Sahir Ludhianvi (Urdu: ساحر لدھیانوی; Devanagari: साहिर लुधियानवी) was a popular Urdu poet and Hindi lyricist and songwriter. Sahir Ludhianvi is his pseudonym. He won the Filmfare Award twice, in 1964 and 1977, and in 1971 was awarded the Padma Shri.
Sahir Ludhianvi was born into the wealthy family of a Muslim Syed as Abdul Hayee on 8 March 1921 in Ludhiana, Punjab in India. His mother name was Sardar Begum. Sahir's parents had a very loose and estranged relationship. In 1934, when he was thirteen years old, his father married for the second time. At that time, his mother decided to take the bold step of leaving her husband, forfeiting all claims to the financial assets. Sahir's father then sued his mother for child custody but lost. He threatened to make sure Sahir did not live with his mother very long, even if that meant taking the child's life. Sahir's mother then found friends who kept a close watch on him and didn't let him out of sight. Fear and financial deprivation surrounded the formative years of this young man. His parents' divorce brought him and his mother face to face with poverty and struggle in life.
The house where Sahir was born, a red sand-stone haveli, stands in Karimpura, a Muslim neighborhood of Ludhiana, with a small plaque announcing its importance upon the arched mughal darwaaza — the only effort by the city to remember him.
Sahir studied at and graduated from Khalsa High School in Ludhiana. Upon matriculation, he joined the Satish Chander Dhawan Government College For Boys, Ludhiana. He was quite popular for his ghazals and nazms in the college. He was famously expelled from the college within the year 'for sitting in the Principal's lawn with a female class-mate'. About his expulsion, some accounts erroneously mention Amrita Pritam as the girl, but she never lived in Ludhiana. They met after the partition of India, when she arrived in Delhi from Lahore in 1949.
In 1943, after being expelled from college, Sahir settled in Lahore. Here, he completed the writing of his first Urdu work, Talkhiyaan (Bitterness). He then began searching for a publisher and, after two years, he found one in 1945. After his work was published, he began editing four Urdu magazines, Adab-e-Lateef, Shahkaar, Prithlari, and Savera; these magazines became very successful. He then became a member of the Progressive Writers' Association. However, inflammatory writings (communist views and ideology) in Savera resulted in the issuing of a warrant for his arrest by the Government of Pakistan. So, in 1949, Sahir fled from Lahore to Delhi. After a couple of months in Delhi, he moved to and settled in Bombay. A friend of his recalls Sahir telling him "Bombay needs me!".
His most famous love affair, however, was with Amrita Pritam, who became his most ardent fan. She has openly acknowledged her love for Sahir in interviews and her books. Apart from Amrita, several other women too came in his life but he could never decide on accepting any of those as his life partner. He remained a bachelor all his life.
In recent years there have been many attempts to chronicle his life and times. Many books about him were published both in India and Pakistan. In 2010 Danish Iqbal wrote a Stage Play 'Sahir' about his life which was directed by NRI Director Pramila Le Hunt. This Play became a commercial success and had a dream run in Delhi. For perhaps first time, in the history of Indian Theatre, songs were used as narrative to recreate the life and struggles of Sahir. Many of his misty eyed contemporaries, Ramesh Chand Charlie, Kuldeep Nayyar and few others, thronged the performance with nostalgic ache in their heart.
Attempts are being made to convert this Play into a film on Sahir. Because the Play Sahir had characters like Guru Dutt, Yash Chopra and Amruta Preetam, it would be a tough task for the casting and depiction but it would be a nostalgic journey down the memory lane both for the public and his friends and admirers.
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