Shailendra (lyricist)

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Birth name Shankardas Kesarilal
Born (1923-08-30)30 August 1923
Rawalpindi, Punjab, British India (now in Pakistan)
Died 14 December 1966(1966-12-14) (aged 45)
Occupation(s) Lyricist
Years active 1949–1966

Shankardas Kesarilal (30 August 1921 – 14 December 1966), popularly known by his pen name Shailendra, was a popular Indian Hindi lyricist. Noted for his association with the filmmaker Raj Kapoor and the composers Shankar-Jaikishan, he wrote lyrics for several successful Hindi film songs in the 1950s and the 1960s.


Shailendra was born in Rawalpindi, and brought up in Mathura.[1] He came in contact with Indra Bahadur Khare at the Kishori Raman School. Both started composing poems, sitting on the rock located on the bank of a pond in between railway 27 quarters and railway line near to Mathura station. Afterwards Shailendra moved to Bombay for films and Indra Bahadur Khare got fame in Raashtreey Kavita.

Shailendra's native place is located in the Akhtiyarpur, Ara district of Bihar .[2]

Career as a lyricist

Shailendra started his career as an apprentice with Indian Railways in Matunga workshop, Mumbai (then Bombay) in 1947. He started writing poetry during these days.

The filmmaker Raj Kapoor noticed Shailendra, when the latter was reading out his poem Jalta hai Punjab at a mushaira (poetic symposium).[3] Kapoor offered to buy the poem Jalta Hai Punjab written by Shailendra and for his movie Aag (1948). Shailendra, a member of the left wing IPTA, was wary of mainstream Indian cinema and refused. However, after his wife became pregnant, Shailendra himself approached Raj Kapoor in need of money. At this time, Raj Kapoor was filming Barsaat (1949), and two of the film songs had not yet been written. For 500, Shailendra wrote these two songs: Patli kamar hai and Barsaat mein. The music for Barsaat was composed by Shankar-Jaikishan.

The team of Raj Kapoor, Shailendra and Shankar-Jaikishan went on to produce many other hit songs. The song "Awara Hoon" from the 1951 film Awaara, written by Shailendra, became the most appreciated Hindustani film song outside India at the time.[4]

In the days when composers would recommend lyricists to producers, Shankar-Jaikishan once promised Shailendra that they would recommend him around, but didn't keep their promise. Shailendra sent them a note with the lines, Chhoti Si Yeh Duniya, Pehchaane Raaste Hain. Kahin To Miloge, toh Poochhenge Haal ("The world is small, the roads are known. We'll meet sometime, and ask 'How do you do?'"). Shankar-Jaikishan realised what the message meant and having said sorry, turned the lines into a popular song. The song was featured in the film Rangoli (1962), for which the producer Rajendra Singh Bedi wanted to sign up Majrooh Sultanpuri as the lyricist. However, Shankar-Jaikishen insisted on Shailendra and the producer had to oblige.[5]

Apart from Shankar-Jaikishan, Shailendra also shared a rapport with composers such as Salil Chowdhary (Madhumati), Sachin Dev Burman (Guide, Bandini, Kala Bazar), and Ravi Shankar (Anuradha). Apart from Raj Kapoor, he shared a rapport with filmmakers such as Bimal Roy (Do Bigha Zameen, Madhumati, Bandini) and Dev Anand (Guide and Kala Bazar).

Last years

In 1961 Shailendra invested heavily in the production of the movie Teesri Kasam (1966), directed by Basu Bhattacharya and starring Raj Kapoor and Waheeda Rehman. The film won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film. However, the film was a commercial failure.[6] The falling health resulting from tensions associated with film production and anxiety due to financial loss, coupled with alcohol abuse, ultimately led to his death.[7]


Shailendra's son Shaily Shailendra also became a lyricist. At the age of 17, Raj Kapoor asked him to complete his father's song Jeena yahan, marna yahan for the film Mera Naam Joker. Lyricist, writer, director Gulzar has stated on many occasions that Shailendra was the best lyricist produced by the Hindi film industry.[8]


Shailendra won the Filmfare Best Lyricist Award three times.

  • 1958: "Yeh Mera Deewanapan Hai" (Yahudi)
  • 1959: "Sab Kuch Seekha Hamne" (Anari)
  • 1968: "Main Gaoon Tum So Jao" (Brahmchari)

Popular songs

Some of the popular songs written by Shailendra include:

See also


  1. Ashis Nandy (1998). The Secret Politics of Our Desires: Innocence, Culpability and Indian Popular Cinema. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 102. ISBN 978-1-85649-516-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Teesri Kasam lands Bihar CM in trouble". The Times of India. 26 April 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Dinesh Raheja; Jitendra Kothari (1996). The hundred luminaries of Hindi cinema. India Book House Publishers. p. 68. ISBN 978-81-7508-007-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Ashraf Aziz, "Shailendra", Light of the universe: essays on Hindustani film music, Three Essays Collective, 2003, pp. 37–76, ISBN 9788188789078<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Madan Gaur (1973). Other side of the coin: an intimate study of Indian film industry. Trimurti Prakashan. p. 69.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Gulzar, Govind Nihalani, Saibal Chatterjee, ed. (2003). Encyclopaedia of Hindi Cinema. Popular Prakashan. p. 556. ISBN 978-81-7991-066-5. Retrieved 9 May 2012.CS1 maint: multiple names: editors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Ashis Nandy (1998). The Secret Politics of Our Desires: Innocence, Culpability and Indian Popular Cinema. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 125. ISBN 978-1-85649-516-5. Retrieved 9 May 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links