Ismail was born into a musical family in Surat, Gujarat. His family is the fourth generation of their musical heritage. Ismail's father was Hussain was a clarinet and saxophone player. Ismail took his initial music lessons from his father. Before turning into music direction, Ismail was a session violist, who played violin for many music directors like Jatin-Lalit, A. R. Rahman, R. D. Burman, Kalyanji-Anandji, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Nadeem-Shravan, Anand-Milind and Rajesh Roshan.
At the age of 14, Ismail came to Mumbai, where he furthered his music lessons from Pandit Ramprasad Sharma (father of composer Pyarelal of Laxmikant-Pyarelal duo). Later he also took music lessons from Ganesh (son of Pandit). Ismail is master in violin. He worked as session violinist for nine years for various renowned music directors.
After working for so many years along with various music directors, a wish to become an independent music director was generated in his mind and he started struggling to find a new job as music director. It was not an easy run for Ismail Darbar. A good luck came to his way when he met to the ace film maker Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Singer Kunal recommended Ismail to Bhansali for his film Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Bhansali get impressed with Ismail's work and signed him as music director for his film. Ismail previously had played violin Bhansali's musical film Khamoshi. We can say that it was a big break for Ismail because Bhansali is one of ace director, who's every film is like milestone. Bhansali had deep knowledge in music, who's every film includes a beautiful music.
It was his first film. He came to recognition from his very first film. Every song from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam was a hit. The film along with stars like Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Ajay Devgan was a hit. While its music also created a rage in country. Another interesting thing about the film is that lyrics for the film were written by Mehboob, who is Ismail's old friend. When Ismail was struggling to become a music director, he didn't have any lyricist with him. To help his friend, Mehboob came forward and penned lyrics for him.
After Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Ismail and Sanjay Leela Bhansali become quite friends. They later worked together in Devdas, which was again a hit film with hit songs like 'Dola Re Dola', 'Bairi Piya' and 'Maar Daala, Allaah Maar Daala'. Ismail later on gave hit numbers in films like Tera Jaadu Chal Gaya (2000) and Kisna (2005). His other noted films include Shakti (2002), Deewangee (2002), Baaz: A Bird in Danger (2003) and Kudiyon Ka Hai Zamana (2006).
Ismail's hit compositions includes songs like 'Tera Jaadu Chal Gaya' (Tera Jadoo Chal Gayaa), 'Woh Kisna Hai' (Kisna), 'Chilman Uthegi Nahin' (Kisna), 'Aankhon Ki Gustaakhiyaan', 'Tadap Tadap Ke Iss Dil Se', 'Dholi Taaro Dhol Baaje', 'Nimbuda' from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.
In 2005, Ismail appeared as judge on Zee TV's 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2005' program along with other judges Aadesh Shrivastav, Jatin-Lalit and Himesh Reshammiya. Later also in 2007, he appeared as judge on 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2007' along with other judges Vishal-Shekhar, Bappi Lahiri and Himesh Reshammiya.
Although the man is doing lesser films, he wants to stick to his quality. His upcoming movies as music director includes Oldd Iss Goldd and Ssimran.
Ismail Darbar - Popular Compositions