Prem Dhawan was a multi-talented personality. He was basically a poet and a choreographer, but also a lyricist, a good dancer and a competent music director too.
For me, he is one of the most underrated personalities in Hindi film industry. People love the songs penned by him, but majority of them are unaware of the fact that those are his songs. So never mind his other talents, he didn’t get his due credit as a lyricist. It’s a usual thing even for a song lover to forget the lyricists, as we never get to see them or interact with them. A lyricist is the one who blesses us with the song in the first place. The contribution of composer or the singer is no doubt, important, but a lyricist should also receive equal credit for a song.
So today, on his 18th death anniversary, I wish to salute him and pay him a tribute for his contribution to Hindi films.
He was born on 13th June 1923, in Ambala in Hariyana District. His father was Jail superintendent and because of his job Prem Dhawan got to travel a lot in India with his family, where he got opportunity to study various cultures and be a part of it. He completed his college education in Lahore where Sahir & Indrakumar Gujral were his best friends. He was inclined towards Communist Party and was a active member. He came to Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1940s and Joined IPTA. He took music lessons from Pandit Ravi Shankar, and dance lessons from Shanti Roy Vardhan. He was a passionate patriot, his songs reflected that and are still hugely popular forming a part of day to day life. The songs are very influencing and evoke a spark of patriotism in the listeners. He was at home with songs of every genre.
His poem ‘Jhoom Jhoom Ke Nacho Aaj, Gaao Khushi Ke Geet’ was performed by him after Indian Independence, in Mumbai at a poetry recitation. Naushad was impressed by it.
Prem Dhawan was working with Bombay Talkies so was not allowed to work outside, and it is said that, he had to decline the offer from Naushad made at that time. Majrooh took up these lines for a song in Andaz later.
He worked as an assistant to music composer Khurshid Anwar in 1946. He wrote songs for the first time, for the movie, Dharati Ke Laal (Directorial debut of K A Abbas) in 1946. Pandit Ravishankar was the composer. Later in 1948, his songs for the movie, Ziddi became popular and he grabbed attention of various music composers.
He was a trained dancer and danced with Kuku for the movie, Singaar in 1949. The song was ‘Ari O Mohe Chhed Gaya‘ by composer Khurshid Amwar, penned by D N Madhok. Later he choreographed in Do Bigha Zameen, for the song ‘Hariyala Sawan Dhol Bajata Aaya’ and danced as well. Other films to portray his choreographic talent were, Aarzoo (1950), Naya Daur (Ude Jab Jab Zulfen Teri) and Goonj Uthi Shehnai, to name a few. He worked as a choreographer for a few more films.
His prominent associations were with composers Anil Biswas, Salil Choudhari and Chitragupt.
He worked with Anil Biswas for films that include,
Aarzoo-1950 ( Aayi Bahar Aayi Bahar)
Tarana– 1951 (Seene Mein Sulagte Hai & Nain Mile Nain Hue Baware)
Badi Bahu– 1951 (Badali Teri Nazar To)
Jeet-1950 (Mast Pawan Hai & Chahe Kitni Kathin Dagar Ho)
Aaram-1951 (Balma Ja Ja Ja & Rutha Hua Chanda)
Rahi-1953 (Ek Pal Ruk Jana – Happy & Sad Versions)
Pardesi- 1957 ( Rasiya Re Man Basiya Re) etc.
Of course, he wasn’t the only lyricist for these movies. But his songs got more acclaim than others. Their wonderful combination is out of this world. It must have been a magical experience for both of them to share such a nice relationship. His words always got an appropriate and just tune to form a musical masterpiece.
Prem Dhawan was an expert at expressing various emotions through his songs, let the song be of any genre. He has penned all sorts of songs.
His allience with Salil Choudhari was also a successful and melodious. Their prominent films were Jagte Raho, Kabuliwala, Tangewali (Halke Halke Chalo Sanware & Rimjhim jhim Badarwa Barse), Aawaz (Dhitang Dhitang Bole), etc.
