Remembering Mughal-e-Azam’s Music

August 22, 2010

Travesty of missing the Filmfare award

Mughal-e-AzamThis is the Golden Jubilee year of Mughal-e-Azam (1960), and the media, both print and electronic, is rightly full of the movie. Everything about the film was superlative – its lavish production, awesome battle scenes with thousands of camels, horses and soldiers (there were no computer generated imaging those days), great acting by all the lead players Prithviraj Kapur (Akbar), Dilip Kumar (Salim) and Madhubala (Anarkali), grand ornate dialogues, and above all its timeless music composed by Naushad. But all the stories in the media have missed what Sherlock Holmes would have called the most significant thing about the film – that is, the Filmfare award for the best music director which Naushad did not win. The composers who beat him to it were the duo Shankar Jaikishan for Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayee.

Like everything else about Mughal-e-Azam, the music also had to be opulent and of epic proportions. Naushad also had the challenge of surpassing C Ramchandra’s Anarkali (1953). So if Tansen’s ragini had to waft through the lovers’ secret rendezvouz, it had to be who else but Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan singing Prem jogan ban ke. Ustad Saheb would have nothing to do with film music, so to ward off approaches made to him, he quoted some humungous amount, several times more than what was paid to Lata and Rafi. Naushad instantly agreed. Another piece the Ustad sang was Shubh din ayo. Naushad had earlier worked magic with doyen of classical singers DV Paluskar and Amir Khan in Baiju Bawra (1952) with Aj gawat man mero jhum ke in Raag Desi.

If an expensive sheesh mahal had to be erected just for picturisation of one song, so be it. The song Jab pyar kiya to darna kya is an eternal metaphor for a lover’s defiance of a stubborn authority. The Emperor Akbar’s silent rage at this challenge, the mother Jodha Bai’s (Durga Khote) understanding the gravity of the situation and Salim’s surprised admiration at Anarkali’s courage are unforgettable images from this song.

Krishna lore has inspired many great film songs. But Mohe panghat pe Nandlal ched gayo re (Lata) enacted so beautifully on the screen by Madhubhala remains unsurpassed. Shakeel Badayuni has been credited as the lyricist of this song too. As a matter of fact this is a much older traditional composition, predating Shakeel Badayuni’s arrival by several years. Ignoring this matter of a little detail, what is remarkable is the way Naushad adapted the traditional classic to film medium with a little tweaking of the Raag and making it incredibly beautiful in the voice of Lata. Compare the film version of Mohe panghat pe Nandlal ched gayo re with a very old recording of 78 rpm era sung by Indubala, who belonged to the earliest era of female singers such as Gauhar Jan, Angurbala and Kamla Jharia, whose gramophone records became famous much before the advent of sound films:

Lata Mangeshkar sings Mohe panghat pe Nandlal ched gayo re

Indubala sings Mohe panghat pe Nandlal ched gayo re

The qawwali duet Teri mehfil mein kismet azma kar by Lata and Shamshad, presented on the screen by the pure Madhubala and her jealous rival Nigar Sultana for the prince’s love, brings to life their different world view of ‘love’ – one, all conquering, and the other, all sacrificing. Other Lata numbers – Mohabbat ki jhuthi kahani pe roye, Khuda nigehban ho tumhara, Bekas pe karam kijiye – all haunting melodies bring out so beautifully the pain and hopelessness of Madhubala thrown in a dungeon shackled in heavy chains. You are still left with great Lata gems Ye dil ki lagi kam kya hogi and Humein kash tumse mohabbat na hoti.

Though, surprisingly, there are no songs on Dilip Kumar, yet there is a very evocative Rafi number Zindabad, zindabad ae mohabbat zindabad, picturised on the rebel sculptor, who had a great deal of scorn for the ways of the palace. Coming towards the end when Salim was going to be executed for treason for the sake of his love, Ae mohabbat zindabad captures the entire spirit of Mughal-e-Azam in those few minutes.

Naushad was naturally disappointed to be denied the Filmfare award for the best music direction. Shankar Jaikishan’s Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayee did have some good numbers such as, Ajeeb dastan hai ye, Mera dil ab tera o sajna and Jane kahan gayee. But it would be stretching credulity to suggest it was any match to Mughal-e-Azam.

This was not the only time SJ were able to spring such surprises. In 1971 their Pehchan won the Filmfare over Laxmikant Pyarelal’s Do Raste and SD Burman’s Talaash, and most perverse of all, in 1973 their Beiman(!) won over Ghulam Mohammad’s Pakeezah. While SJ’s music ability declined, they were not beyond showing their non-musical prowess. Filmfare and the Times group did not enhance their prestige by such decisions.

