Prem Dhawan – The Unsung Lyricist

Come 26th January or 15th of August, the nation echo with patriotic songs but it is a tragedy that the lyricists who have penned these patriotic songs are left unsung. Like Kavi Pradeep, who wrote the mesmerizing Aye Mere Watan Ke logon… another master of nationalistic songs, Prem Dhawan remains ignored. 

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June 13, marks the birth anniversary of the legendary lyricist Prem Dhawan, who has written some of the most soul stirring patriotic numbers like Aye Watan aye watan Tujko Meri Kasam… ; Mera rangde basanti chola… both from Manoj Kumar’s hit film SHAHEED; Chodo Kal ki baatein…. from HUM HINDUSTANI…; Aye Mere Pyaare Watan… from KABULIWALA. Besides mastery in patriotic songs Prem Dhawan had a command over philosophical songs too. Remember Teri Duniya Se Hoke Majboor Chala… from PAVITRA PAPI or Tujhe Suraj Kahu Ya ChandaEK PHOOL DO MALI and sab Kuchh Luta Ke Hosh Me Aaye To Kya KiyaEK SAAL 

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Prem Dhawan was born in Ambala on June 13, 1923 when the country was in the grip of British Empire. Interestingly his father was a Jail Superintendent in the British government, while young Prem Dhawan, a Communist, was engaged in freedom movement of India. At Lahore College he was in the company of two friends who later became a name to recon in India. They were eminent lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi, who later became a very famous lyricist in Indian film industry and Inder Kumar Gujral, who later became the Prime Minister of India.

While in college the trio had joined the Indian freedom movement, inspired by the speeches of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. They took active interest in national political scenario and with the might of their pen they wrote heart rendering poems that motivated the youth and the old alike to join the freedom movement. 

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After college Prem Dhawan became member of Communist Party of India and participated in many satyagraha movements and even went to jail. Further his association with IPTA (Indian People's Theatre Association) brought in close contacts with other great literary giants like Shailendra, Kaifi Azmi, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Sahir Ludhianvi, Balraj Sahni, Mohan Segal etc. 

Thus Prem Dhawan played a pivotal role in the freedom of India and his patriotic songs are the mirror of his contribution. 

He passed away on May7, 2001 unsung and ignored. Raaga.Com pays him homage on his birth anniversary.