Rarely Heard Ghulam Mohammad

  (Remembering Ghulam Mohammad on his 51st Death Anniversary)

I’ve been waiting this post for a year. Last year, thanks to my busy schedule, I could not pay tribute to yet another underrated composer of the Golden Era. But now, here I am with the post.
Ghulam Mohammad is best known for his spectacular songs from ‘Pakeezah’, he was also one of the best known assistants to Naushad, and in fact many people know him for that! But of course, Pakeezah is not his only masterpiece. He composed for at least 35 more films and majority of the films had great songs. Let the films be commercially successful or not!
Songs from Pakeezah are a class apart. It was most unfortunate that he didn’t survive till its release and enjoy the success of the songs and the film. It’s still considered as one of the best music scores of Hindi Cinema. And surely it is!
While I was researching for the post, I came across some of his less commonly heard songs. I wasn’t aware of the songs, nor were the songs popular or mentioned frequently with Ghulam Mohammad’s name! But the songs were good and some of the songs were not the ones, one would easily attribute to Ghulam Mohammad. It also showed the lighter side, the comic side of the composer. So I decided to go for the rarely heard and rarely talked about songs of Ghulam Mohammad, who himself is rarely talked about!
Of course, while doing so his popular songs shouldn’t be neglected. I intend to cover those songs later.

ghulam mohd
                                                 1903 – 17th March 1968

Let’s know in brief about the composer’s early days. He was born in 1903 in Naad, a small village in district Bikaner, Rajasthan. His father Nabi Baksh was a renowned Tabla player and little Ghulam learnt from him in childhood along with his brothers. It is said that, he started learning Tabla at very tender age, 4-5 years. He also learnt classical music from Ustad Ghulam Rasul Khan. He started working in J B theatres, and did singing, acting, backstage everything. This experience had a deep impact on young Ghulam and help build his sense of music more strongly.

He came to Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1924, where he worked for Ustad Jhande Khan. In 1939, his excellent rendition of tabla, for the movie, Bhartruhari, attracted everyone. That time he was working for Saroj Movietone. He was also associated with Rafiq Ghaznavi & Anil Biswas for some time.
Composer Naushad was a newcomer then, and Ghulam Mohammad introduced him to Ustad Jhande Khan and accomodated him as organ player. They shared deep bonding and remained close friends for life. Later he worked with Naushad as his chief assistant from Sanjog (1943) and was with him till ‘Aan (1952)’. Naushad was more than ten years younger to him, still Ghulam Mohammad never felt inferior to assist him. I think, for him, it was serving music in the every possible way.

 

He individually composed for the first time for the movie, Mera Khwab in 1943. (Some of the sites mention that his first movie was a 1937 film called, Banke Sipahi. But no information about the film or the songs is available) It means his first Hindi film was released when he was 40. Still he continued to work with Naushad as his assistant for ten more years. He used to add many creative inputs in his songs. Excellent use of Tabla and Dholak was his forte. He incorporated that style in Naushad’s songs as well. So many a times, some of their songs have similar sounds. Meanwhile he continued to work as an independent composer. The songs from Mera Khwab could not create impact, and his next release was in 1947. It was a film called Doli, produced by P N Arora. He later worked with Arora, for nine more films, Pagadi, Paras, Pardes, Nazneen, Gauhar, Laila Majnu (1953), Rail Ka Dibba, Hoor E Arab & Sitara. These low budget films nevertheless helped boost his career to some extent. The songs from Pagadi, Paras, Pardes and Laila Majnu were especially more popular.

Ghulam Mohammad also brought Ghalib’s famous Ghazals to life in Mirza Ghalib (1954) that had one of the best performances by Suraiya, Talat & Ghulam Mohammed himself. He was awarded the First National Award for Best Music in 1955, for Mirza Ghalib and was acclaimed by Pandit Nehru. He again worked with Minerva Movietone (Producer of Mirza Ghalib) in Kundan (1955), which was one of Sunil Dutt’s early films and Do Gunde (1959). After the success of Mirza Ghalib, it was expected that he would suddenly become busy with a number of films. But God knows why it didn’t happen? Perhaps his heart condition was never too healthy to cope up with exertion. But the songs of Mirza Ghalib caught attention of Kamaal Amrohi, who finalized him for the movie, Pakeezah. No-one knew that the film would make Ghulam Mohammad’s name immortal.