It beats me why SJ should have even cared for such things. That they were one of the greatest music directors was never in doubt. With their very first film Barsaat (1949), they came to occupy the top place with Naushad, and dominated the film music for the next 15 years. There is no other instance of such a meteoric entry and such a long domination in the history of film music.

One more or less award does not add or detract anything from Naushad’s contribution to Hindi film music. He is the only one who has given everlasting gems with singers of vintage era such as Saigal, Surendranath, Parul Ghosh, Amirbai Karnataki, Zohra Ambalewali, Noorjehan, Shamshad Begum, Uma Devi (Tuntun) and Suraiya as with singers of golden era such as Lata, Talat, Rafi and Mukesh. I entirely agree with those who regard him as the greatest music director of all time. Mughal-e-Azam was not any film for him, it meant the peak and essence of whatever was in him. Indeed if the movie is a timeless classic, much of it is due to the timeless music of Naushad.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sanjay Prakash September 21, 2010 at 1:21 am

Very true, SJ’s Beimaan scoring over Ghulam Mohammad’s Pakeezah in the Filmfare Awards of 1973 is one of the greatest surprises (and tragedies) of Indian Film Music. Imagine, a score which would figure in anybody’s Top 10 musicals in Hindi Cinema, losing out to a score which did not contain a single memorable number!!! If I remember correctly, Pran had refused to accept the Best Supporting Actor for the movie Beimaan in protest against the absurd result in the Best Music category that year.

Incidentally, in a similar absurdity, Rekha was given the Best Actress Award for Khubsoorat in 1981 and she was humble enough to admit that her performance was no match for Mrs. Jennifer Kendall who actually deserved the award that year for 36 Chowringhee Lane. Since the movie was in English language, it could not be included in the nominations.

2 AK September 21, 2010 at 5:44 pm

@Sanjay Prakash: There would be many more absurdities in Filmfare awards. SJ again got for Suraj in 1967 over SD Burman’s Guide. The apogee of awards, Nobel, ties itself in knots in explaining why it could not give Peace prize to Mahatma Gandhi. I am sure there would be several such surprise cases in Oscars (in fact the last Oscar for the best film was seen as a surprise win).

3 Subodh Agrawal October 11, 2010 at 10:41 pm

As miscarriage of awards goes, Suraj must take the cake. Not only did it beat Guide, but also Mamta and Anupama! Although I must admit that at that time ‘Baharon phool barsao’ was by far the most popular song – even at the age of 14 one got sick of hearing it from loudspeakers at every street corner marriage pandal. Songs of Guide, Mamta and Anupama have, however, endured long after the sun set on suraj.

4 AK October 12, 2010 at 12:17 pm

@Subodh: To tell you frankly I never liked Bahaaro phool barsao. I was surprised at this song being treated as signature wedding song. The older one commonly played Raja ki ayegi baraat from the film Aah was indeed beautiful, and I would rate it as the best ever wedding song. This also happened to be Shankar Jaikishan composition, and therefore, I was always amazed why they had to indulge in shenanigans for awards when their greatness was already established.

5 Naresh pathria February 18, 2011 at 9:56 am

we should never forget that shankar jaikishan was denied for filmfare award for the most memorable evergreen film sangam in the year 1964 the songs of sangam are still very very popular shankar jaikishan was frustrated for not getting the award moreover they were also ignored for jis desh main ganga bahti hai every one is very much familiar with the melodious tunes of this film its more than wonder that for the most musical popular movie arzoo they were denied for the filmfare award even after recommendation songs like bedardi balma aji roothkar e phoolon ki rani chalke teri aankhon se are still very very popular so we should not forget that they have been denied so many times.

6 AM February 25, 2011 at 6:25 am

@ Naresh Pathria: Of the three movies you mentioned, I believe JDMGBH deserved an award the most.

Naushad’s epic Mughal-e-Azam being denied the coveted Filmfare is an injustice without parallel. In fact, in the preceding years, Naushad should already have bagged a few more Filmfares for such memorable scores as Aan, Amar, Udan Khatola & Mother India. A true maestro, indeed.

