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November 9, 2016, 63rd death anniversary of the great legendary music composer Ghulam Haider


Ghulam Haider: Belief in oneself
By Anis Shakur


You can do a world of good for yourself if you keep steady course.


The above maxim holds too true to the legendary music composer of the yesteryear, Ghulam Haider.
Master Ghulam Haider was born in 1908 in Hyderabad, Sindh. On successful completion of intermediate examination, he took admission in the college of dentistry and worked as a dentist for two years in Hyderabad, Sindh.

However, music was in his blood so much so that against his father’s wishes, Ghulam Haider left Hyderabad, Sindh for Calcutta, India. He learnt music from ustaad Babu Ganesh Lal and stayed there as his disciple for 6 to 8 years.

During those days it was a matter of great honor and privilege for a musician to be hired by a gramophone company. Ghulam Haider landed a job of a harmonium player in the Alfred theatrical company in Calcutta, India.

After a while Ghulam Haider was hired as a musician in the Alexandra theatrical company. Later, he also worked for the Jenophone recording company as a music composer.

Ghulam Haider debuted as a music composer in the 1935 movie, ‘Swarag ki Seerhee,’ for some reason ‘Swarag ki Seerhee,’ was not completed. Hence, it was not released in the movie theaters.

Reverting to Ghulam Haider’s music, he was more than just a music composer was. He was an embodiment of soul and passion in music.

In 1935, Ghulam Haider also composed songs for director Roshan Lal Shori’s film ‘Majnu’, which was released under the banner of Kamla Movie tone. The example below reminds us of the vivid memories of bygone splendor.

‘Aik din hum nay bhi majnu ko kaheen deikha tha,’ singer, Mukhtar Begum, composer, Ghulam Haider, the film majnu. Ghulam Haider came distinctly powerful in the song 'ray Aaj mein hoash ruba day saaqi khoon kar kay katora pila day.’ Composer, Ghulam Haider, the film majnu.

This song seems to echo the sentiments of Ghulam Haider, ‘mujhay kar kay ishq mein mubtila kidhar gaya tu.’ Singer, Ameer Banu, composer, Ghulam Haider, the film majnu. This composition is fraught with pain and pathos and a milestone that is still a worthy yardstick ‘jhuti jug ki preet sakhi ray jhuti jug ki preet.’ Singer, Ameer Banu, composer, Ghulam Haider, the film majnu.

Further, he contributed wholesomely to each of his musical piece. To what is now known as the best of Ghulam Haider. Example is ‘mujhay mast o bay khud bana di jiye ga, sharab-e-mohabbat pila di jiye ga,’ the film majnu.

Songs like this one has become the gold standard of trend setting ‘khwab hai duniya saari ray baba khwab hai duniya saari,’ the film majnu. Ghulam Haider raised the status of fellow music composers in those days.
He insisted on huge sum of money for his magnificent compositions. The filmmakers fulfilled his demand.

Ghulam Haider’s big break came in 1939 when he composed songs for D.M. Pancholi’s Punjabi film ‘Gul bakawli,’ which was released under the banner of Pancholi Art Pictures and directed by Barkat Mehra. Seth Dilsikh M. Pancholi had invited Syed Shaukat Husain Rizvi from Maiden theater, Calcutta to Lahore for the inauguration of Gul bakawli.

The two songs of Gul bakawli are ‘Shala jawanian manay Aakhana maurein pee lay, pee lay,’ and ‘Pinjray day wichh qaid jawani.’ In the realm of ingenuity, Ghulam Haider had attained almost reverential status. Apparently, his adorers are eternally indebted to him for introducing ShamShad Begum, Noor Jehan and Lata Mangeshkar to the show business.

Ghulam Haider also composed fabulous songs for Noor Jehan’s 1939 Punjabi film ‘Sassi Pannu.’ Indeed, Ghulam Haider’s genius in succeeding was largely one of character – patience, self-discipline, rationality and inner resolve.

He composed songs for the 1940 Punjabi film ‘Yamla Jatt,’ which was released under the banner of Pancholi Art Pictures. One song of Yamla Jatt is ‘kanka deyaan faslaan pak yaan nein.’ Ghulam Haider’s breathtaking command on tempo and rhythm made him the most sought-after composer in the 1940 and early 1950s. As time passed by his music played more forcefully and energetically.

