5 songs and 5 moods to remember Khayyam, the versatile Bollywood composer

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New Delhi: Mohammed Zahur Hashmi has composed the music for only 57 films, but their songs are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful to be heard on the big screen.

“I could easily have made over 200 films like most contemporary musicians, but I was clear that I didn’t want to compromise on quality,” said the legendary music maestro, better known as of “Khayyam”, in one of his last interviews. two years before his death in 2019.

Path (1953), Phir Subah Hogi (1958), Shola aur Shabnam (1961), Trishul (1978), Umrao Jaan (1981) and Razia Sultan (1983) are, for many Khayyam fans, all about the music and they would come back to these films more than once just for the sake of listening to the songs.

Khayyam was trained in classical music in his youth and loved poetry – he brought the best of both to his work. Some of his best compositions set to music poems written by Mir Taqi Mir, Nida Fazli, Sahir Ludhianvi and Jan Nisar Akhtar. In terms of musical genre, it’s hard to put a label on its versatility. His music was composed according to the requirements of the script and the song.

Last week was the second anniversary of Khayyam’s death. ThePrint tries out a list of his best songs across different genres and moods.


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‘Aey dil-e-nadaan’, Razia Sultan (Melancholy)

With Hema Malini and Dharmendra, by Kamal Amrohi Razia Sultan is based on the only female ruler of Delhi. ‘Aey dil-e-nadaan ‘ is pictured on Hema Malini who plays Razia. The song was written by poet Jan Nisar Akhtar, but what took it to another level was the combination of percussion and santoor instruments, performed by Maestro Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma. The sarangi, which had not been used frequently in Hindi songs of this era, adds depth to the music.

The combination of the sounds of these instruments conjures up a visual of crashing waves in the minds of listeners. Khayyam wanted the orchestration of the song to portray the musical influences of the regions that the historic Razia Sultan passed through on arriving in India from Turkey. Not only the musical rhythms, but even the silent pauses used at appropriate intervals in the song create a haunting yet melodious melancholy effect.

‘Dikhayi diye yun’ – Baazar (Poetic)

This ghazal by 18th century Delhi poet Mir Taqi Mir was recreated by Khayyam for the film Sagar Sarhadi Bazaar which highlights the drama of young girls of poor parents sold to rich men in the Gulf.

Khayyam’s music was a perfect balance with the song’s lyrics – without overshadowing or minimizing it. Combining poetry with appropriate melodic tunes was Khayyam’s strong suit. Famous Ghazal singer Noor Jahan particularly complemented Khayyam for this song and marveled at how he found the perfect ‘murki‘(variant) to the word’Judah‘.

Kitna khoobsoorat gana hai..lekin ye bataiye, wo on kahaan se lagaya aapne (What a beautiful song..but tell me, how did you find this melody) “, Noor Jahan would have said to the composer).

‘Mohabbat bade kaam ki cheez hai’ – Trishul (Celebration)

Composed in a style similar to a qawwali, the song is a celebration of love and beauty. Khayyam gives this song an energetic and uplifting vibe by introducing some western instruments, but that doesn’t detract from the seriousness and effectiveness of the poetry written by Sahir Ludhianvi.

‘Kabhie kabhie mere dil mein’ – Kabhie Kabhie (Romance & fantastic)

The song is the hymn of eternal lovers to express love and desire. Khayyam collaborated with Sahir again for this film and created music that remains etched in our minds even today. Never has a song been so imbued with love and melody.

‘Peacock padoon tore shyam’ (Devotion)

While all of Khayyam’s filmed songs deserve all the applause, the mention of his musical genius is incomplete without mentioning this non-filmic bhajan, sung by Mohammad Rafi. ‘Peacock padoon tore shyam‘is a simple and delicate melody and is immersed in devotion to Lord Krishna.

(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)


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