Today 28th January marks the first death anniversary of maestro par excellence O P Nayyar.
I had written a post on OPN on April 16th 2006 whilst he was yet amongst us but in response to a news item which detailed how O P ji was living with an adopted family. One knows now that the family in question accorded him all the love and respect they could possibly summon. At the time however, to imagine a ‘Badshah’ of Music directors and especially someone who had lived life on his own terms, royally, in such dire straits, evoked a surge of emotion.
Thus the post ‘O P Nayyar- Not Forgotten” was born which has since accumulated staggering statistics of 20,000+ views and 1,000 + comments and growing. Perhaps the highest in the Desi blogosphere. This if anything is a reflection of the magic of OPN’s melodies and the ardent love of his fans from all over the world. Timelessness if a factor to evaluate talent, OPN wins hands down.
Of the hundreds who commented..Famed music composer from Pakistan, Sohail Rana, one of his ghazals being the unforgettable ‘mujhe tum nazar se gira to rahey ho, mijhe tum kabhi bhi bhula na sakogey’ , visited the blog and speaks of the last call to O.P. Nayyar just a month ago..he pays an emotional tribute to him in the comment section of the post.
His adopted daughter Ashwini Karandikar too speaks, in the comment section .
Ashraft through his comment has informed us of his passion for O.P.Nayyar’s music and that he has laboriously collected every single song composed by the maestro. Incredible! True passion and grit which needs to be lauded. Priceless treasure is now his!
Abed has graciously and magnanimously offered to send cd’s of his collection of Nayyar Sahebs songs to anyone, anywhere.
Hemant, who had the good fortune to attend his recordings and experience the wizard at work, provides us with remarkable insights into the maestros recording techniques and his enigmatic personality.
We have been afforded glimpses into his personal life and times, some touching, some controversial.
Today, a talk with Tushar Bhatia the music director of ‘Andaz Apna Apna ” apart from being a passionate O P fan revealed the appalling ways of the world. Apparently, besides Tushar and O P jis adopted family consisting of Ashwini karandikar and Rani Nakhwa, nobody from the film industry thought it fit to even attend his last rites. Tushar holds dear the mementos and memories he shared with OPN in the last years..while we hold on to his melodies as fresh and invigorating a ever.
As a symbol of commemoration, we Sachnitians ( as one of my readers coined it) decided to create a Op Nayyar Top 25 list based on a consensus among all . It was difficult since one cannot really sift out gems, when each is as if precious and rare. However, its been done with earnestness and goes as follows.
Op Nayyar Top 25
1. Jaayiye aap kahan-7
2. kazra mohobbatwala-7
5. Deewana hua badal-6
6. Poochon na humen-6
7.Chain se humko-6
9.Aapke haseen rukh-5
10. Yunto humne -4
11. Pukarta chala hun-4
12. anchal mein sajale-4
13.Booz mera kya-4
14. Babuji dhire chalna-3
15.Ankhon se jo uthri-3
16. Aap yuhin agar-3
17. Balma khuli hawan-3
18. Kabhi aar kabhi paar-3
19. Dekho are dil bar-3
20. Ayiye meherbaan-3
21.Ankhon hi ankhon-3
22. Aana hai aa rahme-3
23. Khoob surat sathi-3
24.Leke pehla pehla
25. Bahut shukriya
Mr, Siraj Khan who had been in close touch with OPN and who has the honor of writing OPNs biography shared some interesting anecdotes of his life and times.
“It was January 28 last year, when Bollywood lost one of its great personalities, who was both colorful and controversial, leaving behind only his timeless music for us to cherish. I remember him today by sharing with you, a musical journey of his life. He used to call this journey as A-Z (from Aasman in 1952 to Zid in 1994).
Preetam Aan Milo was the song that launched OPN as a composer at the age of 17 in 1943 but OP Nayyar made his full-blown film debut with Aasman in 1952. Recently married Geeta Dutt recommended OP to her husband Guru Dutt and the Indian film industry was rocked by a new sound, sensational orchestration, a rare robust beat never heard before. First with Baaz and then Aar-Paar, released in 1954, was a runaway musical hit and OP took India by storm. Something new and refreshing was heard and OP became a household name instantly.
