O. P. Nayyar : The Timeless Composer

O. P. Nayyar

O. P. Nayyar

Leke Pehla Pehla Pyar
Bharke Aankhon Mein Khumaar
Jaadunagri Se Aaya Hai Koi Jaadugar

Rendered by Mohammad Rafi, Asha Bhosle and Shamshad Begum for Guru Dutt’s CID in 1956, ‘Leke Pehla Pehla Pyar’ still echoes in our hearts and depicts the unbeatable musical brilliance of composer O. P. Nayyar. He ruled the charts during the 1950s and 1960s and was considered as one of the most trendiest composers during the contemporary era.

O. P. Nayyar was born on the 16th of January in 1926 at Lahore in the undivided India as Omprakash Prasad Nayyar. He spent the initial 21 years of his life in Pakistan before partition. He used to take part in a children’s programme in the All India Radio, Lahore, from the tender age of 12 only.

O. P. Nayyar

O. P. Nayyar

O. P. Nayyar came from a respectable educated family full of doctors, lawyers and barristers. But he was one child who had no inclination towards studies. He skipped his college examination and was thrashed badly by his father for being a careless student. Later, he acknowledged to his father that he is completely disinterested towards attaining any further education.

One of the friends of Nayyar, S. N. Bhatia, introduced him to producer D. M. Pancholi. Pancholi offered Nayyar to work as an assistant to Pandit Amarnath, the then composer working under Pancholi’s banner. O. P. Nayyar, being highly ambitious, rejected the offer as he directly wanted a break as an independent composer.

After a few years, in 1951, Pancholi again offered him to compose music for his film ‘Aasmaan’. Before getting an opportunity to work as an independent composer in ‘Aasmaan’, he composed background score for ‘Kaneez’. O. P. Nayyar spent a prolonged period of time struggling in the industry when he had no work and no money to even feed his new born.

He went on to compose for ‘Chham Chama Chham’ in 1952 and ‘Baaz’ in 1953. But his real chartbusters and groundbreaking superhit songs came in 1954 with Guru Dutt’s ‘Aar Paar’.

Kabhi Aar Kabhi Paar Lagaa Tire Nazar
Saiyaan Ghayal Kiya Re Tune Mora Jigar

Penned by Majrooh Sultanpuri and rendered by Shamshad Beghum, this song is still one of the most recognisable songs from Guru Dutt’s ‘Aar Paar’. It was a hat-rick for O. P. Nayyar and Guru Dutt as they gave back to back successful musical hits of ‘Aar Paar’ in 1954, ‘Mr. and Mrs. 55′ in 1955 and ‘CID’ in 1956.

O. P. Nayyar can also be credited for making Shamshad Begum render some of the most versatile and out-of-the-box tracks for him.

He was a composer who was greatly inspired by Ghulam Haider’s rhythmic Punjabi beats and New Theatres’ music with the Bengali melody. Pankaj Mullick, R. C. Boral and Timir Baran were the three mastermind musicians at the New Theatres from whom O. P. Nayyar drew his major inspiration.

'Babuji Dheere Chalna' from 'CID'

‘Babuji Dheere Chalna’ from ‘CID’

Babuji Dheere Chalna
Pyar Mein Zaraa Sambhalnaa
Haan…Bade Dhoke Hain
Bade Dhoke Hain Iss Raah Mein

Sung by Geeta Dutt, it was a masterpiece track composed by O. P. Nayyar for ‘CID’. ‘Babuji Dheere Chalna’ was composed in 1954 but it still instills the modern feel of music through its composition.

Kahiin Pe Nigaahein Kahiin Pe Nishaana
Jeene Do Zaalim Banaao Na Deewaana

In 1956, O. P. Nayyar composed for another Guru Dutt flick, ‘CID’ starring Dev Anand and Waheeda Rahman. ‘Aankhon Hi Aankhon Mein Ishaara Ho Gaya, Baithe Baithe Jeene Ka Sahara Ho Gaya’ by Mohammad Rafi and Geeta Dutt and the famous symbolic song ‘Kahiin Pe Nigaahe Kahiin Pe Nishaana’ by Shamshad Begum are evergreen tracks composed by O. P. Nayyar for CID. The film was a blockbuster success and so was the music.

O. P. Nayyar with Asha Bhosle and Mohammad Rafi

O. P. Nayyar with Asha Bhosle and Mohammad Rafi

All India Radio, during this era had put a ban on O. P. Nayyar’s compositions blaming them to be too modern and trendy. However, Radio Ceylon took full advantage of the ban and played Nayyar’s songs in full swing on their stations. Nayyar’s songs were not only loved but were also relished by the audiences.

Shasadhar Mukherjee’s ‘Tumsa Nahi Dekha’ starring Shammi Kapoor was another major movie for O. P. Nayyar that made headlines all over. ‘Tumsa Nahi Dekha’ was just another major hit by him.

Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu
Chin Chin Chu Baba Chin Chin Chu
Raat Chandni Main Aur Tu
Hello Mister How Do You Do

Shakti Samanta’s 1958 release ‘Howrah Bridge’ had this song by Geeta Dutt, which is a forever youthful track that can never get old. The random lyrics along with the playful tune makes it an evergreen composition by O. P. Nayyar.

