Planet Bollywood
A Tribute to Naushad
- Gourav Sathe           Let us know what you think about this feature article

Naushad Ali’s music will always live in the hearts of those music fans, who treasure creativity in its best form. If I were to pick three of Bollywood’s greatest ever composers, he would be included in my list comprising the legendary RD Burman and none other than AR Rahman.

His music will forever continue to shine in a world surrounded by Tom, Dick and Harry’s who collectively, cannot put together an album of such quality as Mughal-E-Azam in a million lifetimes.

Here is a list of 3 of Naushad’s greatest ever contributions to Hindi Cinema:

  1. Mughal-E-Azam: It comes as no surprise that this historic film acquires the honor of having the best ever musical score by Naushad. All songs with the exception of one are rendered by Lata Mangeshkar and although orchestration does not match up to today’s standards, the melody is simply incomparable. Mohe Panghat Pe sung by Lata is an orthodox Qawalli in every way, yet the melody as I described is supreme and everything about the track- from the wonderful Urdu poetry to the chorus complimenting Lata, or the terrific characterization in the movie- proves a strong emotional backdrop and Naushad’s composition is master class.

    Pyar Kiya To Darna Kiya is another Qawalli and leaves me sulking in an attempt to judge whether Mohe Panghat Pe was better than this one. The next song, “Khuda Nigedhbaan” has one of the most touching Urdu poetry and Lata’s honey-coated voice only adds to the effect. In all, the album is a winner all the way as Naushad has perfectly blended the demands of the movie with terrific melody that has been unparallel post 50 years of music.

  2. Baijju Bawara: Now, this is the first album in which Naushad’s work was noticed and it was after this, that he conceived Mughal-E-Azam, Mere Mehboob and others.

    Baijju Bawara was a revelation for Hindi cinema in many ways. The famous bhajan “Mana Tarpat Hari Darshan” is remembered today as one of the most powerful Hindu devotional pieces ever composed. What is noteworthy, is the fact that a Muslim singer (Moh’d Rafi), a Muslim composer (Naushad Ali) and a Muslim lyricists (Moh’d Shakeel) had been part of the song’s making. Now tell me, where exactly is the issue of Hinduism and Islam not getting well? My point: music has no barrier and Naushad Ali’s bhajan proves it.

    Other popular songs include O Duniye Ke Rackwale rendered by none other than Naushad’s favorite singer, Mohammed Rafi and also Jhoole mein Pawan- a romantic duet sung by Lata and Rafi again. Duets between Lata and Rafi are a delight to hear and Tu Ganga Ki Mauj, offering outstanding lyrics, backup chorus and orchestration, proves it.

  3. Kohinoor: The third of Naushad’s best ever musical compilation, Kohinoor was another groundbreaking album for various reasons other than supreme melody. The song Madhuban Main Radhika Naache is popular even in the year 2006, and remembered as one of the most melodious Qawalli-type compositions sung resplendently by Rafi-Saab. However, Naushad was a risk taker in many ways for before Kohinoor was released, the director of the film had been skeptical about the song as it was not a traditional Qawalli in any way, yet nor was it influenced by mediocrity and Westernization either.

    Rather, it was an inimitable blend of orchestration versus melody into a modern format, that was enriched by the presence of traditional classical singing by Rafi. Naushad however, had been so sure about the song that he was ready to forfeit whatever little money he was paid for in Kohinoor, if the song had bombed at the box-office.

    What happened however? The song was an immediate success and aroused sensation around India for its upbeat rhythm and classical backbone. Other songs from this album include Dhal Chuki Shaam-E-Gham, Jadoogar Qatil, Tan Rang Lo Jee and what is consistent in each one, is not only the wonderful melody but also the lyrical importance. Today’s songs are meaningless- trashy compositions and pointless rapping having to do with incompetent lyricists. In Naushad’s era however, poetry was an elaborate art that was praised and important, and it proves in Kohinoor.

Mughal-E-Azam, Baijju Bawara and Kohinoor do not sum up Naushad’s contribution to Bollywood in any way, for he was far greater a musician. His last work was Akbar Khan’s Taj Mahal that largely went unnoticed at the box office, having to do with the unpopular classical base each song carried followed by an inappropriate selection of cast.

Ironically, promotors of Taj Mahal did not cash in on Naushad’s potentially award-winning music that was far superior to every other music album that was on the charts when Taj Mahal released. Yes, Taj Mahal can never be considered Naushad’s best offering but it is a million times better than anything Himmesh or Pritam can ever plagiarize or come up with.

The music of Taj Mahal was outstanding, and on a scale of 10, I would be hard shot to give it anything less than 9.5. Everything about it was historical- the selection of Hariharan versus Kunal or Sonu who are basking in false glory proves that Naushad was a musical mastermind.

Hariharan is an underrated and unused singer, possibly because of the strong South-Asian flavor to his singing, yet I believe he has much to offer. The best song in Taj Mahal can be said to be Apni Zulf Mein, a romantic solo by Hariharan with poetry that leaves you begging for more.

This is followed by another melodic gem with Preeti Uttam lending her voice along with Hariharan again for Mumtaz Tujhe Dekha - another slow romantic track high in melody, and brings back shades of Naushad’s vintage-self.

Naushad was one of Bollywood’s most creative musical minds who carefully selected only a few movies and therefore, did not bask in glory or glamor. Yet, he did everything he could in conveying that melody was the only way you could make a song “good”.


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