Book Review: The people's poet

Wednesday, 20 August 2014 - 6:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Akshay Manwani's book is the apt tribute to the people's poet Sahir Ludhianvi

Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 320
Price: 399

Songs are to Indian cinema what sugar is to cake. With songs, a Bollywood movie will remain tasteless, a strong story and brilliant script notwithstanding. In songs too, rhythm and tune have essentially always dominated the musical scene in the industry. Songwriters have been living in the shadows of music directors, no matter how talented or famous they may become. Lyrics are supposed to be written in accordance to the demands of composers, many times resulting in poor and much decimated language not suited to a writer. But one man who refused to be tagged as a lyricist and chose to stay a poet throughout his life was Sahir Ludhianvi.

In Bollywood
A man of contradictions, Sahir lived on his own terms. Professionally, while the poet ruffled some feathers of the stalwarts of his time (SD Burman and OP Nayyar), his love life remained a topic of great interest to many dailies and in social circles. Despite his success and many friends, Sahir was considered as loner. A complex man with immense talent and many idiosyncrasies. In Sahir Ludhianvi: The People's Poet, Akshay Manwani tries to draw a sketch of man whom many knew but only few understood.

Aptly named, The People's Poet beautifully portrays Abdul Hayee's transformation into Sahir Ludhianvi. Sahir's childhood played a very important role in the development of his personality as a poet. The author kept this aspect in mind and tried to co-relate every thing in Sahir's life to his growing up years. Be it his mother's hardships, financial constraints or failed romances, Sahir got inspiration from every incident from his life – happy or sad. One of the best features of the book, is the compilation of famous and not so famous poems with translation. The author took pains and understood that writing about a poet without giving reference and context to his creations would be futile. The result is some of the best songs, read poetry, by him and their origin or context while writing.

A social man
Sahir's relationship with people of the industry and his friends too is well compiled in the book. There are excerpts from other biographies and journals where Sahir's peers and friends spoke about it. Also, the book does not try to cash on the Sahir-Amrita love story alone to attract eyeballs but looks at the protagonist as what he was best know: A poet. Overall, a must-read for all Sahir's fan, or who like poetry.

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