The three distinct phases of OP Nayyar’s career

January 28, 2017

A tribute to OP Nayyar on his 10th death anniversary (16 January 1926 – 28 January 2007) by guest author Ravindra Kelkar

(After I had written on OP Nayyar’s best songs for Mahendra Kapoor, Rafi, Shamshad Begum and Asha Bhosle, I had no intention of writing any more on him. But the readers’ clamour for ‘Ye dil maange more’ put me in a spot. I didn’t want to disappoint them; yet, I felt inhibited because I do not relate to OPN’s music as passionately as many do. While I was in this state of dilemma, a most pleasant surprise came in my mail when, out of the blue, Ravindra Kelkar offered to write a series of articles on OPN.

Mr Kelkar has Master’s degrees in Statistics and Computer Science and is an IT professional in a Swedish multinational, based in Pune. He is passionately fond of film and classical music. He has known OPN closely and has met him a number of times. On SoY, we have already known him as an OPN-expert from his comments. He starts off the series on OPN with a broad overview of different phases of his career.  We could not have asked for a better tribute to the genius composer on the occasion of his tenth death anniversary. Huge thanks to Mr Kelkar on my behalf and on behalf of all the readers. – AK)

OP NayyarThe name OP Nayyar evokes mixed reactions from people. He had such a controversial career that many people react to his music with a coloured view, mixing his personal life with the musical life. The best way to enjoy OP’s music is to keep his personal quirks out of mind and listen to his music without thinking about OP the person. Then, one is likely to discover a treasure of wonderful melodies. Many of his songs have the quality to take you into a different world, which is full of life, zest, gaiety, energy and happiness. This post attempts to take a critical look at OP’s musical career, which can be divided very neatly into three time periods. You can discern three different musical styles of OP.

It was 19th May 1951, OP Nayyar was getting married to his lady love Saroj Arora. At about 4 pm on the same day, OP received a telegram, it stated, “You are signed as a music composer, please come immediately”. It was signed by Dalsukh Pancholi, a very well-known film producer. This is the story of OP’s first film, Aasman. This was followed by two more films, Baaz and Chham Chhama Chham . All the three films bombed at the box office. This marked the end of the first phase, in which he composed 27 songs. If one listens to the songs of these films, the influence of New Theaters is quite evident.

Due to the failure of these three films, OP had almost made up his mind to quit Bombay, when a prominent distributer, KK Kapoor, intervened. It resulted into OP getting Guru Dutt’s Aar Paar. Guru Dutt dumped at OP’s hotel room lots of western music records including Bing Crosby and asked him to listen to them and create music like that. The result was the music of Aar Paar, which was a major ingredient in the success of the film along with Guru Dutt’s slick direction. The success of Aar Paar helped OP to create his own distinct identity. Thus began the second and a highly successful phase of OP’s music career. It lasted till Do Ustaad released in 1959. During this phase he composed music for many commercially successful films like Mr. & Mrs. 55, CID, Choomantar, Hum Sub Chor Hain, Naya Daur, Tumsa Nahin Dekha, Howra Bridge, Phagun, etc. In all these films OP’s music was a major contributor. In the highly popular, weekly Binaca Geetmaala programme broadcast on Radio Cyelon, at the height of OP’s popularity, it is claimed that, sometimes, out of 16 songs played, 14 were OP songs. During this period, OP composed music for 38 films, comprising 307 songs. His orchestration during this phase was based upon combination of clarinet/flute/violins, mandolin, electric guitar, double base, cello, harmonium, sarangi, and various rhythm instruments like dholak, castanet, bongo, Chinese box etc. The typical OP song would have breezy intro music and then mukhada in western beats. Tthe interlude music would mostly be based upon combination of clarinet/flute/violins and mandolin. The antara would have dholak beats, again shifting back to western beats on returning to mukhada. Also, another feature was having three stanzas, squeezed in the 78 RPM record of three minutes. The tune would also be easy to hum. This formula generally resulted into the songs enjoying instantaneous popularity amongst the public. Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum, Asha Bhosle and Rafi were the main singers.

After Do Ustad, OP was without work for more than a year. So, OP was forced to have a rethink about his old style of composing music, which had outlived its time span. So when OP was signed for Ek Musafir Ek Hasina by Shashadhar Mukherji, he came up with totally revamped musical style. His music now had a more melodious content; OP also put in more focus on the quality of lyrics. He metamorphosed his orchestration style by making profound use of sitar, sarod and taar shehnai along with sarangi to enhance the sweetness of melody. The western style based rhythm would have guitar chords and/ or drum beats and Spanish brush. Of course, dholak remained but tabla also came to be more frequently used. Since, Asha Bhosle had also matured as a singer by this time, he could experiment without being shackled by the ability of the singer. This resulted into top quality, memorable music compositions, which sounded very different from his earlier music. Also, many of the films enjoyed commercial success, resulting into revival of his career. This phase of OP lasted till his parting of the ways with Asha Bhosle after Pran Jaaye Par Vachan Na Jaaye in 1972. During this period, he composed music for 25 films, comprising 186 songs. In this phase, the female songs went exclusively to Asha Bhosle. Rafi always remained OP’s main male singer in the 2nd and 3rd phase, though due to differences with Rafi, Mahedra Kapoor got quite a few songs. After his break-up with Asha Bhosle, OP composed music for 12 films (80 songs) spanned over a period of 20 years, but I don’t think he changed his style as such. Thus in totality, he composed 600 songs for films, this includes 10 songs for a Telagu film Neerajanam and 29 songs from unreleased films.

OP was a born composer, he never worked as an assistant to any MD. This is quite remarkable, since he had no formal training in Indian Classical Music. The genius of OP lies in that he successfully could transform his music style twice, without diluting the quality. His music throughout remained breezy, peppy, lively and joyous. Let us listen to some of his iconic songs from these three eras. I have excluded all the songs posted by AK in his earlier blogs on OP.

Phase 1

1. Is bewafa jahan mein wafaAasman (1952) – CH Atma – (Prem Dhawan)

During his adolescence days, OP’s musical character was highly influenced by music from New Theatres and Ghulam Haider. He had the highest regard for singing abilities of KL Saigal and Kannan Devi. In this song, the influence of New Theatres music style as well as his love for KL Saigal is evident. CH Atma has sung this song in KL Saigal style very effectively. This song is the first song recorded by OP in his film music career. Aasman was the only film which DS Pancholi himself directed. Nasir Khan (DIlip Kumar’s brother) and Shyama were the main cast of the film. The film is not available in DVD.

2. Taare chandaniBaaz (1953) – Geeta Roy (Dutt) – (Majrooh Sultanpuri)

Geeta Dutt recommended OP to Guru Dutt for this film. Her love affair with Guru Dutt was in full swing, so Guru Dutt could not refuse her request. This was the first film Guru Dutt produced and is available on DVD. It’s a film depicting overthrowing of a kingdom which is proxy-ruled by Portuguese. Guru Dutt plays the kind hearted prince and Geeta Bali plays the role of the leader of the revolution. This song is enacted by Kuldeep Kaur who plays the role of a vamp, travelling on a ship, trying to enamour Guru Dutt. This song has a tranquil quality, and the soft orchestration very effectively reflects the serene atmosphere of ship movement in calm water on a starry night. The peaceful mood is very effectively captured by the song. Geeta Roy’s voice is sweet, fresh and melodious.

3. Dekho jadu bhare more nainAasman (1952) – Geeta Roy – (Prem Dhawan)

The words are a bit unusual, in the sense that the heroine herself is praising the quality of her eyes! Generally the hero showers such accolades on the heroine or vice versa. The mukhda is based upon Gaud Sarang, though it gets developed into Bihag, Tilang etc. One can safely bet that it happened on its own in a natural way, since OP had no knowledge of the classical ragaas. The intro piece is excellent and the overall impact of the song is to make you happy and joyful. Aasmaan was OP’s first film. DS Pancholi asked him, which female singer do you want, Lata or Geeta? OP replied, whichever that you select. It so happened that DS Pancholi called up Geeta. It was sheer providence that he didn’t go for Lata, otherwise OP’s career could have taken a different direction altogether. This was the only realistic occasion where Lata could have sung for OP.

Phase 2

4. Man more ga jhoom ke Mangu (1954) – Asha Bhosle – (Majrooh Sultanpuri)

This was a Sheikh Mukhtar film. OP held that three producers helped him shaping his musical career, one of them was Sheikh Mukhtar, the other two being Guru Dutt and Shashdhar Mukherjee. This is a typical OP-style song, in western mood, with subtle changes in the rhythm pattern. Notice how the rhythm smoothly changes from bongo to dholak. Excellent throw of words in OP mould. Accordion, played by Goodi Sirwai, sets the mood of the song; interlude of the flute brings the antara back to the mukhda. This film is not available on DVD either, so not much is known except that Sheikh Mukhtar was the hero and Nigar Sultana, the heroine. For this film, one song sung by Suman Kalyanpur (her first independent song) was composed by MD Mohammad Shafi, after which OP replaced him, presumably due to the success of Aar Paar.

5. Ye lo main haari piyaAar Paar (1954) – Geeta Dutt – (Majrooh Sultanpuri)

The success of this film was the launching pad for the successful careers of both Guru Dutt and OP. OP always admired the ingenuity of Guru Dutt in creating interesting situations for the placement of the song and the way he picturized the songs. Shyama (the heroine) accuses Guru Dutt of being an ex-convict. Guru Dutt takes her to the jailer, who explains why he was jailed, presumably for fast driving. Thus convinced of Guru Dutt’s innocence, Shyama pleads forgiveness through this song. Shyama looks beautiful and has given full justice to the song. Though she is the pleader, still she retains her spunk and almost demands forgiveness. No grovelling here. OP held this as the best song of Geeta Dutt sung under his composing baton.

6. Ae dil hai mushkil jeena yahan CID (1956) -Rafi & Geeta Dutt – (Majrooh Sultanpuri)

CID was the biggest hit for Guru Dutt Productions. The major success factors were wonderful music, Dev Anand, good plot and excellent direction by Raj Khosla. Guru Dutt had promised new cars for Raj Khosla, Waheeda Rehman and OP if the film became a hit. As per promise, Guru Dutt presented new cars to Waheeda and Raj Khosla, but not to OP (he already had a car). As usual, OP took it as an insult and stopped working for Guru Dutt. How OP agreed to work for Bahaarein Phir Bhi Aayengi is another story. Johnny Walker owes a lot to the popularity of his songs composed by OP. The first was Aare na na na na na na tauba tauba from Aar Paar, the second was Jaane kahan mera jigar gaya ji and then this song. The success of these songs made Johnny Walker’s songs an instant draw, and in almost all his films afterwards had at least one song picturized on him. This song was Binaca Geetmala topper in 1956.

7. Yeh kya kar dala tune Howra Bridge (1958) -Asha Bhosle – (Hasrat Jaipuri)

This is an iconic song of OP, capturing the essence of OP’s musical style prevalent in this phase. A breezy intro music set in western beats, sets up the mood of the song beautifully. Typically, you have dholak for antara. Fine singing by Asha Bhosle, with Madhubala looking ravishingly alluring. Madhubala was a great friend of OP, she used to offer discount in her fees, if the music was to be scored by OP. OP composed music for six of her films, which is the most by a music director. The best part of the song is the unexpected sarangi piece. Sarangi is being accompanied by cello. Sarangi is tuned in high pitch while cello is tuned to low pitch. The effect is magical. OP had a great affinity with sarangi and was mainly influential in making it popular as a romantic instrument. A foot tapping number for sure.