Chitragupt was also an underrated composer, who unfortunately got connected with B or C grade movies. But Prem Dhawan’s songs for these movies were as melodious and sweet as any other songs. Their association was majestically supreme. They first worked together for Guest House in 1959, and all the songs were hugely popular. Thereafter they continued to create musical hits one after the other. The films were,
Madame XYZ ( Jadubhari Yeh Chandani & Mane Na Mane Na),
Bada Admi (Akhiyan Sang Akhiayn & Zara Sambhaliye Adayen Aap Ki)
Zabak (Teri Duniya Se Door & Jane Kaisa Chhane Laga)
Buzuban (Deewane Hum deewane Tum)
Chand Mere Aaja (Sajna Kahe Bhul Gaye & Teri Aankhon Mein Pyar)
Aadhi Raat Ke Baad (Bahot Haseen Hai Tumhari Aankhen & Mera Dil Baharon Ka Woh Phool)
Even from a film like, Rocket Girl (1962) the song stands out, ‘Na Jane Chand Kaisa Hoga’ by Mukesh & Kamal Barot.
O P Nayyar & Ravi started their musical careers with Prem Dhawan as a lyricist. O P Nayyar’s first movie, Aasman had beautiful songs by Geeta Dutt (Dekho Jadu Bhare More Nain & Pom Pom Pom Baja Bole), but they didn’t work together afterwards.
Ravi’s first film Vachan had some famous tracks by Prem Dhawan (Jab Liya Haath Mein Haath) and their association continued further. Their notable films include, Ek Saal (1957), Chirag Kahan Roshani Kahan (1959), Pyar Ka Sagar (1961), Ek Phool Do Mali (1969) etc.
His other musical associations were
Madan Mohan – Ada- 1951 (Sanwari Surat Man Bhayi Re Piya)
Hemant Kumar – Maa Beta- 1962 (Mohhobat Jisko Kehte Hai)
Roshan – Tanksaal -1954- (Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere)
– Vallah Kya Baat Hain- 1962 – (Ek To Surat Pyari & Khanake To Khanake Kyun)
Hansraj Behl – Sawan- 1959 (Kanha Chhedo Bansuri & Nain Dwar Se Man)
– Milan- 1957 (Haye Jiya Roye & Sari Duniya Se Puchha)
– Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh-1960 (Auraton Ke Dabbe Mein & Tere Pichhe Phirate)
– Miss Bombay- 1957 (Din Ho Ya Raat & Le Chala Jidhar )
Khayyam – Shola Aur Shabnam- 1961 (Ladi Re Ladi)
Dilip Dholakia – Private Secretary- 1962 (Ja Re Beimaan Tujhe Jaan Liya)
Shankar Jaikishan – Mera Naam Joker- 1970 (Sadke Heer Tujhpe)
S N Tripathi – Cobra Girl- 1963 (Nazar Ko Sambhalo & Nigahon Se Dil Ka Salam)
Kalyanji Anandji – Geet- 1970 (Kabhi Honthon Se Lagale)
He composed for several films. His songs are full of typical Punjabi flavour. He could not shine as a successful composer, but his few films need a mention like, Shaeed (1965), Pavitra Papi (1970), Raat Ke Aandhere Mein (1987) etc.
He was awarded ‘Padmashri’ in 1970. He won National Film Award for best Lyrics in 1971 for the film, Nanak Dukhiya Sab Sansar. He could not create magic in 1970s , his last contribution was for dubbed film, Apporva Sagodharargal in 1989.
He wrote a poet in Lata’s honour, when she was awarded the highest honour in the country, ‘Bharatratna Award’. I found the poem in a Marathi Book called ‘Kanrwa Guzar Gaya’ by Sunil Deshpande. Here it is……
He died on 7th May 2001 in Mumbai.
Let’s now turn to his songs. All songs are from pre 70s period and includes, songs written or composed by him.
