Jana Pehchana Sa Ajanabee

(Remembering lyricist, Asad Bhopali on his 101st Birthday)

There were a few lyricists in Hindi films who penned popular and meaningful songs for a few decades, yet unfortunately couldn’t get their due. Asad Bhopali was one of them. His career spanning over four decades saw him writing songs for various composers, and a few of his songs became extremely popular. Though he kept on continuing his work, the majority of his films belonged to B or C grade. He never compromised with the quality of his songs, he maintained meaningful and decent lyrics. It was very unfortunate that after penning for four decades, when finally he received the best lyricist Filmfare award, he was unable to attend the function and more so expired in a few months thereafter.

I’m sure the readers would find many familiar songs on today’s list, though they might not have thought of the lyricist as Asad Bhopali. A usual story, the lyricist is always the forgotten dimension of a song. Even after writing a few of all time popular songs, his name never reached the top lyricists of Hindi cinema.
Today on the occasion of his 101st birthday (not a surprise that I missed his birth centenary year!), let’s revisit his songs.

Born on 10th July 1921 as Asadullah Khan in Bhopal, he learnt Arabic and Persian from his father, Munshi Ahmed Khan, who was a teacher of Arabic and Persian languages. He was formally educated in Urdu and English. His vocabulary was vast including words from Urdu and other languages. He was inclined to poetry at a young age and used to recite his poems and ghazals in mushairas in Bhopal. He also took part in the Independence movement via his revolutionary poems. And like a few other lyricists of Hindi cinema, he was jailed for that.

There’s a story as to how he joined Hindi films as a lyricist. I guess, it would be well known by now, still let me add it here. Fazli brothers, the producers of the movie, Duniya, were in search of a new lyricist, when Aarzoo Lukhnawi left India after the partition. In a mushaira arranged at a theatre in Bhopal, he was spotted by the theatre manager. On his recommendation, he met the Fazli brothers. He was engaged by them and as they say, the rest is history!
He penned a couple of songs for the Suraiya and Karan Dewan starrer, Duniya, which was released in 1949. Let’s begin today’s journey with one of the songs.

Armaan Lute Dil Toot Gaya – Duniya (1949) Suraiya / Composer – C Ramchandra
A good song lyrically, though I won’t call it a great song. But right from the first film he was at home with the filmy songs. I mean, film songs do have a sort of restrictions and a framed boundary.
After this film, he never got a chance to pen songs for C Ramchandra.

The next year saw him writing songs for then popular composers, Shyam Sunder and Husnalal Bhagatram.
The films were Nirdosh and Aadhi Raat respectively. Nirdosh was Bhopali’s only film with Shyam Sunder.
The film, Aadhi Raat, had three songs by Bhopali. I had one of the songs in my Lata’s yearly review of 1950. The song, Dil Hi To Hai Tadap Gaya, was inspired by a ghazal by Mirza Ghalib. In fact, Asad Bhopali had a fascination with Ghalib and he even named one of his sons, Ghalib.
For today’s post, let me add,

Humein Duniya Ko Dil Ke Zakhm – Aadhi Raat (1950) Lata Mangeshkar & Rafi / Composer – Husnalal Bhagatram
Like many other duets of Lata Mangeshkar and Rafi under the baton of Husnalal Bhagatram, I’m fond of this beautiful duet. It very effectively portrays the dilemma faced by the lovers and the faith and optimism, lovers experience. Though it sounds like a sad song in the beginning, it’s surely not just another in the category.

B R Chopra’s Afsana was Bhopali’s next film with Husnalal Bhagatram. And he wrote 6 songs for the movie, of which five were Lata’s solos. For today’s post however, I’m adding,

Kismat Bigdi Duniya Badali – Afsana (1951) Mukesh / Composer – Husnalal Bhagatram
One of Mukesh’s memorable songs. The song is a bit philosophical, though it also talks about the personal sorrows of the character played by Ashok Kumar. The meaningful lyrics, Mukesh’s soulful rendition and a simple, easy on the ear tune makes it a complete package.

