It happened about two and a half decades ago. A Sikh gentleman was waiting his food that he had ordered at a Dhaba in Amritsar in Punjab. He wore a red turban and white patka (the strip under the turban) and his face was glowing. He was accompanied by three persons.
Suddenly a stranger walked up to him and introduced himself as a visitor from Pakistan. “I know you are Dev Kohli?” he said without hesitating for a moment.
The Sikh gentleman looked at the portly man in salwar-kameez and said, "Yes, my name is Dev Kohli, and you...?"
The man told him that he is a big fan of the Bollywood lyricist and listens to his songs fondly. He told him he recognized him because of several pictures published in an Urdu magazine in Pakistan. He also told him many local singers in Pakistan also croon his songs.
Dev Kohli got up from his seat and warmly shook hands with the Pakistani, who identified himself as Aslam Pathan. It was followed by a warm embrace in which the two were locked for a few minutes.
Dev Kohli made Pathan sit with him for lunch.
This reporter happened to be at the same place and was witness to this emotional scene.
Dev Kohli, who wrote songs for films like Salman Khan's blockbuster film Maine Pyar Kiya, 'Aaj Sham Hone Aayee', 'Kabootar Ja-Ja', and the most popular songs for Shahrukh Khan's superhit film 'Baazigar' breathed his last on Saturday, August 26. He was 81. He passed away after a prolonged illness and hospitalization.
Aslam Pathan knew much about Kohli and just kept asking him questions to confirm his knowledge. From their conversation, it turned out that Kohli was born in Rawalpindi.
The conversation was warming up as they ate together. When it was time for the poet to leave, he took out a piece of paper on which he had written his latest poem and gifted it to the Pakistani.
Aslam looked upset probably because he was overwhelmed with Kohli’s gesture and was not sure how to return the favour.
Suddenly he took out the gold chain from his neck and put it on Dev Kohli. Now it was Kohli who looked non-plussed to the gesture of his young Pakistani fan.
Dev Kohli had come to visit Amritsar to pay obeisance at the Sri Har Mandir Sahib.
One is not sure if his death made it to the Pakistani newspapers and social media as a person who was born in Rawalpindi (Pakistani Punjab) on November 2, 1942.
Aslam had told him that his songs had a huge fan following in Pakistan. At that time, the era of such songs was very wide there.
Dev Kohli wrote more than 100 popular songs in Hindi films. He probably stopped writing in 2013. By then he had written songs for
His contemporaries called him the magician-lyricist and King of romance. He was also a recipient of the Filmfare Award for Best Lyrics.
Dev Kohli has worked with many eminent composers including Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Anu Malik, Uttam Singh, Anand-Milind, Ram-Laxman and Anand Raj Anand.
Apart from 'Maine Pyar Kiya', he wrote songs for 'Baazigar', 'Musafir', 'Shootout at Lokhandwala', 'Judwaa-2'. He started his career in 1969 with the film 'Gunda'. He also wrote many Punjabi songs and was also recognized as a poet.
His last work was for Kangana Ranaut starrer 'Rajjo'. He made his debut in Bollywood with the movie 'Gunda' in 1969, but the song 'Geet Gaata Hoon Main…' from the 1971 movie 'Laal Patthar' was the turning point of his career.