Atul’s Song A Day- A choice collection of Hindi Film & Non-Film Songs

Ajeeb hai zindagi ki manzil

Posted on: May 24, 2013

This article is written by Sadanand Kamath, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a regular contributor to this blog.

hain aur bhi duniyaa mein sukhanwar bahut achchhe
kahte hain ki Ghalib kaa hai andaaz-e-bayaan aur

Whenever I remember this maqta of Ghalib’s ghazal, Majrooh Sultanpuri’s name props up in my mind. I always felt how apt it would be if words ‘duniyaa’ and ‘Ghalib’ from the maqta she’r were replaced with ‘filmi jahaan’ and ‘Majrooh’. During Majrooh Sultanpuri’s time, there were renowned poet-lyricists like Sahir Ludhianvi, Shakeel Badayuni, Shailendra, Kaifi Azmi, Jan Nisar Akhtar and later, Gulzar, Javed Akhtar etc. but Majrooh’s andaaz-e-bayaan , the sophistication even in his teasing, racy and light hearted lyrics in Hindi film songs was something which became the hallmark of his style of song writings. He wrote songs trending with the time. Perhaps this explains why Majrooh Sultanpuri had one of the longest innings of over five decades in the Hindi film industry, penning songs for most of the well known music directors – from Naushad in 1946 to A R Rehman in 2000.

Majrooh Sultanpuri (1919 – 24/05/2000) would have probably remained anonymous as a hakeem (doctor of traditional medications) in Sultanpur but for his love for writing and reciting ghazals at a young age. He had no masters but he was influenced by the shayaris of Jigar Moradabadi, one of the greatest Urdu poets of 20th century. After listening to Majrooh’s recitation in one of the local mushairas, Jigar Moradabadi took him under his guidance and got him introduced to the audiences of bigger cities when he started taking Majrooh with him to mushairas. It was one such mushaira in Bombay (Mumbai) in 1945 when A R Kardar who was one among the audience, was so impressed with his recitation that he signed him to write lyrics for his film ‘Shahjahan’ (1946). This was a good debut for a newcomer in Hindi film industry as songs penned by him were to be sung by the legendry K L Saigal and composed by Naushad, one of the top music directors at that time. The film was a musical hit and all the songs written by him became very popular.

Majrooh had to wait for another three years to record another big success with his lyrics when he wrote all the songs for ‘Andaz’ (1949), again under the baton of Naushad. The film was a musical hit. Just when he was about to establish himself firmly in the Hindi film industry with this success, he was arrested for his anti-establishment poetry. Since he refused to give apology for his poetry, he was sentenced to 2 years of prison. With the maxim of ‘out of sight, out of mind’, many at that time may have thought that Majrooh’s filmy career was almost over. But it was not to be.

By the time he came out of prison, things had changed in the sphere of Hindi film music. The top music directors of that time had formed their teams with lyricists – Naushad with Shakeel Badayuni, S D Burman with Sahir Ludhinavi, Shankar Jaikishan with Hasrat Jaipuri and Shailendra and so on. Under such a milieu, initially, Majrooh had to struggle a lot to find work, sometimes getting assignment to write one or two songs for the films.

In 1953, Majrooh started writing songs for the emerging music directors like Madan Mohan (Baaghi, 1953), Khaiyyam (‘Footpath’, 1953), O P Nayyar (‘Baaz’, 1953), Jamal Sen (‘Daayra’, 1953) etc. Unfortunately, despite having good musical scores, none of these films fared well at the box office. However, the success of ‘Aar Paar’ (1954) changed his fortune as well as that of O P Nayyar after which he did not have to struggle until sometime around mid 80s when his assignments had started dwindling. But after the success of ‘Qayaamat Se Qayaamat Tak’ (1987), he reinvented himself with lyrics which were in tune with the aspirations of the new generation of film audience giving him one more push in his sagging career for the remainder of his life.

