Gone too soon

Singer-composer Wajid Khan of music director duo Sajid-Wajid, popular for their work on films such as 'Wanted',' Dabangg' and 'Ek Tha Tiger', died in wee hours of Monday in a city hospital due to complications arising from a kidney infection

As distressing news of the death of composer-singer Wajid Khan broke, his colleagues in the film and music industries remembered a smiling man who was passionate about his craft. Wajid died on Monday in Mumbai at the age of 42.

Confirming this news, singer Sonu Nigam posted on his official social media handle: "My brother Wajid left us".

The 42-year old singer-composer, who died of heart-attack, was reportedly affected by COVID-19 apart from battling heart and kidney related ailments.

"He had multiple issues. He had a kidney issue and had a transplant a while ago. But recently he got to know about kidney infection... He was on the ventilator for the last four days at Chembur's Surana Hospital, after his situation started getting worse. Kidney infection was the beginning and then he got critical," informed his colleague and music composer Salim Merchant.

Sons of the late Ustad Sharafat Ali Khan, the veteran tabla player who worked with music stalwarts in Hindi films for decades, Sajid-Wajid started their career in the '90s.

In keeping with their lineage - Ustad Faiyyaz Ahmed Khan and Ustad Niyaz Ahmed Khan were their maternal grandfather and grand-uncle respectively, while Ustad Abdul Latif Khan was their paternal grandfather – they were classically trained.

The brothers' first film was Salman Khan's 'Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya', and the song 'Teri Jawaani Badi Mast Mast' was a super-hit and managed to withstand the test of time. They soon composed music for the actor's 'Hello Brother', which was vastly different in tone from their debut.

The two films started a collaboration between Salman and Sajid-Wajid that went on for decades. The '90s was also the era of non-film music and Sajid-Wajid delivered one of the biggest hits of all time with Sonu Nigam, titled 'Deewana'. One of the highest selling non-film albums in India, 'Deewana' included tracks such as 'Ab Mujhe Raat Din' and 'Deewana Tera'.

Hits and misses both followed in the years to come. If 'Mujhse Shaadi Karogi' and 'Tere Naam' – both for Salman Khan – went on to feature on highest-selling albums list and continue to be popular, they also did a lot of work which was largely ignored. Even at this time, they won accolades for films such as 'Chori Chori'.

It was Govinda and Salman-starrer 'Partner' that gave them the hit they so badly needed. In an interview to Bollywood Hungama, the brothers had said a few years ago, "Even in our lowest phase, we never shied away from classical touches- the harkatein and the murqiyaan. We never pandered to baser trends, but always catered to rooh (soul) in our songs. The foremost thing we keep in mind is that we come from a rich lineage and that we should do nothing jinse unnki naak kat jaaye ya sar jhuk jaaye (by which they will be disgraced)."

In the post-Partner phase, their music amalgamated Western influences with the classic touches it always had, and hits such as 'Wanted' followed. This was also the time that Wajid started singing; his first song was 'Bang Bang', for mentor Salman.

He would go on to do playback singing for Salman and Akshay Kumar. Some of his famous tracks were 'Mera He Jalwa', 'Fevicol Se' and 'Chinta Tha Chita Chita'. The composer also scored the theme song for the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League, 'Dhoom Dhoom Dhoom Dhadaka'.

Describing Salman like his 'elder brother', Wajid had said about their association, "The kind of songs we gave him, he selected all of them from 'Lagan lagi' of 'Tere Naam', (songs for) 'Partner', 'Mujhse Shaadi Karogi', even 'Tere Mast Mast Do Nain'. One man selecting all these songs can't be a fluke." The last song Sajid-Wajid composed was Salman's Eid single, 'Bhai Bhai'.

The 'Dabangg franchise', 'Rowdy Rathore', 'Housefull 2', 'Teri Meri Kahaani', 'Chashme Baddoor', 'Main Tera Hero', 'Daawat-E-Ishq' and 'Heropanti' are among a few of their successes. "Today's music scene is not congenial to lasting melodies. But, we prefer to stick to what music should be," Wajid had said.

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