biography of urdu poet majrooh sultanpuri

Asrar-ul-Hasan Khan “Majrooh” was born in Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India in 1919. His father was a Police Sub-Inspector. Majrooh completed the seven year course of Dars-e-Nizami in Arabic and Persian and obtained the degree of ’Aalim’. He also studied Unani medicine at Takmeel-ut-Tib, Tibbia College, Lucknow and graduated in1938. He became an established ‘Hakim’ and practiced medicine for a year before he started his career as a full-time poet. When he recited one of his Ghazals at a Mushaira in Sultanpur, his ghazal was applauded by the audience and Majrooh decided to begin writing poetry seriously and drop his medical practice. Soon he became popular in Mushairas.

His mentor was ‘Jigar Moradabadi’. In 1945, Majrooh visited Bombay to attend a Mushaira at the Saboo Siddique Institute. His ghazals were highly appreciated by the audience here. Film producer ‘A.R. Kaardaar’ who was also present at Mushaira was impressed by his poetry. He contacted ‘Jigar Moradabadi’ who arranged the meeting with Majrooh Sultanpuri. Majrooh initially refused to write for films because he didn't think very high of them. But Jigar Muradabadi persuaded him to write for films which would pay well and would help Majrooh to support his family. Kaardaar then took him to music composer ‘Naushad,’who put the young writer to test. He gave Majrooh a tune and asked him to write something in the same metre. Majrooh wrote ‘Jab Usne Gesu Bikhraye, Badal Aaye Jhoom Ke’. Naushad liked what he wrote and Majrooh was signed on as the lyricist of the film “Shah Jehan” (1946). "Gham Diye Mushtaqil” and other songs of the film “Shah Jehan” became immensely popular. ‘K.L. Saigal’ wanted “Jab Dil Hi Toot Gaya” to be played at his funeral. After ‘Shah Jehan’, came S. Fazil's ‘Mehndi’, Mehboob’s  ‘Andaaz’  and Shahid Lateef’s ‘Aarzoo’.

Just as Majrooh was establishing himself as a lyricist and songwriter of repute, his leftist leanings got him into trouble. His anti-establishment poems irked the government and he was jailed in 1949 along with other leftists like Balraj Sahni. Majrooh was asked to apologize, but he refused and was sentenced to two years in prison. While he was in prison, his eldest daughter was born. During this time his family experienced considerable financial difficulties. ‘Raj Kapoor’ commissioned a song "Ek Din Bik Jaayega Maati Ke Mol" from Majrooh for which he paid him Rs. 1000.

Majrooh's political beliefs were further manifested when his second daughter married the son of the Urdu writer and socialist ‘Zoe Ansari’. Toward the end both Majrooh and Zoe Ansari were disenchanted with the direction socialism had taken in the Soviet Union and China. Their desire to better the lives of the masses found an outlet in their writings.

Majrooh was one of the dominating musical forces in Indian Cinema in the 1950s and early 1960s and was an important figure in the Progressive Writers' Movement, and is considered one of the great Urdu poets of 20th century.

Majrooh Sultanpuri worked with almost every top music director of the time like ‘Madan Mohan’, ‘Laxmikant-Pyarelal’, ‘Naushad’,’ O. P. Nayyar’, ‘Roshan’ and ‘Anil Biswas’, but he found a great chemistry with S.D. Burman. and R.D. Burman. With R. D. Burman he gave many hit numbers in films like ‘Teesri Manzil’ (1966), ‘Yaadon ki Baraat’ (1973) and ‘Hum Kissi se Kum Nahin’ (1977), ‘Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai’. He has also worked for ‘Rajesh Roshan’, ‘Anand-Milind’ and ‘Jatin-Lalit’, ‘Leslie Lezz Lewis’ and ‘AR Rahman’.

Majrooh Sultanpuri alonwith three other poets of that time, Sahir Ludhianvi, Shailendra and Shakeel Badayuni, introduced the ghazal poetry into films. Majrooh’s career was guided by mentor music director Naushad who taught him the nuances of film songs as to how a film song should be simple even if filled with meaning. It should match with the given situation, the character's background and intellectual level, and even it should go along with the tune as well. He made some changes in his poetry to suit to film songs. He had the capability to give a hit number without using improper words.

His work includes the time span of five decades. He had penned approximately 8000 songs for over 350 films. He has written lyrics for right from the veteran Naushad Ali to today's young composers like Leslie Lewis and A.R. Rahman. His songs were sung from the first superstar of India K.L. Saigal to today's young singers.

