RMIM Archive Article "337".


From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian

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# RMIM Archives..
# Subject: Khaiyaam
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# Posted by: Anand Tiwari anand@cegt201.bradley.edu  
# Source: Asia Age http://www.asianage.com/pages/enter
# Author: Hamida Parkar
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--------------------------------------------------------------------------- Kabhi, kabhi, mere dil me khayal aata hai... By Hamida Parkar Simplicity, melody, poetry and music in the truest sense of the word describe music director Khayyam perfectly. Without these adjectives, music lovers are bound to agree that Khayyam would not be, well, Khayyam. One of his earliest hits Shaame gham ki kasam, aaj gamgeen hai hum, aa bhi ja aa bhi jaa, aaj mere sanam, more than proves the fact. The soothing tune and impeccable lyrics have made the song evergreen. It remains so till date, as do most of Khayyam's compositions. They have been composed straight from the heart and have that quality, the stamp which sets them apart from the rest of the songs. Not surprising, since Khayyam has a way with words and constantly searches for deeper meanings in life. Philosophy is a way of life for Khayyam and his affiliation with his roots are evident in the way he speaks about the current state of affairs all over the world. According to him, selfishness is creeping into most people's hearts. "Why compete with people who own weapons and are powerful? For what purpose? I am not talking about only India, this is happening everywhere. Education has got us nowhere, we are regressing towards the jungle age," he points out. He quotes a small verse to explain his point, "Ashraf-ul-Makhlukat which means God has given everything that a man requires, all the treasures are bequeathed upon him, trees, fruits, mountains, birds, sunrise, nature, everything. All that man has to do is search for them, God has been equal, it is man who is lacking in his search." No wonder the man has composed a variety of tunes like Punjabi, folk and classical with equal expertise. The reason for this is that unlike many people, he feels music. Born and brought up in a small town called Rahon in Punjab, Khayyam's first brush with music was with the tune and kashish associated with the call for azaan (The Muslim call for prayer) his father gave in his powerful voice which travelled across a long distance. As a child, the faint strains of aarti, with cymbals and the hyms narrated in the church, influenced the young Khayyam and unknowingly music became a part of his existence. Khayyam was the middle son of one of the brothers of the family. "I was lucky enough to be born in a well-off family. The literary atmosphere in my house helped me to develop my sense of music and good literature," he says. Regular discussions and debates was a way of life since his elder brothers had a good collection of books and records. Though they did influence him to an extent, Khayyam turned out to be the black sheep of the family since he was not interested in studies at all. His weekly trips to the nearest district Jalandhar with his elder brother and the regular visits to watch biscopes (as cinema was called during the time) ensured that. "We would watch about five films and then return back to Rahon. The films fascinated me and I had this burning desire to be an actor," recalls Khayyam. The desire goaded him enough to run away to Delhi to his paternal uncle's house, an act that he regrets till date. Of course, his parents were informed of his whereabouts soon after, but he was not sent back home. The weekly trips to watch biscopes did not cease. "When I did not have money, I would watch whatever little I could through the gaping holes in the black curtains. Soon after, Chachaji noted my lack interest in studies and asked me what I wanted to do. I promptly asked him to admit me to a bioscope. I did not even know that films were made in Bombay and Lahore at the time," says Khayyam. He quit school in the Fifth standard. Knowledge of music was a pre-requisite to act in movies those days. Khayyam learnt music from well-known gurus Pandit Hasanlal Bhagatram and Pandit Amarnath. After five years and a lot of "basic education of life," as he puts it, it was time to try out his luck in films. A brief stint with a theatre group during the time of the World War ii saw a 15-year-old Khayyam performing roles which were well-appreciated. But that was not his basic aim. The next stop was Lahore. Khayyam gathered enough courage to drag a friend to famous composer Chishti's music room where he was rehearsing on a piano. During the long wait, Khayyam was mentally noting the music pieces Chishti was composing. The music composer forgot one of the pieces and Khayyam was quick enough to point out the exact tune that he had composed. It was enough for Chishti to hire Khayyam on a no-pay, food plus accommodation basis immediately. After three-four months, Khayyam went to meet his elder brother who was furious to know that he was working for free. All the pent up anger against him was released and Khayyam was guilty enough to take heed of his advice. "The very next day, I went and joined the Army. I realised that my brother was right. I couldn't have continued like that forever," he reminisces. The fervour of being in the Army dissipated after three years and Khayyam was back to realise his ambition. "I will always be indebted to the Army for imbibing discipline and dedication in me. The motto that one should not hesitate to sacrifice and one should cross all hurdles to reach