Actor-filmmaker Manoj Kumar remembers Gulshan Bawra as a true friend and says he is alive in every word of the song Mere desh ki dharti, which the late lyricist wrote for his film Upkar.
"We knew each other before we both came into the cinema. He was almost a family member. Gulshan was a jolly good fellow. I came to know about his illness two-and-a-half-months back. He told me he was undergoing the last radiation and was okay otherwise," Manoj Kumar said of Gulshan Bawra, who died Friday at the age of 72.
"We met at Shakti Samanta's 'Chautha' and he told me he was absolutely fine. He was very excited because he had purchased a new car after 27 years. He was proud to have paid so much money for a new car. I was thankful to god that my friend was okay. But?..(trails off)?He's alive in every word of Mere desh ki dharti?.
"That song is imperishable. When Mahendra Kapoor-ji, who sang Mere desh ki dharti, expired our prime minister Manmohan Singh said he would always be remembered for Mere desh ki dharti. It hurts to know so many people connected with that song - Kalyanji, Mahendra Kapoor and Gulshan Bawra - are no more," Manoj Kumar told IANS.
The veteran actor remembers how the song Meri desh ki dharti was conceived.
"Meri desh ki dharti ('Upkar') happened when we had gone to a shrine to pay our respects. When we returned from the shrine in the car, he was singing Mere desh ki dharti sona ugley... jawanon bhar bhar lo jholiyan... khushi se bolo boliyan?. I kept quiet as he hummed these lyrics.
"Two-three years later when I made Upkar, I went to music composer Kalyanji and narrated the script. I called Gulshan home and told him the situation. I recalled the lyrics I had heard him hum near the shrine?. It had stayed in my mind? I saw it as a great idea that needed to be improvised.
"But I didn't like the lines Jawanon bhar lo jholiyan, khushi se bolo boliyan? I removed it from my Upkar song. Instead we had Meri desh ki dharti sona ugley ugle heere-moti. Both Kalyanji and Gulshan were hesitant. They said the 'mukhda' of a song couldn't be of one line. But I was adamant.
"An hour later Gulshan, who was sitting in the next room jumped and said, 'This is great'. Every filmmaker while writing a screenplay comes to a landmark point in the plot where he thinks a scene can be narrated musically. That situation is given to the lyricist and explained. That was how 'Mere desh ki dharti' happened.
"I always had the lyrics first, then the tunes. Gulshan had written another song Har khushi hai wahan in Upkar. He couldn't write the whole song because he had to take my brother to college in Ajmer. Gulshan himself told the media that the second stanza of Har khushi hai wahan was written by Aziz Kaifi and Manoj Kumar."
Manoj Kumar says his friend did a wonderful job while penning lyrics for Prakash Mehra's hit Amitabh starrer Zanjeer.
"Gulshan worked very well with Prakash Mehra in songs like Yaari hai imaan mera. Before he became well-known he wrote songs under a pseudonym. He was also a very good comedian. He always made everyone laugh with his mimicry.
"We were from the same village near Lahore (now in Pakistan). My chief assistant Sikandar was Gulshan's cousin. So we bonded much beyond cinema. Filmmaker Kewal Sharma, cricket player Manmohan Sood, Gushan and I? we were good friends. Gulshan has only gone away physically. He was a wonderful man. He was a friend to everyone, never gossiped. God bless his soul. All my love to his wife," Manoj Kumar concluded.