Sahir Ludhianvi – Bio Sketch
Sahir Ludhianvi is the pen name of Abdul Hayee who was born on March 8, 1921, in Ludhiana, Punjab. By all accounts, Sahir had a difficult childhood under an abusive father. His protective mother, Sardar Begum, left her husband with the child and suffered severe financial deprivation as a consequence. Sahir was educated at the Khalsa High School in Ludhiana and later at the Satish Dhawan College for Boys. Even as a student, Sahir showed great promise with his talent for poetry and for passionate speeches.
In 1943, Sahir settled in Lahore. There, he completed talKhiyaaN (Bitterness) (1945), his first published work in Urdu, and became a member of the Progressive Writers Association. When he made controversial statements promoting Communism, a warrant for his arrest was issued by the government of Pakistan. In 1949, two years after partition, Sahir fled from Lahore to Delhi. A biography states that he moved to India because he missed his Hindu and Sikh friends who had fled from Pakistan, and he preferred to live in secular India. Eight weeks later, Sahir moved to Bombay. There, in the 1970s, he built a bungalow which he called parchhaiyaaN (Shadows/Reflections), after one of his literary works. He lived there till his death on October 25, 1980, at a young age of 59 (he had been a heavy smoker and drinker).
Sahir Ludhianvi never married. However, he had a long relationship with Amrita Pritam who was a highly regarded poet, novelist and essayist in her own right. After he broke off with her, he reportedly had a second relationship with Sudha Malhotra, a singer and actress.
Sahir Ludhianvi was a uniquely versatile poet. On one hand, he excelled at classical Ghazal and nazm with their profound thoughts and intellectual elements. On the other hand, he was a legendary songwriter and arguably the most highly regarded lyricist in the Bollywood film industry. In this website, the reader will mostly find selections from the first category of his works. For his prolific and much-loved songs, the reader will need to refer to entertainment and music websites. Regardless of the category, a common theme in Sahir’s poetry was empathy towards the plight of the downtrodden, a sensitivity about the declining values of society, the senselessness of war, frustration with self-serving politicians, the plight women, protest against conservative orthodoxy and the inequity of capitalism. Often, his love songs too were tinged with sorrow and similar sentiments. Sahir was truly a magician with words. He used more common hindustani words, yet retained the exquisite formality of nazm and Ghazal. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1971.