Published On: Thu, Mar 17th, 2016

Tribute to a true genius composer Ghulam Mohammed on his 48th death anniversary.

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10391390_863280433780460_8348012610996052027_nGhulam Mohammed was Naushad’s senior in the music industry by several years. He was an established tabla player, earning Rs 60 per month, with Ustad Jhande Khan, when Naushad joined him, in 1937, as a piano player at Rs. 40 per month. Fate catapulted Naushad to commanding heights, making him the greatest Mughal of Movie Music. And fate destined Ghulam Mohammed to work for several years as his Chief Music Assistant. For many years Ghulam Mohammad became assistant to Naushad in hit films like ‘Rattan’, ‘Sanjog’, ‘Sanyasi’, ‘Dard’, ‘Diwana’ and ‘Aan’. Concurrently, he also composed music independently in several films, giving outstanding music.

When Naushad broke with AR Kardar finally in 1952, Ghulam Mohammed, too, decided to cease being his assistant. Dil-e-Naadan (1953) was launched with great fanfare typical of Kardar and its music was entrusted to Ghulam Mohammed, hoping that he would repeat the magic of Naushad. Its music was absolutely mesmerizing – not a poor copy of Naushad, but very different and very original. But Ghulam Mohammed was not lucky, the film bombed.

A year later, ‘Mirza Ghalib’ was a masterly work, earning a well-deserved National Award. It boasted of all-time great music. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was so moved by ‘Mirza Ghalib’s songs that he especially complimented Suraiya for rendering them so beautifully. But the film flopped, and Ghulam Mohammed came to be known as unsaleable in the soulless world of commercial cinema.

His most famous work, ‘Pakeezah’ (1972), which also eventually became a great commercial success, came to be released four years after his death on 17 March 1968. Till today the songs of ‘Pakeezah’ sound like a fresh breeze of air to music lovers. Songs like ‘Chalo Dildaar Chalo’, ‘Inhi Logon Ne’ and ‘Chalte Chalte..’ have been listeners’ all time favourites. Ghulam Mohammed’s music in Pakeezah achieved a record breaking success. But Pakeezah took a long time in the making. By then he was facing economic crisis. He would go round carrying his tape recorder and playing the ‘Pakeezah’ songs to producers in the hope that they would give him a contract. They rejected him saying that the tunes were outdated. And yet, after his death these very songs became a rage.

His soul must be turning in his grave to see that the film ‘Pakeezah’’s credit titles mention Naushad’s name first, under the heading “Title and Background Music”, followed by his name under the title “Music”.

Born in village Naal in Rajasthan, Ghulam Mohammed learnt the dholak and tabla from his father, Nabibakhsh, in childhood. He was also a trained dancer and worked with travelling theatres, such as Lahore’s New Albert Theatre Company and Bikaner’s JB Company. He got further training in the tabla, dholak and pakhavaj from Hyderabad’s Ghulam Rasool Khan. He got work as a tabla player in Saroj Movietone’s film Bhartrihari (1932). Thereafter, he associated with Anil Biswas, and later with Naushad from 1943 (Sanjog) to 1952 (Aan).

Ghulam Mohammed gave music independently for over 30 films. Ghulam Mohammed entered films when he was 40. And the first film in which he scored music was ‘Mere Khwab’ in 1943. He is among the earliest music directors, spanning both the Vintage and the Golden Era. His music in Grihasthi, Pugree (1948), Shayar (1949), Bikhare Moti (1951), Amber (1952), Laila Majnu, Rail Ka Dibba (1953), ‘Mirza Ghalib’ (1954), Paak Daaman (1957), Maalik (1958), Do Gunde (1959) and Shama (1961) became very famous and is popular among music lovers.

Once Sahir Ludhiyanvi wrote “Yeh Basti Hai Murdaparaston Ki Basti”. Throughout life man live with the hope of getting his desires fulfilled, but till the end he he loses contacts and achieves little. It is after his death only that people realize his worth. Music director Ghulam Mohammed also faced the same destiny. Throughout his life he served music, but in return he did not get all that he deserved. He became a victim of the dirty politics of Hindi cinema.

Ghulam Mohammed has left behind a melodious treasure of unforgettable songs. We can never have adequate words to express our gratitude to that creative genius.

May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Ghulam Mohammed in legendary music composer Naushad Ali’s words:

“Ghulam Mohammed was senior to me both in age and profession, yet he accepted me as his Ustad . It is indeed His Greatness.

Ghulam Mohammed first joined me as a tabla player and later became my assistant . He was am amazing tabla and dholak maestro . I always felt that he should take independent assignments as a music director which he rightly deserved .

Ghulam Mohammed was not only a good tabla and dholak player but , he was good at singing and dancing . His association with me lasted for nearly 20 years , first as a tabla player and later as an assistant . It was his greatness that he not only accepted me as an Ustad but loved me with his deep heart . On the contrary it should have been the other way round , his knowledge was remarkable . I accept with my whole heart that he was more knowledgeable than me and played a significant role in mending my career .

When Kamal Amrohi commenced his movie Pakeezah he approached me for scoring the music . I told him that I am already busy with a movie and I do not accept any movie until I complete it . I recommeded Ghulam Mohammad and assured him that he would do a better job . If, however, you at any stage feel that some thing was lacking I shall be always there to help you . Kamal Amrohi honored my suggestion and engaged Ghulam Mohammed for film Pakeezah .

Ghulam Mohammed passed away before the movie could be completed . After the completion of the movie Kamal Amrohi approached me and said ” I have come to remind you the promise you had made years ago . The film is ready and you can score the background music.”

It took two and a half months for me to complete the background score . I told Kamal Saheb not to include my name in the titles of music but, he did not listen, he was very adamant .

Ghulam Mohammed was a deeply religious person . He was very regular in matters of prayer and fasting during the Ramzan . On fridays we both used to offer namaaz at the Bandra Jama Masjid .
He was a very sentimental person , while composing a song if he was inspired by a particular raag he used to cry and make me cry.
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Ghulam Mohammed passed away before the release of film Pakeezah . His brother Abdul Karim met me at the premier of the movie . Tears were flowing uncontrollably from his eyes when he told me “how happy my brother would have felt had he seen his success with his own eyes.”

The passing away of Ghulam Mohammed left me in void . I feel very lonely . May God bless him with heavenly bliss.”

From right to left: Music director Ghulam Mohammed, Actress Nadira, Music director Naushad Ali, Lata Mangeshkar and two guests on the sets of Mehboob Khan's film 'Aan' (1952).

From right to left:
Music director Ghulam Mohammed, Actress Nadira, Music director Naushad Ali, Lata Mangeshkar and two guests on the sets of Mehboob Khan’s film ‘Aan’ (1952).

The article is sourced from here.

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology