Shakeel Badayuni was born in Badayun, Uttar Pradesh. His early education in languages like Persian, Arabic, Urdu and Hindi, and the influence of a relative who was a poet, drew him close to poetry. He joined the Aligarh Muslim University in 1936 and throughout his college days, he took part in various ‘shayari’ competitions and won a number of them. After college, he took up a full-time job but his passion for poetry only increased and he continued to participate in mushayaras.
Giving in to his overwhelming interest in poetry, he moved to Mumbai in 1944 and visited composer Naushad. Impressed by the young man’s poetic sense, Naushad hired him as a lyricist for “Dard” (1947). Songs of this film, particularly “Afsana Likh Rahin Hoon” and “Hum Dard Ka Afsana Duniya Ko Suna Denge”, became extremely popular. Naushad and Shakeel hit it off so well that after “Dard” a large majority of Naushad’s compositions were written by Shakeel, right till “Sunghursh” (1968). There’s no doubt that Shakeel’s career flourished as Naushad’s popularity grew but it’s also true that he remained in the large shadow cast by Naushad because of their strong association. As Naushad’s career declined after “Mughal-e-Azam” (1960), so did Shakeel’s.
Though his association with Naushad is most celebrated, Shakeel also wrote memorable songs for Ghulam Mohammed in “Mirza Ghalib” (1954); for Ravi in “Chaudvin Ka Chand” (1960) and “Gharana” (1961); and for Hemant Kumar in “Bees Saal Baad” (1962) and “Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam” (1962).
He won the Filmfare Award for best lyricist three times consecutively for “Chaudvin Ka Chand Ho” (“Chaudhvin Ka Chand”, 1960), “Husnwale Tera Jawab Nahi” (“Gharana”, 1961) and “Kahin Deep Jale Kahin Dil” (“Bees Saal Baad”, 1962).
His death, sadly, was rather untimely at the age of 53, on April 20, 1970.