His other hits include, Kajal, Grihasthi (1948), Shair, Amber, Ajeeb Ladki, Dil E Nadan, Shama etc. Shama was released in 1961, and after that he suffered heart attack. His weak heart was unable to let him compose for films. The only film he had in hand was Pakeezah. It took a long time in making and nobody was certain about its completion. Ghulam Mohammad started working on the project in early 60s itself. He set to tune six songs (Five solos by Lata Mangeshkar & one duet by Lata-Rafi), he also finalised the orchestration and arrangement. Later, some songs (that were used in the background to crate the atmosphere of Kotha) and the background score was added by Naushad. Ghulam Mohammad ultimately succumbed to death on 17th March 1968. The film, Pakeezah wasn’t anywhere near completion then. It was released in 1972, and Meena Kumari also passed away soon after its release. The songs and the film were a huge success. The music trends had changed tremendously with the start of the 70s decade, but the excellent songs maintaining the flavour of 1960s were hugely popular. Most unfortunate of Ghulam Mohammad not to be able to witness the success of the songs.

Ghulam Mohammad worked with Shakeel Badayuni for a majority of his films. Even for ‘Mirza Ghalib’ Shakeel penned two songs. Other lyricists made an occasional guest appearance in his career. These include Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, Majrooh, Khumar Barabankvi etc.

He was an excellent Tabla & Dholak player, and made the most spectacular use of these instruments in his songs. For instance, the captivating rhythm of, Ankhiyan Milake Zara Baat Karo Ji, or the excellent piece of tabla after the opening lines of Thade Rahiyo. He was instrumental in popularising the famous Matka Rhythm in his songs. (Shyamasundar was the other one, who made it popular) Ghulam Mohammed used his skills as a percussionist in many of his own songs and Naushad’s songs. His tunes were always simple but sweet, never too noisy! And the using Matka as a percussion instrument, transforms a simple song to another level, adding a foot tapping rhythm. But my favourite Matka song by Ghulam Mohammad is from Sheesha, ‘Khushi Dil Se Hansi Hothon Se’. A song with deep pathos! Another example of a different or experimental song is ‘Laa De Mohe Balma Aasmani Chudiyan’ from Rail Ka Dibba. Its fast pace and breathless rendition must have awestruck the audience that time. Such songs never used to be a common part of our films. The singers sang the lines in fast pace, but maintaining the rhythm, somewhat like a rap. Shamshad always excels in singing the lines in a single breath, and if we listen this song carefully, she can sing for more time than Rafi in a single breath.

Lata Mangeshkar was his favourite singer, though he also offered songs to Shamshad. In his early days, the latter was his major female playback, but was reduced later to only dance numbers and songs of side characters over the period of time. This transition from lead singer to singer for ‘other songs’ was unfortunately an important part of Shamshad’s career. So Shamshad’s peppy fast paced numbers form a significant part of his songs. Suraiya had her share of songs, in Kaajal, Shair, & Mirza Ghalib. It was the songs from Kaajal that brought fame to the composer in masses. Ironically the movie, Shair, is remembered for Lata’s solos and duet than for Suraiya’s songs. Lata sang for Kamini Kaushal in the film.
He hardly called any other female singers, except a few songs to Geeta Dutt, Hameeda Bano, Uma Devi, Zohrabai Ambalewali, Sitara Kanpuri, Sudha Malhotra. Not to forget Jagjit Kaur, who got fame with the memorable songKhamosh Zindagi Ko’ from Dil E Nadan & Suman Kalyanpur, who got acclaim for songs from ‘Shama’, ‘Ek Jurm Karke Humne’ & ‘Dil Gham Se Jal Raha’. As compared to these singers, Asha Bhosle was offered slightly more share and sang solos and duets for him.

