One of the best things about the internet is how much easier it is to find information about people you are interested in. Of course, the downside is that much of it is misinformation, which makes it all the nicer when you stumble across a source that you can have faith in—such as a family member! Of course for we fans of old Hindi cinema, there is still not much out there; this makes me even more grateful when someone like Rakesh Anand Bakshi contacts me. Rakesh is genuinely interested in preserving and sharing his great lyricist father Anand Bakshi’s legacy, and so he should be. Anand Bakshi wrote lyrics for more than 600 Hindi films, including many huge hits and many of my more obscure favorites too!
I found out through Rakesh that he also made a cameo appearance as a fakir during a song from Picnic (1966):
When I asked Rakesh if he would like to share anything about his father with us, he very kindly sent me the following.
This article I wrote for my Dad’s 78th birth anniv, on 21st July, was printed in Super Cinema on 2 August 2008.
Dear Ali Peter John Sir, senior journalist and writer with Screen India, asked me to write a piece on my Father on his 78th birth anniversary. I hesitated a moment, as it’s challenging to write without bias on so close a relationship. Especially being a Son who realized only much later, that his Father needed Solitude not because he did not love his Family, but because he needed to spend loads of time alone to be able to express himself, and to create lyrics. Even Nature creates in Silence.
I completely forgot my promise to Ali Sir till I was on my jog this morning. I thought I’ll write about two huge learnings that inspire me daily on my quest to be a good filmmaker. While I do the rounds of getting my cast and crew in place for my first feature script and film, I naturally meet artists across platforms. Some successful, most struggling, and some even failed filmmakers, actors, and writers. The one thing in common I found in all of these people from different crafts was, every one of them, experience lack of confidence, and sometimes self doubt. Some confessed their fears to me, while I could read it behind the façade of confidence some others put up to remain positive. We all are sailing in the same Noah’s ark. I decided to share the secret that inspires me when I experience similar pangs of self doubt and lack of confidence. My Father wrote almost 3500 film songs, for almost 800 hindi films.
And yet, believe it or not, but, before he wrote every single one of them, he feared he was no good at song writing! He feared he has done it so far, but he is going to fail this time for sure! In spite of the fact that he wrote many hit songs, popular songs, and songs appreciated even by the critics and the poet fraternity, consistently from 1957 to 2002! I think, he succeeded in spite of his fears because he always began afresh from ground zero. Never complacent in his victories and success, he always kept a higher goal alive. And he never let the lights of fame from his past earnings blind the path that lay ahead of him. This was huge learning for me. My Father taught me, it’s natural to feel self doubt or lack of confidence or poor self esteem. Because my Father was extremely successful and happy in spite of those fears. Another important lesson I received from him, “It’s not about making hit films, or writing a hit script. Hits and Flops are learnings. What really matters at the end of the run of hits and flops is the kind of person you become while your work becomes Hits and Flops. And, the Friends you earn and keep along that way.” My Father challenged his fears by writing a poem to inspire himself. Mr Subhash Ghai recorded it as a song for one of his films. The mukhda is: “Main koi baraf nahin hoon jo pighal jaoonga. Main koi harf nahin hoon jo badal jaoonga….Main toh jadoo hoon, main jadoo hoon chal jaoonga.” Happy Birthday Dad. Cheers!
Anand Bakshi was born on 21 July 1930 and wrote almost 3500 hindi film Lyrics, in over 636 hindi feature films, from 1957 to 2002. He traveled beyond our horizon on 30 March 2002, at 8 pm.
[Anand Bakshi with Jaikishan (left above), and with Khayyam (right, below)]
He believed: “There is something inside of me superior to my circumstances, stronger than every situation of life.”
Before he established himself as a lyrics writer for Hindi film songs, he served for 2 years in the Royal Indian Navy. He joined the Royal Indian Navy at Karachi, on 12 July 1944 as “Boy 1,” hoping that his ship (H.M.I.S. Dilawar, and later, H.M.I.S. Bahadur) would dock in Bombay, the land of his film dreams, but was disappointed when she did not.
He was dismissed from the Royal Navy on 5 April 1946, after he was arrested and detained for taking part in the Naval Mutiny at Bombay Harbor, against the British Empire, while on the ship H.M.I.S. Hindustan.
The family left Rawalpindi, Pakistan, for India (due to the Partition) on 2 October 1947. After Partition he served 6 years in the Indian Army, based at Jubbalpore, with The Corps of Signals, and later with the E.M.E. Infantry.
He went to Bombay to find work in films for the first time in 1951. He did not get work so he returned to the Army.
He married Kamla Mohan (his neighbor from Rawalpindi) on 2 October 1954. (Memsaab says: I cannot resist this photograph of her in full-on Kashmiri garb, I love it so. Although I have to wonder if she was able to walk wearing all that silver!)
He arrived again in Bombay to again try and find work in films in October of 1956.
While in the Indian Army, on 21 January 1950, he wrote an “Aim in Life” for himself:
Every one in this world, rich or poor should have a definite aim in life.
A man without any fixed purpose in life is like a ship without radder, at the mercy of the winds, powerless to control its course.
So a person having no aim in life has nothing by which to guide his actions, or regulate his conduct.
I, the undersigned, Anand Prakash Bakshi (AZAD.), intend to study music.
For it is my aim in life to become an artist. And to achieve this, I must join films, radio, or theatre, and become a singer, songs composer, music director, director, etc.
(Later, on 10 October 1988 he added a footnote to this “Aim In Life” thanking God for helping him realize his dreams.)
[Anand Bakshi with Kalyanji, Anandji, Shammi and Shashi Kapoor (above), and with RD Burman and Gina Lollobrigida (below)]
He would begin every song-writing Diary of his by writing this belief of his on the first page (of every new book he started):
I am a being of Divine light and power.
I have access to all that the Universe has to offer.
I can reach out and take, or do,
whatever I want, whenever I want.
[Anand Bakshi circa 1971-72 (above), and with Mohammed Rafi (left, below)]
All the photographs here are courtesy of Rakesh and taken from his marvellous Facebook page dedicated to his talented father. It has many many more pictures, mementos and memories of this man who contributed so very, very much to Hindi cinema over the span of five decades.
I love that he owned a Peugeot 404 car, because my family did as well. And it was white, too, although it had a blue swash along the side. Very stylish.
Thank you so much for sharing, Rakesh (here he is with his father in Kashmir, below). Truly his was a life well-spent, and I am so pleased that you are documenting it!