NAUSHAD ALI was a son of the soil, was proud of his inheritance, was a puritan as to his music. Besides, he was a genius in his chosen field. His biggest contribution had been that he interpreted and adapted classical music for the entertainment of and appreciation by a person not trained and initiated in music. I wonder if all the gharanas together could achieve as much in terms of popularizing classical music as Naushad achieved single-handedly. He was honoured by the government of India with a Padma Bhushan. In my humble view, he deserved an award a notch higher if not two. If Sachin could get it with his failings why could not he be given one with his strengths?!
The year 1949 is important as that year saw the release of two Hindi films–Barsat and Andaz–that changed the complexion and character of film music. With Andaz, Naushad became an effective and acceptable counter-narrative to S-J’s style of music. If Barsat was a musical super hit, Baiju Bawra or Andaaz was no less. And these two streams of music definitely diluted the Saigal / Noor Jahan hang-over. To my mind, these two films of the year 1949 constituted the beginning of the golden era of Hindi Film Music.
While I was born at a time when the golden era was a matter of past, I still love the old masters, no doubt owing to my father’s influence on me. And I am a genuine Naushad admirer…Jhoom jhoom ke nacho aaj and Tu kahe agar are timeless compositions. Dilip suavely dressed up, sitting by the piano, handsome, singing Aaj kisi ki haar hui hai aaj kisi ki jeet. But it was Naushad who triumphed over everyone.
Aaj sakhi man mein koi baansuri bajaye…the pace and rhythm of the song sweep me off my foot and even if I don’t swing, my mood swerves for the better.
Matwala jiya…..flowing music, mellifluous singing, amazing result. It is often the words however that immortalize a popular number. Naushad’s lilts as much owe their timelessness to the gaayaki of Rafi as also to the poetry of Shakeel. Each word in matwala jiya (Mother India) oozes love, extends an invitation…that this is the moment…
Matwala jiya dole piya jhoome ghata chaye re badal
Karna hai to kar pyar na dar beeti umar aayegi na kal, are pagal are pagal
The beauty is that Shakeel speaks the language of the unlettered rural folks. And pagal here is not just a word, it conveys a state of mind, of a lover who is not in himself.
Mere mehboob tujhe is another favourite of mine. Rafi is sublime and Naushad with the aid of sitar created an eight-minute intoxicating environment from where I would never like to come out.
The music of Gunga Jumna was the high point of a movie which had a splendid storyline and brilliant acting by Dilip-Vyjyanthi. But Naushad-Shakeel were batting on their own turf – handling music and lingo they were home at.
For the moment….enjoy…Matwala jiya…
Written on 28 December 2018 in celebration of Naushad’s birthday, ie 25 December
Gaurav Sahay is a senior banker who lives in Jaipur. He loves to be inspired by meaningful poetry; in turn, he inspires many around him.