Even after the success of the film, Afsana, he didn’t get many opportunities. In 1951, he wrote just one song for the film, Rajput. It was his first song for Hansraj Behl.
Suraiya and Ajit starrer Moti Mahal (1952) had three songs penned by Asad Bhopali. He later had a long association with Hansraj Behl throughout the 50s. He penned songs for about 16 films under Hansraj Behl’s baton. Their prominent films include, Dost (1954), Shah Behram (1954), Khaibar (1954), Lal Pari (1954), Mast Qalander (1955), Rajdhani (1956), Miss Bombay (1957), and Sawan (1959). Let’s listen to a few songs from their association.

Jayega Jab Yahan Se – Moti Mahal (1952) Rafi & Madhubala Javheri / Composer – Hansraj Behl
Though not so popular, it’s surely one of Bhopali’s best songs. The song talks about the ultimate truth of life. One comes alone in this world, goes alone. No one accompanies. One has to leave all the fame, prosperity and all the belongings behind. What accompanies one is just the cloth used to cover the mortal remains.

Keh Rahi Hai Dhadkane Pukar Kar – Laal Pari (1954) Geeta Dutt & Talat Mahmood / Composer – Hansraj Behl
So far, I selected sad, philosophical songs. But it’s not that Bhopali was weak in other genres. Here’s a beautiful romantic duet that’s very much popular, but I doubt if the listeners are aware of its lyricist.

Dil e Nadan Zamane Mein – Mast Qalander (1955) Asha Bhosle & Talat Mahmood / Composer – Hansraj Behl
The song is like a conversation between a man who allegedly defames ‘love’ and a lady who stands against the allegations. So the depressed man sings in low octave whereas the lady sings in high octave in response. Both are in pain, he accuses her of betrayal, she denies it firmly. Bhopali has penned it quite aptly. In strong contrast the earlier song, the song has a completely different mood.
Backed with the Matka rhythm, the pathos laden melody slowly captures attention.

Asad Bhopali wrote six songs for the Ajit and Nalini Jaywant starrer movie, Insaaf. Though the association wasn’t popular, just one song from the movie is enough to cherish it.

Do Dil Dhadak Rahe Hain – Insaaf (1956) Asha Bhosle & Talat Mahmood / Composer – Chitragupt
A charmingly cute song, woven in a typically sweet Chitragupt melody. I’m sure the song is favourite with many of us, just the lyricist is ignored.

Asad Bhopali also had an association with the composer, Ravi, in the 60s. Most likely, their first film together was, Tu Nahi Aur Sahi (1960). Later they had a few films together, the prominent ones were, Salam Memsaab (1961), Pyar Ka Sagar (1961) where he had just one song, Tower House (1962) where he wrote all but one song, Apna Banake Dekho (1963) with three songs, Ustadon Ke Ustad (1963) all songs, etc. It seems after Ravi got associated with Chopras, he left Asad Bhopali and continued with Sahir for a long period. After a long gap, Asad Bhopali again wrote for Ravi in Vandana (1975). I’ve chosen a couple of songs to highlight their association.

Main Khushnaseeb Hoon – Tower House (1962) Lata Mangeshkar & Mukesh / Composer – Ravi
Instead of choosing the soulful, Ae Mere Dil e Naadan, I preferred the beautiful piano song. What a beautiful, romantic song! Listen to the soft romantic words, the heart warming tune and the perfect rendition by the singers.

Milte Hi Nazar Tumse – Ustadon Ke Ustad (1963) Rafi, Asha Bhosle & Manna Dey / Composer – Ravi
Again instead of choosing the more popular, Sau Baar Janam Lenge, I selected the wonderful qawwali, which I think is lyrically superior. Qawwali has generally a definite meter to follow and it has its somewhat typical and unique vocabulary.

Till now, Asad Bhopali was still struggling to get his feet. One popular song from a film used to boost his morale and he would continue writing songs.

