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Article Hindi

Remembering Ramesh Shastri, writer of the superhit 'Hawa Mein Udta Jaaye' from Barsaat (1949)

The Sanskrit scholar, whose birth anniversary falls on 2 August, had a short-lived career in films but will always be remembered for one of Hindi cinema's evergreen songs.

Sukhpreet Kahlon

Not much is known about lyricist Ramesh Shastri, who had a memorable though short-lived career in Hindi cinema. It all began when actor-filmmaker Raj Kapoor was making his second film, Barsaat (1949), and decided upon a novel way of attracting talent. He placed an advertisement in the newspapers saying he was on the lookout for songs for his next project.

Far away from the glitz and glamour of Bombay, a young scholar of Sanskrit in Benares, Ramesh Shastri, read the advertisement and sent in a few songs, one of which was the immortal number 'Hawa Mein Udta Jaaye'. The song was selected and went on to become one of the more memorable songs of all time, sung by Lata Mangeshkar.

Barsaat became a blockbuster hit, smashing the box-office collection figures of Hindi cinema's first blockbuster, Gyan Mukherjee’s Kismet (1943), starring Ashok Kumar and Mumtaz Shanti. A large part of Barsaat's success could be attributed to its superhit songs that remain popular even today.

Although the compositions by Hasrat Jaipuri and Shailendra are remembered, there were two songs in the film that were not written by them and yet became very popular. One was 'Hawa Mein Udta Jaaye' and the other, 'Mujhe Kisise Pyaar Ho Gaya', by Jalal Malihabadi, also sung by Mangeshkar. The film marked the debut of music directors Shankar Jaikishan, who went on to become an integral part of Kapoor’s film team until Jaikishan's death.

Born in the erstwhile Bombay presidency in what is modern-day Gujarat on 2 August — the year is shrouded in confusion — Ramesh Shastri completed his PhD and became a Sanskrit teacher. Content with his simple life, he wrote the lyrics for very few film songs despite the stupendous success he found with his very first attempt.

Some of the films he worked on were Usha Haran (1949), Ram Vivaah (1949), Har Har Mahadev (1950) and Jai Mahaakaali (1951), but he was unable to repeat the success of 'Hawa Mein Udta Jaaye'. The only other song written by him that gained popularity was 'Kankar Kankar Se Mai Poochhun' from Har Har Mahadev, sung by Geeta Roy. The film was directed by Jayant Desai and starred Trilok Kapoor and Nirupa Roy.

Shastri also wrote the lyrics for a few devotional songs that were aired on radio. He continued to teach in college and retired from service in 1990. He died on 30 April 2010. Enjoy his best number here: