Jukebox: Shailendra Penned Some of Bollywood’s Evergreen Numbers

When Raj Kapoor first approached Shailendra with an offer to write for his film, he turned it down.

2 min read
Shailendra (R) with Raj Kapoor.

Only a couple of months after India’s Independence in 1947, a poet took to stage during a conference and won over the audience. As the hall rang with applause at the end of the programme, Bollywood actor Raj Kapoor stepped out of the audience to approach the young poet, Shankardas Kesarilal, who would one day come to be known as the famous lyricist Shailendra.

Though on that particular evening he turned down Kapoor’s offer saying that he would not want to make a business out of his poetry, Shailendra would later go on to pen famous songs like Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai and Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh.

Despite turning down Kapoor’s offer, months later, Shailendra approached him to borrow some money.

When it was time to return it, Kapoor asked him to compose a song for his film instead. Shailendra wrote a song for Kapoor’s Barsaat. Following this, Shailendra ended up becoming the lyricist for several Raj Kapoor films.

After teaming up with Jaikishan, the duo went ahead to create some of the most iconic Bollywood songs for movies such as Andaz, Sangam and Chori Chori. Mera Joota Hai Japani was a song that made Indians proud of their national identity. It wouldn’t be erroneous to conclude that much of the success of Guide was determined by this song.

Shailendra wrote songs for several years before turning to production. His first venture was the film-adaptation of a short Hindi story by novelist Phanishwarnath Renu.

The film took close to five years to be completed and left Shailendra with heavy debts by the end of it all.

Though the film had spectacular music, it did not perform well at the box office. The failure was a significant setback for Shailendra. Only a year after the release, Shailendra passed away on 14 December 1966 at the age of 43.

Here’s a playlist of some of Shailendra’s most iconic songs:

Click to play your mood

(This article is from The Quint’s archives, and was first published on 30 August 2017. It is now being republished to mark Shailendra’s death anniversary.)

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