RMIM Archive Article "41".
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
# RMIM Archives..
# Subject: Naushad: Composer steeped in classical idiom
# Posted by: Gopal N Kondagunta (firstname.lastname@example.org)
# Source: The Hindu
# Author: Girija Rajendran
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
Composer steeped in classical idiom
for The Hindu
Naushad brought a remarkable finesse to the art of composing
music. He firmly believes that all tradition, all modernity is
within the ambit and scope of the Hindustani music tradition.
It was Naushad calling after 'Sankarabharanam' had been shown on
the network as the National Award winner for Best Music. " I have
absorbed every note of the film's music as scored by K.V. Mahade-
van, " said Naushad. "My, what a them- atic score,what fidelity
to our classical tradition! Please give me Mahadevan's address. I
would like to send him a telegram straightaway, congratulating
him on an award most deservedly won."
What a spontaneous praise from the Hindustani to the Carnatic
school! As Naushad turned 70 in December 1988, I recall his tel-
ling me: "Our sic basic raags are Deepak, Megh, Hindol, Shri,
Bhairav and Malkauns. These, our six citadels, were assailed at
various times, in the last 50 years, by the foxtrot, the waltz,
the cha-cha-cha, the rumba-samba, the rock-n'-roll and disco.
Please note that such westernised song-modes have come and gone
but Deepak, Megh, Hindol, Shri, Bhairav and Malkauns still sur-
vive. They have survived through my 70 years and they will still
be there when I am gone. All tradition, all modernity in our
music is within the ambit of these six basic raags."
Naushad proves the point afresh with his score for "Awaaz De
Kahaan Hai", a youth film in which this vintage composer moves
from Pahadi to Tilang to Bhairavi to Pilu with aplomb and apti-
tude. The only change is that, in 1990, Anuradha Paudwal has tak-
en the place of Lata Mangeshkar in Naushad's recording room. The
switch comes at a time when yet another year has passed without
Naushad Ali's being bestowed with the Padma Bhushan. "When they
have already honoured those whom I have groomed(like Lata) with
the Padma Bhushan, I take it that in the process, they have
honoured me also," says Naushad with typical Lucknawi polish.
Time and time again have they offered Naushad the Padma Shri.
Time and again he refused. And now, when Lata Mangeshkar logical-
ly wins the Dada Saheb Phalke Award only after Naushad, the sad
fact is that she no longer sings for this trendsetter composer.
For Naushad has always insisted that the true composer is the
master, not the slave of public taste.
It is a taste for the better class of music that Naushad has
sedulously cultivated in the public, through the 50 years he has
scored for films starting with 'Prem Nagar' (1940). Naushad lives
for music. And his music live in our mind and heart. Lata may no
longer be singing for Naushad, but her numbers for this ace com-
poser will always echo in our ears. 'Tod diya dil mera' in Pahadi
("Andaz"), 'Jo main jaanti bisrat hai saiyyan' in Maand ("Sha-
bab"), 'Jaane waale se mulaaqaat na hone paayi' in Yaman
("Amar"), "More Saiyyanji uttarenge paar ho' in Pilu ("Uran Kha-
tola"), 'Tere Pyaar mein dildaar' in Bihag ("Mere Mehboob"),
'Mohe Panghat pe nandal' in Gaara ("Mughal-e-Azam"), paas aao' in
Bhairavi ("Sunghursh"), 'Mere jeevan saathi' in Tilang ("Saathi")
- you name the raag and Naushad has wrapped Lata in it.
Only, with Lata, there came an interruption in the mellifluous
presentation. But never with Mohammed Rafi. To the end, Rafi
remained the hub of Naushad's music, articulating its nuances
with a virtuosity there is no matching. To wit, 'Suhaani raat
dhal chuki' in Pahadi ("Dulari"), 'Meri kahani bhoolne waali' in
Tilang ("Deedar"), 'Insaan bano insaan bano' in Gujari Todi
("Baiju Bawra"), 'Mehlon mein rahne waale' in Sahana ("Shabab"),
'Zindagi aaj mere naam se' in Jaijaiwanti ("Son of India"), 'Koi
Saagar dil ko behlaata nahin' in Kalavati ("Dil Diya Dard Liya")
and, of course, 'Madhuban mein radhika naachi re' in Hamir
By the Kohinoor stage, Naushad, audio-visually was so indelibly
identified with Dilip Kumar that it was suggested that this su-
perstar had become a mental crutch for him. Just to prove his de-
tractors wrong, Naushad did 'Mere Mehboob' with the newest super-
star Rajendra Kumar, and was as effective on the piano on this
actor, through Rafi's through Mukesh's 'Tu kahe agar' in "Andaz".
