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A musical genius - Pt Gobind Ram

Unlike other directors of the Punjabi school of music, Gobind Ram’s compositions do not typically reflect native Punjabi trends, but instead lay firmly in the category of mainstream 1940s music

Film music has gone through several changes since the 1930s. Composers from Bengal, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and from the southern belt, gave music which had a touch of their distinct regions. In the 1940s, the Punjab School of Music was prevalent in the films. Master Ghulam Haider, G A Chishti, Pandit Gobind Ram, Pt Amarnath and Shyam-Sunder were the pioneers of the school. These composers had a distinguished style and created unforgettable compositions.

Pandit Gobind Ram may not be known to the younger generations but he was the much-talked-about composer of the 40s. He was a trained musician from Lahore and gave music in Hindi and Punjabi films. He was a remarkable composer he also played a vital role in shaping the music of the 1940s. He excelled equally in composing all genres of music.

Pandit Gobind Ram started his career with the film Jeevan Jyoti (1937). Unfortunately, it went unnoticed. It was by followed another unsuccessful film, Khooni Jadugar (1939), directed by Roop K Shorey. His first successful film was Himmat (1941) which was also directed by Shorey. Nai Dilli Ke Meethe Ber (Zohra Bai/ Farida/Munni/Satish Batra) was the most prominent hit of the film. It also had two beautiful melodious compositions in the voice of Umra Jia Begum. He used the traditional folk composition – Inhi logon ne le lina duppatta meta – which was later used in Pakeeza, almost on the same tune of Gobind Ram. Some of the other hits of the films are: Mere bas ki baat jo hoti to main badly ban jati, Kis ritu mein pritam rooth gaye and Is jag ke sunder natak ka khel nirala hota hai.

It was his next film Mangti (1942) in Punjabi, which made him one of the most sought composers of the 40s. The highlight of the film was the debut of its heroine and singer Zeenat Begum from Lahore. Pandit Gobind Ram's compositions played a very important role in popularising folk music in films. All the songs were in the voice of Zeenat Begum: Manu sutaiya neend na aaye, Aaveen chann ve nahar de kande and Tere daras di paysi sajjan ghar aaja. Pandit ji was responsible for introducing the first female Qawwali in Punjabi film – Baanke naina waaliya naina milanda (Zeenat Begum/Rehmat Bai). In Pagli (1943) he composed two songs: Umeed tadapti hai roti hain tannhayin and O bhulne wale. Pandit Ji shared the credit with other composers in Ustad Jhande Khan, Amir Ali and Rashid Atre. His next film in the same year was Sahara which had various catchy numbers: Main to lehnga na hi pahnu, O bhola Balam kya jane, Beqason ki zindgani and a ghazal, Sabro qarar chheen ke aankhein chura gaye.

Aabroo was also released the same year, starring Kathak Queen, Sitara Devi and Yaqub in the lead. Pandit Ji composed most of the songs and those were sung by Sitara Devi. Some of the songs were: Sautan ke ghar na jaiyo, Naiya hamari paar lagao and Hai kisi ki yaad sataye. Pandit Ji also used his iconic number of Himmat, Inhi logon ne le lina duppata mera. Another hit film of Pandit Gobind Ram was Salma in 1943. Sitara also sang a few catchy tunes in the film – Yuhi beete hamari umadiya, Mera dil chhin liya and Ek shama do parwane.

1945 was the most successful year of Pandit Gobind Ram. He made Chalees Karod which had the inspirational number, Jago jago sabdhan ho (Zohra /Khan Mastana). It had a seductive number, Nain mili badal garze. His next successful film was Hamara Sansar. It had a romantic duet, Chhoti si ek banayange naiya (Zohra/Rafi/Samshad). Rafi sang his first successful Ghazal, Ae dile nakam tammana, in this film. Sahshad also sang Hum kis se kare sikhawa and Mere preetam ki pati aayee. Zohra's hit number was Kaun jeevan mein samaya ja raha hai.

