Khaiyyam is one of the respected music directors of India. Khaiyyam is best remembered for is songs in Rekha starrer 'Umrao Jaan'. Songs from the film 'In Aankhon Ki Masti Ko' and 'Dil Cheez Kya Hai' created rage in the country. Khaiyyam always wanted to become an actor. Although he didn't make big in acting, he scored high in music. Khaiyyam won National Award as Best Music Direction for film Umrao Jaan (1981).
Mohammad Zahoor Hashimi, who is popularly known as Khaiyyam, was born on February 18, 1927 in a village Rahon of Jullundur, Punjab. Khaiyyam inclined towards music since his childhood. He never had interest in studies. He was always influenced by Hindi cinema. He was used to run away to city and catch the latest movie. As a child he always dreamt of becoming an actor. With the dream of becoming an actor, Khaiyyam ran away from home and reached Delhi at his Uncle's house. His Uncle realized his passion for movies and music and allowed him to learn music.
Khaiyyam learned music from Pandit Amar Nath, while he later also learned it from music composer duo Husnlal-Bhagatram. In 1943, he joined army to earn money for living, but he left it in 1945 when World War II was over. Later he went to Lahore with the hope of becoming an actor. There he met to the music director G.A. Chisti, whose compositions he used listen in his childhood. Upon meeting him, Khaiyyam rendered some of Chisti's composition to him, with which Chisti get impressed and offered him to join him as an assistant. Khaiyyam assisted him till India-Pakistan partition. Chisti remained in Lahore, while Khaiyyam went to Bombay (Mumbai).
In Mumbai, Khaiyyam get his first chance as an actor with S. D. Narang's film Yeh Hai Zindagi in 1947. But followed by it, he didn't receive more assignments as an actor and again started working as an assistant. He assisted many music composers like Bulo C Rani, Husnlal-Bhagatram and Aziz Khan. Khaiyyam also had done some singing. He had sung the duet 'Dono Jahaan Teri Muhabbat Mein Haar Ke' along with Zohrabai Ambalawali in film Romeo & Juilet (1947).
Khaiyyam got his first break as independent music director with Zia Sarhadi's film Foothpath in 1953. it has best music, especially the song 'Shaam-e-Gham Ki Kasam' become most popular. Followed by it he did several films, but none of them made big like Foothpath. In 1958, he composed music for Phir Subah Hogi, with which he gave hit songs like 'Chin-o-Arab Hamaara' and 'Woh Subah Kabhi To Aayegi'. While Khaiyyam get his first major hit with the film Shola Aur Shabnam in 1961.
After a long gap, he came back with the film Kabhi Kabhi in 1975. It was his another musical hit. With this film Khaiyyam once again arrived in the industry. The film brought him in the front league. After 'Kabhi Kabhi', he successfully lent compositions in films like Shankar Hussain, Trishul, Noori, Chambal Ki Kasam, Thodi Si Bewafaayi, Dard and Aahista Aahista.
In 1981, he again had shown his mastery with the classic film Umraao Jaan. All the song from the film became popular and especially the mujra songs 'In Aankhon Ki Masti Ke' and 'Dil Cheez Kya Hai'. The film fetched him a National Award as Best Music Director.
Besides film music, Khaiyyam also had composed music for many non-film albums for singers like Mohammad Rafi and Talat Mehmood. He also had lent music for wife Jagjit Kaur's non-film albums. Khaiyyam never took many assignments at a time. He has worked on around 50 films, in the career of over 50 years. But although he had worked on very few films in his career, all his compositions are simply a delight to ears.