8. Ude jab jab zulfein teriNaya Daur (1957) – Rafi & Asha Bhosle (Sahir Ludhiyanavi)

This remains the biggest hit of BR Chopra films. OP got the only Filmfare award of his career for this film. The musical success of this film resulted in the formation of OP-Asha musical partnership to the exclusion of Geeta Dutt and Shamshad Begum from OP’s music. The lyrics were by Sahir Ludhiyanavi and the producer was BR Chopra. Both were from Punjab, as was OP. So it was a team from Punjab. OP was a big fan of Gulam Haider who introduced Punjabi folk music in Hindi films in the film Khajanchi in 1941. OP himself was born and brought up in Punjab, and so had Punjab folk music in his blood. This song represents the true Punjabi folk music, moulded in the romantic style of OP. The honour of reviving the Punjab folk in Hindi film music, thus, goes to OP after a gap of 16 years. The picturisation is very good, with magical dancing by Vaijayantimala. The song remains hugely popular till date.

9. Main kho gaya yahin kahin12 O’Clock (1958) – Rafi (Majrooh Sultanpuri)

Though this film was directed by Pramod Chakraborty, song picturization remained in Gur Dutt’s domain. It’s a delight to view this song. Waheeda Rahman is Guru Dutt’s secretary and both of them are tenants, living in the same building. Guru Dutt sings this song while both are going through the morning chores, getting ready to go to the office. Such a simple song, with Rafi in his elements and all the OP masala in full measure. This truly makes one feel that all is well and God is in his heaven.

10. Jawaniyan ye mast mast mast bin piye Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957) – Rafi (Majrooh Sultanpuri)

This was Nasir Husain’s maiden venture as a director. The film was made under the banner of Filmistan. Nasir Husain was dealt with a short hand with Shammi Kapoor and Amita as the leading pair. Shammi Kapoor was almost at his wits end after struggling for four years, Amita was also a non-entity. The only ace he was dealt with was that the music director was OP Nayyar. But S Mukherjee, the doyen of Filmistan, knew what he was doing. He was sharp enough to know the story-telling talent Nasir Husain had. He had also seen OP’s music play a crucial role in turning many small budget films into a commercial success, for example, Choomantar, Musafirkhana, Shrimati 420, Hum Sub Chor Hain, etc. The result was that this movie became a huge musical hit, mainly due to OP’s music and Nasir Husain’s excellent direction. However, the biggest surprise was the acceptance of Shammi Kapoor by the public as a new heartthrob. Shammi Kapoor and Nasir Husain were close buddies, and Nasir had a heart to heart talk with Shammi Kapoor about how to make over his image. He made Shammi Kapoor shave off his silly short mustache, cut his hair short, wear trendy clothes and express himself like walking jauntily, spreading hands and have an impish smile on his face. The impact of this was instant. OP’s foot tapping music made Shammi Kapoor shed his inhibitions, it was as if his inherent dancing talent which was shackled inside by his self-imposed restriction came out like a flood. During the premiere of this movie, Shammi Kapoor and Nasir Husain were very nervous, biting their nails. When this song started on the screen, there was an instant public acclaim as soon as Shammi Kapoor’s image came on the screen. Shammi Kapoor was well on his way to become a dancing idol of the young generation and Nasir Husain’s career was launched. There was an additional stanza to this song (which was presumably cut from the film), the words were ‘ Idhar Se Jo Gayi Gujar, Usi Pe Hum Machal Gaye, Jo Kuchh No Ho Saka To Phir, Karib Se Nikal Gaye’. What romantic sentiments!!! if nothing happens, at least she walked past me…that’s good enough for me.

Phase 3

11. Bahut shukriyaa badi meharbani Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962) – Rafi & Asha Bhosle (SH Bihari)

After the success of Tumsa Nahin Dekha, a rift developed between OP Nayyar and Shashdhar Mukherjee, mainly due to OP insisting that his music was the main ingredient in the success of the film. S Mukherjee went for Usha Khanna in his next two films. Due to the intervention of Asha Bhosle, the rift was healed and OP got this movie. This was OP’s comeback film and was a tremendous success at the box office. OP based this tune on Tere pyar ka asara chahata hoon from the film Dhool Ka Phool. The treatment OP gave to this song makes it very hard to recognize this. Harmonium in this song is played by Babu Singh, OP’s favorite harmonium player. The antara is fabulous and influenced by Punjabi Gayaki. The words of SH Bihari are also noteworthy.

12. Aaj koi pyar seSawan Ki Ghata (1966) – Asha Bhosle (SH Bihari)

The intro piece is out of this world. It’s as if there is a sawal jawab between santoor and violins. The mukhda starts after a thaap on dholak in a true OP fashion. The tune is based on raag Pahadi and the taal is Deepchandi. This song is a prime example of how Asha Bhosle’s singing had matured under OP’s tutelage by this stage. The sensuousness, the khanak and the blithe spirit in Asha Bhosle’s voice needs to be imbibed and admired to enjoy this song. Mumtaz was a side heroine in this movie and has enacted this song wonderfully. She bursts into this song when Manoj Kumar (the hero) praises her qualities. As can be guessed, Mumtaz wrongly interprets this as love. In the orchestration you can notice all the Indian instruments like santoor, sitar, flute, taar-shehnai, along with dholak and tabla.

13. Dil to pahle hi seBaharein Phir Bhi Aayengi (1966) – Rafi & Asha Bhosle (Shewan Rizvi)

Guru Dutt came back to OP for this, after SD Burman got sick, with OP managing to overcome his silly grievance. Guru Dutt had okayed all the 6 songs before his sad demise. The song starts with typical sitar piece, OP’s signature tune. The tune is based in Gaara/Jayjawanti that. “Kabhi Khud Pe” from Hum Dono and “Aise to na dekho” from Teen Deviyan also have the same tune. But see the treatment OP has given to this song. It has western beats, there is sitar, there is sarangi, there is flute, still rhythm beats catch your attention. Rafi and Asha Bhosle are having their duel about who will steal the show. It has typical OP-style throw of words, it’s a Hindi/Urdu song, based upon classical raga, with a touch of Thumri. All this is blended immaculately by OP. Nowadays this is called as ‘Fusion’, which OP perfected long back.

