Khayyam: The legend who marched to his own tune


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It is evident from Khayyam’s body of work that he wasn’t looking to satisfy the masses. He was 92. He wasn’t satisfied easily,” says Aziz. Famed singer Suraiya, Khayyam’s wife Jagjit Kaur and composer Madan Mohan’s wife Sheila were also present. 0
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* The moderation of comments is automated and not cleared manually by indianexpress.com. He reportedly asked Mohammad Rafi to give a 21st take for Jaane kya dhoondhti hain ye aakhen mujhme (Shola Aur Shabnam, 1961), and did not let go till he was satisfied. Khayyam saab said, ‘I only do good projects. The two were extremely close, especially after the musician lost his son a couple of years ago. He called me with so much happiness that day. Sung by Talat Aziz, in the years to come, Zindagi jab bhi teri bazm became a soundtrack for the romantics and remains a nostalgic piece for many. For his music, Khayyam worked with an iron hand. I will never forget this great composer and wonderful human being. Once, after the seventh take with me, he said his famous ‘ek aur’. It took inspiration from Mohammad Iqbal’s Tarana-e-Milli that asked the Muslim community to unite and warned against a nationalistic world view. Khayyam with wife Jagjit Kaur and director Muzaffar Ali
Khayyam breathed his last on August 19 in Mumbai. “I lost my biological father some years back. Before Sahir Ludhianvi and Khayyam came together for Yash Chopra’s Kabhi Kabhie in 1976, they also worked on Woh subah kabhi toh ayegi (Phir Subah Hogi, 1958), starring Raj Kapoor and Mala Sinha. “This was in 1978. Today I lost my other father,” said Aziz. Yesteryear actor and playback singer Sulakshana Pandit, who sang many iconic songs for Khayyam, including Tu hi sagar, tu hi kinaara (Sankalp, 1975) and Maana teri nazar mein (Ahista Ahista, 1981), says that with Khayyam’s passing, the last of the greats from the golden era is gone. After Tu hi sagar, Noorjehanji called him from Pakistan and said, ‘Kaun hai ye ladki jisse ye khoobsurat gaana gavaya hai’. “He was a perfectionist. Another song from the film, Cheen-o-Arab hamara, Hindustan hamara, rehne ko ghar nahi hai, saara Hindustan hamara, raised a controversy and was on the brink of being banned. After he heard Aziz sing, Khayyam said, “Awaaz achhi hai. When he came to Mumbai, after a stint in the army during the second world war, he began his career as Sharmaji of composer duo Sharmaji and Vermaji and gave music for Heer Ranjha in 1948. He was, instead, sticking to the sophisticated contours of Hindustani classical music and building on his training under Baba Chishti in Lahore and Pt Amarnath in Delhi. Post Partition, his partner, Rahman Verma, moved to Pakistan. A disciplinarian, Khayyam looked for perfection in every composition he created. The simple melody about hope, that moved gently, appealed to the ardent connoisseurs as well as the masses. The composition managed to create the chasm that a love story between a courtesan and a nawab was destined to find in 19th century Lucknow, but also, importantly — like several other compositions by Khayyam — resurrected ghazal as a genre in Bollywood in the ’80s, which for the past decade (’70s) had a young India swinging to the genius and unique western sounds of RD Burman. Jab mauka ayega tab main tumhein break dunga”. Even as Aziz prepared for the funeral at the composer’s Mumbai residence, he recalled how Khayyam had found him, a relatively unknown singer then, at a musical baithak at an industrialist’s home in Khar, Mumbai. I don’t take up bad ones.’ He called me in 1981 for Umrao Jaan and the rest, as they say, is history,” says Aziz. “If he was happy with a particular take, the singers took a sigh of relief. Apart from the delicate Umrao Jaan ditty, Aziz also sang Khayyam’s Phir chhidi raat, a tender piece in the critically-acclaimed Bazaar, which also had Mangeshkar crooning Dikhayi diye yun. With Khayyam’s demise, the world of Indian music has lost a significant composer from the golden era, who chose melody over populism, giving us gems that will be hummed for years to come. Advertising

Poet Shaharyar’s lyrics towards the end of this gentle ghazal from Muzaffar Ali’s Umrao Jaan (1981), were merged by iconic music composer Khayyam with a soft melody. We ended at the 20th take. Khayyam with Sahir Ludhianvi, Mohammad Rafi and chorus singers
Several others great compositions such as Aaja re o mere dilbar in Noorie (1979) and Hazaar raahe, penned by Gulzar for Thodisi Bewafaii (1980), also have Khayyam at the helm. For Aye dil-e-nadaan in Raziya Sultan, for instance, he went through the filmmaker’s research for eight months before beginning to compose. The originality of his sound was rare and that was something that could not be taught,” she said. After I left, Suraiyaji told him, ‘Give this boy a chance in a good project’.