Music

One hundred years of Naushad

Naushad Ali, seen in this photograph, is one of the most outstanding composers who has achieved the status of a living legend in the world of Hindi film music. The maestro is best known for his raag-based, semi classical compositions that are loved and appreciated by laymen and connoisseurs alike. The beautiful tunes from Dillagi, Baiju Bawra, Aan, AnmolGhadi, Deedar, Babul, Ratan, Mughal-e-Azam, Mother India and many other films captivated listeners and Naushad came to be acknowledged as a genius in the world of film music. PHOTO: T A HAFEEZ

Naushad Ali, seen in this photograph, is one of the most outstanding composers who has achieved the status of a living legend in the world of Hindi film music. The maestro is best known for his raag-based, semi classical compositions that are loved and appreciated by laymen and connoisseurs alike. The beautiful tunes from Dillagi, Baiju Bawra, Aan, AnmolGhadi, Deedar, Babul, Ratan, Mughal-e-Azam, Mother India and many other films captivated listeners and Naushad came to be acknowledged as a genius in the world of film music. PHOTO: T A HAFEEZ   | Photo Credit: T.A.HAFEEZ

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For Indian music, 2019 was the year for birth centenaries. It began when poet-lyricist Kaifi Azmi's 100th birthday on January 14 was celebrated in Mumbai, with a show conceived by his daughter Shabana Azmi and son-in-law Javed Akhtar. On April 29, a day-long event was held in memory of tabla legend Ustad Allarakha.

The year also marked the birth centenaries of Carnatic vocalist D.K. Pattamal (March 28), playback singer Shamshad Begum (April 14), legendary singer Manna Dey (May 1), lyricist Rajendra Krishan (June 6), Marathi maestro Sudhir Phadke (July 25), renowned wordsmith Majrooh Sultanpuri (October 1) and south Indian composer V. Dakshinamurthy (December 9). This is besides literature greats P.L. Deshpande and Amrita Pritam, whose words were set to song.

Finally, December 25 was ace music director Naushad's centenary. One would have expected a few grand shows across Mumbai, but barring 'Mausiqaar-e-Aazam Naushad' being arranged by Ajay Madan at Worli's Nehru Centre the following evening, one hasn't seen any advertisements.

Naushad has played a game-changing role in Hindi cinema. Chronologically, he was the second superstar in film music, after singer-actor Kundan Lal Saigal. His story is fascinating. With his orthodox father opposing his involvement in music, he ran away from Lucknow to Mumbai, and even slept on footpaths at Dadar.

In 1946, he had two big hits Anmol Ghadi and Shahjehan. During the 1950s and early 1960s, he worked with the biggest banners, and had a dream run that included Deedar, Baiju Bawra, Amar, Uran Khatola, Mother India, Mughal-e-Azam, Kohinoor and Ganga Jumna.

Some of his contributions were remarkable, especially in the way he used classical raags and involved singers like Amir Khan, D.V. Paluskar and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. In an earlier interview to this writer, he described at length how he used raags ‘Bhairav’ with traces of ‘Kalingda’ (on 'Mohe Bhool Gaye Saawariya'), ‘Darbari’ ('O Duniya Ke Rakhwale') and ‘Malkauns’ ('Man Tadapat') in Baiju Bawra, and ‘Hameer’ on 'Madhuban Mein Radhika' in Kohinoor.

A large chunk of his work was with lyricist Shakeel Badayuni, and it's often discussed how they would sit for hours at Naushad's Ashiana bungalow on Carter Road, Bandra, to create songs. Naushad revolutionised sound mixing and the concept of having separate tracks for vocals and orchestra. Naushad was well-versed with Western arrangements as much as Indian classical and folk music.

The first time this writer interviewed him at his home in 1996, he played Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata' on his piano. It was a sunny afternoon, but through his rendition, one could imagine the waft of the night breeze. At public events, Naushad was a powerful orator, beginning his address with 'Khawateen-o-hazraat' (ladies and gentlemen). That Lucknowi tehzeeb was always ingrained in his mannerisms, even during short and casual meetings.

One sincerely hopes there are more concert tributes to mark his centenary year. Individually, many of his songs are presented, and one just needs to curate and compile them. And for this, some known singers need to take time out.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 2:28:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/one-hundred-years-of-naushad/article30397087.ece

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