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Saturday, August 27, 2005

nisar bazmi by MM

Nisar Bazmi: A Maharashtrian Muslim boy from Khandesh goes to Pakistan.

Posted By M M

Whenever an upcoming artist or one of yesteryear in an interview says that he or she wanted to be in their present professional field since childhood, it is taken with a light tone, for children do not venture out in the world in quest of their dreams. Never have I once believed one who has said so. However, after meeting the multi-talented music composer-cum-director, photographer and poet, Nisar Bazmi, I realized that with commitment of purpose and intent to look beyond the stars, a child, too, can make his dreams come true.

An illustrious, well-acclaimed career that spans well over five decades began at the age of eleven as a hamnawa of Bombay's famous Yasin Qawal, and went on to establish Bazmi as one of India-Pak's most renowned music director.

Neither Nisar Bazmi, nor his family members, had any clue of what lay ahead for him when he left his house in a small town of District Khandesh (in Maharashtra) for Mumbai in quest of becoming a singer.

Mumbai even in 1936 was the hub of glamour and culture, and every young man dreamt of this fantasy land of opportunities. Staying with an aunt, on joining Yasin Qawal, the little fellow came to be lovingly known as "Yasin ka chokra".

For the chokra, performing with the qawwali group at private functions seemed a lifetime achievement. The Rs. 800 that the group earned from four performances a month were a fortune, considering that Rs. 500 to a person meant he was rich.

The next four years saw him under the tutelage of Ustad Amanullah Khan from where he graduated as a casual singer at the All India Radio (AIR).

It was here that music composer Dinkar Rao caught the musical sense in Bazmi. He not only got him promoted to permanent staff member, but also provided him with the opportunity to compose songs and background music for his play, Nadir Shah Durrani.

In 1940, Bazmi was earning Rs. 45, which was almost equivalent to what a banker earned then. "My father would very proudly say: 'My son is earning as much as a graduate earns!' I was not even a matriculate."

The songs of the play, which were rendered by Rafique Ghaznavi and Ameer Bai Karnataki, gained instant popularity, andimmediately after the play was aired, film director A. R. Zamindar approached Bazmi for his under-production movie,Jamna Paar. It was goodbye to AIR and to his desire of becoming a singer. He was now on his way to composing music for the Indian film industry.

In the subsequent years he composed music for more than 40 films, 30 of which were released, including Jeb Katra, Daghabaaz, Extra Girl, Khaufnak Ankhen and Khoj.

His songs were given life by Mohammad Rafi, Asha Bhosale (who had just entered the film world), Lata Mangeshkar and Mana Dey among others. He was instrumental in introducing the famous lyricist Anand Bakshi in Bhola Aadmi and helped in the career development of Laxmikant Pyarelal. Rafi's execution of Bazmi's composition, Chand ka dil toot gaya hai, ronay lagay hain sitaray, for the film Khoj was the composer's first composition to be played on radio.

"There were three categories in the film industry of India - A, B and C - for artists, photographers, producers, directors and music composers. These categories were according to the level of perfection, and each level had more finances attached to it.

To reach the A class, one had to qualify in rating from level C to B. "All the movies I composed music for were low-budget, C class movies. Even though the best directors and producers of the time tried their level best to break this barrier for me, this barrier could not be surpassed," he candidly admits. "In all those 15 years, none of my songs were apparently good enough to fall in the B category, leave alone A."

Nisar Bazmi would probably have struggled all his life trying to cross these fundamental barriers, had it not been for his friend Noman who travelled to Lahore in quest of brighter horizons for Bazmi. Noman's family urged Bazmi to go to Pakistan and fetch their son back. And so in 1962, it was this incidental trip to Lahore that changed the destiny of Nisar Bazmi.

Noman had ventured the then flourishing film studios of Lahore and ultimately, after hearing Bazmi's records, Fazal Karim Fazli signed Bazmi for the musical construction of his film Aisa bhi hota hai.