In case of male playback singers, at first, G M Durrani and then Rafi, appear his favourites. And Talat makes appearance in early 50s and disappears later, a story very commonly observed with Talat. But the songs of ‘ Dil E Nadan’, and ‘Malik’ where Talat was the main lead & ‘Mirza Ghalib’ feature some of his best songs ever. So Ghulam Mohammad presented the best of Talat. Other male singers hardly if at all, got chance to sing for him.

It seems, though he was full of talent and dedication, destiny never allowed him to get his due. He always was remembered as Naushad’s assistant & the composer of Pakeezah, who unfortunately could not enjoy its success. He was not business minded, was not very ambitious, it seems! He just went on delivering good songs for the projects that came his way. His devotion & dedication always remained his strength, so was his deep knowledge of classical music and percussion instruments. His brothers and later his sons also achieved fame by their talent in playing Dholak & Tabla. Ghulam Mohammad didn’t even receive Filmfare award for Pakeezah which he surely deserved and would have acted as a tribute to his entire career.

It’s time now for the song list. As I said earlier, it has less commonly heard or lesser known songs of Ghulam Mohammad. I came across majority of the songs for the first time while researching for the post. I hope all the readers will enjoy the songs. A little difference from the usual brings a new wave of freshness, or so I expect! I must also confess that in majority of the songs, the lyrics formed an important part, than the actual tune. But still the importance of a catchy can’t be overemphasized. For me, both the things go hand in hand, for a successful song.

So were we go, in no particular order………………………………….

1. O Motor Wali Chhori – Grahasthi (1948) Shamshad Begum & Hameeda Bano / Lyrics – Waheed Qureshi and Shakeel Badayuni
Oh what a fun this song is! A complete entertainer!
A light hearted fun song, two ladies perhaps driving the car, and a gentleman teasing and commenting on the car. It would have been fun to watch its video, but it’s not available unfortunately. But still we can very well imagine, the rough idea of the picturisation. Typically classical vintage era song. You must have a naughtiness to compose such type of song, and also should be able to explain the same to the singers. We generally don’t attributes such naughty songs to Ghulam ji.
I just loved it! There is an unidentified male voice in the song. Veteran Film enthusiast, late Mr Isaq Mujawar has mentioned a name of an actor, Nirjan Musharraf, as the singer, in one of his Marathi books. I think, Mr Arun Kumar ji Deshmukh would be the best person, to solve this mystery. The song is at the number one position in the following video.


2. Main Banungi Film Star – Ajeeb Ladki (1952) Shamshad Begum / Lyrics – Shakeel Badayuni
Where had been this wonderful song for so many years? It’s so wonderful! It brings a smile on your face instantly. Just listen to the rendition by Shamshad begum. She has sung it with an innocence of a newcomer, with a big bunch of dreams to follow. The lady wants to be an actress, a film star, who’s loved and adored by everyone. She appears enchanted by the glamour. Her day dreaming is so cute and innocent! She is confident, she’ll outshine Suraiya and Nargis one-day. And she will be so popular that even Raj Kapoor will pine for her glance.
Again, the composer is the one who weaves the song in a tune, and teaches the exact expressions to the singer. Have you expected such a song from Ghulam ji? We tend to think of him as a serious composer, who sets to tune soulful ghazals and sad songs.


3. Aao Baitho Baat Suno – Maang (1950) G M Durrani & Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Saghar Usmani
It’s one of the couple of songs on the list, that I already knew. One of the few duets by Lata and Durrani. A usual नौक झोक between the two genders. He’s in love and wants the lady to accept his love. But she’s completely indifferent, wants to avoid love. And warns him to keep away from her.
He sings, “आओ प्यार करे” ,The uninterested lady rebukes “जरा दूर रहो” Ghulam Mohammad keeps the mukhda in conversational tone, and adds a different tone in stanzas.


4. Khel Nahi Hai Gir Gir Kar Sambhalna – Doli (1947) G M Durrani / Lyrics – Majrooh
The song reminded me of ‘Chale Pawan Ki Chal’ for the Tonga rhythm and ‘Udan Khatole Pe Ud Jaoon’ for the tune. Catchy foot tapping rhythm, with a little bit of philosophy are the main attractions of the song. It may not be that popular, but I think, may be known to the enthusiasts of the vintage era.