14. Yaar badshah yaar dilrubaaCID 909 (1967) – Asha Bhosle (Shewan Rizvi)

Feroze Khan was the hero and Mumtaaz was the heroine. A typical spy thriller. This song was a major draw of the film. All the six songs were excellent and fairly popular. OP in this song has used Persian instruments. When OP played this tune to S Mukherjee, he chided OP for wasting this song on this B-grade thriller. OP replied in his usual blunt manner, “the Producer has paid me my fee, so I must give him the best that I have to offer”.

15. Yeh chaand sa roshan chehraKashmir Ki Kali (1964) – Rafi (SH Bihari)

This was the last film OP made with Shammi Kapoor. It’s claimed that An Evening Paris was to go to OP, but something happened due to which SJ came in. In the instance of this song, it was Shammi Kapoor’s suggestion to repeat the words Tarif karun kya us ki a number of times as ending of the song. He had an idea in mind about how to enact it. Though OP was skeptical about it, when he saw the final result, he hugged Shammi Kapoor in admiration. The friendship of OP and Shammi Nayyar went long back, in fact from OP’s first film Aasmaan. Shammi Kapoor has gone on record that, he was to play the hero in this film, originally, before being replaced by Nasir Khan. This song is representative of OP’s title of ‘Rhythm King’. The short intro music of electric guitar is truly electric, in the second antara, you have a melodious piece of santoor as well as apt accompaniment of soft sarangi. This is a highly popular song with today’s generation also.

16. Humdum mere khel na janoPhir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon (1963) – Rafi & Asha Bhosle (Majrooh Sultanpuri)

This is a typical Nasir Husain film. This was his first independent film under his own banner. OP’s music was again the major plus point and the film was a great commercial success. This is a terrific song, starts with a sher and then antara, before coming to the mukhda. The changes in rhythm from western beats to Punjab style dholak, mouth organ, claps, it’s full of OP’s standard tricks to make his song popular. This turned out to be the last film by OP for Nasir Husain, since Teesari Manzil which was supposed to go to OP finally went to RD Burman.

17. Chain se humko kabhiPran Jaaye Par Vachan Na Jaaye (1973) – Asha Bhosle ((SH Bihari)

This is an iconic song as it marks the end of OP-Asha Bhosle collaboration, resulting in the end of OP’s film career for all practical purpose. It’s a ‘soul-toucher’ by which one eternally remembers the tuneful togetherness of OP and Asha Bhosle. It’s just uncanny, how the words so aptly represent the break up. This song remains ultra-special for all OP-Asha Bhosle fans, as it epitomizes the pain of OP and Asha Bhosle finally parting musically. Both Asha Bhosle and OP have given everything they could to make this song so memorable, knowing possibly that this could be their swan-song. The tune is so simple, soulful and heart-rending. The slow rhythm is perfect, made up of just piano notes and church bell. The orchestration is minimal, with beautiful flute interludes. The song has silence as well as speechlessness underlined by silence between two notes. This song is actually tailor made for Lata Mangeshkar, but the way Asha Bhosle has delivered this song there is hardly any shortcoming in her rendering. This song is the final proof of the progress Asha Bhosle made as a singer under OP’s careful grooming. The great Anil Biswas considered this as OP’s best song. We started with Aasmaan song and end with this song, both of them cast in New Theatre’s style. OP had travelled full circle after going through Punjabi / western stops!! (Note: The YT link below explains that since the original video was unavailable, scenes of ‘Ye Raaste Hain Pyar Ke’ have been mixed. – AK)

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Subodh Agrawal January 28, 2017 at 1:02 pm

Thank you Mr Kelkar for this beautiful musical journey through three phases of OP’s career. The first phase was an addition to my knowledge. Your article helped me enjoy the songs of each phase and appreciate the evolution of his musical style. His music always lifts one’s heart and spirit. That’s the outstanding quality of OPN.

2 Ashok Kumar Tyagi January 28, 2017 at 1:43 pm

AK ji,
Shri Kelkar has created a post of highest quality.
All the musical qualities of OPN have been brought out so well. The songs presented are all so good.

3 KB January 28, 2017 at 2:29 pm

This is a very interesting post. However all the songs presented are Rafi oriented. Although OP did very well with Rafi ,he did produce good songs with all other male singers like Kishore,Mahendra Kapoor,Mannadey,Mukesh and Talat also. In this blog it would have been good to include at least one song of each or better still have a new blog with only these other singers.However, among female singers Geeta dutt songs are featuring but Shamshad begum also gave excellent songs to OP.

4 ASHOK M VAISHNAV January 28, 2017 at 4:19 pm

Ravindra Kelkarji has not only presented OPN’s broad canvas in so encompassing, engaging manner that even die-hard opponents of OPN would readily shift their loyalties. We the OPN’s fence-sitting fan brigade have demolished the wall and feel quite justified why we always liked OPN. This time of course we also know why.

And this is even after discounting fairly generous space accorded to OPN @ SoY previously.
O P Nayyar has composed scores of songs that can be clubbed in under common themes and can be so gainfully presented by somone like Kelkarji who understands OPN so wholeheartedly.
I look forward to more of such enlightening articles to come in ….

5 Anu Warrier January 29, 2017 at 12:04 am

Mr Kelkar, take a bow. This was a very informative article, written in a very engaging manner. Thank you.

6 Ravindra Kelkar January 29, 2017 at 5:44 am

Subodh Agarwal Ji, thanks for the kind words,

7 Ravindra Kelkar January 29, 2017 at 5:45 am

Ashok Kumar Tyagiji, thanks for your appreciation.

8 Ravindra Kelkar January 29, 2017 at 5:48 am

Anu Warrier Ji, overwhelmed by your appreciation, thanks.

