Songs that Live Long

Growing up in India in the 90’s and 2000's, Bollywood Hindi music was always around me. While the contemporary songs were catchy, I ended up gravitating more and more towards songs from earlier decades.

When I was young, songs to me used to be only about actors, but then I started realizing the importance of singers. The importance of lyricists and music composers dawned onto me even later. I came to realize that the primary reason I loved many older songs was because of the depth of meaning that was encoded in lyrics.

One lyricist that I have come to hugely respect is Sahir Ludhiyanvi. Two of his songs in movie Pyaasa are “Ye Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaye To Kya Hai” and “Jinhen Naaz Hai Hind Par Woh Kahaan Hain”. Some might consider his views of society dim, but somehow these songs resonate with me and I never grow tired of listening to them. The powerful penetrating words almost put a mirror in front of you, and force you to reflect and question your priorities.

As I read more about Sahir’s life, I learn that he preached religious harmony, was against war as a solution to conflict, and spoke for the downtrodden section of society.

Given Bollywood’s popularity in India, I imagine the impact of the messages conveyed by movies and songs on the collective psyche of Indian society is non-negligible. Therefore the songs that live long not only reflect the mood of society but also have the potential to shape it.

Sahir Ludhiyanvi lived before I was born. But his songs and their message will long outlive me. Or so I hope.