5. Hua Tera Mera Pyar Fatafat – Pardes (1950) Shamshad Begum & Rafi / Lyrics – Shakeel Badayuni
Pardes is famous for other songs, but this funny song, picturised on Mukri is a bit less commonly mentioned. Rafi giving playback for Mukri is also a rare occurrence.
Mukri is enchanted by the lady’s beauty and takes her acceptance for granted. But she doesn’t give a damn. He is ready to buy a bike on loan for her so that the couple can roam around freely.


6. Duniya Ki Halat Naram Naram – Guzara (1954) Rafi & Chorus / Lyrics – Raja Mehdi Ali Khan
It’s a catchy peppy number, with a foot tapping rhythm. It must have been written according to the economic situation of the period. Not much information is available about the film, so we have to guess about the actor and picturisation. The character singing the song, probably sells pakodas, on the streets. He says, you can enjoy hot pakodas even if your pocket is near empty. It does spread message of being self sufficient, work for your survival (like pulling a rickshaw), but never beg for money. And be honest to yourself, to your country. Never go for easy money, never be dishonest and disloyal. Great message conveyed with a touch of humour.


7. Yeh Duniya Ki Rail Musafir – Sitara (1955) Rafi & Chorus / Lyrics – Shakeel Badayuni
This philosophical song begins with a whistle of a rail and metaphorically describes the routine of this world, as a rail journey. The fortunate passengers get to their destination. We should all live without casteism, that is compared with a train bogie accommodating people of all religions without differentiation. We all travel together, but each one has his own destiny. The song is woven in a catchy and easy to hum melody. Was it picturised as a train song, on a sage’s character? I think, it could be so!


8. O Pardesiya O Rasiya – Dil Ki Basti (1949) Geeta Dutt, Zohrabai Ambalewali & Chorus / Lyrics – Khumar Barabankavi
From philosophy to a female duet depicting heroine’s friends teasing her. It’s really such a cute song, the heroine is desperately waiting for her beloved. Her friends make fun of her, tease her and make her blush. Again this song has a conversational tone. Listen to it completely. This might also be known to some of the readers.


9. Ae Saqi e Mastana – Hoor e Arab (1955) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Shakeel Badayuni
The song opens with a breathless rap like verses, rendered by unknown singer. Even though such compositions were not in vogue those days, Ghulam Mohammad tried similar style, in at least two songs. I’ve already mentioned the song from Rail ka Dibba in the write-up, this is the second one.
One more thing about the song, it is woven in unmistakable Arabic tune. So far Ghulam Mohammad offered such songs to Shamshad, but Lata also does full justice to it. The tune is very typical, at times sounds more like C Ramchandra. I included the song, mainly for the opening lines in rap fashion.


10. Bhool Ja Woh Pyar Ke Sapne – Parayi Aag (1948) Hameeda Bano / Lyrics – Tanveer Naqvi
Hameeda Bano is quite a forgotten name, so are her songs. While she had a few hits with Ghulam Mohammad, this song attracted my attention. Usually the tunes for the mukhda and the antara are complimentary, but different. But in the song, these appear similar. Ghulam Mohammad has at times composed different verses of a song, in different tunes. Mausam Hai Ashiqana from Pakeezah can be cited as an example.
Hameeda Bano sings this song with deep emotions, portraying someone trying hard to forget her love. She has to forget all the memories, though that’s the most painful and difficult task for her. The agony and despair in her voice complements the soulful tune, set by the composer. She is a perfect choice for the song. The song made me think of “चांदण्या रात्रीतले ते स्वप्न तू विसरून जा” by Manik Verma. Can be translated as, ‘forget all the dreams, that we saw in moonlight’

Bonus Track

§§ Kahan Jate Ho Saiyan – Do Gunde (1959) Asha Bhosle / Lyrics – Shakeel Badayuni §§
This may not actually be a lesser known song. This is the second song, from the couple of songs, that I already knew. But it’s surely one of Asha’s best song for Ghulam Mohammad. So I included it. Asha’s expressions are superb, too apt for the situation. It’s decorated with excellent Dholak bits and rhythm of tinkling anklets. The latter is audible only in the video.
It’s picturised on Kumkum and Raj Kumar. She is requesting him to stop, by offering him an array of attractions. At last she threatens him to get tied up with her braid. I didn’t get time to look at Raj Kumar, anyway, why should I look at him? I was as usual fascinated by Kumkum, who’s expressions are mind boggling.  For video song click here

