If the great bade dinon ke bard Anand Bakshi had lived, he would have been 91 on 21 July.
Anand Bakshi ’s son Rakesh Bakshi remembers his father as a man and a poet consumed by his art.
“He would often think of the words along with the tune, which he would share with the composer. Of course he contributed to the tunes . But he never spoke about it. Nor did any one connected with the creative process. So why should I? All I can tell you is that in those days my father and and the rest of the music creators worked as a team. There was never any question of, Maine kiye, nahin maine kiye. Whatever suggestions my father had to make for the tunes ,he did it unconditionally. The music composers were free to take his suggestions, or leave them. No question asked,” says Rakesh as he remembers his Dad fondly.
The give-and-take of creative ideas was both ways. “My father too was open to suggestions about his lyrics. Anu Malik told about a song from Sohni Mahiwal. He went to my Dad with the lines Sohni meri sohni aur nahin koi honi Rabb se zyada tera naam leta hoon. Anu was very excited by his poetic flourish. But my Dad reacted very coldly .Anu was honest enough to tell me that he felt my Dad was jealous of his brilliant words. But it wasn’t that. There was a problem with protocol: how could anyone mention his beloved’s name more than God’s name? Dad found a way out. His line after Rabb se zyada tera naam leta hoon was Rabb mujhe maaf kare mera insaaf kare.”
Rakesh remembers his father as a strong personality constantly creative and incessantly enthused. “He was always active creatively. The only time I saw him helpless was when his health began to fail him. I’ve seen my father cry only twice. Once when his daughter got married and then again when he had to be taken to the bathroom by his son. It broke my heart to see him that way.”
It was only after Bakshi Saab’s death that Rakesh began to understand the greatness of his father. “Until then he was just my Dad at home. Only after his death when I began to meet people about his work that I began to realize his relevance. During his lifetime we had our normal share of differences and quarrels. After his death I came to terms with my differences with him. After I wrote the biography Naghmein Kisse Baatein Yaadein I showed it to my elder sister , who is the head of the family, for approval. She asked me to edit out one or two family matters which she thought to too personal. Writing this book helped me understand my father and his greatness.”
Anand Bakshi Saab was a pragmatic soul. “If a producer could afford to pay him and didn’t, my father would stop working with him. But if a producer couldn’t pay him and he didn’t, my father continued to work with him .When I’d ask him about getting the due money ,my father would say, ‘How can I go in my car to get money from a man who has been forced to sell his car?’ ”
The interest in the work of Anand Bakshi remains relentless.
Says Rakesh, “During the lockdown I found the links to 3,300 of my father’s songs. They are all on the website devoted to my father. Just the other day a group of students from Subhash Ghai’s school Whistling Woods asked for my help to make a documentary on my father. Of course I’ll help them. When my father started as a lyricist in 1958 in the film Bhala Aadmi –it is a fallacious myth that he came to Mumbai to be a singer—it was Bhagwan Dada who gave him a break. It’s my turn to give back to the film industry.”