Although the film was released in 1965, its songs, including Ho tamana aur kya, jane tamana aap hain by Nur Jehan, and Mohabat main teray sar ki kasam, a duet by the Melody Queen and Ahmed Rushdi, were on the lips of every second person as early as 1963. "Noman returned home to India, but I stayed on and somehow or the other I never had the chance to go back to India or visit my hometown and friends in Khandesh (Maharashtra)."

After the tremendous success of Aisa Bhi Hota Hai, the success graph for Nisar Bazmi kept rising. Adl, Hatim Tai, and Aag came within a span of 18 months.

A new dimension of his personality came to the fore. That of being a poet. The 1960s and 1970s were the peak times of the Pakistan film industry with a maximum number of musical and situational films being produced. Bazmi gave vent to his poetic inclinations by studying the situations that developed in the movie and writing the antra on which the poet or lyricist was to develop the mukhra and the rest of the song. Very few music composers had this quality.

"The films presented for cinegoers in those years were the result of much calculated teamwork. To put a song together the entire production unit would sit with the music director, study the story and framework of the movie and then, keeping the situation in perspective, the initial verses were composed. In Reza Mir's Lakhon Mein Aik, where the story evolves out of a love affair, and the boy loses his memory, refusing to acknowledge his once beloved, the verses,Chalo acha hua tum bhool gaye, ik bhool hi tha mera pyar ho sajna, perfectly fitted the situation.

The scripts written then had depth, emotions and sentiments that people could associate with. "The focal point in present day movies is violence and sex. Songs are just put in with a strong beat that youngsters can dance to, but this type of music is transient, it cannot last. We try to ape the West and in doing so are left hanging midway."

For the more than 80 movies to which he contributed songs from 1962 to 1985, he received seven Nigar Awards, two student awards, one national award and the President's Pride of Performance. He missed the expected award for Lakhon Mein Aik, for at the same time Robin Ghosh was also a nominee for his songs of box-office hit Chakori, and won the Nigar Award.

The musical compositions for all time hits, Anjuman, Naag Mani, Meri Zindagi Hai Naghma, Saiqa, Andaleeb, Umrao Jan Ada, Khak aur Khoon, andEk Gunah aur Sahi are unforgettable. Nisar Bazmi's ghazals sung by Mehdi Hassan, including Ranjish hi sahi, Ik Husan ki devi say mujhe, Youn zindagi ki rah main, and Nur Jehan's Jo bacha tha woh lutaney kay leay, Aa parwanay aa, and Man mandir kay devta, will remain in the minds of people for a long time to come.

Bazmi also composed light melodies sung by Runa Laila ( Katay na katay ray, Dil dharkay, Aap dil ki anjuman main) and the versatile Ahmed Rushdi ( Aisay bhi hain meherbaan). He also composed several songs for television. His quomi naghmas became extremely popular, especiallyKhayal rakhna andHum zinda quom hain.

After 1978, the deterioration of the film industry set in motion. The general trend of going to movies began to fade with the rising sense of insecurity. Good scripts, professional directors and performers began to fizzle out. Bazmi did his last film,Meray Apney, in Lahore in 1981 with director Shamim Ara. The same year he shifted to Karachi and started giving music lessons. One of his best students was Faisal Latif, who has excelled in Ghazal singing, and has now started music compositions. "I feel proud of my students, and also of the fact that whatever I have learnt I am now transferring it to the younger generation, though there are not many."

Very few people know that Nisar Bazmi was a good photographer in the past. His majmua-i-kalam, "Phir Saaz-i-Sada Khamoosh Hua," is a beautiful addition to Urdu literature.

A few hours with him can be a very knowledgeable experience. Under that stern facade is a gentle heart full of humorous anecdotes.

Though he is content with living the life of a Sufi, and feels one should cherish the abilities one has, he, too, has some regrets. "None of my eight children has any interest in music; I did not get awards for at least five of the films that I deserved, especially Lakhon Main Aik,and above all I could not personally pursue classical music that I had set out to do way back in 1936."


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