Sameer: An Unsurpassed Lyricist
Unmatched in his prolific contribution to Hindi films, Sameer traversed an emphatic journey to carve a unqiue niche for himself in the Indian music industry
Records are made to be broken. In a span of more than five decades as lyricist, Majrooh Sultanpuri had almost 2,500 songs to his credit. And, when he passed away in 2000, it seemed that his record would be unbreakable. But, abiding by the adage, it was broken two years later by Anand Bakshi. Very soon, this myth was exploded by another lyricist, who not only found a coveted place in the Guinness Book of World Record, as the 'most prolific lyricist in Bollywood', but also had the distinction of being the very first lyricist to be bestowed this honour, as there was no such category earlier. Sameer Anjaan was conferred the award at a function in Mumbai on February 16, 2016
Now known as Sameer, he was born as Sheetla in the house of Lalji Pandey on February 24, 1958, in village Odaar, Varanasi. Lalji Pandey was a famed lyricist, who was better known by his pen name, Anjaan.
A chance meeting with composer Usha Khanna wielded terrific results for Sameer's yet to start lyricist career. He rendered some of his songs to her and she instantly picked up four of his songs, thus giving him a break in Bekhabar (1983). The break did wonders for Sameer. In 1988, he got to work with Laxmikant-Pyarelal in Love 86 and Kudrat Ka Kanoon. His lyrics were appreciated and, in the same year, he wrote all songs of Bibi Ho To Aisi and its number, Phool gulab ka lakhon mein, hazaron mein chehra janab ka(AnuradhaPaudwal-Mohammad Aziz), became a hit.
Sameer also worked with the sibling duo of Anand-Miland in the film Rakhwala (1989). This duo had created a musical sensation in Qamayat Se Qamayat Tak (1988) with Majrooh Sultanpuri. After its stupendous success, they brought Sameer in Indra Kumar's film Dil starring Amir Khan and Madhuri Dixit, and created melodious tracks. Sameer's songs, Mujhe neend na aaye mujhe chain naaaye, Hum pyaar karne wale (AnuradhaPaudwal-Udit Narayan), O priya O priya (AnuradhaPaudwal-Suresh Wadekar), and Khambhe jaise khadi hai (Udit Narayan & chorus). Their work was also appreciated in the film Beta (1991), including the popular Dhak dhak karne laga (AnuradhaPaudwal-Udit Narayan) – picturised on Madhuri Dixit. Sameer's lyrics in Bol Radha Bol (1992) were again composed by Anand-Milind, and the song, Tu tu tu tu tara, was another hit.
T-Series cassette king Gulshan Kumar came up with a new idea of music bank. He recorded songs and played them to producers for them to choose and use as per the requirement of their films. The music duo of Nadeem-Shravan and Sameer had recorded several songs for this bank. When Mahesh Bhatt announced Aashiqui (1990), he took six songs for his film. Aashiqui was a musical hit of 1990 and Sameer's songs created a sensation amongst the youth: Sanso kizaroorat hai jaise, Mein Duniya bhula doonga, Tu meri zindagi hai (Kumar Sanu) and Nazar ke saamne (Kumar Sanu-Anuradha Paudwal) became chartbusters. Aashiqui became a cult film for its music and Sameer duly became the most sought after lyricist.
Sameer worked with these renowned pairs: Anand-Miland, Nadeem-Shravan, Jatin-Lalit; and also with Anu Malik. The younger generation of composers and lyricists had arrived.
Nadeem-Shravan created several hit numbers with Sameer: the title song of Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin (1991, Kumar Sanu-Anuradha Paudwal); the same year in Saajan, Mera dil bhi kitna pagal hai (Kumar Sanu-Alka Yagnik); in Deewana, Sochenge tumhe pyaar (1992, Kumar Sanu); in Phool Aur Kante, Maine pyaar tumhi se kiya hai (1992, Anuradha Paudwal-Kumar Sanu); in Hum Hain Raahi Pyaar Ke, Ghoonghat ki aad se dilbar ka (1993, Kumar Sanu-Alka Yagnik).
Infact, Gulshan Kumar, Nadeem-Shravan and Sameer were responsible for reviving the era of soulful melodies. They kept giving hits with Raja Hindustani, Pardesi pardesi jaana nahin (1996, AlkaYagnik), and Aayi ho meri zindagi mein tum bahar banke in two versions (Alka Yagnik-Udit Narayan).The mid-90s literally belonged to Nadeem-Shravan and Sameer.
1997 was a bad year for Sameer, as he lost his father and Gulshan Kumar was also shot dead. With Nadeem's name figuring in this murder, Sameer fled to London.
When he came back in 1998, he teamed up with Anu Malik, whose father Sardar Malik was a composer of yesteryears. Anu Malik composed several hits with Sameer in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Soldier, China Gate, Haseena Maan Jayegi, Fiza, Lajja and No Entry, to mention a few.
Sameer was in demand again. He had worked with three generations of composers – from Lakshmikant-Pyarelal, RD Burman, Usha Khanna to Monty Sharma. With Saawariya (2007), he accomplished lyrics for five hundred films, and its number Jab se tere naina (Shaan) was a great hit.
Sameer remained active in the new millennium and he experimented with all genres of songs: Aaja mahiya (Fiza), Say shava shava (Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham), Tu sirf mera mehboob (Ajnabi), Aap ke pyaar mein hum sanware, Main agar saamne (Raaz), Dil laga liya (Dil Hai Tumhara), Odhani odh ke nachu (Tere Naam), Jhalak dikhla ja (Akshar), and many more.
He was of the opinion that "poetry is written for swantah sukhaya (self-gratification). There's no compulsion for poetry but when writing for films, you have to set words according to a situation and tune. If you notice, in film songs words like Ishq, Aashiqui and Dil are repeated over and over again. But emotional experience differs from person to person."
In a question about his future plans, Sameer revealed, "Gulzar Saab told me several times,'Sameer, you have written a record number of songs; it's high time you should concentrate on your poetry'." I took his advice seriously and my collection of poems, Sameerana, has just been released. I'm also working on my memoirs,which will be published in Hindi, English and Urdu."
Sameer's reinvention of his career from a banker to lyricist has been quite rewarding with three Filmfare Awards besides Zee Screen Award for Tum paas aaye (Kuch Kuch Hota Hai). He was conferred the Awadh Ratan Award of UP Government in 2001.
Sameer Anjaan is still writing for films and also doing live shows across the country. Looking at the quantum of his work, it seems likely that Sameer would set a new benchmark of penning maximum number of songs in a lifetime.