9 shyam chirravoori January 29, 2017 at 9:35 am

This is a very well written article. Very impressive. However, I expect many more from you, Mr. Ravindra Kelkar. Your proximity shines through the write up and I hope you would bring all those pieces you wrote in several comments to one place.

10 SSW January 29, 2017 at 12:43 pm

Mr. Kelkar, this is a very nice article. I had not heard the song from Aasman before. The two antaras have different melodies. I have always been an admirer of OP Nayyar’s tunes. In college we woud say that his was the only sarangi and taar shehnai that laughed. His mixing of the sarangi and cello to give a different tonality was something he had commented on in one of his interviews. They play the same notes but the combined tonality of the two instruments produces a really mellow sound.
He used the western drums very effectively too, his drummers used to use brushes very effectively on the drums and sometimes up to 3 different castanet players.
You have included some of my favourite songs but I noticed there were none from “Yeh raat phir na aayegi”, it has some amazingly beautiful arrangements and Asha’s voice flirts delectably with the alto saxophone.

11 Ravindra Kelkar January 29, 2017 at 3:46 pm

KB ji,
You have made valid observations. Shamshad-OP combo was covered earlier by AKji, so most of the iconic songs were already posted. About Mahendra Kapoor also, AKji has done a few posts which featured a few OP songs. Still you point is valid. May be an additional post of OP-Male songs excluding Rafi is needed.

12 Ravindra Kelkar January 29, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Ashok Vaishnav ji, thanks for the kind words.

13 Ravindra Kelkar January 29, 2017 at 3:50 pm

Shyam ji, thanks for the praise. Will attempt to write a few more posts.

14 Ravindra Kelkar January 29, 2017 at 4:00 pm

SSW ji, Thanks for the appreciation. Very good observation about use of Sarangi & Taar Shehnai by OP. “Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi” is probably his best score from the third phase, & a couple of songs have been already included by AKji, in earlier posts. Also, it’s very difficult to cover all the iconic songs from OP’s career. The post would have become too big. May be I will include them in additional posts depending upon AKji’s green signal.

15 SSW January 29, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Of course Mr. Kelkar, I agree, there are too many wonderful songs. What is a Spanish brush by the way? I am not familiar with it.

16 Vaidehi January 29, 2017 at 7:25 pm

Hi Mr Kelkar, very well written article. The descriptions about songs truly make the readers enjoy the songs on a different level. You have managed to not only enumerate technical details of the songs but also the feel that every song leaves on a music lovers soul.
Continue writing more. You seem to have a vast and detailed knowledge about music and film industry.

17 AK January 29, 2017 at 10:35 pm

Welcome to SoY.

18 Vaidehi January 30, 2017 at 3:51 am

Thank you AK ji.

19 Arunkumar Deshmukh January 30, 2017 at 5:47 am

AK ji,
I am very glad to see that like a Waxing Moon, month after month, SOY is gaining popularity and many experts are getting attracted to SOY, some of them even volunteering to contribute also.
Everytime I visit SOY, I find atleast one or two new visitors making their comments and you welcoming them .
I am seeing SOY since 2011 and feel happy that slowly, this is becoming a Reference point to HFM history students like me.
My best wishes for further growth.


20 Arunkumar Deshmukh January 30, 2017 at 5:57 am

Ravindra kelkar ji,

Thanks for a very interesting and meaningful article on O.P.Nayyar. Some of his songs are simply Gems.
With all his other plus points, to my mind he is great also because he showed that success also can be achieved by avoiding the beaten tracks and creating own new path. This new path was nothing short of a Miracle in days when everyone was supposed to follow the routine.
Whatever the real reason ( we shall probably never be wiser about it) for this diversion,but he did reach the Victory Arch.
Such characters are Rare.

21 AK January 30, 2017 at 8:40 am

SoY and I have been singularly lucky to have generous support and good wishes of so many knowledgeable persons. You are yourself one of them. Thanks a lot for your kind words.

22 Raghavan Vasudevan January 30, 2017 at 2:20 pm

Thank you Mr Kelkar for a presenting OPN music director in a different manner. Normally in bolgs one writes about the greatness of the MD, the best songs. some information on the person etc. Here is an article which hightlights instruments, their usage and the songs in which the instruments are used. Such piece of information is rare to see. For a person like me who enjoyes a song with respect to the instrumment played in the song, it was a refreshing article which I enjoyed reading thoroughlly, Pl. let me know what is spanish brush, I have not heard it. For the horse hoof sound what instrument OPN used.

23 Ravindra Kelkar January 30, 2017 at 5:48 pm

Vaidehi ji, Thanks for your appreciation.

24 Ravindra Kelkar January 30, 2017 at 5:52 pm

Arunkumar ji, Thanks for your kind words. Your observation about OP carving his own path is very apt. Basically, since Lata was not a part of his music, he had to create music which was distinct from the prevalent one.

25 ksbhatia February 1, 2017 at 11:16 am

Kelkar ji ;

Superb coverage of OPN personality vis a vis his contribution of fast rhythm based beats that matched the trend the music was going thru at that moment of time . Yes 1952 was the year when OPN entered the film world . This was the time when extended british raj feelings were under fading way and fast urbanisation and subsequent changes were being made to match the rapid modernisation . This scenerio was beautifully captured in Anari song at a later date….Duniya ka dhanch badla …..lala ho kahaan . Along with SJ , C Ramchandra and SDBurman gave some beautiful music during that period too.

But with OPN arrival the mellodies shifted to tapping music . It was time to follow the likes of Gene Kelle and Elvis Presley . In fact OPN was the one among the MDs that brought Cafe , Lounge , Club and Den’s music to the fore . Guru Dutt , Shakti Samant , Raj Khosla and other Dircetors quite effectively used such music in their crime thriller productions . Earlier CR was most sought after for such situations .

