A few words about Asad Bhopali – a lyricist who did amazing work but remained relatively unknown – My Tribute To Unsung Heroes of Indian Cinema – Part 2

A few words about Asad Bhopali – a lyricist who did amazing work but remained relatively unknown 

Yhis is an English rendition of an Urdu article on the Urdu poet and film lyricist Asad Bhopali – by  Afzal A Khan on 22 May 2008


He was born on the 10th July 1921 at Bhopal. His father’s name was Munshi Ahmed Khan and Asad was his eldest child. His original name was Asadullah Khan. He had formal education in Faarsi, Arabic, Urdu and English. In due course, the world recognized him as Asad Bhopali. At the age of 28, he went over to Bombay and became a film lyricist. But his whole life was a constant struggle. The release of every new film was like a dream come true — except that it remained just a dream. Fortune never really smiled on him. After nearly half a century of this struggle, the man could have been forgiven for expecting some just rewards. But what actually awaited him was the funeral bier. He had a large family and everybody including his wife, sons, daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren cared for him with the utmost devotion in his last days. But all this was to no avail. On the 9th June, 1990, Asad Bhopali passed on at the dead of night. In a way, he epitomised his own song from the film “Moti Mahal”, released in 1952 :


Jaaega jab yahaan se, kuchh bhi na saath hoga

Do gaz kafan ka kapda, tera libaas hoga

In the stillness of that night, he was quietly buried in a corner of a local cemetery. Except for one or two, nobody from the city’s social, political or even literary heirarchy came to offer prayers. Even today, hardly anyone knows where he was interred. Only his eldest son Taj Mohammed Khan goes there regularly to offer Faateha.

Asad Bhopali came to Bombay in 1949. He was the first poet from the city of Bhopal to enter the film industry. At the time Fazli Brothers of Bombay were planning their film “Duniya”, to be made under the direction of S. F. Hasnain. One of the lyricists of the film was the noted Urdu poet Aarzoo Lakhnavi, who wrote just two songs and then migrated to Pakistan. So, Fazli Brothers were on the look-out for a new talent to write the remaining songs. At the time, one Sugam Chand Kapadia (who owned a couple of cinema theatres in Bhopal) was in Bombay. When he came to know about Fazli Brothers’ problem, he gave them a suggestion : “Bhopal is home to many good Urdu poets. I can arrange a Mushaira there and you can come over there and attend the same. Whichever poet impresses you, you can ask him to come to Bombay for writing the remaining lyrics”. Accordingly, a Mushaira was arranged at Bhopal Talkies (then owned by Kapadia) on the 5th May, ’49. Fazli and Hasnain attended the same. When Asad Bhopali recited one of his well-known poem with revolutionary overtones, the attendees went wild with joy. When the Mushaira was over, some of his fans chaired him right up to his residence. Next day, around 10.00 am, someone came to his house with a message that Misbaah Saheb, the Manager of Bhopal Talkies wants him to go meet with him. When Asad met him, Misbaah invited him to Bombay for writing the lyrics of the film that was in the making. Such an invitation was like a dream come true for most poets and when Asad agreed to go to Bombay, he was immediately paid an advance of Rs. 500/-. On 18th May 1949, Asad travelled to Bombay and stayed there permanently, till Death called him back to Bhopal.

The main stars of this film “Duniya” were Karan Dewan, Suraiyya and Yaqub. C. Ramchandra was the Music Director. Apart from Aarzoo Lakhnawi, some songs had also been penned by Deepak, S.H. Bihari and Taalib Ilaahabadi. Asad wrote two songs for this film, one of which was sung by Mohammed Rafi : “Rona hai to chupke chupke ro, aansoo na baha, aawaaz na ho”. The other song was recorded in Suraiyya’s voice : “Armaan lute, dil toot gaya, dukh dard ka saathi chhoot gaya”.

Next year, in 1950, he was asked to write two songs for the film “Aadhi Raat”, which were recorded in Lata Mangeshkar’s voice : “Idhar to aao sarkaar, kisi ki jeet, kisi ki haar” and “Dil hi to hai, tarap gaya, dard se bhar na aaye kyon”. The Music Directors for this film were a popular duo of the time: Husnlal – Bhagat Ram.

The same year, he wrote some songs for “Nirdosh” where the music was provided by another popular Music Director of that period, Shyam Sundar. These songs were sung by Lata and Shamshaad Begum.

