Beyond Bygone

Revered Maestro Rasheed Attre

A man of varied musical talents and dispositions, Rasheed Attre sang, performed and composed his way through 25 years of film music to reach cultural immortality, in India and Pakistan

The contribution of the Punjab School of music to Hindi film music is very well known. Rasheed Attre also belonged to this very school. His contribution to film music in India and Pakistan has made him a revered figure over the course of his 25-year career.

Abdul Rasheed Attre was born in Amritsar on February 15, 1919. His father Khushi Mohammad was an accomplished singer and musician who trained his son from an early age. Rasheed soon mastered several instruments and became an ace Tabla player. Later, Rasheed was trained by Ustad Ashfaq Hussain in classical music.

His father and young Rasheed moved to Calcutta where his father became the supervisor of the department of music in New Theatre. Rasheed too worked in the sound department but soon realised that this was not his destination. Legendary actor-singer KL Saigal who also hailed from Punjab had heard Rasheed's singing and advised his father that "He should go to the music department." Maestro Rai Chandra Boral soon took young Rasheed under his wings.

Rasheed got his first Independent film, Mamta in 1942, which was directed by IA Hafij of New Theatres. Rasheed gave his name in the credits as Rasheed A Attre. He composed seven songs for the film. He got his second break-in Hindustan Film Corporation Calcutta's Pardanasheen. This film was once again directed by IA Hafij. Rasheed recorded eleven numbers for the film. He also recorded a Ghazal of Mirza Ghalib Ye hum jo hijr mein deewar-o-dar ko dekhtein hai. He decided next to move to Bombay. He was lucky to get a chance to work with senior-most composers like Ustad Jhande Khan,

Pandit Gobind Ram and Amir Ali in the film Pagli in 1943. Rasheed's compositions, Gulshan mein ummidon ke tum and O aaiyo, main aaya, aaya na jaiyo were noticed. The title music and choreography was done by RobiRoy Choudhary.

His next film, Panna (1944) was directed by Nazam Naqvi and the cast included Geeta Nizami, Jairaj, David and Raja Pranjpe. Rasheed's unique style was seen in the numbers, Sanwariya re kahe mare najariya, Taqdeer ne jo aag lagaye bujha de, Sab haal bata denge jo ham per Gujarati hai and Kali ghata chhayee ho raja.

In 1945, Rasheed's most successful film was released. It was Shirin Farhad in which he shared the composing credit with Pandit Amarnath. Rasheed's compositions were, Main kya hun bhala ye batao to jaanu, Armano ki basti mein hum aag laga baithe and Tu hi to asra mujhko hai teri yaad ka , with the rest the of four number being recorded by Pandit Amarnath.

Rasheed's next film was Kamra No. 9 (1946) for Navyug Chitrapat Bombay. It would once again prove to be a hugely successful film. Rasheed used the voices of Ameerbai Karnatki, Naseem Akhtar Mohammad Rafi and Saroj Borkar alongside using different types of music in the film. His classical base number was Zia mora bal bal jaye re, Garjo garjo garjo graj graj kar barso in Raag Megh Malhar and Rahein to kaise rahein dil pe ikhtiyaar mujhe, which was sung by Rafi himself.

Rasheed Attre had become a reputed composer in his own right and soon got an offer from the big banner of Bombay Talkies Nateeja (1947). Its star cast included Yakoob, Shamim, Rehana and Randhir (an All India Radio Drama Artist Delhi who acted in several plays of Saadat Hassan Manto). In this social film, Rasheed composed two Nats, Bigdi meri bana do ya shah-e- madina and Ae khudaye malike duniya-e-din. The other popular numbers for the film were, Unhe bhi raaz-e-ulfat ki khabar na hone di maine and Dua de rahe hain saja pane wale.

Rasheed Attre did another film titled Paro in 1947 for Navyug Chitrawali Bombay. The film was directed by Shori Daulatvi. In it, Rasheed sang a duet, O majhi, majhi O hamein sahara tera. Its other hit numbers were Bedard zamana haye, bedard zamana, Chandni raat piya pardesh gaye and a duet, Zakhmi ko naya zakhm lagta hai zamana. Rasheed attre also sang a solo, Jeevan panchi boli bole. Rasheed Attre's last film in India was Shikayat which was directed by Shahid Lateef. Superstar Shyam, Sneh Prabha Pradhan and Hamid Butt were part of the cast. The film was released after Rasheed Attre had migrated to Pakistan in 1948.

Rasheed Attre played his second inning in Pakistan where he gave music in very successful films shot in Urdu and Punjabi. Rasheed was a power house of music and talent. His first film in Pakistan was for Masood Prevez's, Beli (1950). He made successful compositions for Nazeer Ahmed Khan's Punjabi film Shehri Babu and Khatoon where he used his popular Thumri style. His did successful work for director Anwar Kamal Pasha's Chann Mahi and Sarfarosh in 1956. Rasheed's compositions for director WZ Ahmed Roohi flopped but he gave a super hit numbers for his other film, Waada. He jointly did music with Inayat Hussain in Anwar Kamal Pasha's Anarkali.

He gave music in 80 films and was awarded the Nigar Award thrice for best music for the films- Saat Lakh (1957), Neend (1959) and Shaheed (1962). He also produced a film Mausiqar which was based on the life of a musician. He showed his true talent of classical music in his film. He used Ustad Salamat Ali and Nazakat Ali to give playback for this film. He used a famous composition in Raag Basant in their voices in a classical duet competition.

Rasheed Attre's immortal all-time great compositions were recorded with Noor Jahan, Mehdi Hasan, Salim Raza and Zubaida Begum. His last picture was 1966's Payal Ki Jhankar, which has an evergreen number of Saleem Raza, Husn ko chand, jawani ko kanwal kahtein hai by Qateel Shifai.

His son Wajahat Attre was the third generation musician of the family and assisted his father, later becoming an independent composer. Rasheed Attre died on December 18, 1967, at the age of 48. After more than half a century, he is still revered by avid music lovers across India and Pakistan.

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