Lyricist Indeevar and his creations

Indeevar lyricist [ original name Shyamlal Babu Rai] (also credited as Indiwar and Indeewar) was one of the leading Hindi film lyricists. He worked in Hindi film industry for over four decades from the late 1940s till mid 1990s. During this time span, Indeevar worked with various film composers, from Roshan in the 40s to Aadesh Shrivastava, and Jatin-Lalit. This went on till the 90s. Indeevar had a long-time association with music composer duo, Kalyanji-Anandji particularly during the 1960s that continued way in to the 1970s and early 1980s.


Indeevar was particularly recognized for his patriotic songs like ‘Dulhan chali’ and ‘Hai preet jahaan ki reet sadaa’ from Manoj Kumar’s Purab Aur Paschim (1970). Indeevar was also associated with philosophical lyrics for songs such as ‘Zindagi ka safar’ from the film Safar (1970). During the 1980s, the impetus of Indeevar’s verse changed from the former mellow tunes, to more peppy numbers that he worked on for music composer.

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The early life of Lyricist Indeevar:

Indeevar was born in Dhamna Village of Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh of India on 1 January 1924. He grew up in Barua Sagar in Jhansi District. Later he moved to Mumbai to pursue a professional career as a lyricist.

Professional Journey of Indeevar :

Rajiv Vijayakar, an Entertainment journalist who interviews stars, filmmakers, music people, writers & technicians in Hindi Cinema, wrote about Indeevar:

Indeevar came to Mumbai in the 1940s after writing much patriotic poetry. His first film was Justice Choudhury (1946- he went on to do another film of that name in 1983), but Indeevar told me that, by prior arrangement, the songs were credited to D.N. Madhok.


After writing for small films like Baadbaan, he got his break with Roshan’s Malhar in 1951 with major hits like ‘Bade armaanon se rakkha hain’, ‘Taara toote duniya dekhe’ and others. This was the beginning of an association with Roshan that later included films like Shisham (1952) and ended after a long gap with the composer’s last film, the 1967 Anokhi Raat).

This association was to then extend to Roshan’s sons – film-maker Rakesh Roshan in almost all his films till the poet’s death. and many. with composer Rajesh Roshan, who scored music for many of Indeevar’s films even outside his brother’s banner. And here, the success quotient, with films like Kaamchor, Khudgazr, Khoon Bhari Maang and Karan Arjun in the 1980s and 1990s was spectacularly higher.

Despite this, Indeevar had to wait a decade for greater success, which only happened when Kalyanji-Anandji took him on. Though he had worked with Kalyanji (solo) from his debut film in 1958, Samrat Chandragupta (Mujhe dekh chand sharmaaye’ and more) it was with later films like the 1964 Dulha Dulhan (Humne tujhko pyar kiya hai jitna), the 1967 Upkar (Kasme vaade pyar wafaa) and above all the 1968 Saraswatichandra, for which he wrote all the songs, that he really took off.

Kalyanji-Anandji-Indeevar had an unbroken association till the early ’90s. Indeevar, by then, had formed hit teams also with Rajesh Roshan and Bappi Lahiri and had worked extensively with Anu Malik, Shankar-Jaikishan, Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Usha Khan.Shisham, 1952, Film Poster

The lyricist, who had a turbulent family life with two broken marriages, however, devoured literature and poetry in every conceivable language including English, Sanskrit, Gujarati, Bengali French and Persian. His home had an entire wall full of books from floor to ceiling. A master at philosophical songs and those that spoke of pathos, he was equally adept at describing shringaar (the beauty of a woman) and erotica.

When he turned to the latter in very basic lexicon in the ’80s, he was castigated for writing smut like Jhopde mein charpai’ (Mawaali 1983) but the criticism did not deter him from occasionally writing the odd bawdy song into the ’90s.

Major Hits of Indeevar [ Playback ]:

Indeevar songs list, Indeevar filmography :

Bade aarmano se rakhha hai (Malhar)

Chandan sa badan (Saraswati Chandra, 1968)

Chhod de saari duniya kisi ke liye (Saraswati Chandra, 1968)

Darpan ko dekha tu ne (Upaasana, 1971)

Dil aaisa kisi ne mera toda (Amaanush, 1975)

Dushman na kare dost ne (Aakhir Kiyun)

Ek tu na mila, Himalay Ki God Mein (1965)

Hai preet jahan ki reet sada (Purab Aur Paschim)

Har Khushi ho wahan (Upkaar)

Har koi chahta hai (Ek Muthhi Aasmaan)

He re kanhaiya (Chhoti Bahu)

Hothon se chhoo lo tum (Prem Geet)

Hum ne tujhko pyar kiya hai (Dulha Dulhan)

Hum they jin ke sahaare (Safar)

Hum tumhe chahte hai aaise (Qurbaani)

Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaye (Jurm)

Jeevan mitaana hai diwaanapan (Aarmaan)

Jeevan se bhari teri aankhen (Safar)

Jis dil me basa tha pyar (Saheli)

Jo pyar tu ne mujhko diya tha (Dulha Dulhan)

Jo tum ko ho pasand (Safar)

Kasme waade pyar wafa (Upkaar)

Koi jab tumhara hriday tod de (Purab Aur Paschim)

Madhuban khushboo deta hai (Saajan Bina Suhagan)

Mahlon ka raja mila (Anokhi Raat)

Meri pyaari baheniyan (Sachha Jhoota)

