Talat Aziz: Khayyam saab specially added song in Umrao Jaan

Updated: Aug 21, 2019, 08:22 IST | Talat Aziz | Mumbai

Talat Aziz bids farewell to his mentor and father figure Mohammed Zahur Khayyam Hashmi


Talat AzizI first met him during my performance at a private mehfil in Khar, in 1978. After my performance, Khayyam saab walked up to me and told me, 'Beta, I like your voice. One day, I will give you a break.' When Umrao Jaan (1981) was conceived, there was no male song in the original script. So, Khayyam saab told Muzaffar Ali [director] saab, 'I want you to include a male song so that it can lend a poetic vibe to Farooq Sheikh's character and Umrao Jaan can fall in love with him. That's how the song, Zindagi Jab Bhi Teri Bazm Mein, was created, and I came into the picture. I remember going to his house for 15 days for rehearsals before we recorded the song.

Khayyam was accorded State Honours. Pics/ Sameer Markande, Yogen Shah

Khayyam saab was a father figure to me. I used to meet him at his home every three-four days, and if I couldn't make it, he would invariably check on me and ask me where I was. I learned the art of perfection from him. He made me record the ghazal, Nagma-e-Jaan Saaz-e-Dil, [Yatra, 2007] 20 times before he was satisfied. He once narrated to me that when he was recording the song Hazar Raahein [Thodisi Bewafai, 1980] with Kishore Kumar, Kishore da wanted to sing the song without interludes while Khayyam saab wanted it with interludes. He let Kishore da sing it his way, but the singer was not happy with the result. That's when Khayyam saab told him, 'I put those interludes because the story is about an estranged couple. The director can show flashbacks of what happened in their relationship in those music pieces.' This was the kind of detailing that Khayyam saab practised.

I was by his side all through his illness. I took care of him over the last 21 days in the hospital. I was praying by his bedside when he breathed his last.

As told to Upala KBR

Also Read: Khayyam Last Rites: Full state honours for the legendary music composer

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    Mohammed Zahur "Khayyam" Hashmi, fondly known as Khayyam Sahab, was born on February 18, 1927, in Rahon, Nawanshahr District, Punjab, British India. He was just 17 when Khayyam Sahab began music direction. But his musical dreams were briefly halted a year later owing to World War II when Khayyamji enlisted in the Army.  (All photos courtesy/mid-day archives, Nimesh Dave, Yogen Shah)

  • 2/19

    Three years later, Khayyamji came to Mumbai and resumed his musical journey. He started off composing as Sharmaji of the Sharmaji-Varmaji composer duo. They created music for the 1948 film, Heer Ranjha. But, after partition, his partner, Rahman Varma left Bombay.

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    That, of course, did not stop Khayyamji's journey. Five years on, it was time for his solo break.

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    In 1953, Khayyam Sahab composed the music for Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari's hit Foot Path. Although Timir Baran was credited as the primary composer of the film, its success, and Khayyam's natural tendency to thrive with classical notes impressed all. And the rest is history!

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    Some of his early hits included songs in films such as Phir Subah Hogi (1958), Shola Aur Shabnam (1961) and Aakhri Khat (1966) - the last mentioned marking superstar Rajesh Khanna's entry into Bollywood. In picture: Jagjit Singh, Jagjit Kaur and Khayyam at the launch of new album Nivedan at ISKCON temple, Juhu.

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    Khayyam Sahab was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in the year 2011 and was bestowed the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2007.

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    Khayyam Sahab won the National Award, and also a Filmfare Award, besides a few other recognitions for composing music for Umrao Jaan, which starred Rekha, Raj Babbar, and Naseeruddin Shah.

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    Khayyam Sahab's non-film songs are equally loved by his fans, especially 'Paaon Padun Tore Shyam,' 'Brij Mein Laut Chalo' and 'Ghazab Kiya Tere Vaade pe Aitbaar Kiya'.

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    Khayyam Sahab also gave music to the late Meena Kumari's album, 'I Write, I Recite' featuring 'nazms' (poems) sung by her. In picture: Khayyam sahab's 92nd birthday celebration.

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    Khayyam Sahab's forte were ghazals, thumris, dadras and other genres of Hindustani classical music. In picture: Khayyam Sahab with his wife Jagjit Kaur (left) and Asha Bhosle (right) at the launch of Naina Lagai Ke in 2010 (Picture courtesy: Anuja Gupta).

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    In an era when orchestra pop reigned, Khayyam was what many in Bollywood referred to as an artiste of refined expertise.

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    Khayyam Sahab is best known for his compositions for films such as Anjuman (1986), Razia Sultan (1983), Bazaar (1982), Dil-e-Nadaan (1982), and Noorie (1979).

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    After his demise on August 19, 2019, legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar took to Twitter and shared a fond memory with the late music composer. She said Khayyam made music to her liking and though she loved working with him, she was also scared because he was a perfectionist.

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    "Khayyam Sahab would treat me as his younger sister. For me, he used to make his special songs. I loved working with him but would also be a little scared because he was a perfectionist. His understanding and knowledge of Shayari was exceptional," mentioned Lata Mangeshkar in her tweet.

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    Reminiscing about the memories of the Rekha-fronted classic - Umrao Jaan (1982) - director Muzaffar Ali said it took Khayyam Sahab almost two years to create music for the film. "Day in, day out, I used to go to him. He used to stay at my house. It was an evolution of music. Today, no composer, director or producer will spend so much time on making the music. We left no stone unturned for this film's music," he said.

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    Khayyam Sahab passed away after a prolonged illness on August 19, 2019. He was 92. The noted composer was admitted at the ICU at Sujay Hospital in suburban Juhu due to lung infection.

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    Khayyam Sahab is survived by his singer wife Jagjit Kaur.

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    In picture: Sushilkumar Shinde, Kangana Ranaut and Khayyam during the music launch of the movie Rajjo in Mumbai in 2013 (Picture courtesy/Satyajit Desai)

  • 19/19

    When Lata Mangeshkar wrote to describe music maestro Khayyamji's demise as the "end of an era", she said it all.

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