Bakshi. Call it the hazard of the profession, if you will. Chances are, Anand Bakshi paid the price for his trade. Anonymity, not limelight, is the fate of a writer!