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How Hasrat Jaipuri found the Radha of Sangam 

Hasrat Jaipuri, an integral part of the Raj Kapoor quartet, enjoyed a stellar partnership with composers Shankar-Jaikishan. But it was his unspoken contribution to Raj Kapoor's magnum opus, Sangam, that remains unknown.

Shriram Iyengar

Iqbal Hussain might be a strange name to associate with Raj Kapoor. Yet, he was one of the most prominent members of the core team that helmed some of RK Films & Studio' s biggest hits. Hussain's pen name, Hasrat Jaipuri, would become his calling card. The poet arrived in Bombay in the early 1940s, and worked as a bus conductor for almost a decade. It was during this time that he was spotted by Prithviraj Kapoor at a poetry session in the city. Kapoor immediately recommended the lyricist to his son, an up and coming filmmaker at the time, Raj Kapoor. 

Thus, Jaipuri was hired to pen 'Jiya beqarar hai' and 'Chor aaye balam' in Barsaat (1949). It was also the first film where the director brought together what would be his core team for years to come : Shankar-Jaikishan, Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri. So effective was the combination, that the duo of lyricists could sit down with any, or both, composers to create a song at will. In an interview with Filmfare, the lyricist said, "Our vibes were right from the very outset. In fact, it was Shankar, not Jaikishan, who I'd first met at Prithvi Theatre. That was the beginning of a lifelong association." Yet, there was an unstated agreement that Jaikishan would often prefer Jaipuri to pen lyrics for his tunes, while Shankar would turn to Shailendra. 

Jaipuri's command over Urdu and Persian enabled him to set a divergent path to Shailendra's rooted and simple Hindi lyrics. His partnership with Raj Kapoor's team lasted for 11 films. But one that holds a personal connection to the lyricist is Raj Kapoor's first technicolor love triangle, Sangam (1964). 

In a film about love, loss and friendship, Jaipuri composed just two songs, 'Bol radha bol sangam hoga ke nahi' and 'Ye mera prem patra padhkar'. It is not the songs, but the story behind them that adds a subtext to Kapoor's film. As a 20-year-old, Jaipuri had fallen in love with a girl in the neighbourhood. Her name was Radha. Though the love story never reached a conclusive ending, she would become the muse for the lyricist's greatest works. Incidentally, the heroine of Sangam, played by Vyjayanthimala, is named Radha. 

In an archival interview, Jaipuri says, "Meri haveli ke samne, ek badi khoobsurat ladki rehti jiska naam tha Radha. Aur ishq ka mazhab se, zaat paat se, koi taaluq nahi. Kisi se bhi ho sakta hai, kisi se bhi kiya jaa sakta hai. To mera unse pyaar hua. Taalim maine sher-o-shayari ki, mere naanaa madhoom/manhoom se haasil ki?, lekin ishq ka sabak jo hai, woh Radha ne padhaayaa ki ishq kya cheez hai.”  (Near my house, there lived a very beautiful girl. Her name was Radha. Since neither caste, creed, nor religion, have any control over love. It could happen with anyone. And I fell in love with her. I learnt the skill of poetry from my grandfather, but love, I learnt from her.) 

The first, 'Bol Radha bol' is a plaint for love. The song's lyrics also mention 'sangam'. Apart from being the geographical point where the Ganga and the Yamuna meet, sangam is also the metaphorical point for the meeting of cultures. In the second song too, 'Ye mera prem patra padhkar', Jaipuri fashioned lyrics of Victorian elegance, which attained new levels of intimacy through Raj Kapoor's camera. Writing a letter to a bereaved lover, Rajendra Kumar, confesses his long unspoken love. It is a shy, sentimental letter that Jaipuri had composed for his first love. Raj Kapoor was so fascinated by the story that he decided to incorporate it into the film. 

Jaipuri went on to pen some unforgettable and beautiful lyrics. From 'Ehsaan tera hoga mujh par' in Junglee (1961), 'Teri pyaari pyaari surat ko' in Sasural (1961) to 'Zindagi ek safar hai suhana' from Andaz (1971), the lyricist went far beyond his partnership with Raj Kapoor and Shankar-Jaikishan to establish himself as the foremost of the lyrical geniuses in Hindi cinema. Yet, his evergreen contribution remains to put a part of his own story into an iconic classic that continues to fascinate romantics in India.