The songs are in No particular order. Let’s start the melodious journey.
1. Chanda Re Ja Re Ja Re- Ziddi (1948) Lata Mangeshkar / Music – Khemchand Prakash
This is his first popular song, and his name became well known among film fraternity . She is requsting the moon, to act like a messenger and deliver her message that she is missing him badly and waiting for him, but he hasn’t turn up.She has sleepless nights and she thinks of him and only him. Her desperation is so well penned by Prem Dhawan in simple words. Her love, pretend anger, and above all innocence of a girl, in love for the first time, are very sweetly penned.
The tenderness & innocence in Lata’s voice, further add to the total effect. Certainly a lovable song!
2. Seene Mein Sulagate Hain Armaan – Tarana (1951) Lata Mangeshkar & Talat / Music – Anil Biswas
The songs portrays deep grief and sorrow. It’s one of the best hindi film sad songs. He is helplessly cursing destiny for their separation. He had wished her, and the memories are now burning his soul, his eyes are full of sadness. He has no complaints to the society, or to her, his destiny didn’t help him.
Her condition is not different, she has no one but her loneliness and her tears with her. She is unable to bare the pain, but can’t speak about it as she fears of defamation.
3. Ae Mere Pyare Watan – Kabuliwala (1961) Manna Dey / Music – Salil Choudhari
The song portrays emotions of a man, who’s away from his country. The feelings are so deep and heart touching that I have no words to express them. The lyrics are so powerful that, any person living away from his country would burst into tears after listening to it.
Prem Dhawan’s patriotism was true, as evident from his eternal patriotic songs. The instrument Rubaab has been used very effectively here.
4. Itni Badi Duniya – Toofan Mein Pyar Kahan (1961) Rafi / Music – Chitragupt
His association with Chitragupt was unfortunately for B or C grade films. But listen to this song! We tend to credit it to Rafi, for his excellent rendition, but the original lyrics are full of pathos. The emptiness, the grief, the loneliness are so brilliantly penned by Prem Dhawan. This may not be a well known song, but should rank high in Chitragupt-Dhawan list. Here again I’m short of words to describe it. You have to experience it personally!
5. Ritu Aaye Ritu Jaye Sakhi Ri – Humdard (1956) Lata Mangeshkar & Manna Dey / Music – Anil Biswas
Here we have a classical based song, again with shuddha Hindi words. It’s a difficult task to write lyrics fitting a Raag, mainly when it’s a totally pure classical composition. But Prem Dhawan does that easily and wonderfully. One of the masterpieces by the combo. The song incorporate four Raagas, Sarang, Malhar, Jogiya and Basant Bahar.
This is an eternal composition, it’s like an excellently carved sculpture.
6. Zamane Ka Dastoor Hai Yeh – Lajawab (1950) Lata Mangeshkar & Mukesh / Music – Anil Biswas
A philosophical song. The pathos in the song is too deep. The song makes our eyes wet. Society has been strict, It always controls people’s lives, makes or breaks them, sometimes unjustly so. She says is it fair to get her hopes high and then to ignore her but he replies he knew all along it was going to end in tears as society would not allow them to be happy together. He feels helpless. When we appreciate the pain in the singers’ voices, the actual lyrics should also be powerful and strong enough to express such a deep pain and grief. Such poignant lyrics!
7. Te Ki Main Jhooth Boliya – Jagte Raho (1956) Rafi & Balbir with Chorus / Music – Salil Choudhari
His only song for the movie. He not only wrote but choreographed the bhangra as well. It is as popular as other songs (by Shailendra) from the movie. This is the first full Punjabi song in a Hindi Movie. The black side of the society, its double standards are described sarcastically in the song. The song best suits the main theme of the movie.