Naushad has upheld his Dilip Kumar connection in valid creative
terms. "My association with Dilip Kumar sprang essentially from
the fact that this thespian brought the same dedication to his
craft as I did to my art. To ensure that this dedication never
got diluted, I have always worked on only one film at a time -
exactly as Dilip Kumar had done. That some of Dilip Kumar's
import- ant films with me failed in the 1964-68 phase was no
fault of his or mine. Both of us, in keeping with our tempera-
ment, had given nothing less than our very best to these films
Yet, having reaped the windfall of being associated with this
megastar, Naushad did find himself swept by the backlash, when
the big slide came in the career of Dilip Kumar with "Dil Diya
Dard Liya", "Aadmi" and "Sunghursh". This was when, in a moment
of uncertainty, Naushad made the mistake of yielding to the par-
rot cry that 'he should change his style.' He went western in his
orchestration of "Saathi" (Hindi version of "Paalum Pazhamum")
even while preserving his Indian foundation in the film's tunes.
The outcome was that Naushad fell between two stools as "Saathi"
failed in the star custody of Vyjayanthimala and Rajendra Kumar.
This saw Naushad hurriedly 'return to base', arguing that his
best composition in "Saathi", 'Main to pyaar se tere piya' was in
his pet Bhairavi and this was the tune with which the film's
viewers had instinctually tuned.
The truth, of course, was that Naushad, after nearly three de-
cades in films, had (by 1968) become too steeped in our classical
idiom to look upon modes western as anything but hollow. Naushad
is not against Western music as such, having been inspired by the
best of Beethoven and Mozart in his formative years But his point
is, "If we must borrow, why must it always be the worst, rather
than the best, of the West?"
Naushad's strident insistence on the 'Hindustani parampara', in a
field in which the yardstick of a composer's utility is his flex-
ibility, led to the conclusion that he had lost ground precisely
because he shed his resilience. But Naushad counters this with
the argument: "From 'Baiju Bawra' onwards you will find my music
rooted in the soil. I have been pilloried for thus going classi-
cal. But what my critics overlook is that if Lata's 'Mohe bhool
gaye sanwariya' is in Bhairav and Rafi's 'Insaaf ka Mandir hai'
is in Bhairavi, it is in the people's Bhairav, the people's
Bhairavi. When no fewer than 25 of my films have attained silver
jubilee status when nine of them celebrated golden jubilees and
two of them diamond jubilees, it is idle to suggest that i do not
know the pulse of the people.
"It is always easier to lower the public taste than to raise it.
GIve the people only hybrid music, as you are doing today, and
you leave them with no choice. On the other hand, base your music
on our raags and raaginis and see how the very same people warm
to it. This where the art of crafting a tune comes in, for what
is it new we are giving? Everything is there already, it is
merely the style of presentation, that I have always prided my-
Shamshad Begum, this composer's main female artiste before Lata
took over, once revealingly told me thatm in case of Naushad, she
never came to know what the interlude piece or the orchestral ar-
rangement was, until she went into the recording room, "Naushad
Saab merely repeatedly rehearsed the tune with me. But finally,
when we went in to record, everything was not only ready, but it
was already superbly harmonised. It was almost as if I had merely
to sing into the gaps!"
This perfection in presentation is what sets apart Naushad's
tunes for Shamshad like 'Baadal aaya jhoom ke' ("Shahjahan"),
'Yeh afsana nahin zaalim' ("Dard"), 'Taqdeer bani ban kar bigdi'
("Mela) and 'Chod babul ka ghar' (Babul) When Shamshad Begum held
her first nite as late as 1970, Naushad made it a point to go on
to the stage and acknowledge: "In such success as this humble one
attained, Shamshad Begum has had a big hand."
