Remembering Asad Bhopali on his 27th death anniversary.

Asad Bhopali (10 July 1921- 9 June 1990) was an Indian Hindi-Urdu poet and lyricist. The Encyclopaedia of Hindi Cinema, compiled by Gulzar and Saibal Chatterjee, describes him as one of the “few names that stand out for their contribution to Hindi film lyrics”.

Asad Bhopali was born in Bhopal, as Asadullah Khan. He was the eldest child of Munshi Ahmed Khan, a teacher of Arabian and Persian languages.

In 1949, Asad Bhopali was spotted by the Fazli Brothers, a film producer duo of Bombay (now Mumbai). Following the partition of India, Aarzoo Lakhnavi, the lyricist of their film Duniya, migrated to newly created Pakistan. By this time, only two of the film’s songs had been written. Fazli Brothers were looking for new lyricists. Businessman Sugam Kapadia, who owned a few cinema theatres in Bhopal, told them that there were many good poets in Bhopal, and suggested that they attend a mushaira (meet of poets) there. The Fazli Brothers agreed, and Kapadia organized a mushaira at his Bhopal Talkies on 5 May 1949. Impressed by Asad Bhopali’s performance, the producers invited him to Bombay. At the age of 28, Asad Bhopali traveled to Bombay on 18 May 1949, to become a lyricist in the Hindi film industry.

Asad Bhopali wrote two songs for Fazli Brothers’ Duniya (1949): Rona hai to chupke chupke (sung by Mohammad Rafi) and Armaan lute, dil toot gaya (sung by Suraiyya). The next year, he wrote songs for a couple of films; these songs were sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum. Bhopali’s big break was BR Chopra’s Afsana (1951), for which he wrote 5 songs.

Bhopali went on to work with several noted music directors. He wrote the popular song Woh Jab Yaad Aaye, Bahut Yaad Aaye for Laxmikant–Pyarelal’s first released film Parasmani. He wrote a large number of film songs composed by Usha Khanna. From 1949 to 1990, he wrote about 400 songs for over a hundred films. However, he was not as successful as the top lyricists such as Majrooh Sultanpuri, Sahir Ludhianvi, Jan Nisar Akhtar and Rajendra Krishan. Many of the films he wrote for were low-grade films, and he used to get only a few songs in high-end movies, unlike other established lyricists.

Bhopali was one of the lyricists who wrote songs for the 1989 musical hit Maine Pyar Kiya. Shortly after, he suffered from a severe paralytic stroke. His family took him to Bhopal. In 1990, he received the Filmfare Award for Dil Deewana, but could not attend the award ceremony.

Asad Bhopali died on 9 June 1990, in Bhopal.He wrote songs for Rang Bhoomi, which was release after his death, in 1992. Roshni, Dhoop, Chandni, a collection of his poetry, was published by the Urdu Akademi of Bhopal in 1995.

Asad Bhopali married twice. He had two sons (Taj and Taabish) and six daughters from his first marriage, with Ayesha. Ghalib Asad Bhopali, his son from his second wife, also became a film writer and lyricist who wrote movies like Bhindi Bazaar Inc and Mumbai Mirror. and Asad Bhopali’s younger brother Qamar Jamaali also became an Urdu poet.

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