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Timeless lyrics of Hasrat Jaipuri’s ‘Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana’ — birth anniversary special

On the poet-lyricist’s 96th birth anniversary (he was born on 15 April 1922), we revisit his enduring hit from Ramesh Sippy’s first film as director, Andaz (1971).

Sonal Pandya

Composers Shankar-Jaikishan and lyricists Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri made quite the formidable music team. The foursome produced many hit albums for films like Barsaat (1948), Shree 420 (1955), Chori Chori (1957), Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1961) and Brahmachari (1968). But a few years later, in 1971, their musical partnership came to an end when Jaikishan died aged 42 from Cirrhosis of the liver.

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Ramesh Sippy’s directorial debut, Andaz (1971), in a way, became their last film together. The four of them worked well in pairs. A Shailendra song would be composed by Shankar, while a Jaipuri song would be scored by Jaikishan.

Hasrat Jaipuri

Andaz, starring Hema Malini, Shammi Kapoor, also had a cameo by Rajesh Khanna. His 10-minute role included one of the highlights of the film – the ‘Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana’ song.

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Penned by Jaipuri, the song featured prominently thrice in the film, sung by Mohammed Rafi, Asha Bhonsle and Kishore Kumar. Among these, Kishore Kumar's rendition became the most famous one.

Actor-singer Kishore came to be known as the voice of Rajesh Khanna during the 1970s and this hit too contributed to their winning combination. Importantly, Kishore Kumar yodels a significant portion of the song, a feat which many in Hindi film music have found hard to emulate.

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Author Bart Plantenga in the book, Yodel-ay-ee-oooo: The Secret History of Yodeling Around the World, writes, “[Kishore Kumar’s] yodeling is robust, satirical, and kinetic and is complimented by the naughty call-and-response laughter of his female partner [Asha Bhosle], furthering its suggestive randiness.”

Asha Bhosle with Kishore Kumar

There is just the right amount of madness in the song’s picturisation, with Rajesh Khanna and Hema Malini, running around the city – at the beach, at a restaurant and zooming around on a motorcycle. As the lyrics point out, ‘Zindagi ek safar hai suhana, yahan kal kya ho kisne jaana’ [Life is a beautiful journey, we don’t know what will happen next], the couple lives life to the fullest, enjoying every moment together.

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Naturally, the song remained on the top of the charts at the Binaca Geetmala that year. And after Jaikishan’s untimely death, the song’s lyrics took on a new meaning. Jaipuri won the Filmfare award for Best Lyricist for the song, beating out Anand Bakshi for the song 'Na Koi Umang Hai' from Kati Patang (1970) and Neeraj for the song 'Eh Bhai Zara' from Mera Naam Joker (1970).

Jaikishan

Kishore Kumar too was nominated for the Best Singer award. However, Manna Dey won that year for the 'Eh Bhai Zara' song.

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Years later, ‘Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana’ was also featured on the soundtrack of Mira Nair’s Hollywood film, Mississippi Masala (1991) and in Kunal Kohli’s Mujhse Dosti Karoge! (2002) in a medley featuring most of the cast.

Watch the song here: