Lyricists have always played second fiddle to the music directors in Hindi movies. Yet, good lyricists have often drawn their own fan following. To the discerning listeners of Hindi Cine Sangeet, they have always been as important as the composer and the singer, if not more. And in the world of geets and ghazals, they have more fan following than the composers.
Yet, I was fairly surprised to find that even some of the connoisseurs of light music that I know could not even recognize the name of Madhukar Rajasthani. A few who did, correctly identified him as a writer of bhajans and were completely unaware that he has penned so many beautiful geets. That prompted me to write this post. Unfortunately, not much information on his personal life is available, except that he was born in Churu district of Rajasthan.
Madhukar, in my opinion, is the most underrated lyricist in the history of Hindi light music. One reason could be that he did not write for too many films. His first film was Bhed, with music by Mukul Roy. He did work with popular composers such as Husnlal Bhagatram, Roshan and Ram Ganguly but only occasionally. He has written for close to two dozen movies, none by a big banner.
His non-film work can be broadly divided into two broad categories (my classification): bhajans and geets. It is not just a genre classification. His bhajans are among the most popular bhajans in the history of recorded music in India, though they are identified with the singers and few know the lyricist who has penned such soulful words. On the other hand, his other songs are barely known.
Tere bharose hai Nandlala, written by Madhukar, is arguably the most popular bhajan song by Mohd. Rafi. Most of the popular non-filmi Rafi bhajans such as Shyam se neha lagaya, Paon padoon tore Shyam, and Main Gwalo rakhwalo maiya are written by Madhukar. These are bhajans many of us have grown up listening to.
That is, however, not the case with his other songs. Most of them are among the best that I have listened to – filmi or non-filmi. But few have even heard them. If anyone is interested, one can go to www.saregama.com and search for his songs. You would get some 30-odd songs. Here are some of my favourites. Each of them is an absolute gem.
1. Meri bhi ek Mumtaz thi (Manna Dey). One of my all-time favorites. In a class of its own. And if you listen, even if you are an occasional listener, you will ask: who is the poet?
2. Pal bhar ke pehchan aap se (Manna Dey). Another gem. One of the most soulful romantic songs that I have listened to.
3. Ja tujhe bhul gaye (Hemant Kumar)
4. Ek gaon ke ujale daman mein (Talat Mehmood). One of the best by Talat.
5. Yeh awara ratein (Manna Dey)
6. Chalo na gori (C H Atma). An extremely hummable song, very different from all the rest. I sing this often in small get togethers.
It is an absolute pity that so little is known about the poet. Would be delighted to know more.
I am compiling a list of his songs, which I will put up here as a separate page.