'Rajesh Khanna would call up dad when he felt lonely,' says Anand Bakshi’s son

On Anand Bakshi’s 20th death anniversary, son/author Rakesh Anand Bakshi decodes the lyricist’s bond with the superstar and their timeless music.

Updated on Mar 30, 2022   |  05:11 PM IST  |  280.8K
'Rajesh Khanna would call up dad when he felt lonely,' says Anand Bakshi’s son
'Rajesh Khanna would call up dad when he felt lonely,' says Anand Bakshi’s son

Kora kagaz tha yeh man mera…

Achha toh hum chalte hain…

Pyaar deewana hota hai…

Hum donon do premee…

Karwatein badaltey rahein…

The songs are reminiscent of the romantic renaissance that took over the early ’70s, with Rajesh Khanna as its mascot and Anand Bakshi and Kishore Kumar as his talented comrades. So much so that when the superstar passed away in 2012, it stirred a revival of their music, celebrating the era and the emotions associated with it.

Anand Bakshi may have written over 3500 songs in over five decades but nothing can match his songwriting for Rajesh Khanna, something which compelled the beleaguered actor to remark, “Bakshi saab made my life!” at the lyricist’s funeral. In fact, a reclusive Khanna in his later years was known to have found succor in Bakshi’s lines written for his film Alag Alag (1985):

Kabhi bekasi ne mara

Kabhi bebasi ne mara

Ujaalon se vehshat (fear) mujhe ho gayi hai

Andheron ki aadat mujhe ho gayi hai…

On the late bard’s 20th death anniversary, son/author Rakesh Bakshi looks back at Anand Bakshi’s personal and professional bond with the late Rajesh Khanna. 


When I was researching for Dad’s biography (Nagme, Kisse, Baatein, Yaadein: The Life & Lyrics of Anand Bakshi), I came across what he’d once said. “I was a soldier earning Rs 75 per month. Today, I have two homes and two cars. My daughters are married and settled. My sons are settled too. So, in that way I am successful. But I’m not willing to take credit for it. Yeh waqt ka project hai. Main waqt ka mureed (disciple) hoon. The day I start taking credit for this, I will enrage Maa Sarawati,” read his quote.

That explains why Dad remained humble all his life. When Dad was complimented for the great songs he particularly wrote for Rajesh Khanna and the fillip they gave to his career, he’d say the songs were superhit because of the superstar’s charisma. He’d also praise the composers be it R D Burmanji, Laxmikant-Pyarelalji, Kalyanji-Anandji… saying that they had ‘adorned’ his words beautifully. He’d give credit to the director and the storywriter stating they’d ‘inspired’ him to pen those lyrics. Dad believed it was the collective team, which needed to be acknowledged.

I appreciate the fact that the late Rishi Kapoor valued dad’s contribution to his career. There’s an entire chapter on lyricists and composers in his biography (Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored with Meena Iyer). That’s the hallmark of a good memoir, because how can an actor not acknowledge those, who gave him his hit songs. It would be shameful and selfish to exclude them.

Coming back to Rajesh Khanna, Dad formed a winning team with him post Aradhana (1969). He’d say, “After Milan (1967) and Aradhana… I never had to look for work.” After Aradhana, Dad went on to write for a string of Rajesh Khanna films including Do Raaste, Aan Milo Sajna, Kati Patang, The Train, Dushman, Apna Desh, Namak Haraam, Ajnabee, Prem Kahani, Mehbooba, Anurodh (between 1969-1976) … the list is endless.

Dad would get excited when he’d write for Rajeshji. He’d call him up and say, “Kaka (a popular endearment for Khanna), sun maine kya likha hai.” Or sometimes he’d go over to his house to read out his verses. Rajeshji would give his feedback with the same enthusiasm. When an artiste wants to satisfy the person he’s writing for, who in turn wants to win the appreciation of his viewers... it only enhances the output.

R.D.Burman (Pancham) had a similar malleability. When a director, established or new, said, ‘Mazaa nahin aaya Pancham,’ without arguing for a second, he’d begin all over again. Pancham, as Dad said, had no ego. On the other hand, Dad shared that a particular composer, when told by a director that his composition needed to be tweaked, turned around and said, ‘What nonsense! Since the last three years, it’s my music, which is selling. What I have composed is good enough.’ Dad never heard S.D. Burmanda, Pancham or any other director from the older generation say something like this.

Dad had the unique ability of writing, singing and composing his own songs. He was a three-in-one. He would say, “Being a singer, tune and words take birth in me together.” When writing for Rajesh Khanna, he’d ‘hear’ the song in Kishore Kumar’s voice. He’d imagine how Kishoreda would sing it and then write it in accordance with his vocal strength and range. Dad and Pancham would often drive to Worli Sea Face to discuss a song. Sometimes Rajeshji would accompany them. The seafront was a favourite with composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal too. They’d say ‘let’s go for a long drive’ – meaning the waterfront at Worli or Versova. After animated discussions, they’d complete the song and return.