Disclaimer –
Mehfil Mein Meri, claims no credit for any image, screenshots or songs posted on this site. Images on this blog are posted to make the text interesting. The images and screenshots are the copyright of their original owners. The song links are shared from YouTube, only for the convenience of music lovers. The copyright of these songs rests with the respective owners.

21 Replies to “Rarely Heard Ghulam Mohammad”

  1. Nice! I am looking forward to listening to these songs. I don’t think I’ve heard any of these before. 🙂 My father’s a big fan of Ghulam Mohammad and always claims that Naushad’s best music was composed when Ghulam Mohammad was his assistant.

    Listening to the O motorwaali chhori song. Hilarious!

    Like

    1. Thank you Madhuji!
      I’m sure you will like majority of the songs. And I tend to agree with your father about Ghulam ji!

      The purpose of the post was to show the other side of Ghulam Mohammad, who’s otherwise remembered for sad songs more. But he has composed songs of various genres. Just look at the variety of songs, we were unaware of! I listened to majority of the songs for the first time while I was researching for the post. I was surprised to hear the songs. So different from his usual image!
      🙂
      Do comment after listening all the songs and if it’s possible, I request your father to listen to the songs as well! It would be an experience for me to get a comment from a Ghulam Mohammad fan.

      Like

  2. Anup,
    You have given a nice summary of Ghulam Mohammad’s career, and true to your introduction included his rare songs, even though more famous songs from the same films were available. Thanks a lot for you an excellent post.

    Like

    1. Thank you AKji,
      A little change from the routine songs, brings a refreshing change, was my expectation from this post. I don’t know whether it really worked or not!
      But I enjoyed the songs a lot. Many unknown songs, may not be Ghulam mohammad’s best. But certainly portraying his neglected aspect.
      🙂

      Like

  3. Anupji you have brought out a splendid post covering unheard of songs. They are truly rare. With extensive listening, I have not come across any of those songs. I also prefer to post rare songs in any of my posts. At the same time I see that these songs are not as great as his regular songs. Barring their being rare and not easily available, they are typical songs of the age in which composed. Once again my congratulations on a good post.

    Like

    1. Welcome Rangan ji to Mehfil!
      It’s my great pleasure to welcome a veteran in the field of HFM. Thanks for commenting and appreciation.
      And it was a pleasant surprise for me that I introduced the rare songs of Ghulam Mohammad. I came across 90% of the songs for the first time while compiling the list.
      I don’t know if these songs should be called great, but are not regular ones. And above all, most of the songs were against GM’s regular image of a serious composer, with Sad songs and Ghazals making a large portion of his popular songs.
      But the songs were pleasant enough to make a place on my list, and really not the ones, which we would attribute to Ghulam ji.
      I welcome you again and thank you for commenting. I’m honoured.
      🙂

      Like

  4. I listened to all the songs today. And they are just fabulous. And “Main banungi film star” is wonderful, so is the rap in Ae saqi-e-mastana.
    Great finds.
    Aditi Pathak

    Like

    1. Welcome Aditi ji to Mehfil!
      It feels so nice when a fellow blogger visits the blog and says encouraging words and praises you.
      Thanks for visiting and commenting.
      And
      It’s so good that you found time to listen to the songs. The songs are so different from the popular songs of Ghulam ji.
      Main banungi film star is really so wonderful. God knows why it wasn’t popular! Such an optimistic song, and so full of dreams!
      And the rendition so much sounds like a rap.
      🙂

      Like

      1. Yes I know it feels just great when you get a praise, even one or two comments are enough.

        And about Pakeezah (1972)- I read once in newspaper that Pran refused to accept his award (Filmfare) for Best supporting actor for Beimaan (1972), because he felt that the best music award should have gone to Pakeezah (which incidentally went to Beimaan).

