The man, his music

If ever a dispassionate history of the evolution and development of Hindi film music gets written, Naushad's name will certainly find a pride of place. This Sunday, on Naushad's 6th death anniversary, one doffs off one's hat to the maestro for the enormous contribution he made to creative music in Hindustani films.

Son of a munshi, Naushad was born on 25 December, 1919, in Lucknow. He had a keen interest in music right from childhood and negligible interest in studies. Against the wishes of his parents, in 1937, he arrived in Bombay. There, he came across Ustad Jhande Khan, the film composer, and became his assistant for the film “Sunehree Makree” and got to compose his first song, Kyon dil deewana hain, akal se begana . Sadly, the film was never released. The following year, he got the opportunity to assist composer Mushtaq Hussain Khan for the films “Nirala Hindustan” and “Pati Patni”.

In 1939, Naushad joined the highly-reputed film production company, Ranjit Movietone, as an instrumentalist under the music directors Manohar Kapoor and the legendary Khemchand Prakash for “Aakhein” and “Ghazi Salauddin” respectively. Producer D.N.Madhok recognised Naushad's talent and recommended him to Seth Chunni Lal Shah, as the composer for his next film “Kanchan”.

The first song for “Kanchan” — Bata do mujhey kaun gali gaye shyam , was featured on actress Leela Chitnis. Naushad's turning point as a composer came after he met Mehboob Khan. By then, Mehboob Khan produced some classic films, like “Aurat” (1940) and “Roti” (1942) with music by Anil Biswas. After Khan and Biswas separated, Naushad took Biswas's place, including giving music to “Mother India”. To give one more instance, the first year's royalty for the sale of gramophone records — its cost was Rs. two each then — of his super-hit film “Rattan” (1946) was over three lakh rupees, a huge amount then. The total production cost of the film was merely Rs.75,000 though.

Naushad composed some memorable melodies for the films that followed — Gayey ja geet milan ke Dharti ko akash pukarey , Mera dil torne wale and Ye zindagi ke mele from “Mela”. And also numbers like “ Lagan more man ki, balam nahin jane , Panchhi bun mein , Na socha tha kya, kya ho gaya , Chhod babul ka ghar , Mera jeevan sathi bichhad gaya and the beautiful duet of Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum, Kisi ke dil mein rehna tha, to mere dil mein kuon aaye . -There was another fabulous duet, Miltey hi ankein dil hua diwana kisi ka , from the film “Babul” (1950), sung by Shamshad Begum and Talat Mahmood. There is an interesting anecdote related to “Babul” which can give one an insight into Naushad the man. Talat Mahmood, during the recording of the song, lit a cigarette in the presence of Naushad, which annoyed him so much that Talat was never chosen by him to sing his songs. Among the films which showed his growth as a composer are “Dastan” (1950) and Jadoo (1951). In these films, he used for the first time western orchestra in an outstanding manner. Though in the later years, he preferred the purity of Hindustani classical music in his compositions, some of the numbers from these films were singular in approach. For instance, Ye mausam ye tanhai , Aye shamma tu bata and Nainon main preet hain , sung by Suraiya. In the film “Deedar” (1951), his two numbers — “ Dekh liya maine, qismat ka tamasha dekh liya and Bachpan ke din bhula na dena — had amazing use of harmonium that enhanced the melody of the compositions. “Baiju Bawra” (1952) was another milestone in Naushad's career. The Hindustani classical-based music of the film still sounds so fresh even after more than six decades have passed. The alluring jal tarang support in the song, Jhoole main pawan se , was unique. Ustad Aamir Khan's solo, Tori jai jai ho kartar and Aaj gawat man mero jhoom ke , a duet between him and Pandit D.V. Paluskar, were amazing. “Baiju Bawra” ran in the halls for a record period of over 75 weeks because of the popularity of its music. To celebrate its great success, a grand function was organised at the Broadway Theatre in Dadar, Bombay. Naushad was felicitated at the function. On the stage, overwhelmed by emotions, he could utter just a few words, “It took me 16 years to come to the stage from the footpath, where I used to sleep when I first came to Bombay.” Another milestone in the career of the maestro was “Udan Khatola” (1955) where only the music of Naushad stood out. Each of its 13 numbers was superb.

Naushad's association with Mehboob Khan continued for many years, giving us memorable melodies from films like “Mother India”, “Anmol Ghadi”, “Elaan”, etc. Though Khan was a towering figure in the field of film production, Naushad never allowed him to interfere with his music. Once, in an interview, Naushad said, “When I recorded my first song for Mehboob's ‘Anmol Ghadi', he asked Noor Jehan to change a note, add a stress there. He was the boss. The next day I purposely went on to the sets while the song was being filmed. Mehboob welcomed me saying ‘Look at your song being shot!' “May I see through the camera?” I asked. He allowed me. I peered through it and asked the people around to move the table to the left, a chair to the right. Mahboob caught me by the ear and said, ‘Your job is music, direction is my job'. I said that was the very admission I wanted from him, that his job was direction and not music. Mehboob's answer was clear from thereon — never to enter the music room again, and I did all the films unfettered.”

The celebrated film by K. Asif, “Mughal-e-Azam”, also had music by Naushad. Undisputedly, its music was one of the major factors for its success. To date music lovers have not forgotten Pyar kiya to darna kya , Mohabbat ki jhoothe kahani pe roye , Mohe panghat pe nanda lal among others. Naushad was bestowed a number of awards including the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, the Padma Bhushan and also the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award. Naushad's story, one gets a message: if you know what your heart wants, the elements do conspire to make it true.

satish chopra

Some milestone films of Naushad are “Baiju Bawra”, “Mr India”, “Mughal-e-Azam” and “Udan Khatola”.

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