A big breakthrough was the songs of Parasmani, which proved to be immensely popular and not only helped Laxmikant Pyarelal achieve success, but also to spread Asad Bhopali’s name. Unfortunately he still remained confined to B grade films. He never got offers from established banners nor was he a particular favourite with a renowned composer. Laxmikant Pyarelal were themselves struggling, and most of their films were religious, mythological or other B grade films. Their association with Anand Bakshi had just begun. Asad Bhopali and Bharat Vyas were their common associations. After the grand success of Parasmani, Asad Bhopali wrote for, Aaya Toofan (1964), Mr X in Bombay (1964), Hum Sab Ustad Hain (1965), Boxer (1965) etc. By the end of the 60s, Laxmikant – Pyarelal became the most ‘in demand’ composers. The duo was more inclined to Anand Bakshi, Majrooh, Sahir etc. However in the 70s, Asad Bhopali wrote for a couple of films, Roop Tera Mastana (1972) and Jurm Aur Sazaa (1974).
For today’s post, let me add a couple of songs,

Woh Jab Yaad Aaye – Parasmani (1963) Lata Mangeshkar & Rafi / Composer – Laxmikant Pyarelal
It was finally after 13 years that he got his first big success. The songs of Parasmani were nationwide hits and quite unjustly only popularized the composer duo, Laxmikant Pyarelal. Both the lyricists, Asad Bhopali and Faruq Kaiser remained where they were. The roaring popularity of the songs couldn’t boost their careers.

Ajnabi Tum Jane Pehchane Se Lagte Ho – Hum Sab Ustad Hain (1965) Kishore Kumar / Composer – Laxmikant Pyarelal
It’s one of Kishore Kumar’s popular songs. The song is still very popular. Laxmikant Pyarelal composed for a few B grade films in the initial years of their career and they continued the same lyricists. That included Asad Bhopali, Bharat Vyas and Anand Bakshi. The lyrics of this song are good, though I must agree, Kishore Kumar, the tune and orchestration added to a large extent to its popularity.

Lachhiram wasn’t a first rung composer and didn’t compose for many films. Asad Bhopali had a couple of prominent films with him, Razia Sultan (1961) and Main Suhagan Hoon (1964). I’ve selected a song from the latter,

Ye Kis Manzil Pe Le Aayi – Main Suhagan Hoon (1964) Talat Mahmood / Composer – Lachhiram
It’s the only song Asad Bhopali wrote for the movie. I agree the song got overshadowed by Rafi’s popular songs. Still the song is good and Talat Mahmood’s soft velvety voice did full justice to the soulful lyrics.

From the 60s, throughout the 70s, Asad Bhopali was mainly associated with Usha Khanna and Ganesh. There was a small share by N Datta as well. He wrote songs for about 40 films for Usha Khanna and for about 16 films for Ganesh. Usha Khanna and Ganesh were largely restricted to B grade films and so was Asad Bhopali in the 60s and the 70s. In the late 70s and the 80s his assignments decreased further. I would now add a few representative songs composed by Usha Khanna and Ganesh.

Hum Tumse Juda Hoke – Ek Sapera Ek Lootera (1965) Rafi / Composer – Usha Khanna
Usha Khanna might not have achieved the popularity she deserved, her tunes used to be good. She recorded the maximum number of Asad Bhopali’s songs, with around 40 films together. The song has been very popular.

Hum Tere Bina Jee Na Sakenge – Thakur Jernail Singh (1966) Asha Bhosle / Composer – Ganesh
Ganesh Sharma was the younger brother of Pyarelal Sharma, from the duo Laxmikant Pyarelal. After assisting the duo for a few years, he got to compose independently for Thakur Jernail Singh, which was released in 1966. His long association with Asad Bhopali also started with the film and if I’m correct the majority of his films had lyrics by Bhopali. Picturised on Helen the beautiful song was a hit and still continues to be.

Ek Ajnabi Teri Baahon Mein Rahe – Shera Daku (1966) Asha Bhosle / Composer – Ganesh
Unfortunately Ganesh got restricted to B and C grade films. But his tunes were always A grade. Take an example of this song: good lyrics, excellent singing and good orchestration. Ganesh was himself an arranger and it’s quite evident from all of his songs.

Mera Tumhara Saath To – Ek Paheli (1971) Rafi & Suman Kalyanpur / Composer – Usha Khanna
Extremely melodious and impressively rendered song. And of course listen to the lyrics as well. So romantic! It’s a complete injustice to belittle a song just because it belongs to a so called B grade film. Usha Khanna composed good songs.

Dil Ka Soona Saaz – Ek Naari Do Roop (1973) Rafi / Composer – Ganesh
I guess this song finally got its due in the internet era. Listeners are appreciating the song for its lyrics, simple tune and of course Rafi’s unmatched rendition. I think I should explore Ganesh Sharma’s songs soon.

