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Memorable films



Naushad Ali is regarded as one of the greatest Music Directors of Indian Cinema. Since early childhood in Lucknow he was an avid listener to the live orchestras accompanying silent films. He studied under Ustad Ghurbat Ali, Ustad Yusuf Ali and Ustad Babban Saheb. Before coming to Bombay, he repaired harmoniums and composed for amateur theatricals such as the Windsor Music Entertainers.

He moved to Bombay in the late 1930s to try his luck as a musician but had to really struggle and saw days of acute deprivation. He even had to spend nights on the footpath before he worked as a pianist in composer Mushtaq Hussain's orchestra. He joined music director Khemchand Prakash (whom he considers his teacher) as his assistant.

Prem Nagar (1940) was his first Independent break but he first got noticed with Sharda (1942) wherein 13-year-old Suraiya did 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. Ankhiyaan Milake and Sawan ke Badalon became the most popular songs of the day.

Naushad churned out hit after hit in the 1940s mainly in the films of A.R. Kardar - Shahjehan (1946), Dard (1947), Dillagi (1949), Dulari (1949) and Mehboob Khan - Anmol Ghadi (1946), Elaan (1947), Anoki Ada (1948), Andaaz (1949). Naushad was among the early composer who gave Lata Mangeshkar an opportunity to sing and Andaaz and Dulari were instrumental in her rise to the top along with Mahal and Barsaat that year.

Naushad was one of the first to introduce sound mixing and the separate recording of voice and music tracks in playback singing. He was the first to combine the flute and the clarinet, the sitar and mandolin. He also introduced the accordion to Hindi film music and was among the first to concentrate on background music to extend characters' moods and dialogues through music.

But perhaps Naushad's greatest contribution was to bring Indian classical music into the film medium. Many of his compositions were inspired by Ragas and he even used distinguished classical artistes like Amir Khan and D.V. Pulaskar in Baiju Bawra (1952) and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan in Mughal-e-Azam (1960). Baiju Bawra demonstrated Naushad's grasp of classical music. To quote India's greatest playback singer Lata Mangeshkar who sang for him in the film.

"The music he composed for Baiju Bawra surprised even me. It was entirely different from what he had done before. Different ragas were used for different situations and the purity of the ragas were maintained to the greatest possible extent."

Naushad has been criticized about the lack of variety in his music but that is unfounded. He could compose with a 100-man orchestra as he did in Aan (1952) and could go Western if the situation demanded it (Jadoo (1951)). Naushad used to study every aspect of his tunes thoroughly. If he weren't satisfied with even one word, he would ask the lyricist to write the whole line. He would take a fortnight to compose a single song and often could compose music for just two films a year. To quote him,

"In my 62 years in the film industry, I composed music for 66 films. These days, you come across people who have done the music 200 films in two years. What I'm saying is that, we used to agonise over every tune and phrase in music, spend sleepless nights over a song, and work on it until it was perfected. And I am still looking for perfection."

This reduced workload worked to his advantage as he went on to score the music for perennial classics - Mother India (1957), Mughal-e-Azam (1960), Ganga Jamuna (1961) and Mere Mehboob (1963). In Mughal-e-Azam, Naushad's musical score was outstanding particularly the two songs by noted classical singer Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (Shubh Din Aayo and Prem Jogan ke Sundari Pio Chali) not to mention the Lata Gems (Mohabbat ki Jhooti Kahani pe Roye, Pyaar Kiya to Darna Kya) and Mohd. Rafi's Ae Mohabbat Zindabad with a chorus of 100! It was indeed shocking that Naushad lost the Filmfare award that year to Shankar-Jaikishen for their populist score in Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi (1960).

With the 1960s and the decline of Dilip Kumar, Naushad who used to compose music for most of the thespian's film also suffered a reversal of fortune as film after film of theirs came unstuck at the box-office. Naushad completed Pakeezah (1972) after Ghulam Mohammed's death and continued doing an occasional film right up to the 1990s but the magic of old was missing.

A winner of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for his contribution to Indian Cinema, the last film that Naushad composed music for was Akbar Khan's Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story (2005). He passed away in Mumbai on May 5, 2006 due to cardiac arrest.

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