Anand Bakshi will always be remembered as one of the most prolific and successful lyricists in the history of Hindi cinema. Bakshi, who breathed his last on 30 March 2002, has left behind such a rich legacy of songs that his name will be taken with a lot of reverence and respect by generations to come. Someday, somebody was bound to write a book on his life and his journey in the Hindi film industry. But, one is pretty sure ‘that’ book would have never been as intimate, personal and heartwarming as the one that his youngest son Rakesh Anand Bakshi has written.
‘Nagme, Kisse, Baatein, Yaadein: The Life & Lyrics of Anand Bakshi’ has been authored by Rakesh who is a scriptwriter and author and has popular books like ‘Directors’ Diaries – The Road To Their First Film’, ‘Let’s Talk On Air – Conversations With Eminent Radio Presenters’, ‘Directors’ Diaries - Volume 2 – Conversations with Eminent Filmmakers – Their Path To Film-making’ to his credit. Now, when a relative (a son, no less) of a popular figure writes a book on him, there are two possibilities. One, it could turn out to be a book which glorifies the personality and is bereft of any kind of objectivity. Or, the readers could get to read a book which offers one a full-bodied picture of the personality and one which gives a glimpse of the several interesting incidents and inspiring milestones which the personality covered in his long and illustrious journey. The second possibility has been explored with this book.
The Anand Bakshi that we read about in this book is not godly but humane. He is a man blessed with many talents and skills, who lives a full life in which he makes several right choices, some poor decisions, struggles to give up on some bad habits which cost him dearly, thanks his ‘Bansi Wale’ for everything that He has given him, does a lot of great work and leaves behind the kind of work that will inspire songwriters or just artistes, in general, for years. He is an inspirational figure but also flawed just like any other human being is, has been and will be.
There is a lot of interesting trivia about many of the popular songs written by Anand Bakshi but that’s one of the many aspects the book deals with. From his journey as a teenager who witnesses the horrors of partition to becoming a very successful lyricist in the Hindi film industry, Nand (Bakshi’s nickname; he is referred with the same name in the initial chapters of the book) goes through a variety of experiences and myriad of emotions that could have made for the script of a Hindi film. He realized that too and that’s the reason he pitched the idea of making a film on his life or rather, his life events to a couple of filmmaker friends. One hopes the film also gets made someday.
As you read the book, you realize what made Anand Bakshi one of the most successful lyricists in the history of Hindi cinema. There was talent, of course. But, he had many other traits which contributed towards his success. He learnt the value of discipline while being in the army and didn’t forget it throughout his life. Putting in long hours into work and doing things in an organized manner were habits that he had inculcated from a very young age. There was another important quality which made him a favourite of many producers and directors. Anand Bakshi was extremely proficient when it came to managing time and never missed deadlines. He always delivered the songs on time and never became the reason for any of his song recordings getting delayed.
A very interesting incident has been mentioned in the book which gives you an insight about one of the things that differentiated Bakshi, or for that matter lyricists and poets of the yore from the kind of songwriters Hindi cinema has today. While watching a song written by him in a particular film, Anand Bakshi got a little disturbed at the blunder that had been committed. The character in the film, who happened to be a Muslim, was singing, “jitni chaabi bhari Ram ne….”, lines which were written by the lyricist. Now, Bakshi was as secular as one could be but what bothered him was the fact that he was not informed about the religious preference of the character. If he was, he would have not used ‘Ram’ in the song as the character doesn’t pray to Hindu Gods. These days, you have Maharashtrian characters in films lip-syncing to Punjabi songs and North-Indian characters, who speak in chaste Hindi, having songs written in heavy Urdu words being picturized on them.
Anand Bakshi was a compassionate and sensitive human being. And, being in the army had made him a tough person who could deal with adversities. All these qualities came in handy when he wrote songs for a variety of situations in different films. These traits also helped him find his way through the cut-throat industry and eventually, make a name for himself. The book makes for a highly engaging read and even makes your eyes moist at times. There is a particular incident mentioned in this book which speaks about the time when Bakshi was hospitalized and was in a stage of coma. His family members made him listen to a couple of songs which he had written and loved singing through a pair of headphones. My eyes turned moist and I had a smile on my lips as I imagined a group of people gathered around him and trying to bring him back to his senses. Bakshi sa’ab was blessed to have a family like that. Blessed was his family to have somebody like him.
The warmth and compassion Anand Bakshi had has passed on to his children as well. This is quite evident from anecdotes like the one when Rakesh heard a flute seller replicating the tune of “Mere Naina Sawan Bado” (a song written by Anand Bakshi for the film ‘Mehbooba’) and invited him to the house for a chat. Towards the end of the book, a lot of people whom Anand Bakshi had worked with share their memories of him. A lot of people, like myself, would have expected their statements and anecdotes to run throughout the book. That does not happen and in hindsight, it’s a good thing as Rakesh gets to be the guide through which we get to know Anand Bakshi.
‘Nagme, Kisse, Baatein, Yaadein: The Life & Lyrics of Anand Bakshi’ is not just a book for the fans and admirers of Anand Bakshi. It is a book that should be read by anyone who is interested in getting a glimpse of a human being who touched many lives when he was around and continue to do so with his work that all of us have access to. A corporate professional, for instance, could take a lesson from the kind of respect Bakshi gave to time and his disciplinarian approach to everything he did.
At one point in the book, Rakesh admits that one book alone cannot do justice to the story of Anand Bakshi. We agree. Those who read and re-read this book, shall wait for the second part (and many other parts) to arrive.