Khemchand Prakash will be remembered for erecting ‘mahals' of melody.

The film “Mahal” released in the year 1949 will be remembered for all times to come. It is not because that it was directed by the legendary Kamal Amrohi or the fact that Ashok Kumar and Madhubala acted in the film or for the reason that Bimal Roy was its editor. But, the fact remains that the film is still recalled because of its grand background music and immortal melodious songs.

How can one forget –“Aayega aanewala”,“Mushkil hai bahut mushkil”, “Dil ney phir yaad kiyaa”sung by the then upcoming Lata Mangeshkar; “Ghabra key jo humsar ko”,“Ek teer chalaa”,“Meinwoh haseen hoon' sung by acclaimed Rajkumari; and “Chhun chhun ghungharwa” sung by famed Johrabai and Rajkumari.

Ergo, the film “Mahal” became a landmark in the history of Indian cinema primarily because of its music and the then lesser known Lata Mangeshkar came to limelight and established herself as the most popular singer of the century after the one and only – Kundan Lal Saigal.

A collection of choicest Indian cine music will be certainly incomplete without one of the songs of film “Mahal” and any music performance of Lata Mangeshkar is just not possible without “Aayega aanewala” or “Mushkil hai bahut mushkil”.

The melodious music maker of these fascinating melodies was Khemchand Prakash, who was born at Sujangarh, a small town in Rajasthan on December 12, 1907. His father Pandit Govardhan Prakash was a court musician of the then Jaipur State. Before joining films, Khemchand Prakash was associated with Nepal Durbar as a singer. Thereafter, he moved to Calcutta as a radio artiste.

Impressed with his singing talent, Timir Baran, the famous music director of New Theatres took Khemchand Prakash in his fold.

Having a deep understanding of classical music (including the most intricate dhrupad style); Khemchand Prakash directed music for most of the singers of his time. As such, when celebrated Prithviraj Kapoor moved from Calcutta to Bombay, he took young Khemchand Prakash along with him. In Bombay, he introduced the emerging music maestro to Ranjit Movietone, where he gave music for the all time great, “Tansen” (1943) starring Kundan Lal Saigal and Khurshid.

Depth of feelings

In the annals of singing (classical and non-classical) the music of film “Tansen” has no substitute. What better captivating singing in classical ‘dhrupad'style, one can expect, when Saigal effortlessly sang – “Sapt suran teen gram”and “Diya jalao”. It was in a way the beginning of pure classical singing in Indian cine music.

The depth of feelings in singing expressed by Saigal in his another number – “Binaa pankh ke panchhi hoon mein”cannot be phrased in words. Then listen to the duet sung by Saigal and Khurshid, “Morey balapan key saathi”. The beauty of delivery of sentiments expressed is simply superb. The other numbers viz “Ghataa ghunghor ghor”,“O dukhia jiyara”, “Ab raja bhaye morey balam wo din bhool gaye”and “Barso rey” sung by Khurshid have been forgotten with the passage of time and also conveniently non-availability of the recordings. But, the fact remains that the super-hit musical “Tansen” will be remembered all time to come for its fabulous melodies.

In film ‘Bhanwara' (1944), as well the maestro composed some unforgettable songs sung by Saigal like Muskaratey huye yun aankh chuaraya na karo”and “Thukrarahi hai ye duniya.”

In 1948 for film “Ziddi” (based on the story of celebrated Urdu writer, Sahadat Hasan Manto) Kishore Kumar sang his first film solo song, “Marney ki duayein kya mango”followed by “Ye kaun aaya re”, a duet with Lata Mangeshkar. The music for these two bewitching numbers was composed by Khemchand Prakash. These notable melodies have certainly enriched two vocalists and subsequently shaped their destiny.

Similarly Talat Mahmood and Geeta Roy sang “Armaan bharey dil ki lagan kis key liye hai”for “Jaan Pehchaan” (1950), which is yet another master-piece composition of Khemchand Prakash.

A peculiar feature of his music was that he deployed minimum musical instruments and thereby created the finest ambience through the vocal cords of the singer. This was one of the most captivating features of his brilliantly created immortal melodies.

In this context, listen to Shamshad's fascinating and melodious song, “Naa tum aaye naa neend aayee” for the film “Rimjhim” (1949); Dil ney phir yaad kiya” and “Mushkil hei bahut mushkil”, Lata's numbers for film “Mahal”. These are some of the classic examples of his minimal usage of instruments while composing some of the most bewitching songs.

The musical tradition of the maestro was carried by his noble assistant – Bulo C. Rani in his films. One such all time classic film was “Jogan”. Produced and directed by Kidar Sharma and starring Dilip Kumar and Nargis, an exceptional quality of music was produced through the songs of emotionally chocked voice of Geeta Roy.

What a misfortune! Ten days before the release of all time classic “Mahal”, on August 10, 1950 Khemchand Prakash expired at the age of just 45 years, leaving behind a wonderful legacy of music for all times to come.