Around this time, B. R. Chopra was making his film “Afsaana” which starred Ashok Kumar, Veena and Jeevan etc. Husnlal – Bhagat Ram were the Music Directors. Out of a total of nine songs, as many as six were penned by Asad Bhopali, that were recorded in the voice of Shamshaad Begum, Lata and Mukesh. These became hugely popular with the public : (1) “Kahaan hai tu mere sapnon ke raja, jawaani aa gayee hai, ab to aa ja”, (2) “Woh aaye, bahaaren laaye, baji shehnai rut piya milan ki aayee”, (3) “Qismat bigri, dunya badli, phir kaun kisi ka hota hai, (4) Mohabbat ka donon ke dil par asar hai, na hum Ko khabar hai na un ko khabar hai, (5) “Aaj kuchh aisi chot lagi hai, toot gaya paimaana dil ka and (6) “Woh paas bhi reh kar paas naheen, hum door bhi reh kar door naheen.

Although the film’s music and these songs became very popular all over the country, Asad Bhopali got just one other film this year (1951) “Rajput” which failed at the box office.

Life in Bombay was full of struggles. There were several well-known poets competing in a limited market, like Majrooh Sultanpuri, JaaN Nisaar Akhtar, Khumaar Barabankvi, Rajinder Krishan, D.N. Madhok, Prem Dhawan etc. At that time, Saahir Ludhianvi too used to stay in the same “hostel” where Asad Bhopali was staying. Often, the two would go for a walk on the streets of Bombay, trying to find that trace of refulgence heralding a brilliant future, but would return later, utterly defeated.

In 1954, Asad Bhopali got a chance to write one single song in a film being made by Nanubhai Vakil. The other lyricists for that film “Gul Bahaar” were Jaan Nisaar Akhtar, Kaifi Azmi and Shevan Rizvi. That single song by Asad Bhopali was set to music by Music Director Khaiyyam and rendered by Mubaarak Begum : “Kaliyon ko choomoon, main taaron se kheloon”. Dhani Ram was the other Music Director for this film. Shevan Rizvi wrote two songs in the film, but (like Asad) both Kaifi and Jaan Nisaar Akhtar had just a single song each.

From 1949 to 1990, Asad Bhopali wrote about 400 songs for nearly 100 films. The Music Directors with whom he worked included names like C. Ramchandra, Husnlal – Bhagat Ram, Khaiyyaam, Hansraj Behl, Lachhi Ram, Dhani Ram, Dattaram, Shiv Ram, Shyam Sunder, Manas Mukherjee (father of today’s singer Shaan), N. Dutta, Naushaad, A. R. Qureshi, Chitragupt, Ravi, C. Arjun, Sonik Omi, Raj Kamal, Lala-Sattar, Hemant Kumar and Kalyanji Anandji. But it was Ganesh and Usha Khanna with whom he had the maximum number of songs. Even Laxmikant Pyarelal chose him, along with Anand Bakhshi, to write songs for their films, like “Aaya Toofaan”, “Parasmani”, “Lutera”, “Chhaila Babu” etc. His two songs in “Parasmani” {“Woh jab yaad aaye, bahut yaad aaye” rendered by Lata and Mohammed Rafi & “Hansta huwa nooraani chehra” sung by Lata and Kamal Barot} set new records in popularity. The poet had received an amount of Rs. 10,000/- as his compensation for the “Parasmani” songs. This sum was used by his younger brother Qamar Jamaali (also an Urdu poet in his own right) to build anew their ancestral house in Islampura, Bhopal; and he had the house registered in the name of Asad’s wife, Ayesha. This house is still there in Bhopal and is now occupied by Asad’s eldest son Taj Mohammed Khan. Asad had contracted another marriage in Bombay. He had two sons (Taj and Taabish) and six daughters from his first wife. From his second wife, he had just one son Ghalib Asad who too is now a part of the film industry. His mother lives with him, though Asad’s first wife is no more. Asad’s last film with Laxmikant Pyarelal was “Rang Bhoomi” which was released in 1992, two years after the poet’s death. One of his songs from this film had become quite popular : “Pi ke Shankar ji ki booti, khul gayee ankhiyaan, nindiya tooti”. K. Asif’s last film “Love And God” (which remained incomplete but was then released 20 years after his death) had just one song assigned to Asad Bhopali by Naushad. It was a chorus where the leading voice was that of Talat Mahmood, filmed on Sanjeev Kumar. {Note : I believe the reference here is to the song “Rahe ga jahaan men tera naam”, where, apart from Talat Mahmood, Rafi, Manna De, Lata and Balbir’s voices can also be heard.

