RMIM Archive Article "358".
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
# RMIM Archives..
# Subject: Naushad Academy
# Posted by: email@example.com (Faez Nasrudin Kaiser)
# Source: The Hindu, Apr 3
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
The Naushad Academy of Hindustani Sangeet is here. It is the last
dream of a musician with a mind fighting, against odds, to keep alive
`Hindustaniat' in the music made in Hindi cinema. Nor is Naushad
confining his vision merely to improving the value- debased quality of
music one gets in films today. The idea in setting up a Naushad
Academy, at such an advanced stage in this last Mughal's career, is to
open up opportunities for budding vocalists and instrumentalists
seeking toperform with a certain fidelity to the Hindustani heritage.
Come Christmas and Naushad will be 80. He came to films, as a piano
player in Sohrab Modi's Minerva Movietone, around 1938. ``On a wage
of Rs. 40 a month, a princely sum those days'' Naushad is at pains to
stress. Naushad has, thus, stayed the course for 60 years.
During those six decades in which he has fortified his position as a
bastion of tradition, Naushad has written the musical score for 74
films (64 of them Hindi), all along concentrating on quality rather
than numbers. His music-graph displays three dubbed films in Tamil and
one original score for a Malayalam movie. Naushad, more recently,
tried his composing hand at three TV serials: `The Sword of Tipu
Sultan,' `Akbar The Great' and `Sargam'. ``Aathvan Sur'' (Eighth
Note) is the title of a book written by him. His quest for a chaste
classical idiom continues.
Of his 64 Hindi films, as many as three touched the diamond- jubilee
mark (`Rattan,' `Baiju Bawra' and `Mughal-e-Azam'). It is a career
studded, further, with seven golden jubilee offerings: `Mela,'
`Andaz,' `Deedar,' `Aan,' `Mother India,' `Ganga Jumuna,' and `Ram Aur
Shyam.' And there have been no fewer than 25 silver- jubilee hits
against his name, their titles too numerous to mention here.
``But all that is in the past,'' says this charismatic personality who
lends such dignity, with his grip on Urdu `shairi,' to any function he
graces. It is the fact that Naushad is as much a poet as a composer
that is the true secret of his success. This mood musician has lost
count of the awards bestowed upon him. But he certainly cherishes the
Dadasaheb Phalke and Padma Bhushan, one coming to him in 1982, the
other in 1992. Then there was, in 1993, the Awadh Ratna award,
putting the stamp on Naushad as a distinguished son of Lucknow, his
birthplace. Yet another award (this time from the Madhya Pradesh
government) that Naushad treasures is the one `For Popularising Indian
Music Outside India.' This is what Naushad considers to be his signal
achievement - ``not because it is my music that came to be so noticed
outside India too, but because my style of scoring, I firmly believe,
represents a fast-snapping link with the Hindustani parampara. Abroad,
even now,'' goes on Naushad, ``I find young people to be very much
interested, even involved, in the finer points of Hindustani
music. And I feel fulfilled when such young people come up to me,
abroad, to tell me that the music created by me had played some part
in kindling their interest in our `raags' and `raaginis'. By contrast,
it is sad that there should be so little Indianness in the music being
heard in our films today. What is truly disturbing is that this has
begun to happen in the South too. Yet, I believe it to be a passing
phase. This is not the first time alien modes are invading Hindustani
cine sangeet. It happened midway through the Fifties too - at a time
when I had just begun work on `Mughal-e-Azam'.''
As Naushad made that observation, I was seated with him in his Ashiana
bungalow, located in the Carter Road area of Mumbai's Bandra suburb.
Naushad feelingly recalled that it was in his then new Ashiana home
that he had composed his first song - for K. Asif's `Mughal-e-Azam':
the climax number going, on Madhubala, as `Khuda nigehbaan ho
``Now that is in Yaman,'' says Naushad. ``You say it is Kalyani in the
Carnatic scale. Carnatic or Hindustani, the base of healthy cine
sangeet has to be classical for it to have a lasting value, like the
tunes done in my era have. Only the other day, HMV's Vijay Kishore
Dubey and I were participating in a TV programme. And Dubey revealed,
for all India to hear, that, to this day, it is our vintage music that
HMV sells the most. The royalty cheques I still receive for my music
of that era tells its own story here.''
