Naushad got into the Soul of Music, Blending Classical, Folk and other Forms

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Samina profiles the musical genius of Naushad, a Lucknow lad, who created a niche for himself in Bollywood. Read more about him and his music, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.

Resonating music of Mughal-e-Aazam is so deeply embedded in our mind that it echoes and transforms us into an era of melody and rhythm. Mother India, the first Indian film to be nominated for Oscar too had the most powerful music composed by none other than Naushad

He spent his childhood with his grandmother in Lucknow and his uncle owned a harmonium shop. He too worked at the music shop and was always fascinated by music and watched films at Royal Cinema from the money he would collect from the Durgah, at Deva Sharif, 25 Km away from Lucknow. The film bug bit him and as it was an era of silent films, he started playing harmonium and composing music in the same theatre.

At the Dewa Sharif, great qawwals and musicians of those days would perform before the devotees. He studied music there under Ustad Ghurbat Ali, Ustad Yusuf Ali, Ustad Babban Saheb and others. He wrote poems and so was always keen on the depth of the lyrics, and spent hours with the lyricists and singers before he would churn out a melodious composition. He was a keen observer and was also known for making little notes, which were later translated and published later as notes by Naushad. Most notes were on music, anecdotes or film happenings.

In one of his notes, he has beautifully expressed that Hindustani classical music, whose seeds were sown by the Hindus and was irrigated by the Muslims. It should be considered to be truly Hindu-Muslim art.

His exposure and his association with other musicians in Lucknow, he could compose songs on classical style using Thumri, Dadra and the folk style be it Mere Mehboob or Mughal-e-Aazam was set in a typical Aligarh and Lucknow setting his music beautifully became part of the narrative. His friend, lyricist D. N. Madhok, identified Naushad’s innate talent and had given him the first break.

His composition of Mother India stands apart for the combination of western classical with Hollywood style orchestra, especially used to enhance the intensity of a climax or a dramatic scene. Shamshad Begum lent her voice to many soulful numbers and made them immortal. The Indian epic Mughal-e-Aazam had soundtracks inspired by Indian classical and folk music and songs were voiced by Lata Mangeshkar and classical singer Bade Gulfam Khan.

The song Pyaar kiya to darna kya is inspired by a folk song of his home state.

Shakeel Badaiyuni penned most of the songs of which Naushad created the music. O duniya ke rakhwale written by Shakeel, composed by Naushad and sung by Rafi carries a lot pain and pathos and is immortal. Even the endearing nanha munna rahi hoon is popular till date and touches our heart. For Baiju Bawra he created a different genre of music and got actual classical singers to sing the Gazals.

He loved nature and most of his songs were inspired by the surroundings he created for himself.

A man of varied interests, he enjoyed shooting, fishing and was a tennis champion. This adventurous streak is seen in the variety of music and the integrated music He has composed music for various films. His music could be soulful, peppy and foot tapping, classical, and folk.

Naushad worshiped music and as he was so passionate about his art. He is remembered today as one the finest composers in the Indian film industry.

Composer Khemchand Prakash took him on as his assistant for the film, Kanchan, at Ranjit Studios at a salary of Rs. 60 per month, for which Naushad remained extremely grateful and in interviews, he had called Khemchand his guru.

His friend, lyricist D. N. Madhok, trusted Naushad’s unusual talent for composing music and introduced him to various film producers. Chandulal Shah, the owner of Ranjit Studios, offered to sign Naushad for one of his forthcoming films. Naushad composed a Thumri for this film, Bata de koi kaun gali gaye Shyam, but the film never got on the floors. He was an assistant music director for the Punjabi film, Mirza Sahib (1939).

He composed for his first independent film Prem Nagar, in 1940 that had a story set in Kutch for which he did a lot of research into the folk music of the area. With A.R. Kardar’s film, Nayi Duniya (1942), he got first credit as music director and he began to work regularly for Kardar Productions. He, however, had a flexibility that he could work outside Kardar Productions and this arrangement continued ever after. He first got noticed with A.R. Kardar’s film, Sharda (1942), wherein 13-year-old Suraiya debuted with the song, Panchhi Ja for the playback for heroine Mehtab. It was Rattan (1944) that took Naushad right to the top and enabled him to charge Rs 25,000 for a film during those days.

Film expert and author Rajesh Subramanian opines that Kardar production spent s 75,000/- in 1944 to make Rattan. The music by Naushad Saheb was such a phenomenal hit that the company earned Rs 3 lacs as royalty from gramophone sales in the first year.

©Samina Naqvi

Photos and videos from the internet.

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