The Memorable Melody Maker of Our Time
Syed Maqsud Jamil
Naushad Ali the music maestro is no more. A time has passed away with him. The piano player from Lucknow was as kingly in his gifts as the instrument he loved to play. For over three decades, he made music a matter of lifelong enchantment. His hero sang of everlasting melody tu kahe agar jeevan bhar main geet sunata jaoon (For you I will sing on to gladden your heart). The image of the thespian Dilip strumming the keys of piano in the film Andaaz is in fact the celebration of the melody Naushad produced. It is the story of a piano playing composer that came to Bombay in 1938. He was struggling in tinsel town when Khemchand Prakash picked him up as his assistant. The musical score for the film Ratan in 1944 brought him success and fame. It was the beginning of the Naushad that we know. Soon he was charging Taka 25,000.00 for his musical score. His Ankhiya Milake and Sawan ki Badalo were the popular hits of Ratan that we heard even in the mid-fifties in Radio Ceylon's 'Purani Filmo Ki Geet' (Hits of old films).
It is Andaaz, which will be remembered as the milestone in Indian cinema and Hindi film music. Mehboob Khan followed his success in the film Anokhi Ada by breaking away from the old format of filmmaking. Indian cinema came into the modern age. The popular hits of the film were distinctly modern in their composition. Naushad's excellence on the piano produced melodies that would mark the time for all ages. Naushad used the mellow freshness of Mukesh's nasal voice to extraordinary effect in the popular tunes of Andaaz. Everything about the songs highlighted modernity, from debonair Dilip in elegant suit and pomaded hair playing the piano to statuesque Nargis leaning with great urban grace and eyes glistening with love. And who could forget the lyrics of Shakil Badayuni exposing the deceitful standard of the modern time when Mukesh sang Jhoom jhoom ke nacho aaj gawo khushi ki geet (Dance with all your heart sing the song of joy) and speaks of the perfidy of the time 'isko mitana usko banana is nagri ki reet hai purana' (It is an age old practice of the society to raise someone on the remains of one who has been brought down).
My natural inclination tends to regard the music of the thirties and early forties as effeminate. Naushad Sahib brought it home to me that great K.L. Saigol was in a class of his own. I happened to see the movie Shahjehan (1946) at a local theatre in the early fifties on a national day. Later I learned that the music of the film was by Naushad Sahib. Saigol played the role of sculptor Suhail in the movie and sang that memorable song 'Jab dil hi tut gaya hum jee ke kya karenge' (When the heart is broken what shall I do by living). It had the flowing melody of Naushad songs and presented Saigol in a singing style different from his typically oriental intonation.
Perhaps Mohammed Rafi benefited much from the guidance of Naushad. Rafi was a natural singer. His accent and style was steeped in rural Punjab background. The accent had to go under the influence of impeccable Urdu of Naushad Sahib when Rafi came to sing for him in Dillagi (1949) and Dulari (1949). Suhani raat dhal chuki na jane tum kab au ge (when are you coming the fascinating night is coming to an end) for the first time presented the rich quality and deep tenor of Rafi's voice.
Naushad always laboured hard to bring alive the pictorial context of the song in its composition and delivery. One could visualise the context only by listening to the song. A fine example of it was when Rafi sang Dil me chupake pyar ka toofan le chale hum aaj apni maut ka saman le chale (I am carrying away the storm of love hidden in my heart, I am today carrying away the perpetrator of my death) for Dilip in Mehboob Khan's cinematic extravaganza Aan. The spectacle of Dilip running away with the princess Nadira in the carriage accompanied by the tapping sound of the horses' hoofs, the flamboyance of cavalier Dilip, the fuming princess, and the fleeting shadows of tree canopies was picturesquely highlighted by the mirthful tune of the song. On the serious side one can recall the stirring call of the song 'Insaf ka mandir hai ye bhagwan ghar hai' (It is the temple of justice it is the house of God) of Mehboob Khan's another classic film Amar. The song composed by Naushad Sahib so poignantly projected the lofty nature of justice in the eyes of God. It was punctuated with the sound of temple bells resonating through it and had the pictorial element of the lawyer Dilip agonising over owning the illegitimate child he fathered.
Naushad's composition of background music for Aan highlighted the grand spectacle of the movie. He brought the western trend of orchestra in sub-continental films by using a 100 member strong orchestra for the background music of Aan. For Mughal-e-Azam he followed the same trend of maximising the effect by using a 100-member chorus team for the song 'Aai Mohabbat Tu Zindabad'. He strived to give his very best for every song. This is perhaps the reason he composed music for only 66 films in 62 years. It was in Baiju Bawra Naushad's musical forte employed full use of his strong classical base. The songs he composed belong to all time best in their category. It celebrated the glorious gifts of Rafi and Lata in memorable hits with classical gurus like Ustad Amir Khan and D.V. Pulaskar lending their voice for raga based performance. Rafi's song 'Bhagwan Bhagwan O duniakey rakhwale sun dard bhare mere naale' (O Lord! O Lord! ye the provider of the world listen to my tragic tale) is still regarded as a musical legend. The song composed by Naushad in Darbari rag marked the height of the lofty range of Mohammed Rafi's gifted voice. Naushad's musical talents used the divinely mellifluous quality of Lata Mangeshkar's voice in the song 'Mujhe bhul gaye sawarian' (My beloved you have forgotten me) to a beatific effect. The flowing melody of the song makes it a gem among Lata's all time great songs. Ustad Amir Khan and D.V. Pulaskar performed for the musical contest between Mia Tansen and Baiju at Akbar's court. Every song of Baiju Bawra reached a height of its own. 'Man tarapat Hari darshan pe ajo' composed in Malkosh rag (My heart beats to behold the Lord) was one of the finest display of classic base in cine music. One should also add 'Madhuban me Radhika nache re' (Radha dances in the garden of the Gods) sung by Rafi in the film Kohinoor.
Perhaps the most illustrious part of Naushad Sahib's career was music composition for the colossal epic 'Mughal-e-Azam. Naushad was outstanding in the songs he composed for Mughal-e-Azam. Celebrated classical singer Bade Ghulam Ali Khan sang Shubh Din Aayo (Good days have come) and Prem Jogan ke Sundari Pio Chali (The beauty is on her way to meet her beloved). Lata sang two unforgettably touching songs in Mohabbat ki Jhooti Kahani pe Roye (I wept over the deceitful tale of love) and Pyaar Kiya to Darna Kya (What is there to be afraid of when I have fallen in love).
Naushad Ali was born in the year 1919 and died on the 5th of May 2006. He lived to an advanced age of 86. It is with the film Prem Nagar in 1940 his career as a music director started. The film Sharda of 1942 brought him recognition in which he gave 13-year-old singing actress Suraiyya her first break as a singer. His prolific years were in the 40s, 50s and the 60s. In these three decades he composed music for nearly 50 films. The rest 16 or 18 films were made during the rest of his life and twelve in all in the last 30 years.
Going by the records, one may be inclined to say that Naushad exhausted his musical talents in the first 30 years of his professional career. This may not state all the facts about this great musical maestro. His success as a music composer assumed the proportion of an institution where it could no longer be compromised for any other commercial gain. His music absorbed and used the finer elements of musical trends in other parts of the world. However it was so complete in its intrinsic quality that the question of charting another course amounted to abandonment of its own genre. Naushad Sahib made his music and never borrowed it to make his own. His music will always have undying appeal in this part of the world.
(R) thedailystar.net 2006