It was in the late 80s that he was approached by Rajshri productions for the film, Maine Pyar Kiya (1989). He wrote most of the songs and all the songs were hugely popular making the film a musical hit. He was nominated for the best lyricist Filmfare award and won for the song, Dil Deewana Bin Sajna Ke. The song was sung separately by Lata Mangeshkar and S P Balasubramaniam.
But it was too late now to appreciate his talent. He suffered a paralytic attack and was unable to attend the function. He was shifted to Bhopal, where he expired on 9th June 1990.

Before I end,

  • He penned around 450+ songs for 130+ films in a career spanning over four decades. The number could be more, but difficult to confirm
  • He wrote for Usha Khanna the most with around 40 films, followed by Hansraj Behl and Ganesh
  • His association with Ravi and Laxmikant Pyarelal was also successful
  • It is said that he never marketed himself, never approached producers or music directors for an opportunity
  • He never got a chance to write for first rung composers, Naushad, Shankar Jaikishan, S D Burman, Madan Mohan etc
  • His short time association with C Ramchandra, Anil Biswas, Husnalal Bhagatram, Shyam Sunder couldn’t offer him any advantage
  • He sincerely wrote songs for any project that came his way, let that be for a B or C grade film.
  • He never got his due and was used to drinking to alleviate his sorrows, ultimately he ruined himself.
  • His film, Ranbhoomi was released posthumously in 1991. The songs composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal however were not popular
  • In 1995, his poetry collection Roshni, Dhoop, Chandni was published

Please add your favourites by Asad Bhopali.

Disclaimer –
Mehfil Mein Meri, claims no credit for any image, screenshots or songs posted on this site. Images on this blog are posted to make the text interesting. The images and screenshots are the copyright of their original owners. The song links are shared from YouTube, only for the listening convenience of music lovers. The copyright of these songs rests with the respective owners, producers and music companies.

13 Replies to “Jana Pehchana Sa Ajanabee”

  1. Anup,
    I remember you also wrote a post earlier on Asad Bhopali – or am I mixing up? – in which another song of the film ‘Parasmani’ was included.

    But regardless, you are doing a great service to the unsung lyricists. Even well-known lyricists’ contribution was mentioned after that of the singer and the music director. The title of the post hides the irony – well-known song but unremembered its creator.

    Congratulations for another very good post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks AKji for your appreciation. I haven’t posted about Asad Bhopali before. Last month Anita ji posted on her blog. Perhaps you remembered it.
      The title of the post is inspired by Asad Bhopali’s song, Ajnabee Tum Jane Pehchane Se Lagte Ho.
      That quite aptly fits him somehow!


  2. Anup ji,

    Good post. Nice song selection.

    As with almost every male, female tandem, Ajnabi tum jaane pehchane.. by Lata is vastly overshadowed by the superlative Kishore version. Nevertheless, it is a fast, chulbuli song ( unlikethesad KK one ), easy on the ears. Except the mukhda, the lyrics are different.

    An eternal favorite of mine, also from HSUH is ..
    Pyar bantthe chalo..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pradeep ji,
      Thank you for your appreciation.
      I was expecting someone to add the female version. I too like it. It’s such a completely different from Kishore Kumar’s song.

      Pyar baantate chalo is a good song too.



  3. Dear Anup ji,

    Speaking of unsung Lyricists, could you do a Post on Madhukar Rajasthani? There is so little known about him.

    And that Lyricist for the Film “Nausherwan-e-Adil”. Is it true that he had come from Iran and went back home after just one film?

    Would love to know more about such people.

    Please do try when you have the time.



    1. Parthaji,
      That’s a good suggestion.
      I’ll look for Madhukar Rajsthani and Parvez Shamsi.
      I am familiar with Madhukar Rajasthani. But have no idea about the details of Parvez Shamsi.
      I’ll see.
      Thank you for the suggestion.


  4. Looking through films on which Bhopali worked, I only recognized maybe a half-dozen names and have actually seen only one. This was my favorite song from “Razia Sultana”:

    It is a fun teasing song in which the group of men and group of ladies both try to argue that they are better/more powerful than the other.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. This Film “RAZIA SULTANA” (1961) also had ANAND BAKSHI as the other Lyricist. The Film also had the romantic duet “DHALTI JAYE RAAT” penned by AB

        Liked by 2 people

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