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Naushad: The Monarch of Music

Background music had great importance for Naushad Saab, and he proved this by using a hundred-piece orchestra for the background score of the film ‘Aan’. Naturally, this musical wizard won countless awards, writes Sharad Dutt.

 Agencies |  2017-09-30 14:13:03.0

Truly a monarch of film music, Naushad Saab entertained millions of music lovers for six decades with his soulful compositions. No wonder, this inimitable composer's baton garnered three diamond jubilees, nine golden jubilees, and twenty-six silver jubilees.


I had the great fortune of meeting Naushad Saab in 1991, while producing and directing a television serial, 'The Melody Makers,' that was based on the life and music of outstanding composers. "Who are the other composers?" was his instant query. On being told that the first episode was on Anil Biswas, he immediately gave his consent. Amiable to the core, I struck a beautiful rapport with him, as he narrated his musical journey that entailed struggles and successes, during several interview sessions in Delhi and Mumbai.
Born in a conservative family, on December 25, 1919, his father Wahid Ali Khan, a munshi in the Lucknow Court, wanted his son to be respectable like him. Naushad Saab schooled in Aminabad High school, fared well in his studies till grade five. By that time, he had developed a keen interest in music, but when his father got to know about his son's passion, he reprimanded him and gave an ultimatum to choose between music, and hearth and home. Naushad Saab naturally opted for music and said, "Aapko aapka ghar mubarak, mujhey mera sangeet," before walking out.
Having taken harmonium lessons from Nawab Babban Saab, sitar lessons from Ustad Yusuf Ali, and having learnt to appreciate poetry from Ustad Umar Ansari, he did a brief stint at a music shop. But his real desire was to go to Bombay, a dream that he shared with his friend Abdul Majeed Adeel, who bought him a ticket for the tinsel town and also lent some money for the journey. He also gave him a letter of introduction for Dr Aleem Naami. Though Dr Naami told Naushad Saab that he was far removed from the film world, all the same, he facilitated his access to Faiz Saab, who was in film publicity. This further gave him access to meet producer-director AR Kardar who was making a film, Baghbaan, for Film City Company, and he asked Naushad Saab to assist music director Mushtaq Hussain.
Naushad Saab accomplished three films, as he met lyricist Pt DN Madhok, who became his mentor and father figure. Pt Madhok brought Naushad Saab to Ranjit Movie Tone, where he worked as assistant director in a Punjabi film, Mirza Sahiba. Thereafter, he assisted Khem Chand Prakash, but fell ill. He wanted a week's leave which was not granted and instead, he lost his job.
Not the one to lose heart or hope, Naushad Saab launched Rainbow Recording Company with his friend Sheikh Hassan Banatwala. Unfortunately, HMV posed stiff competition, and their Company was nowhere in the reckoning, making him jobless once again. Since Pt Madhok was very fond of Naushad Saab, at his recommendation, Ranjit Movie Tone gave Naushad Saab another chance in the film Kanchan. As luck would have it, due to non-cooperation of musicians Naushad Saab left the film after composing one song, 'Bata do koi kaun gali morey Shyam'. It was a blessing in disguise as he got his first break as an independent music director in Prem Nagar, in 1940.
Now with the tides turning, Shankar Bhatt and Vijay Bhatt of Prakash Pictures asked Pt Madhok to suggest a music director for their forthcoming films. Given his complete confidence in Naushad Saab, he strongly recommended his name to the Bhatt brothers. Those were the days when composers like Anil Biswas, Master Ghulam Haider, Khem Chand Prakash and Pt Gobind Ram were ruling the roost. Master Haider had introduced Punjabi folk and rhythm in his compositions. So, Naushad Saab was tempted to use UP folk tones in his music. He got his chance in the film, Rattan, in 1944. Finally, Naushad Saab tasted his first success with Rattan, wherein he used the sonorous combination of dholak, matka, flute and sitar. This experiment bore fruition, as is evident in the songs, 'Akhiyan mila ke'; 'Pardesi balam aa badal aaye'; 'Aayee Diwali aayee Diwali'; 'Rimjhim barsey badalwa'; 'Angdaee teri hai bahana'; 'Jhoothe hain sab sapan suhane' and 'Jab tum hi gaye pardes.' The same year Naushad Saab got married and his father had told the bride's parents that his son was a tailor master, as being a musician was infra dig for conservative families. Ironically, during the marriage ceremony, the band was playing a song from his film, Rattan.
Since Naushad Saab had been composing for Kardar Productions and Prakash Pictures, he received an invitation from Mehboob Khan for the film, Anmol Ghadi, in 1946. It turned out to be a greater success than Rattan. The star cast of Anmol Ghadi included singer-actors Noor Jehan, Suraiya and Surendra. Its ten songs had multiple shades of Naushad Saab's music. His compositions surpassed all previous records.
