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Pandit Jasraj on Naushad

I was 14 and in Lahore when my brother Pandit Maniramji took me to see "Rattan", not once but five times! (Sings) Akhiyan milake jiya bharmake chale nahin jaana...

Naushad saheb used classical raags to create different moods. Or else he went in for beautiful folk tunes. Remember his Multani, Malkauns, Bhairav, Lalit, Bhairavi, Kedara, Hamir?

Trained as they were in classical shaili, Lataji and Mohammed Rafi could do justice to his melodies, whether Ganga ki mauj, Mohe bhool gaye sawariya (Baiju Bawra) or Madhuban mein radhika ("Kohinoor"). Who else but Naushad could have the guts to ask the greatest classical musicians of his time to sing for him? Remember the wonderful duet of Amir Khan and D.V. Paluskar in raag DesiAaj gawat man mero from "Mughal-e-Azam"? The Purya Dhanashri by Amir Khan — Tori jai jai kartaar ("Baiju Bawra")? How he managed to persuade Bade Ghulam saheb to render raag Sohni (Prem jogan ban ke) in "Mughal-e-Azam". He approached such artistes with humility and veneration, requesting them in elegant Urdu to "honour him by their singing".

After 36 years of listening to his wonderful songs, I finally met Naushadji when I faced a heart problem. He wrote to me, "Why is God so unkind as to make such a fine singer suffer? You will recover and sing better than before."

"Who else but Pandit Jasraj?" he said and had me release his biography. On that occasion I said that I could compare him only to my father-in-law Dr.V. Shantaram, who had restored the popularity of Kathak through "Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje". Similarly, classical music had distanced itself from the masses. Naushad revived a nationwide interest in it. Uski wajah se ham aaj hain (We are where we are today because of that). Even today if someone sings Malkauns, listeners remember Man tarpat hari darshan (Baiju Bawra), a Kedar makes you recall Bekaspe karam ("Mughal-e-Azam").

Naushad was true to the raag. No alien notes, only sahi chalan (correct phrasing). Take Mohe panghat pe ("Mughal-e-Azam"). What a Gaara! A classical musician can sing it. (Laughs) The problem is that at once people will see Madhubala! Mori naazuk kalayya marod gayore... What lovely words! See how the music flows with them! He orchestrated 100 instruments flawlessly when recording technology was hardly advanced. He had marvellous lyricists, but then he was himself such a poet that he could monitor quality.

Once I attended his lecture where someone asked him why he didn't use western music. He said, "My country is not so poor that I have to go begging and foraging elsewhere." Mind you, the man knew western music very well. But he remained true to his personal taste, and innate sensibility. This gave him consistency, and made him unforgettable.

Listen to this Multani he composed for Amir Khan in "Shabab" (Sings) Daya karo he giridhara gopala... Some of the films for which he scored may have failed, but not the music he made for them.


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