In 1989, when Suraj Barjatiya began his film “Main Ne Pyaar Kiya”, he chose Raam Laxman to provide the music. And Asad Bhopali was its principal lyricist. His song “Kabootar ja ja ja, kaboota ja ja ja” became very popular. In fact, it was settled between Suraj and Asad that if this song became a hit, Suraj would buy Asad a flat and a Maruti car. The film was a hit and this song topped the charts in popularity and also in sales. But Fate had chosen a different course. A severe paralytic stroke confined Asad Bhopali to bed and he couldn’t even attend the film’s premier. When there was no improvement in his condition, his family members brought him to Bhopal. Medical treatment failed to alleviate his suffering. His sons visited Bombay a few times and met Suraj Barjatiya too. But he reneged on his promises and didn’t even pay the royalty that was due to the poor lyricist. The 1990 Filmfare Award for the Best Song was won by this song. Asad Bhopali was invited for the Awards function but he was in no position to go to Bombay. It was Suraj Barjatiya who received the Trophy. But he didn’t have one word of sympathy on Asad’s painful illness.

As already stated earlier, Asad Bhopali passed away on the 9th June 1990.

Maybe Asad might have had a more fruitful life if he had taken up a normal career. His command over the nuances of genuine Urdu poetry was undisputed and he knew full well the intricacies of Urdu Prosody. He could easily base his lyrics on different ragas and infuse them with rare lyricism. That was why his songs had a direct appeal to the heart. He had the habit of noting in his personal diary any mukhRa that might have occurred to him. And when a suitable opportunity presented itself for a film song, he would delve into his diary, ferret out a mukhda and add the antara without any difficulty. And his command over the language and its Prosody always enabled him to write a suitable song for any musical bandish.

May his soul rest in peace!

Satyajit Rajurkar – May 17, 2013


Dil Deewana Bin Sajana Ke Mane Na – Maine Pyar Kiya

Kabootar Ja Ja Ja – Maine Pyar Kiya

Hum Tum Se Juda Hoke – Ek Sapera Ek Lutera

Dil Ka Soona Saaz – Ek Naari Do Roop

Ae Mere Dil-E-Nadan Tu Gham Se Na Ghabrana – Tower House

Dil Ki Baatein Dil Hi Jaane – Roop Tera Mastana

Haseen Dilruba Kareeb Aa Zara – Roop Tera Mastana

Ajnabi Tum Jane Pehchane Se Lagte Ho – Hum Sab Ustaad Hain

Ina Mina Dika Dai Damo Nika – Asha

Wo Jab Yaad Aaye Bahut Yaad Aaye – Parasmani

Ham Kashm-A-Kashe Gham Se Guzar Kyon Nahi Jate – Free Love

Pyar Bantate Chalo – Hum Sab Ustad Hain

Suno Jaana Suno Jaana – Hum Sab Ustad Hain

Hasta Hua Nuraani Chehara – Parasmani

Maine Kaha Tha Aana Sunday Ko – Ustadon Ke Ustad

Pajama Tang Hai Kurta Dheela – Shimla Road

Aap Ki Inaayaten Aap ke Karam – Vandana


7 thoughts on “A few words about Asad Bhopali – a lyricist who did amazing work but remained relatively unknown – My Tribute To Unsung Heroes of Indian Cinema – Part 2

  1. Very well done article…thanks as its hard to know facts about such great people like Asad Sahib. May Allah bless his soul.
    Raja Ulfat

  2. Informative and with a vision. Good write up on Asad Bhopali which means lion of Bhopal. A genuine poet who could not get his due from this clever and cunning film world. Suraj Barjatya stands exposed but he can get away because of his money power. Never the less, such wrong-doings must be exposed.

  3. An excellent article- very informative and enlightening. The ways of the industry are indeed fickle and cruel. Asad Bhopali will continue through his amazing songs.
    Thank you for the wonderful article.

  4. I always wanted to know about Asad saheb . Thanks Satyajit saheb . Kindly also populate wiki with Asad Sahebs Biography.

  5. Pingback: Dil Hai Zaalim Nigaahon Ka Maara | atul's bollywood song a day- with full lyrics

  6. Wasn’t Amanullah Khan ‘Aman’ (Zeenat Aman’s father) the first poet from Bhopal to join the film industry. Please check and update.

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