Nadiya chale chale re dhaara (Safar)

Nile Nile Ambar Par (Kalakaar)

Paas baitho tabiyat (Punarmilan)

Phool tumhe bheja hai khat me (Saraswati Chandra)

Pyar hi jeene ki soorat hai (Aarmaan)

Roop tera aaisa darpan me na (Ek Baar Muskura Do)

Roshan tumhi se duniya (Parasmani)

Sab ke rahete lagta hai jaise (Samjhauta)

Samjhauta ghamon se kar lo (Samjhauta)

Savere ka suraj tumhare liye (Ek Baar Muskura Do)

Taal mile nadi ke jal me (Anokhi Raat)

Tere chehre me woh jadoo hai (Dharmatma)

Tere hothon ke do phool (Paras)

Tum Mile Dil Khile (Criminal)

Tum mile pyar se (Apraadh)

Waqt karta jo wafa (Dil Ne Pukaara)

Yuhin tum mujhse baat karti ho (Sachha Jhoota)

Zindagi ka safar (Safar)

Saraswatichandra. 1968, FIlm Poster
Saraswatichandra. 1968, FIlm Poster

Indeevar will primarily go down in history as one of our very few lyricists who did extensive in-depth work, wrote high-calibre songs in films like Saccha Jhutha, Safar and Johny Mera Naam (1970), Purab Aur Pacchim (1971), Samjhauta (1973). Qurbani (1980) and many others and excel in his work like few others did. ‘Writing eight to ten mukhdas for every song to offer the film-maker a choice is a habit with me,” he said. He also firmly believed that poets improved with age.

Still very much at the top, he passed away suddenly on 27 February 1997, leaving behind a priceless legacy of about a thousand songs in over 300 films.

Meeting Indeevar was an experience I can never forget, not just as a fan and student of lyrics, but also from the perspective of his intensity. ‘Every five years in the field of art, you must shake yourself, break yourself and then remake yourself. Otherwise monotony will kill you, he said, adding that this was his working philosophy.

Safar, 1970, Film Poster
Safar, 1970, Film Poster

He added that lyricists have to be all-rounders and needed to come up with new ideas and thoughts all the time. For that, you have to constantly learn by reading and exposing yourself to poetry and literature of all kinds. At 65, I have begun to learn Arabic reading books in Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, English, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, French and Persian.’

He did stress, however, that from this reading must emerge one’s own and original style and verse. ‘Lata Mangeshkar once told me that a certain song of mine reminded her of a song by Pradeep-ji. She meant it as a compliment, but I told her that I had failed in that case,’ he said.

The last part of his recipe for success was his feeling that a good poet must love humanity. ‘Poetry is more important than music, he also declared. Even the best of music is basically entertainment, but poetry teaches you how to take the best out of life. I write psycho-therapeutic poetry a lot. Some of my songs have prevented divorces, migration, suicide and other evils.’

Indeevar’s ‘Jab koi baat bigad jaaye’ from the 1990 Jurm prevented an Indian widow living in the United Kingdom, from committing suicide, so an Indian radio station there played the song in her honour for many years every day. The lady wrote to the film’s director Mahesh Bhatt, expressing her gratitude.

Purab Aur Paschim, 1970
Purab Aur Paschim, 1970

The other ace up the born romantic’s sleeve was his unparalleled contribution to songs on beauty, like ‘Jeevan se bhari teri aankhen majboor kare jeene ke liye (Your eyes, full of life, compel me to live) from Safar. To be inspired by a woman’s beauty, one must know her and spend time with her,’ he had observed.

“Jeevan se bhari…” was written long before Safar happened. A princess with beautiful eyes who had loved my songs had invited me to her palace and challenged me to write a poem about her. I told her that I could do that only if I spent time with her, looking at those eyes. So we drove in her open-air convertible around her palace property, talking shop till inspiration struck me.”

At another time, composers Kalyanji-Anandji had mentioned how a fan had sent a flower within the pages of a letter to them. Indeevar heard the story and said, ‘We can make a good song from that. And so ‘Phool tumhein bheja hai khat mein/Phool nahin mera dil hai (1 have sent a flower to you in this letter/It represents my heart) was born in Saraswatichandra.

Justice Choudhury, 1983, Film Poster
Justice Choudhury, 1983, Film Poster

Indeevar was quite forthright about writing some rather crass and erotic lyrics for songs in the ’80s. The issue was that people did not expect Indeevar to write such songs. But sex cannot be wished away,’ he told me. South Indian temples and several other temples in India have had erotic sculptures from ancient times. People today are not aware that in those times, people were increasingly getting inclined towards asceticism, and had that had been allowed to go on, shristhi (mankind) would have been in peril. Many men were ignorant and inclined towards celibacy. The wise men of those times thought of this method of stopping the damage.”

He added that the trouble in many cases was because the filming of the lyrics was vulgar. Even erotic lyrics can be filmed artistically, he noted. Josh Mahilabadi, Kalidas and Ameer Khusrau are among the legends who have penned erotica.

Castigating the falling standards in music in the late ’90s, Indeevar said, ‘In those days, our inspirations were Kalidas and Surdas. Today, the songwriters’ inspirations are older film songs.”

A gem of an observation from him was about how lyricists worked by themselves. We have no assistants or arrangers like composers have, and we have to write original words even if the tune is lifted from somewhere,’ he had declared with a smile.

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