You have exhaustively brought out the various instruments that OPN used in his songs . As said Sarangi , Tabla / Dholak and Drum alternating combos were OPN signature instruments thru which his songs could get easily recognise . To me I think OPN gave exceptional songs using Piano Accordion too . I just love the following songs as accordion interludes just make me sway my foot at least one feet above the dancing floor .

1. Pom pom pom….Geeta Dutt….Aasman
The interlude of OPN ‘s this song was made as signature tune of Binaca Geet Maala prog.of the mid 50s .

2. Thandi thandi hawa……Asha , Geeta…..Johhny Walker

3.Hun abhi mein jawan…..Geeta Dutt…..

4.Babuji dheere chalna….Geeta Dutt….

26 Ravindra Kelkar February 1, 2017 at 8:11 pm

ksBhatiya Ji, Thanks for your praise.
You are right. OP did use accordion very well. The songs you have listed are testimony to the fact.

27 Anushree February 2, 2017 at 4:20 pm

The blog itself is like a melody with three phases of ops currier as three Stanzas.enjoyed hearing all gem like have really done opmanthan like samudramanthan, extracting AMRUT in the form of soulful melodies.Hats off to you.

28 AK February 3, 2017 at 4:17 am

Welcome to SoY and thanks a lot for your appreciation.

29 Giri February 3, 2017 at 1:53 pm

Thank you Ravindra Kelkar Ji for an excellent article analysing the different phases of OPN’s music.
Even during the phase when his signature was the beats with sarangi,shenai,sitar etc., he was capable of bowling a googly like ‘Yeh dunia usiki’ in which saxophone dominated! Listening to’Tu hai mera prem devta’ (Kalpana- sung by two male singers while two female dancers danced on screen), nobody would believe he was not well versed in classical music.
Who can forget the rare Mukesh- OPN combination of
‘Chal akela’?
A great entertainer indeed!

30 ksbhatia February 3, 2017 at 6:17 pm

Kelkar ji ;

With Basant already entering the sunny season , remembring a beautiful Asha , rafi , melodious duet from the old Film …BASANT. O P Nayyar on a slow beat rhythm .

Chori chori ek ishara ho gaya hai ……

31 mumbaikar8 February 5, 2017 at 2:58 am

Ravindra Kelkar,
First thing first.
An apology for the late response.
Only a passionate fan can think of these distinct phases of OPN’s career.
Now in hind sight it seems so obvious.
I had heard all these song before but listening to them after your description of instruments and nuances was absolutely a new experience. Thanks for introducing me to those songs once again.

Thanks for promoting different ideas and opinions.

32 AK February 5, 2017 at 9:03 am

Thanks a lot for your appreciation. It is always good to have people who have different opinions and are also willing to write.

33 Raghavan Vasudevan February 5, 2017 at 1:21 pm

I have been following SOY for quite some time and easily one of the best blogs in the internet on old Hindi film songs. Many of the members who comment, who writes regularly have a sound knowledge on Hindi films and its songs, the composers, the singers etc.

But there has been a very few articles on Lyricists – in fact only two have been covered. In fact I submitted an article on five lyricists but it was tuned down by Mr AK. May be my write up was not upto the standard he is looking forward. Or may be I am a baby in making a presentation with an article. Similarly a few more articles I sent each meeting the same treatment.

What I lack I have not been told clearly. Hence I am making a final bow. I will avoid visiting the blog and offer my comments. I am the loser I know.

Bye every one.

34 AK February 5, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Mr Vasudevan,
I think I have been very transparent with you in my emails. In any case, it is not good form to discuss private emails on public forums. I can only say that if you decide for that reason to leave the blog, the loss will be ours.

35 N Venkataraman February 6, 2017 at 11:47 am

Ravindra kelkarji,
Sorry for coming in late. A post on O P Nayyar by a dyed-in-the-wool admirer of this MD, provided a fresh whiff of air on the subject. Enjoyed the songs. And the accompanying details about songs and the instruments added to the listening pleasure. O P Nayyar was a MD of a very high order with a distinctly identifiable style and he is so much. Thanks Ravinderji for the interesting post.

A small query. I believe O P Nayyar composed his first song at the age of seventeen in the year 1943 in Lahore. And the song was Preetam aan milo. We all know the song was recorded in 1947 in the voice of C H Atma (NFS) later repeated in the film Mr and Mrs 55 (1955) in the voice of Geeta Dutt. Was the lyrics of this song a traditional one or written by Saroj Mohini Nayyar?

36 Ravindra Kelkar February 6, 2017 at 6:35 pm

Anushreej Ji,
Thanks for your appreciation

37 Ravindra Kelkar February 6, 2017 at 6:39 pm

Giri Ji,
Thanks for your kind words. Yes, it’s hard to believe he had no knowledge of classical music. It needs to be assumed that he must have heard classical music & assimilated it without going into the “science” of it.

38 Ravindra Kelkar February 6, 2017 at 6:40 pm

ksBhatiya Ji #30,
Yes it’s a very nice melodious song.

39 Ravindra Kelkar February 6, 2017 at 6:45 pm

Mumbaikar8 ji,
Thanks for your praise. I am glad that you found something new when you listened those songs again. Almost all of OP’s songs are fortunately accessible & hence I was not very sure whether an OP post will arouse interest among the very knowledgeable SOY followers.

40 Ravindra Kelkar February 6, 2017 at 6:57 pm

N Venkatraman JI,
Thanks for the appreciation. About who wrote Pritam Aan Milo, there is some controversy. When the records was first released, there was neither mention of OP Nayyar as MD nor of the lyric writer. I have that 78 rpm record in my collection, so it’s a fact. Subsequently when OP became popular, the new records released had name of OP Nayyar as MD and Saroj Mohini Nayyar (OP’s wife) as song writer. However OP in his interview claimed that he himself had written the song. The song was recorded in 1944 when OP was 18 years old & OP got married in 1951. If it had indeed been written by his wife, then one has to assume that OP was courting his wife for 7 years before getting married.

