Lyricist Yogesh Gaur, popularly known as Yogesh, who penned some of the immortal songs for many a timeless classic of ace film-makers like Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee, passed away at 77 in Mumbai on May 29 after spending years in near-oblivion.
Born in Lucknow in 1943, Yogesh came to Bombay in the early 1960s to try his luck in films and got opportunities to write in a few movies such as Sakhi Robin (1962). But it was only after Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anand (1971) that he shot to fame. His wonderful lyrics set to the great Salil Chowdhury’s tunes in the film starring Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan, such as Zindagi kaisi hai paheli (sung by Manna Dey) and Kahin door jab din dhal jaaye (by Mukesh) made him stand out despite the presence of many a great lyricists at the time in the film industry.
In the years that followed, Yogesh underlined his penchant for writing sublime lyrics in the simplest of languages that never failed to tug at the heartstrings of music lovers. His title song in Basu Chatterjee’s Rajnigandha (1974), sung by a divine Lata Mangeshkar, and Mukesh’s Kai baar yun bhi dekha hai, which earned him a National Award still rank among the finest lyrics of all time in Hindi cinema. In fact, so pleased was Mukesh with this song (composed again by Salil Chowdhury), that he sang the next song for the duo, Yeh din kya aaye for Basu Chatterjee’s next, Chhoti Si Baat (1976) without charging any remuneration.
Yogesh also wrote lyrics for S D Burman’s swan song, Mili (1975) which had two Kishore Kumar-classics, Aaye tum yaad mujhe and Badi Sooni sooni hai, which was ranked among his top ten by the Khandwa-born singer. Unfortunately, S. D. Burman died soon after composing Mili’s music while Salil Chowdhury retreated from Hindi cinema in the 1980s and his collaboration with the duo came to a premature end.
In later years, he worked with R D Burman and delivered a few great songs such as Rimjhim ghire saawan (a Kishore Kumar-Lata Mangeshkar tandem) in Amitabh Bachchan’s Manzil (1979) and Wahin chal mere dil (by Suresh Wadkar) in Mithun Chakravorty-starrer, Shaukeen (1982) but he gradually faded from the scene in the 1980s when the westernised beats, especially disco, dominated Bollywood’s music scene. It was an era which pushed sensitive wordsmiths like Yogesh into background. Since most of the successful composers of the era preferred to work with their team of favourite lyricists, Yogesh, who belonged to no camp, stopped getting opportunities which could do justice to his unfathomable latent. Though he remained active till Bewafa Sanam (1995), his best years were certainly behind him. He returned from his self-imposed exile in 2017 for an NFDC film, Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain, to write a couple of songs at the request of filmmaker Harish Vyas but the songs of the small-budget movie were lost in the cacophony of the millennial-centric music.
Yogesh was never prolific, to say the least, but a handful of gems penned by him certainly place him among a rare tribe of lyricists such as Gopal Das Neeraj who had a remarkable flair for conveying the most divine of expressions in the simplest of languages. In his death, Hindi cinema has lost a wordsmith extraordinaire whose astounding talent was never fully tapped in his career.