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Late Gopal Das Neeraj the great poet

Thursday - August 30, 2018 10:42 am , Category : OPINION & INTERVIEW

WTN- Poet, lyricist, teacher and a great entertainer in poetic soirees, Gopaldas Saxena, who wrote under the pen name ‘Neeraj’, was out an out an artist whose only meditation in life was literary creation and culturing of the finer faculties. 

Literary pursuits occupied much of his life and mind. He had a brief stint in Bollywood and lines penned by him made hundreds of songs immortal. He was a poet who was not esoteric, which made him a popular figure in Indian homes aware of the activities in the Hindi literary scene. His simple but touching lyrics written 50 years back are hummed by millions of Indians even today. Born in a small Etawah village in Uttar Pradesh in January1925, Neeraj not only came up as one of the foremost intellectuals of Aligarh but also a literary figure of pan-India fame.
 
Though he was awarded the Padma Shri and later the 3rd highest civilian award the Padma Bhushan, Neeraj was a much greater poet than what his awards justify and the love and respect of the people he got was much more precious that what his official recognitions bestowed on him. Neeraj’s illustrious career spanned over five decades, though he was active and intellectually alert till almost his last day. Despite his fame, Neeraj was grounded to his roots and he was a regular at the local kavi sammelans till his last days. His presence graced many such small poetic conclaves and uplifted the events.
 
Usually, when poets become famous, they hardly make time to attend these smaller events but Neeraj was an exception. He never carried the airs of a star status and remained in touch with all his friends and associates even in his heydays of glory in the 70s. Neeraj lost his father at the age of six. A prodigious boy, he studied mostly on his own and excelled in all exams he took. Before getting noticed and heard, Neeraj had a long life of struggle and deprivation. He worked as clerk and typist in petty firms for his bread and butter intercepted by long hiatuses of joblessness. Still he continued his studies and devoted time to literary creations. It was only in his 40s that his talent was started to be recognised and he eventually landed up in the film industry.
 
Here too he had to struggle against established lyricists who were masters of Urdu language and poetry. But his determination and hard work brought him the laurels. His songs were of a different flavor and the audience lapped them up. He became so popular that within a short span he won three consecutive Filmfare awards in 1970, ‘71 and ’72— a rare feat for any artist in Bollywood. His famous films include Sharmili, Mera Naam Joker, Lal Patthar, Reshma aur Shera, Prem Pujar, Kanyadan and Fareb among others.

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