Keeping the audience under his spell – Khayyam

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Selecting a favourite from his songs is a difficult project, can you opt out the devout yearning of Woh Subah Kabhi To Aayegi, the heart wrenching Ae dil e nadaan, the fervid Tum apna ranjh o gham, the romantic fun of Thehriye Hosh Mein Aa Lun or the love poem of Kahin Ek Masoom Nazuk Si Ladki? Music director Khayyam has composed music for just over 50 films in his career, yet his effect on listeners has been more than many who scored for several hundred movies. Khayyam stands out with his resplendent performances. The light delicate melodies haunt the audience. Statistics do not budge him. His creativity is held in high esteem. He’s often praised for the spotless musical harmony in his songs. Khayyam never compromised on quality. Hence, he has that creative satisfaction leaving permanent impression on his followers.

Mohammed Zahur Khayyam Hashmi, born on 18th February 1927, was always interested in music and films from his early days. He ran away from his house in Delhi, since his family opposed to it. He met music directors Husnlal-Bhagatram, who were in Delhi at the time. They advised him to learn music if he was really interested in it. Thus, Khayyam started training under them and their elder brother, Pandit Amarnath. Pandit Amarnath told him that if his ambition was to be in films, he should either go to Lahore or Bombay. He went to Lahore and had a chance meeting with Chishti Baba (Ghulam Ahmed Chishti), who was impressed by his talents and offered him a job as an assistant. It is here that Khayyam honed his skills in music, working and learning. He also had a 3 year stint in the British army during World War ll, after which he came to Bombay and started assisting Husnlal-Bhagatram.
In 1948, he was offered to score music for a film titled Heer Ranjha. With his then partner, Rehman Hussain, they composed the 12 songs of the film under the name Sharmaji-Varmaji. When his partner moved to Pakistan after the Partition, he continued to compose music as Sharmaji – Parda (1949), Biwi (1950), in collaboration with Aziz Hindi, and Pyar ki Baatein (1951), where he shared music with Bulo C Rani. Followed by Footpath (1953), directed by Zia Sarhadi, Khayyam made his mark in the industry. But Khayyam never capitalised on his success. His career graph has been always recurring. Always worked on his principles and his own terms. Apart from film music, Khayyam has given music to some non-film albums also. Major among them being Meena Kumari’s poem recitation – I Write, I Recite.

Simplicity, melody, grace and music in the correct sense of the word describe Khayyam perfectly. All his songs have been composed straight from the heart and have that quality, the stamp which sets them apart from rest of the songs.

A peek into some of the songs by this magician who has kept everyone under his spell –

1. Tum apna ranjh o gham (Shagoon) –

This is one of the first recorded Hindi song of Jagjit Kaur, his wife, whom he acknowledges as his driving force. The song, not a usual Khayyam composition. It is a combination of melody on piano, which very unlike Khayyam. He’s usually known for traditional music.

2. Shaam e gham ki qasam (Footpath) –

Expressing all the yearnings of a man, this sad song is his debut as Khayyam. Rendered by Talat Mehmood and picturised on Dilip Kumar, the song was a big hit and figured Khayyam in the top list of music directors.

3. Dil cheez kya hai aap meri (Umrao Jaan) –

Umrao Jaan – the magnum opus by Muzaffar Ali. The song which fetched Asha Bhonsle, National Award Best Playback Singer (Female) and Khayyam, Best Music Director.

4. Phir chidi raat baat phoolon ki (Bazaar) –

“Umrao Jaan” saw the debut of the ghazal singer Talat Aziz. Khayyam continued him as one of the lead singers in Bazaar. The movie saw some of nectar sweet compositions including this Talat Aziz – Lata duet.

5. Kabhi Kabhi mere dil mein (Kabhi Kabhi) –

The ultimate love poem by Sahir Ludhianvi, aptly composed by Khayyam. It also had Mukesh as the playback singer for Amitabh Bachchan which was different from the usual trend at that time. Khayyam always loved to experiment his music with different singers.

These are just a handful of creations of the man for whom philosophy was the way of life. He was undeterred, unmoved towards success and failure equally. According to him God has been equal in giving man everything, it is the man who is lacking in his search. Khayyam lives a quiet life with his wife, Jagjit Kaur, after an untimely death of son, Pradeep. At the age of 89 years, this magician has started to cast his spell on the newer audiences with an upcoming film “Gulam Bandhu” where he has recorded songs with none other than Sonu Nigam.

Here’s wishing him many more musically contented years and all the success in his future endeavour!!

Avid music lover and Dev Anand fan

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