(March 19, 1943 – May 29, 2020)
He had been writing poetry ever since he was in school. If the class happened to be punished, the teacher would only let them off the hook if Yogesh Gaur agreed to recite one of his poems. The young boy had no idea back then that he would become a lyricist one day. After his father passed away, Yogesh left Lucknow to try his luck in Mumbai. He landed here with his childhood friend Satyaprakash Tiwari, Sattu in short. They rented a room in a chawl for Rs 11, a big sum those days, and set about finding work. Yogesh’s cousin, Vrajendra Gaur, was a celebrated writer in Mumbai then. Yogesh hoped his cousin would set him up somewhere. But that wasn’t to be. Thankfully, Sattu got a job. As promised, he supported Yogesh till he found his feet. After knocking on every door, Yogesh finally found his calling when he started penning down his thoughts in a diary. Those took the shape of poems. Yogesh realised he could try to be a lyricist. Composer Robin Banerjee, who used to work mainly in action films, taught him how to set words to music. He gave him a break in the film Sakhi Robin (1962). The song was Tum jo aao, sung by Manna Dey and Suman Kalyanpur.
The song got him noticed. But Yogesh was slotted as a ‘B’ movie lyricist. He wrote for action films starring Dara Singh and Randhawa, which were targeted at the mass audience. His films had exotic titles like Tarzan And Delilah and Flying Circus. These may not have won him recognition. But they did help him survive in Mumbai. Also, he had this knack of writing a song from the female perspective. So he was saddled with songs describing the hero’s manly attributes. It’s said, he didn’t have a record player back then. Hence, he used to visit composer Salil Chowdhary’s house to listen to the tracks. Slowly, an association developed, which resulted in him getting to write two songs in Anand (1971). The film was of great importance to him because the other lyricist was Gulzar. The film was being directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee and starred superstar Rajesh Khanna. He was apprehensive at first but Salilda backed him up. He wrote two gems for the film – Kahin door jab din dhal jaaye, sung by Mukesh and Zindagi kaisi yeh paheli haye, sung by Manna Dey. The songs became extremely popular. Then came Annadata (1972), where Salilda made him write the whole album. It had the philosophical Nain hamaare saanjh sakaare sung by Mukesh on one hand and the frothy Guzar jaaye din sung by Kishore Kumar. Nis din nis din and Raaton ke saaye ghane were both sung by Lata Mangeshkar.
Salil Chowdhary asked him to write for Basu Chatterjee’s Rajnigandha (1974) as well. Yogesh wrote the pensive Kai baar yun hi dekha hai, which won a National Award for Mukesh but no awards came Yogesh’s way. The title song Rajnigandha phool tumhare, sung by Lata, too was admired. He worked with the illustrious SD Burman in Mili (1975). While it had the lively Maine kaha phoolon se, sung by Lata, it also had the seeped in sadness Badi sooni sooni and Aaye tum yaad mujhe sung by Kishore Kumar. Chhoti Si Baat (1976) was another Basuda- Salil Chowdhury film, for which Yogesh wrote gems like Na jane kyun, sung by Lata and the Yesudas-Asha Bhosle duet Jaaneman jaaneman.
Yogesh then on became a regular in Basuda’s films. Priyatama (1977) had the happy Koi roko na deewane ko, composed by Rajesh Roshan and the sad Tere bin kaise din. For Baton Baton Mein (1979), composed by Rajesh Roshan, he wrote the poignant Kahan tak yeh mann ko among other songs. In Manzil (1979), he wrote the evergreen ode to Mumbai rains, Rimjhim gire saawan. The song had two versions, one sung by Kishore Kumar and the other by Lata. Picturised on Amitabh Bachchan and Moushumi Chatterjee amidst real rain, the appeal of this Yogesh-R.D. Burman number hasn’t faded till date.
Sadly, even after writing memorable songs, the unassuming Yogesh never got his due. His last film was Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain (2018), where he wrote two songs. His health was fast deteriorating. During his last days, he was cared for by Satyendra Tripathi, who had sung Piya mose rooth gaye from Angrezi…, Yogesh’s last film song.
Yogesh’s hit songs
Kahin door jab din
Rajnigandha phool tumhare
Na jaane kyun
– Chhoti Si Baat
Aaye tum yaad mujhe
Tere bin kaise din
Rimjhim gire saawan
Kahan tak yeh mann ko
– Baaton Baaton Mein