the final goal was well entrenched in all of us," says Khayyam. It was again Chishtibaba who was Khayyam's saviour and took him back on the old terms. B.R. Chopra was a regular at Chishti's place because as Chishti was composing the music for his film Chandni Chowk. After a few months, Chopra happened to be present on pay day and noticed that Khayyam was not being paid his dues. He enquired with Chishti who explained that he had an understanding with Khayyam because he already had two other assistants working with him. Nevertheless, Chopra immediately arranged for his payment and before Khayyam could realise what had happened, he had Rs 125 in his hands, his first pay. "I will remain indebted to Choprasaab for my first pay and to Chishtisaab, who was a gem of a person," says Khayyam humbly. January 1947 saw Khayyam in Mumbai with his friend Rahman Verma. But fate had other plans in store for him. He sought the blessing of his gurus who listened to his tunes and liked them. The first song that he composed was for Nargis Art Concern's film Romeo And Juliet written by Faiz Ahmed Faiz. The song was Dono jahan teri mohabbat me haarke, wo jaa raha hai koi shabe gham guzaar ke sung by Zohra Balewadi. The next few films had Khayyam sharing credits with other music directors. His first film as a solo music composer Biwi had the hit song, Akele me woh ghabrate to honge, mitake mujhe pachtate to honge. A simple tune with meaningful lyrics ensured that. Jaddanbai was impressed with his music and put in a word to Chandulal Shah with "Iski umar par mat jao, gaane suno." A chain of recommendations from Anwar Husain and Ziasaab plus his talent got him his first real break, Footpath. Songs like Shaame gham ki kasam and Kaisa jadoo daala re balma had the industry raving and people would insist on listening to the songs again and again. His subsequent films Lala Rukh and Shagun again had hit songs. His song Tum apna ranjo gham (Shagun) sung by his wife Jagjit Kaur was a rage. Khayyam has been lucky enough to compose songs to lyrics penned by great poets like Ali Sardar Jaffri, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Kaifi Azmi, Jaanesar Akhtar, Daag Dehlvi, Mir Taki Mir, Aatish, Makhdoom Moiuddin and Bashaar Nawaaz. Khayyam has an interesting incident to recollect about the song, Woh subah kabhi to ayegi in Phir Subah Hogi sung by Asha Bhosle and Mukesh. "Ashaji is known for her frank opinions and observations. As soon as the recording was over, she came over to me and said, 'Khayyamsaab apki subah ho gayi.' True to her words, the film was the turning point for me. After that, there was no looking back," recalls Khayyam. The film industry has always given him his due after that. It was Khayyam who refused a lot of films in the Sixties mainly because he was being offered the same kind of films as Phir Subah Hogi. Aakhri Khat and Mohabbat Isko Kehte Hain were among the few films he composed for during that time. Non-filmi albums with Mohammad Rafi, Talat Mehmood and other artists kept him busy. Devotional songs and bhajans were very popular then. Tere bharose nandlala, Shyam se neha lagaye, Pao padoo tere were hits. There was one regret though. "Most of my films were successful, the music was praised a lot, but none of the films crossed the jubilee mark. Kabhi Kabhie gave me that," says Khayyam. The songs Kabhi kabhi mere dil me khayal aata hai, Tere chehre se nazar nahi hat-ti nazaare hum kya dekhe and Main pal do pal ka shayar hoon were a rage and the films were jubilees in 1976. A spate of films followed with successful music like Trishul, Noorie, Sawaal, Khandaan, Thodi Si Bewafai, Ahista Ahista and Bazaar. A challenge came in the form of Umrao Jaan. "It was a difficult job in the sense that Pakeezah was made earlier with the same subject. Ghulam Mohammed had given brilliant music for the film," confesses Khayyam. Another difficulty was that all the folk tunes and ghazals from Faizabad (where Umrao Jaan stayed) and Lucknow were already utilised in Hindi films. Khayyam made his job easier by reading history and trying to explore Umrao Jaan's personality. "Umrao Jaan was a great poetess and dancer and she was extremely beautiful, so much so that she had kings and nawabs falling at her feet," says Khayyam. Khayyam is perhaps the only composer who has given Asha Bhosle good songs throughout her career. About choosing her to render the songs for Umrao Jaan, he says, "We have had a long association. I had confidence in Ashaji and she did a wonderful job," he says. As expected, both Asha and Khayyam won the National award for the film. Surprisingly, Razia Sultan which flopped miserably was another film that had Khayyam at his best with songs like Ae dil-e-nadan and Jalta hai badan. The film's music was so successful that cassettes of the songs were pirated even before the music release of the film. Unfortunately, the film did not do well. But, Khayyam has no regrets. He is very happy with whatever the industry has offered him. As for the allegations that he is moody and unreasonable, all he that he says is, "I did not want to compromise on my principles and today I am happy that I didn't. My wife Jagjit has been supportive and she always smiled through all the financial troubles we had. I would have given in to the pressure otherwise." Did he compose all those soulful songs keeping her in mind? He says, "The first time I saw her, I knew she was my dream woman and wished to God that she be mine, which she did eventually. She has been the force driving me all these years. Yes, she has been a true ardhangini and responsible for the compositions."
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian