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Gopal Das Saxena ‘Neeraj’ passes away at 93: Remembering the words that touched our soul

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Kavi gopal Das Neeraj interacting with media persons during Indo-Pak Mushaira in Ambala. Express Photo by Ashok Aggarwal 23-09-2012

Dil aaj shayar hai, late poet Gopal Das Saxena, wrote. The legendary lyricist and author, whose pen name is ‘Neeraj’,  passed away at AIIMS on July 19 at the age of 93 due to prolonged illness. The Padma Shri (1991) and Padma Bhushan (2007) awardee stayed in Aligarh until his death but his journey as a songwriter left a lasting impression on those who aspired to join the industry after he left Mumbai.

But things didn’t fall into place just by luck for him. At six, he lost his father and left his studies after class 10 to help his family. He did all kinds of odd jobs, including jumping into the Yamuna to retrieve coins. He then started by teaching Hindi literature and was a Hindi professor at Dharma Samaj College in Aligarh.

Neeraj’s poetry won hearts at a time when Urdu poems were considered more significant and cultured. With songs like Phoolon ke rang se and Rangeela Re to his credit, his writing brought the beauty of Hindi, not just in poems, but in Bollywood films too. Neeraj’s synergy with SD Burman resulted in some evergreen hits.

Here’s remembering how the magic of his words in Bollywood hits touched many souls.

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