'Mera Naam Hai Chin Chin Chu' from 'Howrah Bridge'

‘Mera Naam Hai Chin Chin Chu’ from ‘Howrah Bridge’

‘Aaiye Meherbaan’ by Asha Bhosle is also another utterly sensuous track from the same movie. With Madhubala’s enchanting performance the song created magic on screen. The beat that follows the word ‘Meherbaan’ in the song is brilliantly arranged so that it comes out as the sound made by glasses in a rhythmic tone. It was simply the versatility of the composer to come out with something like that in the non-digital era.

Yeh Hai Reshmi Zulfon Ka Andhera Na Ghabraiye
Jahaan Tak Mahek Hai Mere Kesuon Ki Chale Aaiye

Asha Bhosle rendered this rich and exquisite track with the O. P. Nayyar’s most mellifluous composition for ‘Mere Sanam’ in 1965. The movie had other equally sensual tracks like ‘Jaaiye Aap Kahaan Jaayenge’ by Asha Bhosle and ‘Pukaarta Chala Hun Main’ by Mohammad Rafi.

O. P. Nayyar’s main leading male singer had always been Mohammad Rafi and among the female singers he preferred Geeta Dutt and Asha Bhosle. He never worked with Lata Mangeshkar as he believed that Mangeshkar’s ‘thin’ voice would not suit his tunes.

In 1966, Mohammad Rafi and O. P. Nayyar had a major fall out during the recording of Shakti Samanta’s ‘Sawan Ki Ghata’. Rafi appeared late at Nayyar’s recording and cited the reason of being busy at another recording. An angry Nayyar immediately cancelled the recording and called off their association. He vowed never to work with Mohammad Rafi again and went on to record songs with Mahendra Kapoor, making him a mainstream singer. However, after three years, they patched up again following an apology from Rafi.

O. P. Nayyar with Mohammad Rafi

O. P. Nayyar with Mohammad Rafi

It is quite clear that without the backing of O. P. Nayyar probably Asha Bhosle could never have become a singer of this altitude. Lata Mangeshkar and Geeta Dutt were still the ruling queens at the charts that time. It was O. P. Nayyar who preferred and made Asha Bhosle render the best songs of her prolonged singing career and brought her in limelight. Although, due to rift between the composer and singer during the 1970s, Asha Bhosle never give Nayyar’s due compliment to him. She credits B. R. Chopra for getting her first musical hits in ‘Naya Daur’ rather than the composer of the film.

O. P. Nayyar with Asha Bhosle

O. P. Nayyar with Asha Bhosle

Aao Huzoor Tumko Sitaaron Mein Le Chalun
Dil Jhum Jaaye Aisi Bahaaron Mein Le Chalun

In 1968, O. P. Nayyar again delivered another magnificient piece with Asha Bhosle for Manmohan Desai’s ‘Kismat’. Even ‘Kajra Mohabbat Waala, Ankhiyon Mein Aisa Daala’ by Shamshad Begum and Asha Bhosle is an unconventional track from the same movie.

A Clip of 'Kajra Mohabbat Waala' from 'Kismat'

A Clip of ‘Kajra Mohabbat Waala’ from ‘Kismat’

Who can forget ‘Yahi Wo Jagah Hai, Yahi Wo Fiza Hai’ from the 1966 release ‘Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi’ or the complete opposite ‘Yeh Chaand Sa Roshan Chehra’ from Kashmir Ki Kali? Both composed by O. P. Nayyar signifies his musical excellence.

Shammi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore from 'Kashmir Ki Kali'

Shammi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore from ‘Kashmir Ki Kali’

O. P. Nayyar always believed that 50% of credit for a song’s success should be credited to the lyricist, the other 25% should go to the singer and to the orchestra whereas only the remaining 25% of the credit should stay with the music director.

O. P Nayyar also holds the record of never working with Lata Mangeshkar in his lifetime. He is the only composer of his contemporary period who left behind a successful musical trend without even a strike of Lata Mangeshkar’s voice.

O. P. Nayyar with Lata Mangeshkar, Usha Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle

O. P. Nayyar with Lata Mangeshkar, Usha Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle

O. P. Nayyar was also famous for being a stubborn and arrogant composer. He was probably the first music director of Bollywood to charge a compensation that went up to a lakh of rupees during the black and white era. Even during his declining period, he didn’t accept any offer less than his demands and the world of music saw his musical sunset almost as instantly as they had witnessed his sudden rise and ride.

O. P. Nayyar

O. P. Nayyar

He spent his last days in considerable financial difficulties which compelled him to turn into a homeopath consultant from a music composer. It was his close association with television director Gajendra Singh that brought him to major limelight again when he appeared on the small screen as a judge on Zee TV’s Sa Re Ga Ma Pa. His trademark style of wearing a black hat and white shirt on the show made him easily recognisable among the masses.

O. P. Nayyar suffered from heart attack and took his last breath on the 28th of January 2007 at the age of 81. His music still rules the hearts of numerous people and he is still living among us through his evergreen compositions.

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