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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

Kamaal hai, sahab!

Updated: Sep 21, 2019 19:37 IST
Deep Saxena
Deep Saxena
Hasan Kamaal
Hasan Kamaal

Lyricist of super hit songs like ‘Sar se sarke’ (Silsila), ‘Dil ke armaan’, ‘Beete Hu Lamhe’ (Nikaah) and many more, Hasan Kamaal, 76, credits his success to his birthplace Lucknow and his learning here. “Reading good stuff and listening to creations by great writers used to be a status symbol then. Tab padhne-likhne ka ek maahol tha jo nazar aata tha (Then, the inclination towards reading-writing was more than apparent). There was more a focus on literature, while now, we focus more on technical studies,” said the lyricist, who has written dialogues for various TV serials including ‘Mahabharat Katha’, ‘Vishnu Puran’, ‘Akbar The Great’, ‘Maharana Pratap’.

He has been a journalist for a long time and served as editor or Urdu Blitz for over 15 years. Away from the film world, now he is busy with social activities and mushairas which takes him across the world.

Start of the Silsila

Kamaal’s first big hit was ‘Sar se sarke teri chunariya’ that he penned for Yash Chopra’s film ‘Silsila’ (1981). “Sahir Ludhyanvi used to write songs for Yash Chopra but he passed away in 1980. They were looking for a lyricist and that is how I got a song in the film and it worked well. During that period, BR Chopra was scheduled to make film ‘Chanakya Chandragupta’ when (music director) Naushad introduced me to him. The film was not made but then I got ‘Nikaah’ which changed everything for me.”

But, he penned his first song many years back. “In 1967, Khawaja Ahmad Abbas (writer of ‘Awara’, ‘Shree 420’, ‘Bobby’ and ‘Mera Nam Joker’) was making ‘Bombay Raat Ki Bahoon Main’. He wanted Sahir saheb (Ludhyanvi) to compose for him but he was busy. So, my editor introduced me to Abbas. I was given the situation and that is how I got my first song which was sung by Mahendra Kapoor and was the first song for Sulakshana Pandit.”

The lyrics of the song went: ‘Dil jo dunia ke gamo dard se ghabraya hai, teri zulfoon ke tale aa ke sukoon paya hai’.

Triple Talaq to ‘Nikaah’

Initially, Nikaah’s name was supposed to be ‘Talaq, Talaq, Talaq’! “BR Chopra was very keen on this name. But, someone had already registered this name. The matter went to court and it ruled that we would have to choose a new title. I too suggested that this should not be the name as if anyone pronounces to their better-half could lead to a real talaq! After the court order, I only reversed the concept and suggested the title ‘Nikaah’. The rest is history,” he said.

Kamaal’s creations ‘Dil ke armaan’, ‘Beete hue lamho’, ‘Dil ki yeh arzoo’ and ‘Faza bhi hai jawaan’, which were composed by music director Ravi, became chartbusters and the movie was a super hit, giving him overnight fame.

For the title song of ‘Aaj Ki Awaz’ he bagged a Filmfare Award. He then wrote lyrics for a number of films including ‘Tawaif’, ‘Biwi Ho To Aisi’, ‘Ghar Ek Mandir’, ‘Salma’, ‘Batwaara’, ‘Hatiyaar’ and ‘Yateem’ to name a few. ‘Anwar’ (2007) was his last film as lyricist and its song ‘Aakhein teri kitni haseen’ was a big hit. The song is his ringtone.

“For TV, I wrote dialogues for BR Chopra’s ‘Sauda’, Ravi Chopra’s ‘Mahabharat Katha’, ‘Vishu Puran’, ‘Akbar The Great’, ‘Maharana Pratap’, ‘Kanoon’, ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’ and many more,” he said.

Kamaal’s secret

“Initially, I used to think that I would not be able to deliver. But then, I thought if Shailendra or Sahir were given such a situation then how they would write. I used to think in their vocabulary of writing. I tried to write to their level and that raised my bar. Mediocre work does not take you anywhere! You have to at least come close to the standards that legends have already delivered.”

Giving a peek into his preparation, he said, “To be a good shayar, you need to write and listen to good and great shayars. Same goes for poetry, literature or any other thing.”

Comparing those days to these, he said, “At that time, songs used to take the story forward. They were an integral part of the story. Now, shayari too has changed. But, there are people who are doing good work even today.”

Why is he not writing now? “Now, people seniors se ghabrate hain (fear)! Also, you can’t expect me to write item songs. But, I am fully active in the mushaira and shayri field and have travelled half the world with it.”

Deep roots

On paper, Lucknow is his birthplace (January 1, 1943) but he was born in Fatehpur, in Barabanki. “My father hailed from Deva and during the British raj, my father was an inspector in a cooperative. Later, he became an auditor in the Sunni Wafq Board. I did my schooling at Mumtaz Higher Secondary School. Then, I completed my intermediate studies from Aminabad Inter College and graduation from Lucknow University. Other than studies, I was interested in everything else. Social activities like debates, baitbaazi, cricket and hockey kept me busy,” he recalls.

In class 9, he wrote and read this couplet: ‘Khuda ki yaad to har khaas-o-aam karta hai, Lagan na dil ki ho jismein, woh bandagi kya hai!’ Josh Malihabadi, present at the event, was all ears to his poetry and Kamaal was awarded a fountain pen for his writing.

Literature and Urdu shayari attracted him the most. “I was fond of reading Kabir, Mir, Ghalib and Iqbal a lot and my favourites were Sahir Ludhyanvi and Majrooh Sultanpuri. Youngsters today do listen to mushairas and sher-shayari but I don’t see many of them fond of writing.”

“I got in touch with Sajjad Zaheer, Sharib Rudaulvi, Asar Lakhnavi, Wali Aasi and in prose writing Iqbal Majeed, Ratan Singh, Ramlal, Ahmed Jamal Pasha, Manzar Saleem and many more. A lot of them were journalists so that’s how my interest in journalism started and I started writing part-time in Qaumi Awaz.”

Kamaal keeps visiting Lucknow. “I don’t have a house but I am a frequent visitor to the city. I have lot of relatives here and the Kapoors (journalist Pradeep and his wife) are like family to me. The city has given me a lot and my entire base has been cemented here,” he said. His wife, Clover, is a Romanian and daughter, Sameera, is now married and working.

Journalistic span

After he passed LLB first year (1961) his father expired and he had to leave studies and join UP Roadways. “I worked there in various locations for around 4 years and kept on writing side-by-side. But, then I left it. My mentor and senior journalist Bishan Kapoor recommended me to Urdu Blitz and I joined it in Mumbai (1965). I became its editor in 1973 and took it to new heights. I served as its editor till 1989. In between, I kept writing for films too.”

His writing still continues. Kamaal has won several awards in the field of journalism and film writing. Working for the uplift of OBCs, education of Muslim youths and other welfare events keeps him busy.

First Published: Sep 21, 2019 19:37 IST

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