……The other music directors sat up and were amazed at the variety of rhythm patterns, the freshness, and a very earthy, full-blooded appeal in the songs. None of these were in Asha’s voice yet, but by now she had started to sing a few songs for OP in other films, although still not for the leading ladies of the screen. OP knew nothing of classical music or raags and considered his abilities and talent as God-given…..
……Strange as it may sound now, but the state-controlled AIR, actually placed a ban on many of his popular songs from being broadcasted for several months, as they considered the lyrics as well as his melodies too daring and a bad influence on the young generation. However, OP continued unfazed with the Government order, with Radio Ceylon going berserk with requests for his songs. It had to take nothing less than a minister to lift the ban. (Somebody said that the minister liked Kaheen pe Nigahen!) On the other hand, producers were forming a bee-line to sign him up and 8/9 films per year were to become a norm. He was the first music director to demand Rs 100,000, a substantial figure in those days, which other composers could not even conceive of.
Another first. A producer signs up a music director even before the main actors, in anticipation of a guaranteed success. A Naya Andaaz of sorts and a movie of the same name came along with 11 songs. Janisar Akhtar (Javed Akhtar’s father and Shabana Azmi’s father-in-law) weaved his magical lyrics yet again, forging a great partnership with OP Nayyar which was broken only by the death of the great poet much later in 1976. OP Nayyar was crowned the Rhythm King and he was still only 30 then. OP had recognized the talent of Kishore long before he became a popular singer and in Naya Andaz, he combined this voice with Shamshad Begum, singing perhaps for the only time together, to come up with a memorable romantic duet Meri Neendon mein Tum, picturized on tragedy queen Meena Kumari and Kishore Kumar himself….
……The hit parade continued and 6/7 out of the top 10 chart-toppers on the Binaca Geetmala featuring OP melodies had become standard fair. Naya Daur was a golden jubilee and bagged many awards (including music) and at the Filmfare Awards ceremony, there were more people around the dashing OP Nayyar than the leading stars – no less than Dilip Kumar and Vijayantimala. Sahir Ludhianvi wrote the lyrics but their relationship was not to last for long. However, the OP-Asha partnership turned into romance, an association which lasted for 15 years and has become part of Bollywood folklore. Rafi also held a very special place in OP’s heart and was always the first choice male voice. Naya Daur had Ude jab kab zulfen, Reshmi Shalwar, yeh desh hai veer jawano ka, saathi hath barhana and Maang ke saath tumhara which gave OP a virtual ownership of the taanga beat, which became the mainstay of so many of his songs in the years later.
Still in 1957, and a new Elvis-styled actor flashed on the screen wearing t-shirts and leather jackets never seen before on the Indian cinema and added a new dimension to OP’s breezy swinging breed of music, with his own free-wheeling acting. No doubt, OP made a star out of Shammi Kapoor. Mujrim came right at the heels of the romantic comedy Tumsa Naheen Dekha. Madhubala announced that she would give a discount on her fee to any producer who signed up OP for the musical score, if not for his good looks! OP Nayyar had become the most sought-after composer in Bombay and, not surprisingly, the most expensive one too. Recording studios were booked up for months. OP now moved around in a chauffeur-driven Cadillac, while prominent producers and actors were still running around in Fiats. OPN was usually signed up first while the hero/heroine come in later and his name appeared on the billboards of films over and above the cast. This had never happened before and has never happened after OP…
….1964 and with it came the story behind the golden jubilee hit Kashmir ki Kali. A new sensational girl none other than Sharmila Tagore was pitched with Shammi Kapoor in her debut film, that was shot in Kashmir in color. OP was initially not happy with the song picturizations and spoke to Sharmila in private before the real turnaround came. Later, much later OP disclosed that he had told the young lady that his was music in motion, like a mountain stream. She could not just stand and just move her lips to his songs. There had to be movement – whether it be a car, tanga, boat, and when she was on her feet, she should keep moving and let the camera follow her. So she did just that, not only in songs but even when doing dialogs. Many years later, when her son Saif Ali Khan (then in college) got rather upset one day and said “Mom, can you ever talk to me without moving around and doing things at the same time?” Before she could reply, his dad the Nawab of Pataudi quipped’ Beta, the person you have to speak to on this subject is OP Nayyar”….