8. Dil Ko Lakh Sambhala Jee – Guest House (1959) Lata Mangeshkar / Music – Chitragupt
This is the first film that started their popular and melodious association. He describes the feelings of a girl, fallen in love, so precisely. Her heart was beating for her so far, but now beats for Him. She tried to control it badly, but her crazy heart finally fell for him. She is cheerfully singing her feelings after falling in love. Shakila looks gorgeous and her expressions also win our hearts.
9. Sab Kuchh Luta Ke Hosh Mein – Ek Saal (1957) Talat / Music -Ravi
A popular song from the movie. It has two versions, but Talat’s song is my favourite. He was very good at such songs of sorrow and here also he makes us realize his grief through his soulful voice. Prem Dhawan as usual has penned poignant lyrics, suiting the situation in the film. The picturisation is also very interesting.
10. Chhodo Kal Ki Baaten – Hum Hindustani (1960) Mukesh & Chorus / Music – Usha Khanna
Again a patriotic song, that depicts the developing India. It was the second decade after independence and India was slowly progressing towards new technologies and experiments. It was a new era. See how efficiently he mentions the developing India. India was evolving and progressing towards construction of big dams like Bhakra Nangal in that period. Each one of us should work hard and with sincere efforts for a brighter future of India, was his message through this song.
11. Thehro Zara Si Der – Savera (1958) Geeta Dutt / Music – Shailesh Mukherji
This is a Mujra song, perhaps a lesser known song. Prem Dhawan creates magic in this song as well. I couldn’t locate its video, but the song offers a soothing comfort to the listener. She is requesting him to stay a bit longer even if she is unsuitable (Qabil Nahin Hain Hum Tere) for him, What is she to do after he is gone. She says it will be a great comfort hot her she gets his company for a bit.
12. Bheega Bheega Pyar Ka Sama – Sawan (1959) Shamshad Begum & Rafi / Music – Hansraj Behl
A cheerful romantic song picturised on Bharat Bhushan and Amita. A typical Tanga rhythm appeals us with the enchanting voices and wonderful lyrics. The song portrays a typical romantic conversation between the lovers. They talk about the antagonist, cruel world, the difficulties they may face in their journey of love and her utter confidence in him. Shamshad’s voice sometimes appears harsh at high notes, but still a delight to listen to.
click here for the video song
13. Yeh Parda Hata Do – Ek Phool Do Mali (1969) Asha Bhosle & Rafi / Music – Ravi
A chhed chhad song with Sadhna and Sanjay Khan. This song got a rank in Binaca Geetmala of that year. He is requesting her company, whereas she is dismissing him in pretend anger and agitation. A cute song!
Now let’s hear the lyricist and composer Prem Dhawan
14. Mera Rang De Basanti Chola – Shaheed (1965) Mukesh, Mahendra Kapoor & Rajendra Mehta
Again a song full of patriotism. The term basanti refers here to the color of sacrifice, yellow. (Thanks to dusted off, where I got this information). Bhagat singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev are ready for their sacrifice for the country. They are aware of their fate, right from the beginning of this fight for freedom. Yet they continue the fight and face the death with a smile.
All the songs in the film are superb. Even the song ‘Jogi Hum To Loot Gaye‘ though appears a misfit in otherwise serious film, is cute as a song.
15. Shada Shadak Dil Kare Dhak Dhak – Pavitra Papi (1970) Asha Bhosle, Usha Mangeshkar & Chorus
Though ‘Teri Duniya Se Hoke Majboor’ would have been a obvious choice for this place, I didn’t include it. This is a song full of fun and with a Punjabi Tadka. Punjabi folk style music was his forte, and todays list has no fun song so far. It also features Tanuja, who looks cute and pretty as always. Prem Dhawan was comfortable with such songs as well. He creates a full funny song that lingers in our memories for the whole day. Enjoy the song. We see very young Jayashri T as well dancing in the song.
Which song would you add?
Mehfil Mein Meri claims no credit for any image, Screenshot or song posted on the site. The song links are shared from youtube for the convenience of music lovers. The images and the songs are copyrights of their original owners.