In Laila Majnu, Pandit Ji shared the credit with another veteran composer of the Punjab school, Rafiq Ghazanavi. In the song Ja raha hai carvan (Zohra/Khan Mastana), he used the military march rhythm. He composed two famous Ghazals, Tumhari jaan-e-tamanna salam kahti hai and Saans jo seene mein hai (Zohra Bai Ambalabai), and the street song, Sakhi ki khair mai baba ki khair (Rafi/ Khan Mastana and S D Batish). Nasseb (1945) was another successful film of his career. Rajkumari sang the romantic Ghazals – Haal-e-dil tumko sunaya jayaga and Unhe yaad ayee. Rajkumari also sang a sweet lori, Saj pe sobat mori rani.

Parinde (1945) also had masterpiece compositions in the voice of Surendra and Parul Ghosh. They sang two romantic duets: Sajanwa hame bhool na jana and Upar ho chand tara. Parul Ghosh also sang her iconic number, Aaja o salone piya. Parul also sang a traditional Ghazal, Kabhi to jago ae sone walo.

In Ratnawali (1946), Surendra sang Ye mere hain main inki hun with Naseem. He also sang a duet with Shamshad, Nain baan se karke ghayal. Rajkumari also sang Jhoom raha aaj mera ang ang and Meri pukar sun le. In 1947, he gave music in Sassi Punnu. It had ten numbers and the most popular were: Haay jawani aayee, Sehra ki hawao (Shamshad Begum), Kish musibat se hum shab-e- ghum karte hain (G M Durrani) and a caravan number, Aashiqon ka kafila ya ashiqon ka kafila (Rafi/Durrani/Chorus). Pandit Ji felt at home and set tunes in Punjabi style keeping the mood of the film. In spite of good music, the film didn't get the same success as Laila Majnu.

The uniqueness of his music was seen in his most famous film, Do Dil (1947). He used the voice of singer Mukesh for the first time. The film had the star cast of Suraiya, Motilal and Karan Diwan. Mukesh sang a duet with Suraiya, Kagaz ki meri nao aour door kinara hai. Suraiya's popular numbers were: Chanda ki chandni mein haye rama and Fir hame koi yaad aaya hai.

His another successful film in the same year was Doosri Shaadi starring Mumtaz, Shanti, Kumar and Pramila. Its super hit songs were: Toota hua dil gayaga and Chandni raton mein teri yaad sataye (Zohra Bai), Dekho ji aayi suhani raat (Rajkumari) and Ab bhuli kathayein yaad na kar (Shamshad). The highlight of the film was the super hit music.

In 1948, he gave music in film Ghar Ki Izzat starring Mumtaj, Shanti and Dilip Kumar. The film was directed by Ram Daryani. Shamshad and Zohra sang a very popular number, Baag mein koylia yahi gaye re. In 1948, he gave hit music in Rangeen Zamaana. The next year, Pandit Ji gave unforgettable composition with Lata in film Bholi, starring Geeta Bali and Prem Adib. The same year he also gave music in Nisbat.

In 1950, he composed the song Tu chanda kyun muskaye in Chor. Another hit of the same year under his belt was Raj Mukut, starring Nummi, Veena and Jairaj. Its music was also popular in its time. In 1951 he gave music in Sarkar, a costume drama. His next film was Jal Pari (1952) starring Ashok Kumar, Nalni Jaiwant. Lata sang her iconic numbers, Barbad hui dil ki duniya and Kari kari raat andhayari raat.

In 1953 he composed music in Raj Mahal which had Asha's popular number Kuchh jaan na thi pahchan na thi. His last film was Naqab (1955) starring Madhubala, Shammi Kapoor. Lata sang her beautiful songs, Ae dil ki lagi kuchh tu hi bata and Mere sanam tujhe meri kasam, for the film. After Naqab, he quit the film industry.

Pt Gobind Ram was a genius of rhythm, beat and orchestration, which was his USP. His musical contributions remain alive even today in the hearts of music connoisseurs and will never be forgotten. Although Pandit Ji belonged to the Punjab School of Music, he was an all-rounder composer of rare merits.

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