Uttam Singh : The One Whose Violin Sings

Uttam Singh

Uttam Singh

Uttam Singh is one of the finest violinist of India who later turned to be a successful music composer and arranger. Known for his famous musical hit ‘Dil To Paagal Hai’, the man’s journey spreads through decades as a violin player from the era of ‘Paakezah’, where he worked under legendary composer Naushad Ali.

Uttam Singh was born on May 25th 1948. He migrated to Mumbai along with his family at the age of 12. His father was an adept sitar player and used to perform in Gurudwaras in order to earn enough for the family’s livelihood. Uttam Singh started learning ‘tabla’ and ‘violin’ from an early age.

In 1963, Uttam Singh got the first break of his life as a violinist for Mohammad Safi’s documentary, where he was appointed as an assistant to Naushad Ali. He went on to become a regular part of Naushad Ali’s team. He also has been a violinist in Naushad’s compositions for the infamous ‘Pakeezah’.

Uttam Singh has worked with almost all the musical experts of the country spreading through generations. His violin has been played for Naushad Ali, Madan Mohan, Roshan, S. D. Burman, C. Ramachandra and also R. D. Burman.

When The Violin Sings:

Har Taraf Yahi Afsaane Hain
Hum Tere Aankhon Ke Deewane Hain

The song was composed by Madan Mohan for Chetan Anand’s 1973 release ‘Hindustan Ki Kasam’. Gyan Verma was the chief arranger during the recording. Madan Mohan, dissatisfied with the proceedings asked the arranger to put a halt to the music. However, the budding violin player in the team, kept on playing his violin. As the tune got completed, Madan Mohan ordered him to repeat the tune.

Uttam Singh with his violin

Uttam Singh with his violin

The young lad feared a backlash from the eminent composer, but instead he was surprised when Madan Mohan instructed the arranger to include the piece in the song! Uttam Singh’s violin sang for decades until he became an arranger and composer himself.

Association with Raamlaxman:
Uttam Singh is known for his association with composer Raamlaxman. He was the music arranger for the composer in Rajshri Production’s blockbuster superhits ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ in 1989 and ‘Hum Aapke Hain Kaun’ in 1994. He paired up with his associate Jagdish Khanna and together they arranged music for almost 65 films which were not only in Hindi, but also in Tamil, Malayalam, Punjabi, Konkan and Gujarati languages.

Uttam Singh with Jagjit Singh

Uttam Singh with Jagjit Singh

Uttam-Jagdish- The Musical Duo:
Manoj Kumar’s ‘Painter Babu’ in 1983 was the first venture of the musical duo Uttam- Jagdish. The film didn’t do well at the box office, although the music was well accepted. ‘Kab Talak Shama Jali’ from ‘Painter Babu’ is a notable track from the film sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Mahendra Kapoor.

They later again composed for Manoj Kumar’s ‘Clerk’. ‘Main Ek Clerk Hun’ from the movie ‘Clerk’ was a well appreciated track during those days.

Uttam Singh with Music Director Mrinal Bandopadhyay

Uttam Singh with music director Mrinal Bandopadhyay

In 1988, they again composed for ‘Waaris’. The film starred eminent actors like Smita Patil, Raj Babbar, Amrish Puri and others. The tracks ‘Ghataa Chaa Gayi Hai Bahaar Aa Gayi Hai’ or ‘Mere Pyar Ki Umar Ho Itni’ are still loved and played frequently by the listeners.
In 1992, his long time companion Jagdish Khanna passed away and Uttam Singh continued as an independent composer.

Dil To Pagal Hai – The Big Break:
Uttam Singh got his biggest break in 1997 with Yash Chopra’s ‘Dil To Paagal Hai’. The movie was a musical super hit and it also broke records at the box office. All the tracks from the movie were smashing hits.

Dil To Paagal Hai (Poster)

Dil To Paagal Hai (Poster)

‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ (Lata Mangeshkar and Udit Narayan), ‘Bholi Si Surat’ (Udit Narayan), ‘Pyar Kar’ (Lata Mangeshkar and Udit Narayan), ‘Dholna’ (Lata Mangeshkar and Udit Narayan), ‘Ek Duje Ke Vaste’ (Lata Mangeshkar and Hariharan), and ‘Le Gayi’ (Asha Bhosle) broke the records at the chartbusters that year. ‘Dil To Paagal Hai’ is still regarded as Uttam Singh’s biggest success till date.

He also received the Filmfare Award for Best Music Director in 1997 for ‘Dil To Paagal Hai’.

‘Awaz Do Humko’ – The Journey Continues:
In 1998, he composed for Tanuja Chandra’s ‘Dushman’ starring Kajol in pivotal role. Dushman’s music was also well appreciated and ‘Awaz Do Humko’ by Lata Mangeshkar and Udit Narayan, is one of the most popular tracks from the film. Other successful tracks from the film were ‘Chitthi Na Koi Sandesh’ sung by Jagjit Singh and ‘Pyar Ko Ho Jaane Do’ by Kumar Sanu and Lata Mangeshkar.

In 1999, he composed for ‘Hum Tumpe Marte Hain’ and Malayalam film ‘Prem Poojari’ directed by Hariharan.

Uttam Singh during recording of 'Prem Poojari' (Image Courtesy: rediff.com)

Uttam Singh during recording of ‘Prem Poojari’ (Image Courtesy: rediff.com)

Gadar – Ek Prem Katha: A Milestone
In 2001, Uttam Singh landed up with another milestone success, ‘Gadar-Ek Prem Katha’. The movie was a landmark success at the box office with super hit music in its store. ‘Ud Ja Kale Kava’ from the film became an overnight success. The track had a folk touch to it and took almost a month to get composed! Uttam Singh himself confessed that the ace composer Naushad Ali also patted him for the composition of the song.

A Still from 'Gadar- Ek Prem Katha'

A still from ‘Gadar- Ek Prem Katha’

Gadar’s soundtrack also consisted of masterpieces like ‘Main Nikla Gaddi Leke’ which was again a super hit track by Udit Narayan. Other tracks include, ‘Musafir Jaane Waale’, ‘Hum Juda Ho Gaye’, and ‘Aan Milo Sajna’.

In 2003, he continued composing music for films like ‘Pinjar’, ‘Baghban’ (With Aadesh Shrivastav) and ‘The Hero: Love Story of A Spy’. All the tracks from these movies were well appreciated and were contemporary hits as well.

‘Dil Mein Hai Pyar’, ‘In Mast Nigaho Se’ from ‘The Hero: Love Story of A Spy’ are two notable tracks from the film.

‘Meri Makhna’, ‘Chali Chali’, ‘Holi Khele Raghuvira’, ‘Main Yahan Tu Wahaan’ are some of the renowned tracks from ‘Baghban’.

‘Shaba Ni Shaba’, ‘Maar Udari’, ‘Charkha Chalati Maa’, ‘Haath Choote’, ‘Darda Marya’ are noteworthy tracks from ‘Pinjar’.

Non-Filmy Album:
Uttam Singh also composed music for his non-filmy album named as ‘Om Sai Ram’ in 1996. The music of the album also well received.
Comeback After A Decade:
It is reported that, Uttam Singh will make a comeback in 2013 with the film ‘Rajjo’, starring Kangana Ranaut and Mahesh Manjarekar.

Uttam Singh will be playing the violin himself again after a prolonged gap of years for the movie. The recording of the soundtrack for ‘Rajjo’ has been done at the Abbey Road Studios, London.

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