Sandeep S. Sandhu
I once was watching a TV interview of legendry Naushad Ali. Naushad narrated an incident, when he and other musicians from different parts of the world, were invited by the US President for a dinner. An evening before the party, he received a message from the White House: "Kindly, wear a black jacket and a tie for the dinner". Naushad decided against going to the White House, rather than wear a ‘jacket and tie', which he had never done in his life. He wouldn't succumb to an invitation that he thought was a subtly delivered ‘cultural coercion'. At the last moment, however, he had different thoughts—he strutted into the White House wearing his favourite ‘Bandgala'. As far as dress was concerned, he was the odd-man out (everybody else was supporting a black tie). But Naushad had made his point. Indians could not be arm-twisted with ease. The US President (I am forgetting his name) complimented him for not allowing the dress code for the dinner prevail over his love for his culture. That incident is truly symbolic of what Naushad stood for in his entire life. He was an untiring crusader of the Indian culture and a patriot to the core.
Born on December 25, 1919, Naushad Ali, the great music director breathed his last in Mumbai on May 5, 2006. He is survived by four daughters and three sons.
Naushad's contribution to the Indian music cannot be quantified. Figures and words may fall miserably short of portrayal of his true genius. Naushad was a phenomenon; someone, who not only harmonized the Indian classical music into filmy style, but was an important part of the movement that has made music an indistinguishable feature of Hindi movies.
Naushad Ali was born in the culturally important city of Lucknow. He got training in music from Ustad Ghurbat Ali, Ustad Yusuf Ali, and Ustad Babban Saheb. In 1930s, Naushad moved to Mumbai, where in the beginning, he struggled very hard to find a foot-hold. Later, he picked up a job in an orchestra. Before playing a second fiddle in many movies, he gave musical score to Prem Nagar
(1940) independently. However, Sharda
(1942) gave him much needed recognition.
In 1940s, he gave music to many films that included Shahjehan
(1949), Anmol Ghadi
(1949). Naushad Ali's some of the best works like music of Baiju Bawra (1952) and Mughal-e-Azaam (1960) were steeped heavily in classical music.
(1960), Ganga Jamuna
(1963) are some of the other films, whose music was created by Naushad.
(1972) was the last great flick that carries the unmistakable Naushad stamp on its musical notes. However, Akbar Khan's
Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story
(2005) became the last movie of his illustrious career. Naushad would always be remembered for the fusion of Indian and Western instruments. Naushad was the pioneer of sound mixing and the separate recording of voice and music tracks in playback singing. He was equally fond of the sitar and the flute; the mandolin and clarinet.
In an interview, he had said: "In my 62 years in the film industry, I composed music for 66 films...we used to agonise over every tune and phrase in music, spend sleepless nights over a song, and work on it until it was perfected. And I am still looking for perfection." No other words can succinctly spell the ‘creations and quest' of Naushad.
In 1981, Naushad was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award
for his lifetime contribution to Indian cinema. Naushad till his end was a vociferous critic of vulgarisation of music. At whatever forum he could speak, Naushad condemned the ‘pop' and ‘remix' versions of old masterpieces in no unequivocal terms.
May his soul rest in peace!