8 March: Remembering Sahir Ludhianvi on his Birth Anniversary

OV Digital Desk
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Sahir Ludhianvi

Sahir Ludhianvi (8 March 1921 – 25 October 1980) was an Indian poet and film song lyricist who wrote primarily in Urdu in addition to Hindi.

Early Life

Sahir Ludhianvi was born on 8 March 1921, in Ludhiana, Punjab, British India. In Ludhiana, he enrolled in Khalsa High School. After matriculation, he attended Satish Chander Dhawan Government College for Boys. Sahir loved ghazals and songs from an early age. He moved to Lahore in 1943 and joined Dayal Singh College. During his time there, he was elected president of the student body and published his first book of poems, Talkhiyaan (Bitterness).

Later, he became an editor for several Urdu magazines like Adab-e-Lateef, Shahkaar, Prithlari, and a member of the Progressive Writers’ Association. He fled to Delhi after the Pakistan government issued an arrest warrant for inflammatory, communist, anti-Pakistan writings.


He moved to Bombay from Delhi. Sahir worked as a lyricist in the film industry. He made his debut with four songs in Azadi Ki Raah Par (1949). Badal Rahi Hai Zindagi was one of the songs. The song and the film remained unnoticed. In 1951, after Naujawan, with music by S. D. Burman, Sahir gained recognition.

Sahir’s biggest hit was Baazi (1951). The composer was again Burman. In those days, Sahir was part of Guru Dutt’s team. Sahir’s last film with Burman was Pyaasa (1957). In Pyaasa, Guru Dutt plays a poet named Vijay. Due to artistic and contractual differences, Sahir and Burman split after Pyaasa (1957).

Sahir also worked with Ravi, Roshan, Khayyam, and Datta Naik. Sahir’s poetry was admired by Datta Naik, and they collaborated on Milaap (1955), Chandrakanta (1956), Saadhna (1958), and Dhool Ka Phool (1959). In films like “Man Ki Aankhe” and “Izzat”, as well as Yash Chopra’s “Daag“, Sahir also worked with music director Laxmikant–Pyarelal. Baldev Raj Chopra (1914 – 2008), a filmmaker and producer, collaborated with Sahir. Insaaf Ka Tarazu was Sahir’s last movie for Chopra. Sahir was also engaged by Yash Chopra to write lyrics for his films when he directed for B.R. Films, and later as an independent director and producer.

In 1958, Sahir wrote the lyrics for Ramesh Saigal’s film Phir Subah Hogi. Raj Kapoor played the male lead. In the beginning, it was assumed Shankar-Jaikishan would be the composer, but Sahir wanted someone who knew the novel better. The film’s score was composed by Khayyam. With its minimal background music, Woh Subah Kabhi Toh Aayegi still rocks. Sahir and Khayyam worked together on Kabhie Kabhie and Trishul.


In 1971, he was awarded the Padma Shri, by the Government of India


He died on 25 October 1980, in Maharashtra, India.

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