Neeraj: A poet of his times and ours

His words can silence the anxious pangs of existential crisis

shishir

Shishir Tripathi | May 22, 2015



This morning I pulled out the ‘Friday Review’ from the Hindu and I learnt the Hindi poet Gopaldas Neeraj is entering his 90s but still wears that optimistic smile that belies the rudeness of modern age. Looking at his photo, I was awestruck by the mystical sheen on his face. Maybe, that comes from being Neeraj.

He might be 90 now, but for me he is an ageless philosopher, whose couplets and verses, poems and lyrics have overbearing presence in millions of lives, including mine.

It was March of 2010 and I was sulking under unbleached despair. Failing to clear an exam which “would have made me successful in many respects”, I was lamenting at the idea of a life being extremely treacherous, when a letter from my father made me realise the futility of allowing failings to mark oneself a failure.
 
My father had penned out on a plain white paper a poem by Neeraj. The poem was perhaps an antidote to his melancholic but haunting ‘Kaarvan Gujar Gaya’.

It read:

Chip Chip ashru bahaane waalon,

Moti vyarth lutane waalon

Kuch sapnon ke mar jane se jeevan nahin mara karta hai

Sapnaa kya hai? Nayan sez par,

Soya hua aankh ka paani

Aur tootna hai uska jyon

Jage kachchi neend jawani

Geelee umar banaane walon!

Doobe bina nahaane waalon

Kuch pani ke bah jane se saawan nahin mara karta hai

It was lyrical and had something that could lift a sulking soul. That was the beginning of my association with the poet, though only through his work.

Neeraj is a poet of our times though he belongs to a different era. His poems could depict the irony of modern life, which often becomes a mute spectator, while the most beautiful fades away. They also could silence the anxious pangs of existential crisis, by reminding us that after all life is beyond definitions, clichés and imposed metaphors.

While Neeraj for me will always remain a poet who wrote inspiring poems, he nevertheless is loved by a lot of people for his overwhelming lyrics for Hindi films that could render the music and voice of a song to insignificance.
 
I remember listening to “Rangeela re, Rangeela re, mere man me yoon ranga hai tera mann...” on one of those insomniac affected nights and it kept haunting me for days.

I often wondered as to how a song composed in a year when even my father was too young to understand the nuances of devotional love, could be so relatable. Perhaps it was the beauty of the words. While his immortal ‘Bas yahi apradh mein har baar karta hun aadmi hun aadmi se pyaar karta hun’ could wake us from a deep slumber of selfishness, ‘E Bhai Jara dekh ke Chalo’ from Mera Naam Joker, depicting the bewilderment of an adorable clown, instantly brings smile on the face.

But for anyone willing to experience the genius of the legend just tune in to ‘Kaarvan gujar gaya, ghubar dekhte rahe’. A few minutes of sheer pleasure will be guaranteed.

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