        Like

  5. Anup ji,
    Congratulations for an excellent article on a ” शापित गंधर्व ” of HFM.
    Unfortunately like him there were some more quality composers who too could not be counted in the A class MDs…bad luck for them.
    There is an interesting song “Dilli ki galion mein dil nahi laage, main to jaungi Bambai” sung by Zohrabai and GMDurani form film Grihasthi-48. I could not find it on You Tube. I have this song in audio file. In case you are interested,I can send it to you.
    I have separately sent a wonderful article on Ghulam Mohammed by Surjit Bose, by E Mail.
    Continue doing this good work. My best wishes to you always.
    -AD
    NB…I just found this song elsewhere. Do listen to it.

    -AD

    Like

    1. OOPS !!! This is some other equally good song.
      Sorry about the mix up.
      And the quoted song is also from Doli-47 and not Grihasthi.
      Sorry for all this confusion.
      -AD

      Like

    2. Thank you Arunji.
      Ghulam Mohammad certainly deserves a better recognition! And yes! His bad Luck! As you said, “शापित गंधर्व”

      The Grihasthi song, Bhaiyya Mera Albela was on my long list, but I dropped it later, because the YouTube link had very bad audio visual quality, and I didn’t search elsewhere! It’s a very good example of his neglected songs!
      Happy to see its good version here.
      And
      Plz send the audio file to me, the song sounds so interesting!
      And, I read the article sent by you, It was informative.
      Thanks a lot for that Arunji!
      Very happy to see you responding so fast! 🙂

      Like

  6. Hi Anupji,
    Just came across this song on YouTube, I thought it might fit this post. So, couldn’t wait to comment here. The song is “Meri jaan gair ko tum paan”, from Kundan (1955). Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni.

    Like

    1. Yes, this fits certainly! I wasn’t aware of the song. It has skipped my attention!
      A good song, full of humour. And Kumkum is my favourite, she was so full of energy and liveliness! I adore her a lot!
      Thanks for adding it.
      🙂

      Like

  7. Anup ji ,
    Namaste .
    In the beginning itself , U hav given the इशारा that the post is about rarely heard nd rarely talked about songs .
    It proved 100 % true as I did nt know a single song of the post .
    I wondered if that was the same Ghulam Mohammad , whom I liked in Pakeezah , Mirza Ghalib , Shama nd Dil E Nadan !!!
    Yes , the post has songs so different from his usual image .
    I liked Ur narration about his forte in excellent use of Tabla nd Dholak nd about the matka rhythm .
    Somewhere I thought his style similar to MD Vinod .

    Nd साक्षात महारथी like Arunkumar Deshmukh Saheb nd D P Rangan Saheb hav commented .
    क्या बात हैं !!!

    2 songs from the post lingered in the mind .
    Song no . 2
    मैं बनूँगी फिल्म स्टार of अजीब लडकी
    Nd
    Song no. 10
    भूल जा वो प्यार के रंगीन फसाने of परायी आग . I liked the voice of Hameeda Bano in it.
    I wud hav added a similar genre song from कुंदन
    ” शिकायत क्या करुँ
    दोनों तरफ गम का फसाना हैं ” by Lata .
    Nd yes , I liked U remembering चांदण्या रात्रीतले ते स्वप्न तू विसरुन जा .
    Why don’t U think of writing a post on marathi songs ?
    Btw , U were going to write a post on Suman Kalyanpur’s भावगीते .
    Nd a naughty question , for whom was the bonus song ,
    for us or ……. !!!

    Anup ji , thnx for having taken notice of this भूला बिसरा संगीतकार .

    Like

    1. Thank you Pramodji!
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I wanted to highlight the forgotten or unnoticed side of Ghulam Mohhamad. And reading your comment, I think, I have at least achieved my aim to some extent.
      Shikayat Kya Karoon is a very good song. It’s known to me for many years, so I didn’t thought of it for my post.
      And,
      I had no time for Sumanji’s post on Marathi songs, and I don’t know if it’s ok to have a post of Marathi songs on this blog dedicated to Hindi songs. But let’s see.

      The bonus song was for Kumkum. She is so wonderful in her songs.

      Like

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