Khayyam : Music With Elegance



Dil Cheeze Kya Hai Aap Meri Jaan Lijiye
Bas Ek Baar Mera Kaha Maan Lijiye

Rich, mellifluous music with a slight stroke of classical touch has always been the speciality of Khayyam’s music. His career spanned for almost four decades leaving behind enthralling songs that remains to be evergreen forever.

Mohammed Zahur Khayyam Hashmi was born on 18th of February 1927 at the suburbs of Rahon in Jalandhar. As a little child, Khayyam aspired to become an actor. He hardly had any interest in studies and to fulfill his dream he eloped from home in order to join films.

He went to Delhi to his uncle where he was enrolled again in an institution for further studies. Khayyam’s constant attraction towards cinema forced his uncle to re-think and finally he was allowed to learn music from Pandit Amarnath, Pandit Husanlal and Pandit Bhagatram.

In the undivided India, Lahore was a central location for filmmaking after Mumbai. Khayyam went to Lahore in order to follow his dream. He met Baba Chishti there and learnt from him for almost 6 months.

Khayyam and Chisti’s association rather began with an interesting note. Chishti composed a random tune and asked his assistant to repeat the tune after almost half an hour. It was difficult to memorise the tunes in those days as the system of recording every tune wasn’t common.

Khayyam with wife Jagjit Kaur at the celebration of Jaspinder Narula's doctorate in music on 18 th November 2008

Khayyam with wife Jagjit Kaur at the celebration of Jaspinder Narula’s doctorate in music on 18 th November 2008

Khayyam was silently sitting at the corner of the room listening to Chishti’s composition. He walked up to him and offered to play the tune. Impressed with his memory and inclination towards music, Chishti offered him to work under him and learn at the same time. While Khayyam expressed his desire to become an actor to Chishti, he advised him to just stay with him and learn and the rest will follow as per his fate.

After a brief association with Chishti for 6 months, Khayyam left for Indian Army in 1943 during the Second World War. In 1946, he returned to Mumbai and joined back Chishti as an assistant to him.

His mentors Pandit Husanlal and Pandit Bhagatram made him sing with Zohrabai in the film Romeo Juliet. He also got the opportunity to playback with Geeta Dutt and Meena Kapoor during the same time.

As an independent composer, his first movie was ‘Footpath’ that released in 1953. The song ‘Shaam-E-Gham Ki Kasam’ from ‘Foothpath’ deserves special mention. The memorable melody of the song might come as a surprising package for the audience considering it was his first movie as an independent composer.

Khayyam with Lata Mangeshkar

Khayyam with Lata Mangeshkar

Although, ‘Foothpath’ was not his first attempt at composing. His debut film as a composer was ‘Heer Ranjha’ in 1948. He composed for ‘Heer Ranjha’ along with Rahman Verma with the pen name of Sharmaji-Vermaji. However, after partition, Rahman Verma chose to shift to Pakistan which made Khayyam turn into a solo composer.

While Shankar-Jaikishan were regular composers for any Raj Kapoor’s flick, for the first time Khayyam was chosen for Raj Kapoor and Mala Sinha starring ‘Phir Subah Hogi’. It was a turning point in Khayyam’s career and also did put a big responsibility on him to compose such music that would be as enthralling as a Shankar-Jaikishan piece.

‘Phir Na Kijiye Meri Gustaakh Nigaah Ka Gila’, ‘who Subah Kabhi To Aayegi’, ‘Chin-O-Arab Humaara’, ‘Aasmaan Pe Hai Khuda Aur Zameen Pe Hum’ became huge hits. The song ‘Chin-O-Arab’ got immensely popular. However, it also raised controversies which was about to get the song banned but was saved at the very last moment. Mukesh and Asha Bhosle were the primary singers of ‘Phir Subah Hogi’. The film became a major hit at the box office and its music also was equally successful.

Khayyam with Rekha

Khayyam with Rekha

In 1958, he also composed for the film ‘Lala Rukh’. The movie failed to create any impact at the box office but its music was highly appreciated. ‘Hai Kali Kali Ke Lab Pe Tere Husn Ka Fasaana’ from ‘Lala Rukh’ did leave a mark among the audiences’ mind.