There was a time when music directors like S D Burman felt like doin away with duet songs in Hindi films as in his view, they were not becoming as popular as the solo songs. So there was no point in wasting time and energy in composing duet songs. Majrooh Sultanpuri disagreed with this view and said that the fault lied with the lyricists in not making them popular. He accepted the challenge from S D Burman and wrote many duets for him which became as popular as solo songs. In a way, one can give credit to Majrooh Sultanpuri for reviving the sagging popularity of duet songs in Hindi films. A few teasers among Majrooh’s many popular romantic duet songs :

Sun sun sun sun jaalimaa (Aar Paar)(1954)

chhod do aanchal zamaana kya kahega(Paying guest)(1957)

O o aajaa panchhi akela hai (Nau Do Gyaarah)(1957)

Accha jee main haari chalo maan jaao naa(Kaala Paani)(1958)

Haal kaisa hai janaab ka (Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi)(1958)

Initially, Majrooh Sultanpuri started his filmy career by writing some ghazals and songs of pensive mood. A few among them are :

Ae dil mujhe aisi jagah le chal (Aarzoo)(1950)

Hamaare baad ab mehfil mein afsaane bayaan honge (Baaghi)(1953)

Husn bhi hai udaas udaas (Fareb)(1953)

Ham bekhudi me tumko pukaare chale gaye(Kaala Paani)(1958)

Rahte the kabhi jinke dil me(Mamta)(1966)

Majrooh Sultanpuri was considered a master ‘craftsman’ for writing lyrics on pre-set tunes of music directors. The lyrics written by him on such tunes were so perfect to the meter that it was difficult to make out as such. His lyrics always went with the time without much of the dilution in the purity of thoughts and the language he used in the songs. If he could write a pensive song like Gham kiye mushtaqil kitna naazuk hai dil (Shahjahan) in 1946, he was equally at ease with writing a non-filmy pop song like jaanam samjha karo in 1997. The later song was a chart buster and I am sure the younger generation must have danced to this song without even knowing that this romantic pop song was written by Majrooh Sultanpuri at the age of 78 years. He kept his pen active until his death on May 24, 2000.

Majrooh Sultanpuri wrote lyrics for about 325 films during his filmy career spanning over 5 decades. It is to his credit that he could achieve success in his career without being attached to any particular music director or banner. Although he worked for almost all the top music directors of his time, his associations with music directors like S D Burman, O P Nayyar, R D Burman and Laxmikant-Pyarelal was the most successful. Sadly during his career, he received only one Filmfare awards for Chahoonga main tujhe saanjh sawere(Dosti)(1964), despite the fact that he churned out lyrics for many popular songs. He was the first lyricist from the film industry to get Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1993.

On the occasion of the death anniversary of Majrooh Sultanpuri on May 24th, I have chosen a rarely heard song of pensive mood ‘ajeeb hai zindagi ki manzil’ sung by Shankar Dasgupta in the film AAKAASH (1953). This was the only song Majrooh wrote for this film which was set to music by Anil Biswas. Shankar Dasgupta had a mesmerising voice well suited for ghazal singing. His voice was a blend of K L Saigal and C H Atma. He started as a playback singer in the 40s, and he mostly worked with Anil Biswas. He also composed music for a few Hindi films.

Only the audio clip of the song is available. From the wordings of the lyrics, my guess is that it was a background song in the film.

Song-Ajeeb hai zindagi ki manzil (Aakaash)(1953) Singer-Shankar Dasgupta, Lyrics-Majrooh Sultanpuri, MD-Anil Biswas


ajeeeeb hai
zindagi ki manzil
kahaan chale thhe kahaan pe aaye
ajeeb hai zindagi ki manzil
kahaan chale thhe kahaan pe aaye
na muskuraaye na ro sake dil
na muskuraaye na ro sake dil
kahaan chale thhe kahaan pe aaye
ajeeb hai zindagi ki manzil
kahaan chale thhe kahaan pe aaye
ajeeb hai

na koi rastaa na kaarwaan hai
sitam ki deewaar darmiyaan hai
na koi rastaa na kaarwaan hai
sitam ki deewaar darmiyaan hai
badhe to mushqil rukey to mushqil
kahaan chale thhe kahaan pe aaye
ajeeb hai zindagi ki manzil
kahaan chale thhe kahaan pe aaye
ajeeb hai

chale thhe ulfat ki bekhudi mein
uthhaa wo toofaan zindagi mein
uthaa wo toofaaaaaan
na koi kashti na koi saahil
kahaan chale thhe kahaan pe aaye
ajeeb hai zindagi ki manzil
kahaan chale thhe kahaan pe aaye
ajeeeeeb hai


9 Responses to "Ajeeb hai zindagi ki manzil"

Waah kya gaana hai. Bahut achha sombre mood banaya. Thanks


Kamath ji,
Good song and good write up too.
Majrooh was one of those rare Lyricists,who were not attached to any particular MD,but still achieved success.This ,ou have also emphasised.

He was perhaps the only lyricist from the old lot to have worked for new era MDs like,Amar-utpal,Basudev,Aalok ganguli,,Anand milind (14 films),ilayaraja,Basu chakravarty,Tushar Bhatiya,jatin lalit,Binju Ali etc.

