Pandit Narendra Sharma was a preeminent littérateur who has penned unforgettable poems, literature and lyrics. He was proficient in Hindi, Urdu and English and was also an Ayurved scholar. He was the man who evolved the face of All India Radio during its drowning stage by establishing Vividh Bharti and generated listeners that went upto an amount of almost 35 crores.
Ishwar Satya Hai
Satya Hi Shiv Hai
Shiv Hi Sundar Hai
Jaago Uth Kar Dekho
Jeevan Jyot Ujaagar Hai
Satyam Shivam Sundaram
Satyam Shivam Sundaram
It is practically impossible for any Indian to forget and not recognise this song from Raj Kapoor’s ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’. Composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal and rendered by Lata Mangeshkar, this song is embedded in the minds of millions of music lovers. It is still one of the most widely played songs all over India.
The divine and immaculate lyrics of this song were penned by none other than Pandit Narendra Sharma. The beauty of truth, goodness and virtue is expressed brilliantly by this pure form of lyrics by him. Raj Kapoor’s vision to spread about the importance of ‘Inner Beauty’ through this movie is beautifully articulated through the devotional lyrics of the song.
Pandit Narendra Sharma was born on 28th of February 1913 in the Jahangirpur district of Uttar Pradesh. He completed his Masters in English Literature from the Allahabad University and went on to publish the Abyudhyay newspaper in 1934. He didn’t have a blissful childhood as he lost his father at the tender age of four.
In 1943, he came down to Mumbai (previously Bombay) along with Bhagwati Charan Verma. He wrote for the first time in the Bombay Talkies’ production ‘Humaari Baat’. Composed by Anil Biswas and rendered by Parul Ghosh for Devika Rani, the song ‘Main Unki Ban Jaaun Re’ was an instant hit song among the masses. But his biggest break was yet to come.
In 1944, he wrote for another Bombay Talkies’ production ‘Jwar Bhata’, which was also the debut film of Dilip Kumar. The movie was a huge box office success along with its music being the talk of the town. ‘Saanj Ki Bela Panchi Akela’ is one of the notable tracks written by Narendra Sharma from ‘Jwar Bhata’.
In 1949, he again wrote for the film ‘Uddhar’. The music of ‘Uddhar’ was composed by Vasant Desai and the song ‘Baadal Ke Chaadar Mein’ from the movie became popular.
In 1952, he got the opportunity to pen down songs for Navketan Films’ ‘Aandhiyan’. The entire soundtrack of ‘Aandhiyan’ consisted of beautiful songs by eminent singers. Composed by Ali Akbar Khan, the songs like ‘Woh Chand Nahi Hai Dil Hai‘ (Hemant Kumar and Asha Bhosle), ‘Dil Ka Khazaana Khol Diya‘(Asha Bhosle), ‘Hain Kahin Par Shaadmani’ (Lata Mangeshkar), ‘Main Mubaarakbad Dene Aayi Hun‘ (Surinder Kaur) were liked by one and all. He penned the screenplay and lyrics for the movie ‘Malti Madhav’ too.
He also wrote for Navketan Films’ next venture ‘Afsar’. Composed by S. D. Burman, ‘Tum Suhaag Ho Main Suhagini’ and ‘Naina Deewane Ek Nahi Maane’ by Suraiya could gather a lot of appreciation.
In 1953, he joined Akashvaani and took charge of the programming of ‘Sugam Sangeet’.
The Growth and Evolution of Indian Radio:
All India Radio or Akashvaani in India till the 1950s had a ban on playing any film song on air and the heavy dose of constant classical music on the radio reduced the number of listeners drastically. On the other hand, Radio Ceylon, the oldest radio network of Asia, started its Hindi network service in the early 1950s.
The response to the Hindi wing of Radio Ceylon was tremendous as it played all the old and contemporary Bollywood songs. Within a small time, its Hindi network service earned a million listeners and started earning fortunes through advertisements that went from India.
Regular and typical radio listeners might be well acquainted with the ever so popular show ‘Binaca Geetmala’ on Radio Ceylon. The evergreen voice of Ameen Sayani was employed for the upliftment of the show and it clicked with the audiences almost instantly. ‘Binaca Geetmala’ soon became one of the most popular shows of Radio Ceylon whereas Akashvaani started losing the competition gradually.
It was during this point of time when Pandit Narendra Sharma was summoned to the National Capital of Delhi by the executives of All India Radio. He evolved the facet of Akashvaani and founded the new and modern countenance ‘Vividh Bharti’.
‘Vividh Bharti’ went on air for the first time on 2nd of October 1957 promising an entertainment dose of minimum 17 hours daily. Eventually ‘Binaca Geetmala’ was also shifted from Radio Ceylon to ‘Vividh Bharti’ where it aired continuously until 1994.
As the Chief Producer of ‘Vividh Bharti’, he nurtured the channel in a way that it became world’s one of the biggest radio network. By 2005, ‘Vividh Bharti’ had almost 35 crore listeners daily and today the network covers almost 97% of Indian population. Through the new DTH service technology, ‘Vividh Bharti’ in the current era continues to enjoy a global audience.
He remained with ‘Vividh Bharti’ until his retirement. After attending the age of retirement he went back to his lyrical world.
Pandit Narendra Sharma also did write many non-filmy bhajans and devotional songs. ‘Satrang Chunar Navrang Paag’, ‘Naach Re Mayura Bolkar Sahasra Nayan’ ‘Aiye Prabhui Aaiye’ are some of his famous non-film poems.
On the 11th day of February in 1989, he took his last breath. He was close to Lata Mangeshkar and treated her as one of his daughters. Lata Mangeshkar once in an interview to Subhash K. Jha said, “He called me daughter but always addressed me as ‘Lataji’. I objected to that. But he persisted. When he died of a heart attack, I was heartbroken. No one could take his place.”
He made us learn that Almighty is the terminal truth, truth is divine and divine at the end is the ultimate beauty. Pandit Narendra Sharma’s words ‘Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram’ still echoes within our hearts even after decades.