Sonik-Omi : A Musical Struggle



The city of Mumbai has been known to witness and test the potentials and patience of artists. This city has seen the struggle, birth and death of numerous talents. Being the creative pool of India, Mumbai isn’t a place for easy survival.

Towards the starting of 1950s, a man without any sight or vision stepped his foot in Mumbai (previously Bombay) accompanied by another young lad with the aim to become a singer. The duo struggled to strive hard and get one chance to demonstrate their talent. But luck and fate both turned a blind eye towards them. Their days at Mumbai not only consisted of hardship but also included starvation and constant failure. And this has been the inception of the success that was yet to come their way.

Popularly known as Master Sonik and his young nephew Omi (Om Prakash Sharma), appeared in Mumbai during the early 1950s. The pair of uncle-nephew was irregular and unconventional at that time as Master Sonik was already a sightless man with a brilliant voice and Omi as his accompany was too young to be recognised.

They came to Mumbai for the first time to complete a recording contract at the M. N. T Studios of Mumbai. The duo later landed up in a small hut consisting of one single tiny room several miles away from Thane.

In 1951, Master Sonik finally got his desired break as a music director in movies like ‘Mamta’, ‘Mehfil’ and ‘Ishwar Bhakti’. However, all his movies failed to deliver at the box office and he was reduced again to a B-grade music director with minor or no work in hand. Survival again become difficult and even the mere necessities were beyond any reach. Even a proper meal once in a day wasn’t in their fate. Soon, Omi found out a job in a female chorus group . He accepted the offer to get rid of starvation.

Sonik-Omi with Mohammad Rafi, Rupesh Kumar and Verma Malik

Sonik-Omi with Mohammad Rafi, Rupesh Kumar and Verma Malik

After a prolonged struggle, fate finally smiled at them when Master Sonik was spotted and appointed as an arranger by Madan Mohan in his troupe. He went on to arrange music for other maestros like S. D. Burman as well. During the same time, Omi too got the job of being an assistant to Roshan. He assisted Roshan in movies like ‘Taj Mahal’, ‘Barsaat Ki Raat’, ‘Aarti’ and many more.

Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya (Poster)

Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya (Poster)

In the 1965, G. L. Rawal appointed the duo for composing the songs of his upcoming Dharmendra and Nutan starred movie ‘Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya’. The tracks ‘Aaja Re Pyar Pukaare’, ‘Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya’, ‘Main Suraj Hun Tu Meri Kiran’, ‘Kaliyon Ne Ghunghat Khole’, were noteworthy from the film. The soundtrack of the movie was appreciated a lot after its release. However, still the duo of Sonik-Omi were deprived of good opportunities in the industry.

In 1968, G. L. Rawal again signed them for his movie ‘Aabroo’. ‘Jinhe Hum Bhoolna Chahe Woh Aksar Yaad Aate Hain’ is a soft emotional track from the movie that met a lot of accolades. ‘Har Chehra Yahaan Chaand Hai Har Zarra Sitaara’ by Mohammad Rafi is another notable track from the movie.

They went on to provide music for films like ‘Beti’ in 1969 and the song ‘Kaha Re Kanha’ from ‘Truck Driver’ by Lata Mangeshkar became famous.

‘Kitna Hai Suna Suna’ from ‘Mehmil’ was a song that was sung by Omi himself. ‘Dono Ne Kiya Tha Pyar Magar Mujhe Yaad Raha Tu Bhool Gayi’ from ‘Mahua’ by Mohammad Rafi was one of the successful tracks from the bag of the duo.

Their fortune again was lighted up when Mohan Segal offered them to compose music for his Rekha starred movie ‘Sawan Bhado’. With ‘Sawan Bhaado’ their career took a major turn and produced hit tracks like ‘Kaan Mein Jhumka Chaal Mein Thumka’ by Mohammad Rafi, ‘Aankhein Meri Maikhaana’, ‘Mera Mann Ghabraye’, and ‘Akhiya Naa Maar’ by Asha Bhosle.

‘Desh Tera Bhagwaan Hai Sunle Naujawaan’ from ‘Dharti Ki God Mein’ in 1968 is another distinguished track from Sonik-Omi. This movie gave them the opportunity to compose music for a different genre of patriotism.

Dharma (Poster)

Dharma (Poster)

In 1973, they got the opportunity to compose music for the movie ‘Dharma’. The qawali track ‘Raaz Ki Baat Keh Doon To Jaane Mehfil Mein Kya Ho’ by Mohammad Rafi and Asha Bhosle turned a lot of heads after its release. For composing this track Sonik-Omi took inspiration from a real life incident. They were invited as honourable judges in a qawali competition in Mumbai. However, the competition took a bad turn when the contestants started arguing fiercely and attacked each other with knives and weapons. Sonik-Omi being irked and miffed with the clashes at the competition decided to take their leave from the event. Later, they claimed that this event inspired them to compose the infamous qawali track from ‘Dharma’.

‘Sansaar Hai Ek Nadiya’, a duet of Mukesh and Asha Bhosle from the 1974 release ‘Raftaar’ won the hearts of many. ‘Yaad Rahega Woh Rangeen Nazaara’ from ‘Umar Qaid’ in 1975 is another beautiful track by Sonik-Omi.

The 1978 release ‘Chawki No. 11′ had a rare piece of mujra ‘Kahiin Ho Na Mohalle Mein Halla’ featuring Zarina Wahab and sung by Shobha Gurtu. This would be Sonik-Omi’s another example of unconventional composition.

Their last movie together had been Nagarjuna’s ‘Biwi No. 2′ in 2000.

The man who has been blind ever since birth never lost hope and continued his struggle until he achieved what he was destined for. Master Sonik is remembered for his strain and battle against the fate who made music the light his eyes were seeking for. After a prolonged toil and hardship the duo of Sonik-Omi finally did achieve their dream and established themselves as successful composers among the talented crowd of the music industry in Mumbai.

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