King of Melody and Soulful Lyrics

I was watching the session of the second day of the festival from among the front seats of the auditorium. At once, somebody entering the hall caught my attention. Clad in Persian blue kurta and helped by two men, this delegate (the tilak on his forehead indicated it) was made to sit in the corner -most seat of the front row. Though aged, his enthusiasm was palpable and his eyes were glued with concentration to the ongoing session. Was he Gopladas ‘Neeraj’ji? My heart raced. His session was scheduled in the day and I never had the privilege of meeting him before though I was familiar with his compositions. “Yes”, someone in the audience clarified my doubts. My gaze fixed on him in admiration. I felt privileged that a persona of such stature was before me. I tried to make him as comfortable as I could. Not because it was my duty as a volunteer for the festival: just that I could not stop myself from admiring his charismatic persona. To my pleasure, Neeraji was soon invited to the stage with his songs playing in the backdrop.

“Shokhiyon me ghola jaye phoolon ka shabab,
usme fir milayee jaye thodi si sharaab,

Hoga yoon nashaa joh taiyyar,
Wo pyaar hai…”

(The song of film ‘Prem Pujari’ was sung by melody and rhythm personified, Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar.) The meaningful and heart- touching lyrics together with the rhythm of this song made the second day come alive. It evoked a sense of nostalgia taking me to the era of 1970s and 1980s which can be regarded as the decade of some of the best compositions of music industry. After his introduction and before Neeraji could speak, a huge round of enthusiastic applause from the audience greeted him. ìToday is Valentine Day. Happy Valentine Dayî, he greeted the audience. In his 90s, Neeraj ji is still abreast of developments of contemporary era. He went on to highlight the essence of love.

“Pyaar karo, pyaar to zaruri hi karo
Tum daro na, Pyaar karo, Pyaar karo

Pyaar to pavitra hai,
pyaar hai swatantra bhari chadi

Pyaar hai daastan bhari chadi,
pyaar hai aag ki ghadi”

Jise pyaar karna nahi aata, use kuch nahi aata,î he quips. When asked about humanity, he seized the opportunity to recite few lines of his composition from the film ‘Pehchaan’.

“Aadmi Hun aadmi se pyaar karta hun
Ek khilona ban gaya, Duniya ke mele mein

Koi khele bheed mein, koi akele mein
Muskarakar kar bhent har sweekar karta hun,

Muskarakar kar bhent har sweekar karta hun,
Aadmi Hun aadmi se pyaar karta hun

Aadmi Hun aadmi se pyaar karta hun”

He even obliged his fans by singing the song ‘Likhe jo khat tujhe jo tere pyaar mein’ from the film ‘Kanyadaan’.

Perhaps the only remaining author of his era, Gopaldas was born in Etawah district of Uttar Pradesh in 1925. He began his career as a professor of Hindi Literature in Dharma Samaj College, Aligarh. He has composed his works under the pen name “Neeraj”. His simple yet eloquent style of writing has been accorded the status of high quality Hindi literature. Many of his poems have been composed into songs for Hindi movies of the 1970s -1980’s decade. One of his songs ‘Karwan guzar gaya, gubaar dekhte rahe’ sung by Muhammad Rafi became a superhit and is said to have been inspired from his life. The passing away of prominent music directors of the likes of S.D. Burman and Shankar-Jaikishan duo came as a bolt from the blue to him. Subsequently, he decided to quit film industry and confine himself to writing poems.

The government of India bestowed on him Padma Bhushan in 2007.

Ashita Kulshreshtha

Writer is a Freelance Journalist and a student of Journalism

(Published in The Lucknow Observer, Volume 2 Issue 13, Dated 05 April 2015)

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