Remembering Jan Nisar Akhtar through his finest songs — Birthday special

On the poet-turned-lyricist’s 103rd birth anniversary, we go through some of his most memorably written songs from his song-writing career.

Sonal Pandya

1. Piya Piya Piya, Mera Jiya Pukare – Baap Re Baap (1955)

Jan Nisar Akhtar wrote the lyrics for the entire soundtrack of Kishore Kumar’s comedy caper, including OP Nayyar’s trademark tonga number, ‘Piya Piya Piya, Mera Jiya Pukare’ sung by Asha Bhosle and star Kishore Kumar, who showed off his yodelling skills in the song. The two singers sang all 12 songs of the album. The breezy romantic duet, ‘Piya Piya Piya, Mera Jiya Pukare’ was picturised on Kumar and actress Chand Usmani (who debuted opposite Shammi Kapoor).

2. Ankhon Hi Ankhon Mein Ishara Ho Gaya – C.I.D. (1956)

The colossal talents of producer Guru Dutt, director Raj Khosla, stars Dev Anand, Shakila, Johnny Walker and Waheeda Rehman (in her first Hindi film), music composer Nayyar and lyricists Majrooh Sultanpuri and Akhtar all came together to create the musical hit C.I.D. (1956). All the songs of the crime thriller went to become evergreen classics from the unofficial anthem of Mumbai, ‘Ai Dil Hai Mushkil Jeena Yahaan’ to ‘Ankhon Hi Ankhon Mein Ishara Ho Gaya’. The latter, written by Akhtar, was a popular duet filmed Anand and Shakila as they verbally spar and playfully flirt when they are not pursuing a murderer and trying to uncover a corruption case.

3. Aap Yun Faaslon Se Guzarte Rahe – Shankar Husain (1977)

Directed by Yusuf Naqvi, the film Shankar Husain was an unusual love story about a young Muslim man, Husain (Kanwaljit), raised by a kind Hindu man who falls in love with a young girl Kulsum (Madhuchhanda) who was born a Hindu, but raised by a Muslim man. The film, although written by Kamal Amrohi, did not perform well at the box office. But the film is remembered more for its songs, composed by Khayyam and written by poets Kaif Bhopali, Kaifi Azmi, Akhtar and Amrohi himself. In particular, Akhtar’s song ‘Aap Yun Faaslon Se Guzarte Rahe’, sung by Lata Mangeshkar is a haunting melody that is hard to forget.

4. Aaja Re O Mere Dilbar Aaja – Noorie (1979)

Character actor Manmohan Krishna directed a lone feature in his career, Noorie (1979), produced by Yash Chopra. The superhit film was nominated for a Filmfare award for Best Music Director. Khayyam produced a melodious score with tunes like ‘Aaja Re O Mere Dilbar Aaja’ and ‘Chori Chori Koi Aaye’. Akhtar shared the songwriting duties with Sultanpuri and Naqsh Lyallpuri but his numbers, especially the title song, better known as ‘Aaja Re O Mere Dilbar Aaja’ which was also nominated for a Filmfare award. Sung by Mangeshkar and Nitin Mukesh, people hummed along to the timeless song, all over the nation.

5. Aye Dil-E-Nadaan – Razia Sultan (1983)

Working once again with Khayyam, Akhtar wrote a few songs for Kamal Amrohi’s Razia Sultan (1983) before his death in 1979. Another poet and lyricist Nida Fazli took over to complete the lyrics for the film. Like Pazeekah (1972), Amrohi took a long time to finish the film (nearly ten years). It was touted to be a dream role for the dream girl, Hema Malini. But Razia Sultan failed to make a dent at the box office. However, the film was salvaged by Khayyam’s music and the lyrics of Akhtar and Fazli. The one song that is still recalled today from the album is Akhtar’s ‘Aye Dil-E-Nadaan’ sung hauntingly by Mangeshkar.

Composer Lalit looks back at Nida Fazli’s 'Hoshwalon Ko Khabar Kya'