The instant bond between Mehboob Khan and Naushad Saab lasted lifelong. They worked together in many films. By this time, the musical trend was undergoing a terrific transformation. Western instruments and influence of Ramba Samba, Twist and Cha cha cha were dominating the films. At the behest of producers, Naushad Saab gave similar music in the films, Dulari (1949), Dastaan (1950), and Jaadu (1951), and rendered memorable compositions.
In Mela, Naushad Saab used Mukesh's voice for Dilip Kumar in, 'Gaaye ja geet milan ke', and duets, 'Dharti ko aakash pukarey', and 'Main bhanwra tu hai phool'. Then Naushad Saab used Talat Mehmood's voice in Babul, 'Mera jeevan saathi bichhad gaya', 'Husn walon ko na do dil', and his duet with Shamshad Begum, 'Milte hi aankhe dil hua deewana kisi ka'; 'Panchhi ban man piya piya gaaney laga'; and 'Chhod babul ka ghar' were super-duper hits. From Deedar onwards Mohammad Rafi became Dilip Kumar's voice and most of his songs were on the top of the charts.
Naushad Saab also composed for his favourite film, Baiju Bawara (1952). These raga-based compositions were: 'Jhooley mein pawan ke' in Raga Piloo; 'Door koi gaaye' in Raga Desh; 'O duniya ke rakhwaley' in Raga Darbari; 'Mohey bhool gaye saanwariya' in Raga Bhairavi. His most cherished composition of this film was 'Man tadpat hari darshan ko aaj in raag malkuns'. And he also sought the contribution of Ustad Amir Khan and Pt DV Paluskar for playback of Tansen and Baiju in the film, which won him the first Filmfare award.
Another film close to Naushad Saab's heart was Shabab (1955). Once again he gave a classical base to his compositions. Invariably inspired by the Sufi poet Amir Khusro, who wrote, 'Jo main jaanti bisrat hain sayyian', Naushad Saab composed these verses in Lata's voice. Other songs of Shabab were two versions of 'Marna teri gali mein'; 'Man ki been matwari bajey'; 'Mehlon mein rehney waley'; and a soft number, 'Chandan ka paalna' became absolute hits. The same year Naushad Saab gave another musical hit, Udan Khatola. It had fourteen songs. Rafi sang these immortal numbers: 'O dur ke musafir in Raga Pahadi'; 'Mohabbat ki rahon mein' in Raga Jaijaiwanti; and, 'Na toofan se khelo', set in Raga Bhairavi. Lata also sang some equally popular numbers. Stupendous success was showering on Naushad Saab.
In 1957, he gave music in Mehboob Khan's magnum opus, Mother India. Once again, he used UP folk in thirteen songs of the film that became unforgettable. In 1960, Mughal-e-Azam and Kohinoor were released. Naushad Saab composed peerless melodies in Mughal-e-Azam. The major highlight of this film were the two classical compositions in Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan's voice: 'Shubh din aayo' in Raga Rageshwari and 'Prem jogan ban gayee' in Raga Sohni.
Another film in which Naushad Saab used Bhojpuri folk was Ganga Jumna, produced by Dilip Kumar and directed by Nitin Bose. Lata's solo, 'Do hanso ka joda', 'Dhoondo dhoondo re saajna', 'Naa manu naa manu tori batiyan naa manu'; a mujra song, 'Tora man bada paapi (Asha); and an inspirational number, 'Insaaf ki dagar pe', in Hemant Kumar's voice got entrenched in the listeners' memory. But the song, which indeed, stole the thunder was 'Nain lad jaiyee hain' in Mohammad Rafi's voice. This film earned a cult status owing to its music.
The '60s was the era of Shankar Jaikishan, SD Burman, OP Nayyar and Madan Mohan. And the new generation of composers, Kalyanji Anandji, Laxmikant Pyarelal and RD Burman had their presence felt in Bollywood. But it was Naushad Saab who composed for 'Mere Mehboob' (1963), 'Leader' (1964), 'Dil Diya Dard Liya' (1966), 'Paalki' (1967), 'Saathi', 'Sangharsh', 'Aadmi' and 'Ram Aur Shyam' (1968).
Deservingly credited for inducting utmost playback singers and lyricists to the film industry, Naushad Saab introduced Suraiya, Mohammad Rafi, Uma Devi alias Tuntun, GM Durrani, and Shyam Kumar (who was to later become a villain). And many poets also got their first break courtesy of Naushad Saab. His other passions were poetry and shikaar (hunting).
Background music had great importance for Naushad Saab, and he proved it by using a hundred-piece orchestra for the background score of the film Aan. Naturally, this musical wizard won countless awards, including the defining Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 1982, Padma Bhushan in 1983, and Sangeet Natak Academy award in 1993.
But Naushad Saab had two unfulfilled desires that his films Mughal-e-Azam and Taj Mahal – The Eternal Love Story should be released in Pakistan. Alas, when these films were screened in the neighbouring country, he was battling for life. The Kohinoor of music breathed his last on May 5, 2006. It also spelt the end of an era.

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