Veteran Bollywood music composer and Padma Bhushan Mohammed Zahur Khayyam Hashmi passing away is a great loss to film industry. Khayyam’s songs touched the hearts of generations.
Khayyam made Rekha’s Umrao Jaan magically adorn the silver screen with his subtle tunes like ‘Dil Cheez kya hai’. Khayyam ji began his musical career at a mere age of 17 years. However, he got his big break with Umrao Jaan post which he was able to carve a niche for himself in the film industry. He made angry young man Amitabh Bachchan unravel his transfixing emotional side while singing ‘Kabhi Kabhi mere Dil Mein’. His first break was as a singer in the Chisti Baba-composed “Dono Jahaan Teri Mohabbat,” a duet with Zohrabai Ambalewali in “Romeo And Juliet.”He carved a niche for himself by composing some of the most popular songs. He was also invited to compose a Ghalib album on the poet’s centenary and scored the famous “Yeh Na Thi Hamari Qismat” in two distinct ways for Mohammed Rafi and Begum Akhtar respectively. Besides Umrao Jaan, for which he won a National Award, Khayyam composed tunes for Shola aur Shabnam, Noorie , Bazaar , Dil-e-Nadaan and Thodi si Bewafai etc. He was also a recipient of Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. His compositions were soulful, melodious and emotional, the songs were rich in poetry and purpose and the style was noticeably different from the popular brand of music in those days, which used to be either semi-classical, ghazal or light and peppy. With a career spanning through the ‘golden era’ of Hindi film industry, Khayyam has given music which will be remembered through the annals of time as the most soothing and haunting music ever. Khayyam is known in the Hindi film industry to have been very ‘choosy’ and a ‘perfectionist.’ While making music for the film, ‘Shola Aur Shabnam,’ he brought to life the poetry of Kaifi Azmi by providing music that complimented the lyrics and did not overpower it. He has worked with both the contemporary and the legends in the field of poetry.
PM Modi has rightly twitted that “India will remain grateful to Khayyam Sahab for giving us some of the most memorable compositions, which will be remembered forever. He will also be remembered for his humanitarian gestures to support upcoming artists. His demise is extremely saddening.” The immaculate knowledge of ragas and a wondrous understanding of lyrics resulted in songs like Kabhi kabhi. Khayyam was a familiar name amongst the list of music composers and he had to his credit non-film songs in multiple genres like ghazal, bhajan, geet, Gurbani and naat (Muslim devotional). The composer has always believed in one God as a nucleus of power from where all the different religions and deities evolved, and to which every kind of worship leads. It is said that the song ‘Akele mein wo ghabrate to Honge’ sung by Mohammed Rafi in the film ‘Biwi’ was considered to be a rage of its time and Khayyam went to the movie theatre to see the reaction of the audience and was surprised when the women watching the movie began crying during the song.
Khayyam’s track-record of less than 50 films, nine television serials, and about 200 non-film songs in over six decades is clear evidence that he has always been choosy about work. Composers like him come once in a lifetime. His purely melodious songs will remain etched in us forever.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)