41 Shalan Lal February 7, 2017 at 12:01 pm

NV Venkatramn @35 & Ravindra Kelkar @ 40

It seems that the mystry of the “Preetam Aan Milo” is deepening. We had that record as our family was fond of the voice of Chandru Atma.
But after listneing to so many Punjabi senior genelemen I beleived that the lyric was written by Saroj Arora. As for he being young and wooing her for such a long time could happen in those days as families know each other and they allow young people to woo but often are heavily chaperoned. In the old time in India families often selcted brides or bridegrooms very early in the “baradari”.

The three phases’ formula to appreciate the music of the O.P.Nayyar’s contribution is very inventive and in my efforts to test it with the contribution of Nuashad worked well but not much helpful with that of SJ. The first phase works with that of S.D but others steps do not work.

I have not time to try and test it with other musicians. It does not work with the singers as well except one has to say that the chronology of the period does the first phase but not with the growth in the voice. Similarly with the skills of the well known directors, it does not work at all.

Some twenty years ago here in London, on a well known Hindi film Music programme on the radio there was a special series on the music directors. A very well known DJ from the East African Punjabi origin was continuously mentioning O.P.Naayar and not Nayyar. Another DJ came on the programme as the listeners were allowed to telephone the programme. He was from Punjab from Pakistan. He told him how to pronounce the word “Nayyar” and told him the meaning of the word “Nayyar” in Farsi-Urdu” means “Bright Star”.

I looked into my Urdu dictionary and did not find it. When I went to the British library next time it was there in the Arabic dictionary.

The Nayyar name and the communities in Punjab are very famous. They are upper crust “Khatri” caste people and have Khandani Rubab around them.

As Mr Kelkar got the access to the wire sent by Pancholi then he must have a contact with the family of O.P. who have kept eerie silence so far about O.P. and his contribution.

I think the song “Preetam Aan Milo” became very popular and O.P. got access in the film Industry because of that.

As we know that the lyric was written by Saroj Arora she must have helped O.P. in his debut “Aasman” and later on as well. However as the upper crust Kahtri families might have restrictions that the names of the “Gharana Bahu” should not appear in the lowly seen filmy culture or that of the gramophone records.

Surely all the contribution went on the name of O.P. was not his as we know that the second version of “Preetam Aan Milo” was used in much later film “Mr and Mrs. 55” had the arrangement of Sebastian D’Souza.

So if all the contribution that has gone in the name of O.P. is O.P.’s then I would like to say O.P. Nayyar was the trail blazing Haley’s comet on the horizon of the golden age of Hindi Film Music.

Shalan Lal

42 Ravindra Kelkar February 7, 2017 at 2:27 pm

Raghavan Vasudevan #22,
Sorry for late acknowledgement. Missed reading your comment.
Thanks for your kind words.

43 Ravindra Kelkar February 7, 2017 at 2:41 pm

SSW #15 and Raghavan Vasudevan #22,
Explanation about Spanish Brush
Spanish Brush is not a musical instrument as such. It’s basically rhythmic musical sound effect produced by using brush(a sort of drum stick I presume) on Drum in tandem with Spanish Guitar. As an example, listen to the rhythm of the song “Hum Ne To Dil Ko Aap Ke Kadamon Pe Rakh Diya” from Mere Sanam or “Aap Ke Hasin Rukh Pe Aaj Naya Noor Hai” from Bahare Pir Bhi Aayengi.

44 SSW February 7, 2017 at 6:21 pm

Thanks Mr Kelkar , brushes are used on drums quite often in jazz. They are mostly used on the snare drum. I mentioned that OP used this in my comment #10. In the first song you have pointed out the brushes are employed on the snare and the guitar is emphasizing the beat while the brush strokes are providing additional syncopation. In the second song there is no guitar that I can hear (may be it isn’t recorded properly ) the basic beat is provided by the double bass and possibly the bass notes on the piano. Here is a a wonderful jazz drummer Ben Riley showing the brush techniques used in swing , with a double bass and guitar in the background. You’ll hear the walking bass line that OP and other MDs employed in some of their songs.

I’ve never heard the term Spanish Brush before.

45 Ravindra Kelkar February 8, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Thanks for your inputs. The video link is nice and quite revealing the technique.

46 Ravindra Kelkar February 8, 2017 at 2:46 pm

Ms Shalan Lal,
You have a unique way of looking at things for sure. It’s an admirable quality to possess.
You are absolutely right that “Preetam Aan Milo” was the foundation stone of OP’s musical career.
OP also, always gave due credit to the instrumentalists about their contribution in his music. He treated them as his equals.

47 Ravindra Kelkar February 8, 2017 at 2:57 pm

Raghavan Vasudevan #22,
This is how the sound of hoof beats is created.
There is a big stone of the dimension of approximately 2 X 2 feet. The surface of the stone is a bit rough. The stone is covered by a cloth. Then you have two halves of coconut shell. The person who is to produce the sound, holds the coconut shells in his two palms and strikes them on the stone in rhythmic fashion. That’s all. This creates the perfect sound of hoof beats. I was fortunate enough to attend a recording of a tonga song of OP Nayyar. So I saw this with my own eyes. It was quite amazing. So simple and so effective.

48 ksbhatia February 8, 2017 at 5:52 pm

SSW, Kelkar ji’s;

Shammi Kapoor played Drum player role in Dil Deke Dekho . The film being a musical , with club and hotel as its background , Shammi was shown holding Brush sticks playing on the drums on three or four occasions during its background music as well as during club songs . Usha Khanna gave one of her best music in this film ; and listening to its songs during those times took many followers of O P Nayyar by surprise . The beats, the rhythm , the instruments used …all pointed to their similarities .

Here is one song where Shammi Kapoor is shown playing brush on the drum for a small moment of time in its prelude .

Bolo bolo kuchh to bolo….Rafi…….DDD….Usha Khanna….