``But why is it that our vintage music still sells the most?'' asks
Naushad rhetorically. ``Simply because it is music rooted in
tradition. It is the inspiration and sustenance provided by this rich
tradition that prompted me to create what I still consider to be my
lifetime-best score, on Madhubala in ``Mughal-e-Azam.'' I recall, we
happened to resume work on that epic film after a gap of five years or
so. This was when K. Asif came to my house and put a wad of notes in
front of me. I instinctively lifted that bundle and flung it in the
air! Not because the money was not welcome, it was a fortune those
days. But then Asif and I, we had grown up together, struggled
together, subsisting, at times, on a single cup of tea, shared between
us, in an Irani restaurant by the side of the Broadway cinema in the
Dadar part of Bombay. Here, on the footpath, is where I slept then,
dreaming of a Broadway release for my film one day. And it happened,
too. My ``Baiju Bawra'' was released at the same Broadway, early in
``Oh, so many good things went my way, for which I feel grateful to
Allah,'' goes on Naushad. ``But let me round off the point I made
about Asif. My objection, in essence, was to Asif's making
`pre-payment' for my restarting work on ``Mughal-e-Azam,'' simply
because I had grown in stature by then. He had only to pass the word
and I would have instantly re-commenced work on ``Mughal-e- Azam.''
After that, I did not take, and Asif dare not pay, a rupee, until the
film's score, complete with background music, was finished.
``I mention all this,'' adds Naushad, ``just to underscore the basis
of trust on which enduring music was created. That I later came to be
overlooked for a major magazine award in the case of ``Mughal-e-Azam''
was something that hurt at the time (1960-61). But nothing, just
nothing, hurts any more, except this systematic denigration of our
cultural mores by our music-makers.
``What a joy it was to groom Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar for the
songs that they so memorably put forth for me. What devotion to duty
on the part of playback performers then - Mukesh making some 23 trips
to my Bandra home, from the other end of town, for rehearsing the
songs of ``Andaz.'' Coming to my far-off suburban home by bus and
going back by bus - no car, no luxury, only commitment. Their fixity
of purpose was such that it encouraged me to experiment in being the
first to separate, in the recording room, the voice of the singer and
``Oh, but there I go again, claiming to be the first to have done
something! Was I really the first? What indeed has been my
contribution except to give a fresh form and format to our set music?
Wasn't all the music I made, all the music others made, already there?
That is why I remain unimpressed by the criticism certain fellow
composers have offered of my music - that I always took a `taiyyar
bandish' and remoulded it for my tune. What is wrong about that, if
done innovatively and inventively, I ask? Is the `bandish' in question
not a part of our valued music? On the contrary, I feel proud to state
that I fell back, with consistently popular success, on this, our
cherished musical legacy. There is only one composer: Allah. Call him
Allah, call him Bhagvan, He makes the music you hear.''
It is his broad secular outlook, while remaining a devout Muslim, that
has won for Naushad's music the widely abiding following he has. His
Lucknow background gave Naushad a rare grip on the Hindu
scriptures. This he blended with the best in Urdu poetic lore to
create a treasure-trove of tunes that makes his oeuvre so distinctive
in Hindustani cine sangeet. Naushad belongs to his era with aura and
authority. Ask Naushad about his being the first to charge a lakh of
rupees, for a film, as early as at the turn of the half-century and
this composer just shrugs off the point. ``There were so many
music-makers more talented than I am,'' he remarks, ``didn't I say
Allah has been kind to me?''
Even as word came from Pakistan about Dilip Kumar's being created a
`Lal-i-Imtiaz', there appeared, in the papers, an item to the effect
that `Jugnu' Noorjehan was ill all over again. To think that Naushad
is the only composer living for whom both Noorjehan and K. L. Saigal
sang. Naushad says that, if he worked in so many films with Dilip
Kumar, it was because the thespian's commitment matched his.
At 78, Naushad is the spry embodiment of all that is `rememberable' in
Hindustani cine sangeet. The Naushad Academy of Hindustani Sangeet
comes as a fitting reminder of this compleat composer's stand-out
contribution to raising classical awareness in a field in which the
meretricious generally triumphs over the meritorious.