One of his considerable achievement was the 1941 film ‘Khazanchi,’ truth be told, ‘Khazanchi,’ happened to be the first Indian movie in which Ghulam Haider had added the sound of dholak, which enhance and ameliorated the quality of the song. Khazanchi was also the singing debut of Shamshad Begum. Prior to that Shamshad Begum had been rendering songs for the gramophone company. The three songs of Khazanchi are ‘Sawan kay nazaray hain aha, aha,’ Laut gaye papan Aandhian,’ ‘Diwali phir Aa gaye sajni.’

Ghulam Haider was that one composer who excelled at all the attributes. Moreover, he devoted much of his time to invent tunes. His distinguished compositions for the 1941 Punjabi film ‘Chaudhry,’ was a melody of a grateful heart. With hope and belief in him, Ghulam Haider composed songs for these four song in the film Chaudhry.

‘Bus, bus way dholna ki teray naal boalna.
Chham, chham, ohdo kaisi sohni chaal.
Ik duniya naye wasa leyi.
Sajna teray bina jee nain lag de.

The first Muslim social film ‘Khandaan’ was released in 1942. Incidentally, Khandaan was also the first film of Noor Jehan as lead actress and the directional debut of Syed Shaukat Husain Rizvi. These three songs of Khandaan were composed under the musical baton of Ghulam Haider.

‘Tu kaunsi badli mein meray chand hai Aa ja.’
‘Meray liye jahan mein chayn hai na qarar hai.’
‘Ik tera sahara.’

Furthermore, Ghulam Haider used his skill to invigorate every musician who shared the stage with him. Director Barkat Mehra’s film ‘Sehti Murad’ was released under the banner of Nadiran India Pictures, Ghulam Haider composed its music.

The believability and humanity in Ghulam Haider’s music was powerfully manifested in the 1942 film ‘Zamindar,’ it was the feeling Ghulam Haider had given to millions of music lovers. Zamindar was directed by Moti B. Gadvani, and released under the banner of Pancholi Art Pictures. These three songs of Zamindar had a profound and poignant message for the moviegoers.

‘Duniya mein ghariboan ko Aaram naheen milta.’
‘Armaan taraptay hain pehlu mein meray Aa kay.’
‘Meray haal per bay basi ro rahi hai.’

It seems Ghulam Haider knew how to create magnificent musical masterpieces. He composed songs for the film ‘Bhai,’ which was released under the banner of Karavan Pictures and directed by K. D. Mehra. For the first time in Bhai, Ghulam Haider recorded songs in the voice of Naseem Akhtar. Naseem Akhtar’s two elder sisters, Sardar Akhtar and Bahar Akhtar happened to be the wives of famous Indian film directors Mehboob Khan and Kardar respectively.

Ghulam Haider had the savvy to motivate the singers. Additionally, he reached the pinnacle by following his own instincts. He composed music for director Vishnu Pancholi’s 1943 film ‘Poonji.’ As a music composer, Ghulam Haider took tremendous interest in his profession. He composed songs for director K. Asif’s 1944 film ‘Phool.’

The attraction and the lasting impact of Ghulam Haider’s songs are reflected in the sweetness of his music compositions. Included in the list of illustrious films are the four movies below.

Director Gayan Mukherjee’s 1944 film ‘Chal, chal ray naujawan.’
The film ‘Bairam Khan’ proved to be a super hit movie at the box office. As a goodwill gesture, Sohrab Modi gifted a brand new car to Ghulam Haider over and above the contract money.
Director Sibtain Fazli’s film ‘Shama.’ Which was released under the banner of Minerva Movie Tone.
Director Sibtain Fazli’s film ‘Mehendi.’

His efforts took on a new intensity and Ghulam Haider as usual, proved his worth in the music scene. The ability of the man and his music really hit home. Ghulam Haider’s music in these three films can evoke so many memories.

Director M. Sadiq’s film ‘Jag Beeti.’.
Director Sohrab Modi’s film ‘Manjdhaar,’ which was released under the banner of Minerva Movie tone.
Ghulam Haider and Gayan Dutt composed its songs.
Director Afzal Jahangir’s film ‘Buth Taraash.’