7 K R Vaishampayan May 22, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Hello AK,
I liked this article on Naushad Sahab and agree with you. Thanks to dirty-behind-the-scene-politics of Hindi Film Industry, he too like many others never got his due. Here are some of my observations.
It is beyond any debate or doubt that Filmfare awards – especially Music were highly suspect. So, least said the better. Although I am an avowed fan of Shankar-Jaikishan, sadly, the duo was awarded for quite a few of their undeserving scores.
Take entire music of Mughal-e-Azam. It was far too superior to be compared to any other movie of 1960, forget Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi.
For that matter, in Son Of India – released just after Dil Apna, had some superlative score by Naushad – e.g. Nanha Munha Rahi Hun or Dil Todane Wale Tujhe Dil Dhoond Raha Hai.
Similarly, music of Anarkali [with due respect to C. Ramchandra’s genius] sounds more like Bhakti Sangeet. I don’t know about others… but using Hemant Kumar’s – Jag-e-Dard for Mia Tansen singing in Akbar’s Court – was completely miscast.
Whereas the 2 classic Thumries rendered by Late Ustad Bade Gulam Ali sahab in Mughal-e-Azam had the rich resonating feel and caliber of legendary singer Mia Tansen’s.
Similarly, I am truly pained at uncalled for and grossly undeserving praise heaped on R D Burman. Undoubtedly he deserved to be called Pancham. But why praise him so much to insinuate that he was more talented than even Sachin Da?
But strange are the ways of Hindi Film industry and the more we expect it to change…the more it remains the same.
Regards – KRV

8 K R Vaishampayan May 22, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Hello AK,
Sorry to bother you once more. Here are few of my RD favourites that come to mind instantly.
Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye Badra Sawariya,
Chura Ke Dil Ban Rahe Ho Bhole,
and Matwali Ankhowale. All beauties from Chhote Nawab 1961 and
Kajare Badarwa Re from Pati Patni 1966 or
O Mere Pyar Aa Ja,
Aao Twist Karen,
Jaago Sonewalon from Bhoot Bangla.
I think that was most melodious of RD with influences of both SD and Saleel Chowdhary clearely evident.
Your views are welcome. Regards – KRV

9 AK May 23, 2011 at 10:00 am

@KR Vaishampayan:
RD is too new for me, and not within my zone of attention. The older the song more fascinated I am. You would see me getting more and more into songs of early 50s and 40s and 30s. It is just my personal taste, and no opinion on RDB. Thanks for revisiting my site and for your views.

10 AM February 28, 2012 at 7:05 am

RDB was the instigator of the demise of golden hindi film music. The funny alien rhythms and beats that he brought in to appease the younger generation managed to fatally drown the golden era. And to makes matter worse, these so callled new rhythms proved short-lived and are mostly forgotten by true aficionados. For this reason alone, his mention is enough to bring a bad taste in a connoisseur’s mouth.
In contrast, his father SDB was a class act. Wish RD had learnt from him. I do acknowledge that RD did make some acceptable tunes, but the ratio is even lesser than salt in one’s bread. No offence to anyone.

11 AM February 28, 2012 at 7:18 am

I believe Suraj’s award was justified but Dil Apna Preet Parayi over Mughal-e-Azam is very hard to digest indeed. In fact, if there was an award for Music of the Decade, I am sure Mughal-e-Azam should have been a winner of that hands down. Naushad must have felt disillusioned at this gross injustice. Good that his greatness transcended these suspect awards. Public acclaim speaks for itself.

12 K R Vaishampayan February 28, 2012 at 10:13 am

Dear AM,
Thanks for your correct observations, cogent comment and lament. I couldn’t have agreed more. Naushad and his music was lanes and streets ahead of many of his contemporaries. SDB – or other music directors of that era are incomparable to say the least. Of course, I am an SJ fan. But the way they cornered awards…was never in good taste or true spirit of music. This certainly proves to be an indelible jarring note. And what do I say about RDB. I remember a true music lover friend of mine commenting – ” RDB is not my radar.” I think his comment speaks volumes. YES! RDB gave some good score in Chhote Nawab, Pati Patni, Bhoot Bangala…but nothing earth shaking about it to say the least. Thanks again for your wonderful comment.

13 K R Vaishampayan February 28, 2012 at 10:23 am

The award winning Suraj song -Baharon Phool Barsao. It beats logic as to how this welcome song that hero sings for his heroine was set in Shivranjani – a Raga of pathos. It being awarded for The Best Music of the Year … is a still bigger conundrum. Regards – KRV

14 AM February 29, 2012 at 1:41 am

As we know, the Filmfare Awards (inc. Best Music category) began in the year 1954. However, as a hot topic for after dinner conversations, us guys often discuss in retrospect what would have been the year-wise music category results had these awards debuted in, say, the year 1945. Which movies/music directors would have bagged the coveted yearly prize? How many more gongs Naushad or SJ would have to their credit?

This indeed turns out to be quite a riveting session and almost always generates fervid debate.

