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We like to remember music director NAUSHAD ALI (25 Dec 1919 – 5 May 2006)

Posted by ElJay Arem (IMC OnAir) on December 25, 2013

… with courtesy to New Gramophone House
Naushad Ali Wahid Ali in 2005 (Source: Wikipedia.org)

Naushad Ali Wahid Ali in 2005 (Source: Wikipedia.org)

NAUSHAD ALI (12/25/1919 – 05/05/2006) was an Indian musician. He was one of the foremost music directors for Bollywood films, and is particularly known for popularizing the use of classical music in films.

Naushad’s first film as an independent music director was Prem Nagar in 1940. His first musical success film was Rattan (1944), following it up with 35 silver jubilee hits, 12 golden jubilee and 3 diamond jubilee mega successes.

Early life and education: Naushad was born and raised in Lucknow, a city with a long tradition as a center of Indian Muslim culture. His father, Wahid Ali, was a munshi (court clerk). As a child, Naushad would visit the annual fair at the Deva Sharif in Barabanki, 25 km from Lucknow, where all the great Qawwals and musicians of those days would perform before the devotees. He studied Hindustani music there under Ustad Ghurbat Ali, Ustad Yusuf Ali, Ustad Babban Saheb, and others. He also repaired harmoniums.

As a lad, he joined a junior theatrical club and was appointed the club’s music maestro for their theatrical presentations. He used to watch silent films at the Royal theatre in Lucknow. Theatre owners would hire a team of musicians to play the tabla, harmonium, sitar and violin. The musicians would watch the film first, make notes, finalize the scales required. When the show began in the evening, they would sit in front of the screen and play music for the scenes. This was a great way to be entertained and learn music at the same time. It made him grasp the nuances required in composing a film’s background music score.

In time Naushad formed his own Windsor Music Entertainers or just Windsor Entertainers, so named because he had seen the word “Windsor” around Lucknow and liked its ring. It led to the Indian Star Theatrical Company in a theatre at Golagunj colony in Lucknow. He was trained under Laddan Khan until he became capable of working independently as a composer. There he also developed the sense to pick rare musical jewels from the folk tradition of Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Saurashtra during the company’s sojourns in those regions. The travelling players got as far as Viramgam in Gujarat, where they discovered penury, even after selling off theatrical props and musical instruments. The company limped back to Lucknow through the kindness of one of Naushad’s friends.

Naushad had already become a cinema fan in the silent era, and then, in 1931, Indian cinema got voice and music that further fascinated the 13-year old boy. But his family was strict follower of Islamic diktat of prohibition of music and his father gave him ultimatum to leave music if he wanted to stay at home. He ran away to Mumbai in the late 1937 to try his luck as a musician career.

Mother India (1957)

Mother India (1957)

In Mumbai, he initially stayed with an acquaintance from Lucknow (U.P.) at Colaba and after a while, shifted to Dadar opposite the Broadway theatre where he would sleep on the footpath. He assisted music director Ustad Jhande Khan who was at the peak of his success those days, at a monthly salary of Rs 40. The producer was a Russian and the studio was at Chembur. The film could not be completed. Naushad was a piano player so he worked as a pianist in composer Ustad Mushtaq Hussain’s orchestra. He then polished off an unfinished film score and got a credit as assistant to Hussain. Then the film company collapsed. Composer Khemchand Prakash took him on as his assistant for the film Kanchan at Ranjit Studio at a salary of Rs 60 per month, for which Naushad remained extremely grateful and, in interviews, had called Khemchand his guru.

His friend, lyricist D N Madhok trusted Naushad’s unusual talent for composing music and introduced him to various film producers. Chandulal Shah, the owner of Ranjit Studios, offered to sign Naushad for one of his forthcoming films. Naushad composed a thumri for this film, ‘Bata de koi kaun gali gaye Shyam’, but the film never got on the floors. He was assistant music director for the Punjabi film ‘Mirza Sahib‘ (1939). He composed for his first independent film Prem Nagar in 1940 that had a story set in Kachchh for which he did a lot of research into the folk music of the area. With A.R. Kardar’s film Nayi Duniya (1942), he got first credit as “music director” and he began to work regularly for Kardar Productions. He however had a flexibility that he could work outside Kardar Productions, and this arrangement continued ever after.

He first got noticed with A.R. Kardar’s film Sharda (1942) wherein 13-year-old Suraiya debuted with the song “Panchhi Ja” for the playback for heroine Mehtab. It was Rattan (1944) that took Naushad right to the top and enabled him to charge Rs 25,000 a film then.
Film expert and author Rajesh Subramanian opines that Kardar production spent rupees seventy five thousand in 1944 to make ‘Rattan’. The music by Naushadsaab was such a phenomenal hit that the company earned Rs 3 lacs as royalty from Gramophone sales in the first year.

His Lucknow based family remained against music and Naushad had to hide from his family the fact that he composed music. When Naushad got married, the band was playing the tunes of the super hit songs of Naushad’s film Rattan. While Naushad’s father and father-in-law were condemning the musician who had composed these songs, Naushad dared not tell them that it was he who had composed the music.

Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story

Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story (Source: Wikipedia.org)

From 1942 until the late 1960s, he was one of the top music directors in Bollywood. While he did less than a hundred films during his lifetime, 26 of those films celebrated Silver jubilees (25 weeks run) – 8 celebrated golden jubilees (50 weeks run) and 4 celebrated diamond jubilees (60 weeks run), inclusive counted: a diamond jubilee film also celebrated Silver and Golden jubilee. He composed the tunes of “Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story” (2005) at the age of 86.

Naushad worked with several lyricists, including Shakeel Badayuni, Majrooh Sultanpuri, D. N. Madhok, Zia Sarhadi, and Khumar Barabankvi.

NAUSHAD ALI (25 December 1919 – 5 May 2006) - 94th birthday anniversary @ New Gramophone House

NAUSHAD ALI (25 Dec 1919 – 5 May 2006) – 94th birthday anniversary @ New Gramophone House (Delhi)

Mother India (1957), for which he had composed music, was the first Indian film that got nominated for Oscar. Naushad was conferred the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1981/1982 for his lifetime contribution to Indian cinema, and the Padma Bhushan in 1992.

Amongst his assistants, Mohammed Shafi, Jerry Amaldev, and Ghulam Mohammed stand out prominently.

Five films have been made on his life and work. Biographical books published are Dastaan-E-Naushad (Marathi) by Shashikant Kinikar; Aaj Gaawat Man Mero (Gujarati); Hindi and Urdu biographical sketches in Shama & Sushma Magazines respectively, titled “Naushad Ki Kahani, Naushad Ki Zubani”; the last one was translated into Marathi by Shashikant Kinikar. Kinikar also came up with a book titled “Notes of Naushad” which puts together some interesting anecdotes of Naushad’s life.

Naushad also composed background music for the TV serial “Akbar The Great” telecast in 1988 which was directed by Akbar Khan, brother of Bollywood stars Sanjay Khan and Feroze Khan.

(Source: (c) 12/25/2013 – New Gramophone House)

1940: Prem Nagar …

1942: Nayi Duniya …


1957: “Mother India” (with ENG subtitles) …


1944: RATAN …

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