Ghulam Haider moved to Bombay in 1944 and composed songs for director Mehboob Khan’s 1945 film ‘Humayun,’ which was released under the banner of filmistan limited. Ghulam Haider composed the song ‘naina bhar Aaye naar,’ for the film ‘Humayun.’

Lata Mangeshkar’s big break came in director Nazeer Ajmeri’s 1948 film ‘Majboor,’ which was released under the banner of Bombay talkies. Ghulam Haider composed the song ‘Mera dil tora,’ in the voice of Lata Mangeshkar for the film Majboor,’ another popular song from film Majboor is ‘Angrezi chora chala gaya, wo gora gora chala gaya.’ At the time Ghulam Haider discovered Lata Mangeshkar, during the movie shoot of the film ‘Majboor,’ he was the highest paid music composer making Rs. 100,000.00. During those days the name of the music composer was not added in the film titles. However, on Ghulam Haider’s insistence the name of the music composer was also mentioned with the film titles. Ghulam Haider also used Lata Mangeshkar’s voice for the 1948 film ‘Padmini.’

The listeners were spellbound as sure, poignant strains of Ghulam Haider’s melody emerged in director S. Mukherjee’s 1948 movie ‘Shaheed,’it was released under the banner of filmistan limited. The most popular song of Shaheed is ‘Watan ki raha mein watan kay naujawan shaheed ho.’

Dedicated composer, Ghulam Haider, also composed songs for director Krishin Kumar’s 1949 film ‘Kaneez.’

After independence, Ghulam Haider left Bombay and came back to Lahore in 1950. Truth is told, at the pinnacle of name, fame and riches, Ghulam Haider decided to migrate for his patriotism and love of Pakistan. He established ‘film saaz, along with director S. Nazir Ajmeri and actor S. Gul. Also, in Lahore, Ghulam Haider worked with Roshan Lal Shorey and his son, Roop Kishore Shorey.

‘Shahida,’ was the first Urdu film of Ghulam Haider in Pakistan. Ghulam Haider composed these two songs of Shahida. ‘Aye raat zara thum, thum kay guzar,’ ‘Sakhi naheen Aaye meray balma.’
Ghulam Haider also composed songs for the four Pakistani movies, ‘Bay Qarar,’ ‘Akeli,’ ‘Bheegi Palkain,’ and ‘Ghulam.’

After the film ‘Khandaan,’ Ghulam Haider and Noor Jehan once again worked together for the film ‘Gulnar. Moreover, Noor Jehan also starred in the film ‘Laila.’

Ghulam Haider had a penchant for good clothes, perfumes and cars. His assistant in Bombay was Madan Mohan and Nashad (real name Shaukat Ali). In Pakistan, Ghulam Haider’s assistant was A. Hameed.

The Shah of Iran, Reza Shah Pehlavi and his wife Queen Sorayya visited Pakistan during the tenure of Prime Minister Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan. Liaquat Ali Khan asked Ghulam Haider to arrange some appropriate musical program in connection with the royal visit. This was done remarkably well, with the orchestra playing Iranian and Pakistani national songs. Ghulam Haider was introduced to the King and the Queen along with other dignitaries at the Citizen’s Reception at Shalimar Gardens and at the official Banquet.

Reverting once again to the life-long passion of Ghulam Haider, the four songs of the film ‘Gulnar,’ struck a chord in music lovers that still resonates and reminds us of the good old days.

From the poignancy of ‘Bachhpan ki yaad gaaro,’ to the grandeur of ‘Sakhi ray naheen Aaye sajanwa more,’ Ghulam Haider exhibits an astonishing range and power.

Likewise, from the melancholy strains of ‘Wo chal diye hain hum ko tasalli diye baghair,’ to the tragic score ‘Gila hai Aasmaan walay hamay teri khudai say,’ Ghulam Haider came full circle.

Popular actor, Sayeen S. Gul, was, in fact, a student of Ghulam Haider. He respected Ghulam Haider to an extent that he changed his last name to Haider and came to be known as Gul Haider.

Moments of sad gaze and tearful eyes came on November 9, 1953, in Lahore, when after the release of the film Gulnar, Ghulam Haider left for the eternal journey at forty-five years of age. May God grant him Paradise, Ameen.

The President of Pakistan awarded Ghulam Haider the coveted Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (posthumously) on March 23, 2011.

Ghulam Haider will stand as a musical icon as far as the eye can see.


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