Sahir Ludhianvi’s actual name is Abdul Hayee. He was born in a wealthy family of zamindars. In 1934, when Sahir was 13 years old, his father re-married. His mother, Sardar Begum, who was Kashmiri, took a bold step and decided to divorce her husband, forfeiting all claims. Sahir's father sued for custody but lost. He threatened Sahir's life and Sahir's mother had to keep him under constant watch. So Sahir's formative years were spent in fear and financial straits.
Sahir did his schooling from Khalsa High School in Ludhiana. He was considered a good, hard-working student. He learnt Urdu and Farsi from Maulana Faryaz Haryanvi. Sahir moved to Lahore where he joined Dayal Singh College. Here, he got his first taste of success. He was elected president of the Student Federation and it was here that he published his first book of poems, Talkhiyaan in 1945 while still a student.
Sahir made his debut as a lyricist with the film "Azadi Ki Raah Par" in 1948. The film had four songs written by him. His first song was "badal rahii hai zindagii". However, it was the year 1951 that would bring him fame and recognition. Two films, released in 1951, had songs that sky-rocketed in popularity and are hummed even today. First was "ThanDii hawaayeN lehraa ke aayeN" from Naujawan. The second was a landmark film, marking the directorial debut of Guru Dutt - Baazi. Both films, coincidentally, had music by S. D. Burman.
Sahir had a long and successful career as a lyricist and worked with most music directors in the 50s and 60s including Roshan, Madan Mohan, Khaiyyam, Ravi, S. D. Burman and N. Dutta. He was an integral part of Guru Dutt's team and along with S. D. Burman, gave numerous hits. He was also awarded the Padmashri by the government of India in 1971.