…Dil Ki Awaaz Bhi Sun from Humsaya was one of OP’s own personal Rafi favorites, released early 1968. Rafi and OP had developed a great mutual respect and admiration for each other over the years. The story goes that all the songs had been recorded and only the last duet was to be recorded with Asha. Rafi had been very busy and finally gave a date/time for the recording. There were about 70 people/musicians in the recording studios with Asha waiting for Rafi. OP was very always very punctual but on that day waited patiently for the last song to be recorded. An apologetic Rafi finally arrived two hours late. OP asked everybody to great ready for recording and calmly asked Rafi whether everything was OK with him. Rafi revealed that he was held up at a S-J recording. That just blew OP’s fuse and he asked everyone to pack up and leave that day. The next day that duet was recorded in the voice of Mahendra Kapoor. OP never forgave himself for doing this. Fortunately, my favorite song by then had already been recorded -Mujhe mera pyar dede tujhe aazma liya hai….
Chein se hamko kabhi became an OP classic even before it was released. This was to become the Asha-OP swan song. Geeta Dutt had died in July 1972 and his relationship with Asha was on the rocks. They eventually split in August 1972 never to stand under the same roof again. But before they did, this gem of a song from Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye had been recorded and picturized on Rekha. Asha and Lata, however, used their clout behind-the scene to have it dropped from the film altogether. Ironically, the song bagged the 1973 Filmfare award for the best singer for Asha. Asha decided not to attend the awards ceremony. OP on her behalf, accepted the award graciously but on the way home with lyricist SH Bihari tossed it out from his car and heard it break. This was the tipping point which was to haunt OP for the rest of his life. Although he composed for many years more (almost 150 songs until Zid in 1994) and tried many other female singers, but the magic of the past was just not there. OP the man may have died on January 28, 2007 but OP the composer clearly had died much earlier.
OP Nayyar’s contribution to Bollywood’s film music is unparalleled. There were and are good composers all with their own melodies and styles, but there were only a few trail-blazers, who would be considered as undisputed greats. OP was one of them, a genius whose compositions you would recognize within the first 10 seconds of his song. This was because each song carried his stamp and his signature, which nobody could replicate. He was also sure that he could make it to the top without recording a single song in Lata’s voice – the only composer to do so. Somebody once asked him how he ranked himself amongst the company of such great contemporaries, to which he said “I think I am the second best in the industry. The rest can fight for the first place”. An interesting perspective from a genius who did not follow any rules, rather made his own. OP knew his instruments and the capabilities of each singer and musician who worked with him, just as we know our fingers. That there were songs which he had made in minutes, has been well documented.
Even now when you think of the maestro, you see him in his white clothes, white shoes, his black hat and blazer, walking erect with his beaming smile, even in his old age. His steely character and unmistaken gleam on his face, had stood by him to help him tackle the roller-coaster of fate, that took him from the posh house in Churchgate to the streets and then to the warmth of the Nakhwa family in Thane, which became his last home. He lives with us through his melodies and will continue to do so forever. Lyricist S H Bihari, who penned the lyrics for the highest number of OP films, captured these sentiments and left us much before OP Nayyar did.
Teri zindagi mohabbat, tera naam hai deewana, Tere baad bhi karega tera zikr yeh zamana
Tu wo zindagi naheen hai, jise maut khatm karde, Jise bhool jai dunya tu nahi hai wo tarana…”
Thanks to Siraj Khan for those truly amazing revelations and behind-the-scenes episodes of the Maestros life. Having touched upon barely the tip of the iceberg yet one can presume how dramatic his life was..maybe that lent to the hauntingness of his melodies and the lilting score of his orchestration.
O P Nayyar ..truly will Never Be Forgotten.