For a famous lyricist, the pen name of Anjaan (meaning anonymous), adopted at the start of his career, indeed later turned out to be ironical. Lalji Pandey (Anjaan’s birth name) was born on October 28, 1930 and was a native of Varanasi. His love for Hindi and the local dialect of Bhojpuri was reflected in the songs he is remembered for, most notably "Khaike Paan Banaraswala" ("Don", 1978).
Anjaan debuted in 1953 in the movie "Prisoner Of Golconda" with the songs "Lehar Yeh Dole Koyal Bole" and "Shaheedon Amar Hai Tumhari Kahani". While he was relegated to small-budget movies in the 1950s, he enjoyed some success, albeit sporadically, through the 1960s. His best work during this period is probably the song "Aap Ke Haseen Rukh Pe", which he wrote for O.P. Nayyar for the movie "Baharen Phir Aayengi". Anjaan penned lyrics for a number of composers during this period including Ravi, R.D. Burman and Shankar - Jaikishan. However, it was his collaboration with Kalyanji - Anandji during this period, that laid the foundation for the most successful phase of Anjaan’s career.
His career started turning around for the better with his work for Kalyanji - Anandji in the 1970s. Interestingly, his rising career trajectory coincided with his work for movies that starred another rising star - Amitabh Bachchan. His most prolific work was for Amitabh Bachchan starrers, including "Do Anjaane" (1976), "Hera Pheri" (1976), "Khoon Pasina" (1977), "Don" (1978), "Muqaddar Ka Sikandar" (1978) and "Laawaris" (1981). The Bachchan connection continued with other music directors including Rajesh Roshan, Bappi Lahiri and R.D. Burman.
In the 1980s, he churned out hits for movies starring Mithun Chakraborty, notably "Disco Dancer" (1982) and "Dance Dance" (1987), partnering with leading music directors of the day including Bappi Lahiri. Despite suffering from illness in the 1990s, he continued to write lyrics for films like "Ghayal" (1990), "Aaj Ka Arjun" (1990) (which featured the hit "Gori Hain Kalaiyan"), "Zindagi Ek Jua" (1992) and "Dalaal" (1992).
Apart from writing for Bollywood movies, Anjaan also wrote for several non-film songs composed by Shyam Sagar and rendered by Mohammed Rafi, Manna Dey and Suman Kalyanpur. He also made forays into the Bhojpuri regional film industry including the immensely successful 1979 movie "Balam Pardesia".
He also published a book of poems titled, "Ganga Tat Ka Banjara", released by Amitabh Bachchan. Shortly after the book was released, he was hospitalised for a month due to a paralytic stroke from which he did not recover. Anjaan died of a heart attack on September 13, 1997. His legacy stays with us through his son, lyricist Sameer.