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Kabhi Kabhie anniversary: When Amitabh Bachchan introduced Sahir Ludhianvi's poetry to fans 


Kabhi Kabhie was a rare film by Yash Chopra that brought together his love for romance and poetry. Titled on the memorable poem written by Sahir Ludhianvi, it also transformed an action hero, Amitabh Bachchan, into a soulful poet. On the 41st anniversary of the film's release today (27 February), we look at this archival video that combines Ludhianvi's poetry with Bachchan's deep voice. 

Shriram Iyengar

In 1976, Kabhie Kabhie was considered Yash Chopra's finest work. A film that brought together poetry, romance, drama and acting of the finest calibre together. The passionate tale of romance was one of the finest romantic films in the history of Hindi cinema. It was no mere coincidence that one of Sahir Ludhianvi's most famous works was immortalised in the mesmerising baritone of the son of poet Harivanshrai Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan. 

Kabhi Kabhie also transformed Amitabh from an all action star to a soulful poet. An actor who was once rejected by the AIR for his deep bass-y voice, he has now gained a fanbase for his poetry recitals. In Kabhi Kabhie, director Chopra gave Ludhianvi's poetry the strength and foundation in Amitabh's character as a poet. The film, and the title song, take their cue from one of Ludhianvi's famous poems 'Kabhi Kabhi' that he wrote in memory of one of his first romances.

This archival video from the 1977 stage show is a reminder why Amitabh Bachchan remains the 'voice' for Ludhianvi's poetry. After being introduced by Dilip Kumar, the trio of Amitabh, Rakhee and a very handsome Shashi Kapoor take to the stage. Apparently, the plan is to introduce the song 'Kabhi Kabhi' composed by the great Khayyam and sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh to the audience. 

The ever charming Kapoor throws a surprising googly by prodding Amitabh to recite a few lines from the poem. While Amitabh seems in a hurry, the voice, and the noise of the fans, remind people why the magic of Ludhianvi's poetry doubled in the poignant, sombre baritone of India's superstar.

Four decades after its release, Kabhi Kabhie continues to be a benchmark in terms of its narrative of romance, and depiction of eternal love. The acting performances of Rakhee, Neetu Singh, Waheeda Rehman and Amitabh put the film in a league of its own. However, it is the poetry from the film that continues to ring loud and clear in the memories of fans. After Guru Dutt, it was Chopra that managed to create the perfect visual canvas for Ludhianvi's words.