We would probably not have known about the death of poet-lyricist Yogesh Gaur had the Nightingale Lata Mangeshkar not tweeted about it. Among the most articulate lyricists of Hindi cinema, Yogesh was the quietest. Though he formed an immensely productive partnership with composer Salil Chowdhary, and this togetherness yielded one of Hindi cinema’s best songs Kahin door jab din dhal jaye in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anand, Yogesh never got his dues in the Mumbai industry.
His most enduring and endearing partnership was with director Basu Chatterjee. Yogesh wrote lyrics for Basu Chatterjee’s Rajnigandha, Chotisi Baat, Manzil, Pasand Apni Apni, Baaton Baaton Mein, Priyatam, Uss Paar, Laakhon Mein Ek, Apne Paraye, Shaukeen and Jeena Yahan.
Lataji remembers Yogesh’s poetry with great fondness. “Some of my most cherished songs were written by Yogeshji. He was such a quiet genius. His words were taken from normal conversation and yet so poetic. My songs Rajnigandha phool tumhare and Na jaane kyon hota hai yun zindagi ke saath from the films Rajnigandha and Chotisi Baat are popular to this day.
But there are other lesser known songs that Yogeshji wrote for me that were equally beautiful, like Raaton ke saaye ghane in Annadata, Madhbhari yeh hawayen in Anokha Daan,Tumne diya piya sab kuch mujhko pani preet dayake in Uss Paar. These are among my most beautifully written songs. But my favourite lyric by Yogeshji is Kahin door jab din dhal jaye(sung by Mukesh in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anand).”
The late Hrishikesh Mukhrejee in whose Mili Yogesh wrote two of his finest songs Badi sooni sooni hai zindagi and Aaye tum yaad mujhe gaane lagi har dhadkan once told me he thought the poet was shortchanged.
“Yogesh and I did Anand and Mili together and he wrote so beautifully in both the films. In fact do you know, Zindagi kaisi hai paheli was to be played in the background for the opening credits in Anand? It was Rajesh Khanna who insisted on singing it on screen. He felt we were wasting a beautiful song in the background. And he was right! I wish I had worked more with Yogesh. But you know how it is in this industry. One forms comfortable partnerships and misses the opportunity to work with some great talent in the process. Madan Mohan is a such a great composer. But I worked only once(in Bawarchi) with him,” said Hrishida regretfully.
Many feel Yogesh’s best lyrics were sung by Mukesh. Not just the immortal Kahin door jab din dhal jaye(contrary to popular belief Yogesh did not write the other popular Mukesh number Maine tere liye in Anand which was by Gulzar).
Mukesh’s son Nitin Mukesh certainly feels indebted to Yogesh. “Such a sad loss. Yogeshji was the perfect gentleman and so softspoken. And what an artiste! In all humility I’d like to mention three of my most favourite songs of Papa where the lyrics played the most important part in the overall beauty of the song. These songs were Kahin dur jab din dhal jaye in Anand, Kai baar yuhi dekha hai yeh jo mann ki seema-rekha hai mann todne lagta hai in Chotisi Baat and Nain hamare saanjh sakare in Annadata.”
Nitin Mukesh recalls his father’s fondness for Yogesh and his poetry. “Although Yogeshji was decades junior to Papa,Papa had great regard for Yogeshji’s work and was always happy to sing his poetry. Amongst the great lyric writers of his times, Yogeshji was considered very special by Papa.
In fact Papa won the National award for Kaee baar yuhi dekha hai which Yogeshji wrote. But if you ask me, my personal favourite song written by this underused poetic genius is Nain hamare saanjh-sakaare dekhe lahkhon sapne, sapne kabhi sach honge ya nahin koi jaane naa koi jaane na yahan….Wah!”