"Yet the same Naushad turned from me to Lata!" points out
Shamshad, who rendered with Lata , 'Dar na mohabbat kar le' for
this composer in "Andaz". Naushad's own explantion for this
changeover: "It happens in a fast-changing field like films. If
Lata now came to replace Shamshad, once Shamshad had come to dis-
place Zohra in my composing esteem. This at a time when, in the
film 'Mela' in which Shamshad was my main singer, Zohra too had
left her own impress with 'Phir aah dil se nikli'. "
The vital point to note in Naushad's repertoire is, not who sup-
planted whom, but that he is the only composer for whom both the
legendary K.L.Saigal and Noorjehan have sung. It was a touching
momentm an 1981 after a gap of 33 yearsm and Naushad wielded the
baton to her Pahadi strains of 'Awaaz de kahaan hai'. As
Noorjehan's vibrance filled the Shanmukhananda auditorium, her
co-singer in this "Anmol Ghadi" duet , the no less legendary
Surendra, found himself seated in front of her in the audience.
It is a memory of Noorjehan's "extraordinarily bright voice" that
sees Naushad's latest film named "Awaaz De Kahaan Hai". The
film's music proves that Dada Burman was not the only one to re-
tain his composing impetus at 70- plus. "It is my final wish",
says Naushad "to see that I have some role to play in restoring
Indian music to Indian films."
This gentle giant's musicianship is still intact and he is undet-
tered by the charge that classical music has become something of
a hang-up with him. "How can i buy the line that our own tradi-
tion is no longer suited to our own films?" Naushad asks. "Tell
me, why do the songs that I and composers of my era created still
live in teh public imagination? It is because those songs have
their grounding in the Hindustani tradition. For "Andaz" numbers
like 'Hum aaj kahin', 'Toote na dil toote na', and 'Jhoom jhoom
ke naacho aaj', Mukesh must have come 25-30 times to my house to
rehearse each song. And Rafi, how can I forget the fact that he
was never so busy as not to be able to come and rehearse my song
again and again?
"There was then a deep commitment to music on the part of the
singer and the composer alike. And that is why the music then
made lingers in your mind to this day. Tell me how many songs
heard lately in our films can you recall? No, the soul is missing
from the music we get today. I had, don't forget to compress,
into the three minutes of a 78 rpm recordm the Bageshri I got
Saigal to render as 'Chaahe barbaad karegi' in "Shahjehan". Sai-
gal was born to sing, yet he was prepared to give me as many
rehearsals as I wanted before the final recording.
"A song is not just composed, it is moulsed. And never in my life
have i composed a song without the film's screenplay in hand. Un-
less you thus get a feel of the theme in its total interplay, how
can the song blend into the fabric of the narrative? Today, we
have the technology, but somewhere we have forgotten the tech-
nique! The entire music of Rooptara Studios, employing coarse
blankets to shut off the 'tinny' echo! Yet what technical perfec-
tion we achieved in numbers ranging from 'Mohabbat ki jhooti
kahani pe roye' in Darbari Kaanada,to 'Bekas pe karam kijiye' in
Kedar to 'Jab raat hai aesi matwaali' in Jaijaiwanti to 'Khuda
nigehbaan ho tumhara' in Yaman. These tunes, they preserve the
purity of our raags, yet are they less appealing for that?"
His conviction is almost an obsession with Naushad. And who can
blame him, looking to the classical heights he scaled in a popu-
lar medium like films in his heyday. He may have lost his vital
spark later. His classicism, at some point, may even have cramped
his style as a freewheeler composer. But while he held sway,
Naushad Ali brought a remarkable finesse to the art of composi-
That is why his impact is identifiably his own to this day. After
half a century in cinema during which his singers have varied
from Zohra to Anuradha, Naushad is a symbol of the best in film
"I owe everything I am to music." says Naushad. And to his music
we owe some of our own cherished moments, moments frozen in our
minds as representatives of an era when melody was queen because
the composer was king.