49 SSW February 8, 2017 at 7:37 pm

Mr.Bhatia thank you, the use of brushes on the drums etc has a lot to do with the musicians who played for these songs rather than the music directors. They were the ones who brought in these effects especially since a lot of these musicians used to play in the jazz bands in hotels and club in Bombay and with foreign jazz musicians when they came to India. Very few music directors were directly involved in rhythmic areas though most would give a general direction of what they expected, it was mostly done by the assistants who were involved with strings percussion etc. Cawas Lord influenced a whole generation of percussionists in Hindi film music. I am told that O P Nayyar was very appreciative of the musicians who played in his songs and Gregory Booth I think mentions an occasion where OP gave his Rolex watch away to one musician after a recording, he was so pleased with his work.

50 ksbhatia February 9, 2017 at 10:00 am


I totally agree with you . The jazz bands that performed in hotels and clubs had a great back up of the foreign musicians .

I , during my younger days , used to explore such places where live band was in attendance . The christian gentlemen of those days [ most probably from Goa ] , in their 40 and 50 years of age , nicely dressed in their black suits with white shirts and black bow , used to impress us all with their fine instrumental music . They used to play in orchestra in Y.M.C.A hall located near C.P , New Delhi where I was a regular listener . As a part timer , however , they played in C.P reataurants and some clubs as well. Gaylord and Yorks Hotel were my fav. places where i enjoyed my passionate western music with a cup of coffee .

This scenerio was of the mid 60s., but could not hold for long ….giving way to the arrival of fast rocky music . The live music got lost and was slowly got withdrawn from hotels etc.

I at that time was in I . I . T , Delhi enjoying the company of like minded students of the Music Club .We used to hum and correct each other over the rhythm and beats of guitars and drums . Lara’s theme and Blue spanish eyes and theme song of An Evening in Paris , were our fav. instrumental pieces that we used to play in college and university compettions . Teesri Manzil , Dil Deke Dekho , Prince , An Evening in Paris songs were fav. of our Drummer and Accordeon players.

Those were the days my friend ….really…..

51 Timir Kurambhatti February 13, 2017 at 7:13 am


Till now i knew OP limited to his Melodious songs but your info helped me to understand OPs gr8ness too. Hats off to you for providing in depth details that too phase wise. Really appreciated your efforts. Keep sharing more and more.

52 C E POTNIS February 13, 2017 at 3:51 pm

Dear Mr. Kelkar,
Extremely well framed article. article literally helps one visualise OP’s journey and the lovely contribution he made. Article also reflects your love towards OP and the insight and the depth of knowledge you have about his work. Well done. Keep writing.

53 Ravindra Kelkar February 13, 2017 at 5:59 pm

Thanks for your appreciation.

54 Ravindra Kelkar February 16, 2017 at 5:42 pm

Mr. C. E. Potnis,
Thanks for your praise.

55 Parag Dimri February 28, 2017 at 3:26 pm

Ravindra Kelkarji,
Sir, m parag Dimri from new delhi & great fan of Nayyar sahab.

Under the guidance of Mr Siraj Khan,L who is managing OPN trust & website,we have initiated efforts on making of documentary on legend.
M very impressed with your knowledge about Maestro & feel that we should also request you to join us in this endeavors.

Sir, my humble request you to share your contact details with me,so that discussed our passion for great composer in length.

My contact details is 9818675637 or

Look forward to our discussion .


56 Ravindra Kelkar March 7, 2017 at 7:51 am

Parag Ji,
Thanks for your comments.
I will definitely get in touch with you.

57 Parag Dimri March 7, 2017 at 8:08 am

Thank you much,will request you to share your email address or any touch point, vide could connect with you.

Eagerly awaiting,
Musically yours,
Parag Dimri

58 canasya March 12, 2017 at 6:23 pm

I have been silently admiring SoY’s ascent “down” memory lane for the last several years. Recently I came across on YouTube the mention of a song entitled “Mori nindiya churaye gayo” sung by Rajkumari in Aasmaan (1952)
which reportedly OPN had composed for Lata! (See the video below from 17:20-20:00)
Would like to get confirmation from experts such as Kelkar ji and other SoY stalwarts such as Arunkumar Deshmukhji. Holi Mubarak!

59 AK March 12, 2017 at 11:47 pm

But why silently? You have been contributing significantly to SoY. But welcome back. Now we have two more stories for the rift, one of which comes from Lata Mangeshkar’s mouth herself. We should normally believe it, but she is human, and not above giving a spin to portray herself in a positive or innocent, or, at times, righteous light in all such cases.

60 Ravindra Kelkar March 17, 2017 at 6:45 pm

Canasya Ji,
The only person who could have thrown light on the facts was Dalsukklal Pancholi, the producer of the film “Aasman”. He died long back in 1959-60. OP always claimed that he never ever summoned up Lata to sing for him. Mr. Pancholi suggested to OP to try Rajkumari to sing this song as a variation, since the remaining 4 female solos were sung by Geeta Dutt. This is OP’s story as to why Rajkumari sang this song instead of Geeta Dutt. So there you are. It’s personal choice whom to believe. Still the fact remains that OP was the only hugely successful MD without Lata in the Golden era and that’s the main point.

61 Arun Barve June 27, 2017 at 12:57 pm

I am one who also met OPN thrice and tried to make him speak on his music and finally got only one sentence answer ” Malik ki den hai ” .I never paid any attention to his life as a person.My first love was SJ and ultimately married to OPN ( musically ), and I am extremely happy with this marriage for last 50 years. ( ha ha ). I have made my firm mind to see Mr. Ravindra Kelkar and enjoy and discuss OPN music with him.This is my reaction of this article.

62 Ravindra Kelkar June 29, 2017 at 5:44 am

Arun Barve,
Wonderful to have one more OPN fan. Would definitely like to meet in person. Please share your email id, then we can get in touch.

63 Ajay.Gadre November 23, 2017 at 8:01 pm

Excellent post Mr.Ravindra.Kelkar

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