AK, may I suggest this to be initiated as a new thread. I suggest years 1953 – 1945 in reverse order. Let us see what our keen readers make of this. As always, you may begin with the write-up and your own take on yearly candidates, nominations and winners. The rest of us will join in the discussion through comments.

If this sounds appealing, you may even consider having one thread per year so that an indepth, thorough analysis / dissection of all the aspiring movies/MDs can be done.

Cheers.

15 K R Vaishampayan February 29, 2012 at 9:16 am

Hello AM,
Nice idea that we speculate list the probable winners for best music from 1945 – 1953. Regards – krv

16 AK March 1, 2012 at 9:58 am

@AM, KR Vaishampayan
I love the idea. In fact there was something like it in my mind for the early music of 1930s, giving a yearly review. But the interactive format and having the privilege of choosing the award winners :) is quite exciting. Let me start with 1953, sometime towards end March. Meanwhile I would be grateful if you could suggest a nice title/ preamble for the series.

17 s p sinha September 19, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Music of both Anarkali and Mughal E Azam were great and will pass the test of time. My fav song from MEA is “ae ishq yeh sab duniyawale”.It comes as a breath of fresh air everytime i listen to it.

18 n.venkataraman October 2, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Mughal -e- azam was a Magnum opus, a classic movie made never before nor will be made here after. It is an epic film which should be seen by every generation. Thanks AK ji for presenting “Remembering Mughal-e-Azam’s Music – Travesty of missing the Filmfare award”.

Naushad Saheb is the best Music Director/Composer whom the Indian film industry has produced in the last 8 decades. The Filmfare has lost an opportunity to associate its name with the maestro and his legendary creation. Sometimes the esteem of the award goes up or down according to the reputation of the recipient.

In those days, the Filmfare Awards constituted the one and only yardstick to measure merit and success and popularity. The Filmfare awardsd for 1960 is as follows;
“MUGHAL-E-AZAM” won the award for Best Film.
The Best Director Award went to Bimal Roy for “PARAKH”.
Dilip Kumar won the Best Actor Award for “KOHINOOR”.
The Best Actress Award went to Bina Rai for “GHUNGHAT”.
“MUGHAL-E-AZAM” won the awards for Best Dialogue (Kamal Amrohi) and Best Cinematography (R D.Mathur) .
Shakeel Badayuni won the Best Lyricist Award, for “CHAUDVIN KA CHAND”, not for any song from “MUGHAL-E-AZAM”.
Lata Mangeshkar was nominated for her songs in “MUGHAL-E-AZAM” and “DIL APNA AUR PREET PARAYEE”, but lost out to Md. Rafi for the title song in CHAUDVIN KA CHAND. (there were no separate categories for male and female singers then).
But the Music Award remained the most controversial one.

I recollect a few anecdotes which I have read and heard before.
The history-creating song of “Mughal-E-Azam” was Lata Mangeshkar’s “Pyar kiya to darna kya” picturized on Madhubala in the famous Sheesh-Mahal dance. Shakeel Badayuni and Naushad, worked through the night, experimenting with numerous lyrics and styles to come up with the song for this important sequence in the movie. Eventually they settled on a couplet that Naushad had heard in his childhood. In Naushad’s words, “We tried to make every line, every word as simple as possible without harming the meaning and lyrical quality of the song. Shakeel must have written and rewritten every line, nay every word no less than fifty times”. By morning, the lyrics were complete.
The episode of the song did not end even after it was recorded. When the technicolour prints of the film arrived, they featured thousands of images of Anarkali reflected in the mirrors of the glass-palace. Asif Saheb wanted Naushad to enhance the musical effect to blend with these images. But the song had already been recorded. Eventually, Naushad had Lata Mangeshkar sang a passage four times without accompaniments, each time varying her distance from the microphone and had them recorded on four soundtracks with different sound effects. The four tracks were then transferred to the original voice track of the song, to create the effect of various voices being heard — as if the different images were singing. Listeners imagine a chorus background, whereas in reality only one voice was used, that of Lata Mangeshkar. Amazing!
Infinite attention was given to the details in the composition of the music for “MUGHAL-E-AZAM”.
The song again is “Pyar kiya to darna kya”. Raag Darbari Kanada would have been the obvious choice, for it was already present in the musical background score recorded for the sequence following the dance – to establish the depth and grandeur of Akbar’s court in the glass house. But using the same Raag throughout the lengthy sequence would have rendered it monotonous. To prevent this and to make the song more catchy and simple to ensure popular appeal, Naushad opted to use a variety of Ragas. Care was taken to ensure that the change from the dance music to the song would not be glaring and jerky and that the set of ragas adopted were all close to “Durbari”.