‘Shola Aur Shabnam’ is another milestone in Khayyam’s musical career. He paired up with Mohammad Rafi and lyricist Kaifi Azmi for the music of the film and till date it is regarded as one of the best by Khayyam.

The song ‘Jaane Kya Dhoondti Rehti’ by Mohammad Rafi won tremendous accolades and it is still regarded as one of the best renditions of Mohammad Rafi. Khayyam’s wife, Jagjit Kaur also rendered the songs, ‘Phir Woh Saawan Aaya’ and ‘Pehle To Aankh Milaana’ from the movie.

Noorie (Poster)

Noorie (Poster)

Aaja Re Aaja Re O Mere Dilbar Aaja
Dil Ki Pyas Bujha Jaa Re

He composed the memorable ‘Aaja Re O Mere Dilbar Aaja’ from Yash Chopra’s ‘Noorie’ in 1979. Rendered by Lata Mangeshkar and Nitin Mukesh, it is one of the most soulful tracks composed by Khayyam.

In Aankhon Ki Masti Ke Mastaane Hazaaron Hain
In Aankhon Se Vaabastaa Afsaane Hazaaron Hain

‘Umrao Jaan’ brought a new fervor of classical music from Khayyam’s kit. Each musical note of the songs were so graciously composed that the songs still creates a magical and enchanting effect on any music lover. Asha Bhosle rendered few of her best songs for ‘Umrao Jaan’ and the film will always be remembered for the Khayyam and Asha Bhosle magnum opus.

Rekha in 'Dil Cheeze Kya Hai' from 'Umrao Jaan'

Rekha in ‘Dil Cheeze Kya Hai’ from ‘Umrao Jaan’

‘Dil Cheeze Kya Hai’, ‘In Aankhon Ki Masti’, ‘Justuju Jiski Thi’, ‘Yeh Ka Jagah Hai Doston’ are some of the magnificent tracks from ‘Umrao Jaan’.

Kabhi Kisiko Mukammal Jahaan Nahi Milta
Kabhi Zameen To Kabhi Aasmaan Nahi Milta

Penned by Nida Fazli, Khayyam composed this evergreen song for ‘Ahista Ahista’ in 1981. ‘Mana Teri Nazar Mein’, ‘Bin Bulaaye Hum Chale Aaye’, ‘Nazar Se Phool Chunti Hai Nazar’ are all stupendous tracks from the film. Khayyam’s brilliance and rich execution of notes were evident in all his compositions from ‘Ahista Ahista’.

Khayyam with Rekha

Khayyam with Rekha

Rajesh Khanna and Hema Mailini’s ‘Dard’ is another groundbreaking film for Khayyam. The tracks ‘Pyar Ka Dard Hai Meetha Meetha Pyara Pyara’, ‘Na Jaane Kya Hua Jo Tune Choo Liya’, ‘Qubool Kijiye’, ‘Aisi Haseen Chandni’ all became popular songs during the era. Even the song ‘Karoge Yaad To Har Baat Yaad Aayegi’ from ‘Bazaar’ in 1982 is another brilliant composition by Khayyam. The song was revived again in another album after almost 13 years.

Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein Khayal Aata Hai
Ke Jaise Tujhko Banaya Gaya Hai Mere Liye

Yash Chopra’s ‘Kabhie Kabhie’ was a thorough musical treat and each of its renditions remains to be evergreen even today. The songs topped the charts in the year of 1976 and became a rage among the music lovers. ‘Tere Chehre Se Nazar Nahi Hat Ti’, ‘Main Pal Do Pal Ka Shayar Hun’, ‘Mere Ghar Aayi Ek Nanhi Pari’ were all smashing hits. ‘Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein Khayal Aata Hai’ has been termed to be one of the best romantic melodies ever created in Bollywood.

Khayyam with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh

Khayyam with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh

Khayyam’s songs are not only rich with beautiful notes but it always had a wide space for equally enriched poetry. He worked closely with all his lyricists and in his prolonged career of almost four decades, he has worked with legendary as well as contemporary lyricists.

He won the National Award for Best Music Direction and also the Filmfare Award for ‘Umrao Jaan’. He also won the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award. He did bag another Filmfare Award for the film ‘Kabhie Kabhie’ in 1976.

Khayyam celebrated his 86th birthday in 2013. His music will always be remembered for his evergreen, rich and elegant classical touch.

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