A major poet of the Progressive Writers Movement, Majrooh Sultanpuri was born Asrar Hasan Khan. As recorded by him, he was born at a village called Kachehri in Sultanpur district of Uttar Pradesh in 1918 or 1919. His father was a government servant and was deeply influenced by the Khilafat Movement which led him to decide that he would not allow his son to be educated in English language. He was, therefore, admitted to a local maktab where he studied Arabic, Persian, and Urdu. Leaving his Dars-e-Nizami syllabi unfinished, Majrooh joined Tibbiya College in Lucknow. Having acquired his degree from there in 1938, he shifted to Tanda where he established his clinic. In Tanda, he fell in love with a beautiful lady which became the reason for his leaving the place and going back to Sultanpur. His experience in love gave him the material for his poetry which he practiced with care and started reciting his compositions in mushairas. Considering his remarkable popularity in mushairas, Majrooh chose poetry and participation in mushairas as his profession. During this period, he also developed a fruitful rapport with Jigar Moradabadi and Rasheed Ahmad Siddiqui which helped him study Urdu’s classical poetry in depth.
When Majrooh went to the then Bombay with Jigar and recited his poetry in a mushaira, film director Kardar liked him immensely. Kardar was then making his film Shahjehan where Naushad was the music director. Kardar offered Majrooh a salary of five thousand rupees to work for him which Majrooh accepted heartily. He wrote lyrics for Shahjehan which Naushad set to music. Majrooh’s songs were greatly appreciated. Following this, Majrooh chose to stay in Bombay and write film lyrics. In a career spanning over fifty five years, Majrooh wrote over three hundred fifty lyrics in Urdu and three in Bhojpuri.
Although Majrooh wrote for films and penned revolutionary verses in favour of labourers for which he had even served a term of one year in jail, he distinguished himself as a poet of lasting value. His significance as poet lay in the way he mastered the classical norms of the Urdu ghazal and artfully combined message with muse to earn a place for himself as a unique poet of the Progressive Writers Movement.