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Special: 10 beautiful love ballads by Majrooh

One of the more avant garde poets in Urdu, Majrooh Sultanpuri had a wonderful penchant for romance. On his 17th death anniversary, we look at 10 romantic numbers that exemplify his ability to create beautiful scenery in verse.

Shriram Iyengar

Majrooh Sultanpuri was one of the foremost and progressive poets of Urdu and Hindi literature in the 20th century. His ability to transform the simplest of emotions with the loftiest metaphors and complex idioms made him a challenging read. Yet, as a lyricist, his work dipped into the most simple and elegant analogies to put forth the most beautiful ideas. An avant garde lyricist, Sultanpuri worked with composers starting from Naushad through RD Burman to Anand-Milind.

It is in his verses on love that this adaptability shines through. Having started his career in the late 1940s, the lyricist wrote some fantastic ballads on the emotion of love that continue to set the benchmark for poets. Here are 10 from his vast repertoire that contain a world of green trees, seasons, and even commerce, pitted against the very human emotion of love.

1. 'Tumne Mujhe Dekha' – Teesri Manzil (1966)

While Vijay Anand's film is most memorable for Shammi Kapoor's turn as an Indian Elvis Presley, it had some wonderful compositions by RD Burman. This particular song stands out for its metaphors like dard ke sehra (deserts of pain) and zulf ki badliyan (cloudlike tresses) that make for wonderful poetry.

2. 'Aaja Piya Tohe Pyaar Doon' – Baharon Ke Sapne (1967)

A vulnerable-looking pre-Aradhana Rajesh Khanna and a wonderful Asha Parekh feature in this forgotten classic by RD Burman. While the composition predates Panchamda's rock-n-roll avatar, the lyrics carry a wonderfully soothing touch that compares love to a comforting feeling.

3. 'Waadiyan Mera Daaman' – Abhilasha (1968)

Mohammed Rafi gave voice to a beautiful piece of verse poetry by the lyricist, aided by RD Burman's magical composition. The song is a wonderful exposition of nature and the visual scenery as a parallel to the desires of the heart.

4. 'Chura Liya' – Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973)

This song has everything in it, including a gorgeous Zeenat Aman. The lyricist combined with RD Burman to create a soundtrack for the ages. From the symbolism of bahaar (spring) to daali (branches), there is a whole forest of metaphors used beautifully by the lyricist.

5. 'Baahon Mein Chale Aao' – Anamika (1973)

This film starring Jaya Bachchan and Sanjeev Kumar was quickly forgotten, but this beautiful song was not. Again, it was RD Burman's simple rhythms that captured the lyricist's very household analogies of purdah (curtains) to match the nervous, hidden love of Sanjeev Kumar's character.

6. 'Yeh Ladka Haye Allah' – Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977)

Weather is not the only thing that features in the lyricist's repertoire of metaphors. In Nasir Husain's 1977 blockbuster, this song has a number of elements that compare love to 'trade' and 'gold'. A better example of a 'commercial' song might be hard to come by.

7. 'Akele Hain To Kya Gham Hai' – Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988)

Aamir Khan's debut was a musical classic. Composed by Anand-Milind, songs like 'Papa Kehte Hain' and 'Gazab Ka Hai Din' compete for space as the number 1 pick. In this wonderful duet, the lyricist turns once more to the analogy of toofan (storm) and deewaar (walls) to express the strength of love.

8. 'Pehla Nasha' – Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992)

Since 1992, this has been the default song for teenagers falling in love for the first time. Shot beautifully, in 48 frames per second instead of the regular 24, the song's picturization set the tone for a number of music videos in the 1990s. The lyrics, with their description of freedom using analogies of 'swings' 'wind' and valleys, only added to the beauty of the video.

9. 'Aye Kaash Ke Hum' – Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994)

The skill of a poet lies in his ability to understand the times he lives in. Majrooh gave proof of this by delivering songs that became chartbusters decade after decade. This particular song from the Kundan Shah film starring Shah Rukh Khan and Suchitra Krishnamoorthi continues to be a popular choice for heartbroken lovers across the country.

10. 'Saawan Barse Tarse Dil' – Dahek (1999)

Visualizing a song written by this great poet must be so much simpler. Even in his 70s, Majrooh could compose such beautiful songs woven with visual elements of the rain, clouds, and impatient hearts. Anand-Milind's composition and Mumbai on a rainy day completed the magic.