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The Forgotten Love of Sahir and Amrita

The Forgotten Love of Sahir and Amrita
The generation of today would never get to experience the realm of true love. They would never feel the beauty of loving through words; they would never know the joy of being someone’s muse and the permanent recipient of someone’s unaddressed verses.

An era that is solely dedicated to technology leaves little or no scope for creativity to evolve through any means. The ‘convenient’ communication apps like Whatsapp and Facebook has gnawed at people’s desire to use pen and paper to express. The dominance of convenience has deeply overshadowed the sublimity of words, of pen and paper, of poetry, of confidences, of life.

But there has been a time about which a lot of us are clueless, where silence spoke a thousand words, paper expressed the deepest emotions and the smallest memoirs were the most prized possessions of every lover. One such soulful love story is of the famous lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi, whose songs continue to be on our playlist and whose couplets remain our favourite Facebook statuses to express the deepest emotions and Amrita Pritam the most celebrated Urdu poet of that era.

Amrita first met Sahir Ludhianvi in 1944 in a place called Preet Nagar during a mushiara and was absolutely smitten by his claiming presence. When she met Ludhianvi, she was married to Pritam Singh, to whom she had been engaged when she was a child. The marriage wasn’t a success primarily because of the lack of feelings. Sahir Ludhianvi, a poet, and a budding lyricist at that time was intense and possessed idealistic traits and Amrita was the perfect amalgamation of beauty and brains, she had the supreme ability to gambol with words. Amrita wrote once about their meeting, “I do not know whether it was the magic of his words or his silent gaze, but I was captivated by him.”

Whereas Sahir was a bundle of contradictions, a complex man with ten thousand flaws but that’s what drew people near him. Amrita was proud of her love for Sahir, she never failed to express it in her verses and whenever she got an opportunity to speak about it, she never shied away.  In her autographical work, ‘Raseedi Ticket’ she wrote, “Posing for a picture of me at work, I was asked to sit and write on a paper with a pen in my hand. When I saw the paper later, I realised that absentmindedly I had written Sahir, Sahir, Sahir across the sheet.”

Though a lot of people have claimed that their love was one sided, even if Sahir was attracted to her, he never expressed the love as openly as Amrita did. But a lot of people have voiced against the fact that theirs was a one-sided story because those who knew him closely said that he loved her madly and she was the only woman in his life who could have convinced Sahir to give up his single status. In fact, Ludhianvi had once remarked to his mother, “That’s Amrita Pritam. She could have been your daughter-in-law.”

Yet he never committed to her. It was said that he was a victim of oedipal complex. His mother suffered a lot at the hands of his father and that developed a kind of ‘mother fixation’ in him. His childhood was a tumultuous one. There was an invisible bar around him that he would allow no women to cross. Countless women came into Sahir’s life and Amrita was neither his first nor his last.

Recalling their moments of togetherness, Amrita wrote in her autobiography, ‘Raseedi Ticket’ that how they would sit in extreme silence and gaze seamlessly into each other’s eyes while Ludhianvi smoked his cigarettes one after the other. After he left, Amrita picked up the leftover cigarettes and smoked them to feel him more intimately and to get more close to him.

A similar incident that spoke highly of their pious and conventional style of loving was when a Punjabi composer, Jaidev, and Ludhianvi were working together on the lyrics of a song at Sahir’s residence, Jaidev noticed a dirty and used cup lying on the coffee table. He immediately suggested that it needed to be cleaned. “Don’t you dare touch it,” Ludhianvi shot back. “Amrita drank tea out of it the last time she was here.”

Saif Hyder Hasan’s play ‘Ek Mulakaat’ was made on the love-story of Sahir and Amrita where Shekhar Suman and Deepti Naval essayed the role of Sahir and Amrita. That was also Naval’s theatre debut.

Sahir and Amrita’s love story, which will be regarded as a worn-out cliché now, would remain one of the most sensational love stories of Bollywood. In spite of its poignant lack of accomplishment, it has managed to stick onto our memories since ages.
Ankita Chakravarti

Ankita Chakravarti

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