Dad never drank while writing. He said, “My kalam and kitab is Saraswati. If I mix work with wine, I will upset the Goddess.” He kept Saraswati and nasha separate. Dad was a soldier at heart. Whether it was his bandook or kalam, he remained honest to both. Off-work, he enjoyed his Black Label and Red Label. Every night at 9 pm, he’d open a bottle and share stories of his childhood, his army days, his struggle, the good days, the bad days... Nuggets for his ‘unconventional’ biography came from those Black Label nights.

Coming back to Rajesh Khanna, Yeh kya huwa (Amar Prem 1971) was among the star’s favourite songs. Kuch toh log kahenge from the same film is popular amongst the younger generation today. Rajeshji went through terrible times when the limelight deserted him. He had his office at Linking Road, which he visited every day. Once in a while, when he felt lonely, he’d call Dad up. “Main bahut akelapan (loneliness) mehsoos kar raha hoon. Isiliye aapko call kiya… No one calls me up anymore,” he once confided. Dad felt empathetic towards him and gave him emotional support. Dad was amongst the few Rajeshji kept in touch through the ‘reclusive’ years. We all suffer from loneliness be it Rajesh Khanna, Anand Bakshi or probably even the head of a nation. It’s an existential crisis we all go through. Fortunately, Dad was around when Rajeshji needed to talk. Sometimes people have no one to call. Loneliness can kill you.

Well-aware of the fickleness of fame, Dad wanted to go with his boots on. He didn’t want me want to join the industry for the same reason. “Yahan chadte suraj ko salaam karte hai. The year your films don’t work, you will receive no bouquets on your birthday,” he warned.

A favourite song is usually the one you listen when you’re sad. Because it resonates something deep within you. Chingari koi bhadke composed by R.D. Burman for Amar Prem, was the one Dad played when he was low. He’d say it was about his battle with himself. For 25 years, he’d been trying to give up tobacco paan, cigarettes…. “When I am poisoning my own self who can save me? Sawan jo agan lagaaye use kaun bujhaye?” he’d ask cryptically. Doctors had warned him that tobacco would take his life. “Every morning I promise myself I will not touch tobacco paan but I fail. Every night I declare this is my last cigarette. Yet, I lose the battle the next day,” he would rue his defeat.

Zindagi ke safar mein guzar jaate hai joh makaam (Aap Ki Kasam 1974) was another of Dad’s favourite. In fact, it’s regarded as an iconic song of Rajesh Khanna too. It was inspired by three incidents in Dad’s life. Of course, it was in keeping with the story of J. Om Prakash’s film. But it was also inspired from a real-life story. Dad’s friend suspected his wife of having an affair and divorced her. By the time he realized his suspicion was baseless, she’d got married to someone else. Heartbroken, he committed suicide.

Another incident that left an impact on Dad was the loss of his mother (the late Sumitra Bakshi) during his childhood. The realization that she’d never come back was disturbing for a child. The third was the trauma of having to abandon his beloved Rawalpindi due to the Partition. “Meri mitti mujhse cheen lee gayee,” he’d often lament. What was lost to politics could never be reclaimed. Also, Dad feared he’d never be able to visit his homeland again as he’d developed a flight phobia. All of us can relate to this emotional song because each one of us has lost something or someone. Be it a loved one, a relationship or an opportunity.

The last two weeks of Dad’s life were terrible. His lungs had collapsed and he was kept in the ICU at Nanavati Hospital. He couldn’t breathe. He’d say, “Had I known how much I would suffer I’d have become an advocate of ‘No Smoking’. I’d have written songs cautioning people about it. Everything in life comes with a price. However, oxygen is free. Sadly, I can’t avail of it. Of what use is wealth, fame and family when I can’t breathe?”

My sister tried to cheer up Dad saying his song, Kaliyon ka chaman (Jyoti 1981), had been remixed. He remarked, “Beta mere gaane 100 saal tak remix honge!” For someone always known to credit others for his work, the remark was surprising. He categorically told me, “Make a name for yourself first. There’s no need to keep my name alive. I will be remembered for another 100 years.” On the one hand he was humble but, in his heart, he knew he’d done outstanding work.

When Dad passed away on 30 March 2002, Rajeshji attended the funeral. He was standing quietly by himself in the building compound. My best friend, unknown to Rajeshji, was around him when a journalist remarked, ‘Kaka, you rarely attend funerals so it’s surprising to see you here.’ Rajeshji said, “Bakshi saab made my life.” To pay such a huge compliment to Dad, when there were no cameras or people around, was remarkable.

The mukhda, Yeh shaam mastani (Kati Patang 1969), is my tribute to Dad’s unique collaboration with Rajesh Khanna. Listen to their songs… and your shaam truly turns mastani.

ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE: Rajesh Khanna lived his last year as Anand

About The Author

Journalist. Perennially hungry for entertainment. Carefully listens to everything that start with "so, last night...". C... Read more

Credits: Pinkvilla/ Pic Credits: Amit Bakshi

For the latest Bollywood news, Telugu news, entertainment exclusives, gossip, movie reviews, and more, follow the Pinkvilla website and YouTube channel, or head to our social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram!

Top Comments
There are no comments in this article yet. Be first to post one!