Majrooh Sultanpuri gave many hits through films like “Shah Jehan”, “Paying Guest”, “Abhimaan”, “Bombay Ka babu”, “Nau Do Gyaarah”, “Teesri Manzil”, “Kala Pani”, “Yaadon Ki Baraat”, “Andaaz”, “Dilli ka Thug”, “Sujaata”, “Aarti”, “Chitralekha”, “Aarzoo”, “Mamta”, “Tumsa Nahin Dekha”, “Aar Paar”, “Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak”, “Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander” and “Khamoshi”.

He touched every Indian heart with his number of hit songs like ‘Achcha Ji Mai Haari’, ‘O Hansini Meri Hansini’, ‘O Mere Dil Ke Chain’, ‘O Mere Sona Re Sona’, ‘Yeh Dil Na Hota Bechaara’, ‘Ruk Jaana Nahin Tu Kahin Haar Ke’, ‘Babuji Dheere Chalna’, ‘Chhod Do Aanchal’, ‘Papa Kehte Hai Bada Naam Karega’, ‘Baahon Ke Darmiyan’ and many more.

Majrooh Sultanpuri had a severe attack of Pneumonia and died in Bombay on 24 May 2000. Although the man is no more, his songs are still popular and being hummed by every Indian heart.

Majrooh Sultanpuri's Memorable Films

1. Khamoshi - The Musical (1996)

2. Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1993)

3. Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander (1992)

4. Qayamat se Qayamat Tak (1988)

5. Hum Kissi se Kum Nahin (1977)

6. Yaadon ki Baraat (1973)

7. Abhimaan (1973)

8. Teesri Manzil (1966)

9. Mamta (1966)

10. Baat ek Raat ki (1962)

11. Bombay ka Babu (1960)

12. Sujatha (1959)

13. Kala Pani (1958)

14. Dilli ka Thug (1958)

15. Nau Do Gyarah (1957)

16. Paying Guest (1957)

17. Mr. and Mrs. 55 (1955)

18. Aar Paar (1954)

19. Aarzoo (1950)

20. Andaaz (1949)

21. Shah Jehan (1946)

Majrooh Sultanpuri's Popular Songs

1. Baahon Ke Damiya Do Pyar Mil Rahe Hai - Khamoshi

2. Papa Kehte Hai Bada Naam Karega - Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak

3. Bachna Ai Hasino Lo Main Aa Gaya - Hum Kisise Kam Nahi

4. Babuji Dheere Chalna - Aar Paar

5. Achcha Ji Mai Hari Chalo Maan Bhi Jaao Na - Kaala Paani

6. Abb Toh Hai Tumse Har Khushi Apani - Abhimaan

7. Aasmaan Ke Niche, Hum Aaj Apave Pichhe - Jewel Thief

8. Aaja Piya Tohe Pyaar Doon - Bahaaro Ke Sapne

9. Chhod Do Aanchal Zamana Kya Kahega - Paying Guest

10. Chura Liya Hai Tumne Jo Dil Ko - Yaadon Ki Baraat

11. Paanch Rupaiya Barah Aana - Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi

12. Waadiyan Mera Daaman, Raaste Meri Baahen - Abhilasha

13. Chalo Sajana Jahan Tak Ghata Chale, Lagaakar Mujhe Gale - Mere Humdum Mere Dost

14. Ruk Jaana Nahin Tu Kahin Haar Ke - Imtihan

15. O Hansini Meri Hansini

16. O Mere Dil Ke Chain

17. O Mere Sona Re Sona Re Sona

18. Piya Tu Abb Toh Aaja

19. Yeh Dil Na Hota Bechaara

20. Raat Kali Ik Khaab Mein Aayi

21. Raat Akeli Hai Bujh Gaye Diye

22. Rulaake Gaya Sapna Mera

23. Tasveer Teri Dil Mein

24. Tere Mere Milan Ki Yeh Raina

25. Teri Bindiya Re

26. Teri Aankhon Ke Sina Duniya Mein Rakha Ky Hai


1. “Dadasaheb Phalke Award” for Lifetime Achievement - 1993

2. “Iqbal Samman Award” - from Government of Madhya Pradhesh- 1992

3. “Sant Gyaneshwar Puraskar” - from Government of Maharashtra

4. “Film Writers Association Award”

5. “Film Journalist Award”

6. “Ghalib Award” -1980

7. “Filmfare Award” for film Dosti - song 'Chaahun ga Main Tujhe’ - 1965

8. “Maharashtra State Urdu Academy Award”


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  1. Around 1950 Majrooh wrote :Ankhon mein kia ji, rupehla badal, Badal mein kia ji? kissi ka anchal. ANCHAL MEIN KIA JI? (For Navketan's Nau do gyara)

    Fifty years hence Majrooh was still writing the same but differently: Choli ke piche kia hai? (For S Ghay's Mukta Arts Khalnayak)

    Majrooh was versatyle and he had a good understanding of the audiances' taste. Majrooh moved forward with youngsters and himself remained open minded uptil his demise.