He did 20 films with SDB,17 with OPN,73 with RDB,42 with L-P,25 with Chitragupta,16 with Rajesh Roshan etc
He got just 1 FF award,but look at the other Awards-
Dadasaheb Phalke Award
Film writers’ Association Award
Film Jurnalist Award
U P Govt.Urdu Litt. Award
All India Journalist Award
M P Govt-Iqbal Sanmaan Award
Marathi Chitrapat Mahamandal’s All India Award
Kannad Film Journalist Award

From Shahjahan 1946 to Hum to muhabbat karega-2000, it was a Musical yatra to remember !


Thanks for the list of awards which I was not aware except those mentioned in my write-up.


Oh! What a gem! Where was it hidden all these days? Great Majrooh, Great Anilda, Great Shankar Das Gupta! And thank you for this gem.


Majrooh Sultanpuri was lyricist of very high standards. Take any simple song of his; one may not understand the meaning in the first reading. That was the hallmark of the this great lyricist, who was also trained in Unani medicine.
AR Kardar heard him in a mushiara in Mumbai in 1945. One situation from Shahjehan was given to many shairs; Majrooh’s poem was selected(jab usne gesu bikhraaye from Shahjehan). All the songs were composed by Naushad and thereafter Andaaz become famous. Still you’d wonder why he was ‘dropped’. The reason : Majrooh had joined Communist Party after Independence. Naushad could not digest the fact that being Muslim he was against Mazhar. After 20 years the misunderstanding got cleared when they combined forces in Saathi.
He was greatest opponent of Nehru’s policies which was reflected in his writings. He was told to apologize by the Home Minister Morarji Desai but he did not budge an inch. He was jailed for 15 months. His life and and family was in disarray. Rajendra Singh Bedi helped him out by sending money to his wife as he had gone underground. During that time he met Raj Kapoor for whom he wrote duniya banewale for which he got Rs 1,000.00 as against Rs 500.00 as he wrote a song for Aag free. After many years Raj used the mukhda for Teesri Kasam and antara from Hasrat Jaipuri. As he was Leftist his literature was not given due recognition.
Vijay Anand and Guru Dutt; also OP and SD used to prefer him. For OP he had water down his literary ingenuity as OP would lay more stress on rhythm. SD was all for folk and UP’s ‘dumari’ but SD would not understand literature; so he wrote halka phulka songs for him.
Roshan was offered Dosti but he he would not composed songs for a ‘Bhikari’ film. Majrooh and LP made history. When his ham bekhudi mein tumko…was rejected for Filmfare award favouring a mediocre yeh mera diwanapan hai; he stopped accepting any awards. Surprisingly during their lifetime Naushad and Majrooh got one trophy each as compared to other lesser artistes whose cabinets were overflowing with them.
RD used to be afraid about his shayari. However LP would accept his shayaris without much change. He held his films Mamta and Jal Bin Bijali.. up there. In seventies a prolific period for him; he was writing for as many as 20 films. With LP and RD he could stick to his standards. RD gave good music but as his last 20 films flopped at a stretched he got less work. His son’s first directed film also flopped. He lost his son Arem and Andalib had to struggle.
He received Ghalib ward in 1980. He was successful in filmi and non filmi shayaris but he felt he could not give justice to both the genre. So he felt that he was neither a good lyricists nor a good shair. He felt that those who were in this line were neither educated nor cultured and were prone to plagiarism. In 1992 he was awarded Iqbal Sanmaan and Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 1993. He felt that he was the rightful owner as he was instrumental in giving maximum new words to the industry. Sometimes he had to toe the line by offering C A T CAT, Paanch rupaiya … bade miya diwane.. After successful Khamoshi he signed 15 films. He would never asked for work. Work used to come to him.
He was most preferred lyricist for AR. But he would not want to compromised. Asha would say she will not sing pop songs unless it is written by Majrooh.
His name will be etched forever in the hearts of all music lovers who preferred good filmi shayaris than those being dished out by the pseudos.


You wrote one more article on Majrooh Sultanpuri 🙂
Thanks for additional inputs.


Thanks Kamathji


Both Sadanand-ji ans Nitin-ji have made my day memorable with so much of info on Majrooh-ji.
In his mesmerising voice Shankar Dasgupta has taken the poetry of Majrooh to great heights. Thanks Sadanand-ji



Your tribute on Majrooh sahab made a great read. Hindi film music is truly enriched with his contributions.

73 films with RDB must be the highest for him with any MD.


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