Another instance of such in-depth attention pertains to Tansen’s song in the background with Salim & Anarkali’s love sequence in the foreground. The episode was presented as lasting from late evening to daybreak, for Naushad wanted to suggest that the lovers spent the whole night together. Tansen’s voice was provided by the legendary Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan who was aghast at the suggestion that he should switch from a late night raag to a morning raag within the span of one song.
Lastly one minor observation Akji,
If I am not mistaken you have mentioned and provided links for 11 songs, 2 by Ustad bade Ghulam Ali Khan , 1 duet by Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum, 1 solo by Md. Rafi and 7 solo songs by Lata Mangeshkar. There was one more solo by Lata Mangeshkar- “Ae Ishq Yeh Sab Duniyawale”.

Thanks once again.

19 AK October 3, 2012 at 9:56 am

Thanks a lot Mr Venkatraman for your such erudite and detailed comments. On Naushad I entirely agree with you. I also regard him as the greatest we were fortunate have. His gretness is more on account of his music in the Vintage Era (1940’s) for a variety of singers like Surendra, KL Saigal, Noorjehan, Shamshad Begum, Suraiya, Amirbai Karnataki, Zohra Ambalawali, Uma Devi and Parul Ghosh. In 50’s and 60’s he became almost Rafi-Lata fixated, though creating timeless music with them.

You are absolutely right on Ae ishq ye sab duniyawale. I missed it probably because I found it weakest among all the songs of Mughal-e-Azam.

20 Vinod Mody October 5, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Now with so many Tom Dick and Harrys coming up with their own
awards, the whole awards scene has become just another politicking
game. There was a time when Filmfare was the only one and even
then so many of the decisions are so horrible as already pointed out
by various contributors here that the awards lose all credibility.
For me the most mediocre film like “Be-imaan ” grabbing so many
awards was the height of ludicrousness .
The Filmfare awards
selection process went like this. First the readers were asked to send
in their nominations and then out of the five nominations a jury panel selected the winner. This can very well result in the winner being
neither the best nor the most popular which are quite different things
obviously.

21 AK October 24, 2012 at 5:02 pm

I have mentioned Indubala’s Mohe panghat pe Nandlal chhed gayo re. Now I come across another vintage thumri, now by Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan, with ‘panghat’ now becoming ‘panghatwa':

Panghatwa pe Nandlal chhed layi re by Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan

The moot question which was the inspiration of Naushad?

22 n.venkataraman October 25, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Akji,
Thank you for introducing me to the vintage thumri by Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan. It was wonderful. After listening to the song, I tried to get an answer for your ‘moot question’.

Here are three comments which I have extracted from three different sources.

The first comment posted in the you tube by ‘classicalgem’ where Indubala sings ‘More Panghat Pe Nandlal’:
“This is superb. Better than the latest. Many of the Music Directors like Naushad Ali copied and composed songs based on the Khandani Gharana Bandishes. It should have been acknowledged by them.The same Thumri was recorded by my father Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan Dilrang for Columbia Co. 1932. Its a masterpiece too.”

The second one is from an write-up on Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan found in the site of ‘Dilrang Academy of Music’:
“Famous Music Director Shri Naushad Ali wanted him to sing for his film Baiju Bawra. During that period Khan Sahab had prolonged debates on music & exchange of new articles with Naushad Ali. Khan Sahab refused to sing for his film quoting a very high fees because Naushad Sahab wanted him to loose in the film duet in front of Pt. Paluskar which Khan Sahab did not accept. Naushad Sahab had composed famous Mughal-e-Azam “Panghat” song based on Khan Sahab recording “Thumri Panghat Vape” (78 RPM record).”

The third one is from a report on the centenary celebrations of Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan in 2011.
“In the 1940s, Azmat Hussain, had recorded a 78 rpm disc on which he had sung the dadra ‘Mohe Panghatpe Nandlal,’ later used by composer Naushad in Mughal-E-Azam, and was performed at the concert as a mark of tribute to the departed maestro.”
Remembering Azmat Hussain Khan, Tuesday, May 17, 2011. By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

23 AK October 25, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Venkatramanji,
Thanks a lot for all this information. In any case Naushad’s composition follows more closely Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan’s.

24 mumbaikar8 November 4, 2012 at 5:49 am

Enjoyed you article.
Agree totally that S.J’s music in Suraj was mediocre and in Beiman it was worse.

25 M B BAPAT December 20, 2013 at 11:18 am

i recollect reading in shirish kanekars book that vinod, shyamsunder ,hansaraj bahl, roshan and so many other music directors were knowing and giving sweet melodies but not knowing how to market their songs.

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