|Composer Ghulam Haider
|Ghulam Haider: Belief in oneself
By Anis Shakur
You can do a world of good for yourself if you keep a steady course
The above maxim holds true to the legendary music composer of the yesteryear,
Master Ghulam Haider was born in 1908 in Hyderabad, Sind, Pakistan. After passing his intermediate examination, Ghulam Haider
took admission in the college of dentistry. However, he left his dentistry education incomplete because of his aptitude for
Ghulam Haider took music lessons from honorific ustaad, Babu Ganesh Lal. 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 worked for the Jeno phone
recording company as a music composer.
A singing- star by the name of Umra-o-Zia Begum was the talk of the town in those exciting times. In fact, she was renowned
for her melodious voice than as a film actress. Further, she earned the title of ‘Bulbul Hazaar Dastaan’ from
the music buffs.
Ghulam Haider composed music for Umra-o-Zia Begum and recorded songs and ghazals in her voice. Her name appeared on the gramophone
records as well. Perhaps, Umra-o-Zia Begum’s greatest achievement was the recitation of one of the most popular Naat,
‘Yathrib ko janay walay mera paigham lay ja’, composed by Ghulam Haider.
Ghulam Haider debuted as a music composer in a 1935 movie, ‘Saurg ki seerhi’, in which Umra-o-Zia Begum was also
cast in a major role. ‘Saurg ki seerhi’ was released under the banner of National Modi Tone, Lahore and directed
by Syed Imtiaz Ali Taj.
With the passage of time, Ghulam Haider and Umra-o-Zia Begum developed immense love and understanding for each other, which
reached its peak during the movie shoot of ‘Saurg ki seerhi’. Ghulam Haider, who worked for Pancholi Art pictures
at that time, soon married Umra-o-Zia Begum.
After marrying Ghulam Haider, Umra-o-Zia Begum said farewell to the show business. She was never seen again even in a public
gathering. Reverting to Ghulam Haider’s music, he was more then just a music composer. He was the embodiment of soul
and passion in music.
In the year 1935, Ghulam Haider also composed songs for director Roshan Lal Shori’s film ‘Majnu’, which
was released under the banner of Kamla Modi Tone. The example below reminds us of the memories of bygone splendor:
‘Aik din hum nay bhi majnu ko kaheen deikha tha’, singer, Mukhtar Begum, composer, Ghulam Haider, film, ‘Majnu.’
Ghulam Haider came out distinctly powerful in the song ‘Ray Aaj mein hoash ruba day saaqi khoon kar kay katora pila
day’, composer, Ghulam Haider, film, ‘Majnu.’
The song below seemed to echo the sentiments of Ghulam Haider:
‘Mujhay karkay ishq mein mubtila kidhar gaya tu,’ singer, Ameer Banu, composer, Ghulam Haider, film, ‘Majnu.’
Ghulam Haider’s sad composition below was an achievement that is still a worthy yardstick:
‘Jhuti jag ki preet sakhi re jhuti jag ki preet’ singer, Ameer Banu, composer, Ghulam Haider, film, ‘Majnu.’
He contributed wholesomely to each of his musical piece to what is now known as the best of Ghulam Haider. Example below:
‘Mujhay must-o-bay khud bana di ji ye ga, sharab-e-mohabbat pila di ji ye’, composer, Ghulam Haider, film, ‘Majnu.’
Songs like the one below has become the gold standard of trend setting:
‘Khwab hai duniya saari ray baaba, khwab hai duniya saari.’ Composer, Ghulam Haider, film, ‘Majnu.’
Ghulam Haider raised the status of fellow music composers in those days. He insisted on huge sum of money for his compositions.
The filmmakers agreed to 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
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 listed below:
‘Shala jawanian manay Aakhana, maurein pee lay, pee lay.’
‘Pinjray day wichh qaid jawani.’
He also composed songs for Noor Jehan’s 1939 Punjabi film ‘Sassi Pannu.’
Ghulam Haider’s genius in succeeding was largely one of character—patience, self-discipline, rationality and inner
resolve. Ghulam Haider 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 listed below:
‘Kanka deyaan faslaan pak yaan nein.’
Ghulam Haider’s breathtaking command on tempo and rhythm made him the most sought-after composer in the 1940s and early
1950s. As time passed by, Ghulam Haider’s music played more forcefully and energetically.
One of his considerable achievements was the 1941 film ‘Khazanchi’. In reality, ‘Khazanchi’ was the
first Indian film in which Ghulam Haider had introduced the sound of ‘Dholak’, which enhanced 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 listed below:
‘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.
Ghulam Haider’s compositions for the 1941 Punjabi film ‘Chaudhry’ was the melody of a grateful heart. With
hope and belief in him, Ghulam Haider composed music for the following four songs 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. The three songs below of
‘Khandaan’ were composed under the musical baton of Ghulam Haider:
‘Tu kaunsi badli mein meray chand hai Aaja.’
‘Meray liye jahan mein chayn hai na qarar hai.’
‘Ik tera sahara.’
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
The believability and humanity in Ghulam Haider’s music was powerfully manifested in the 1942 film ‘Zamindar’.
It was a 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.’ The three songs below of ‘Zamindar’ had
a profound and poignant message for the moviegoers:
‘Duniya mein ghareboan ko Aaram naheen milta.’
‘Armaan taraptay hain pehlu mein meray Aa kay.’
‘Meray haal per bay basi ro rahi hai.’
It seemed Ghulam Haider knew just 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 renowned Indian film directors, Mehboob Khan and Kardaar 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 great interest in his profession. He composed songs for director K. Asif’s 1944
The attraction and the lasting effect of Ghulam Haider’s songs are reflected in the sweetness of his music compositions.
Included in the list of illustrious films are the four below:
Director Gayan Mukherjee’s 1944 film ‘Chal chal ray naujawan.’
The film ‘Bairam Khan.’
Director Sibtain Fazli’s film ‘Shama’ which was released under the banner of Minerva Modi Tone.
Director Sibtain Fazli’s film ‘Mehendi.’
His efforts took on a new intensity and Ghulam Haider proved his worth in the music scene. The ability of the man and his
music really hit home. Ghulam Haider’s music in the three films below 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 Modi Tone.
Ghulam Haider and Gayan Dutt composed its songs.
Director Afzal Jahangir’s film ‘Buth Tarash.’
Ghulam Haider moved to Bombay in 1944. Later he 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 ‘Majboor’ was ‘Angrezi
chora chala gaya, wo gora, gora, chala gaya.’
Ghulam Haider also availed 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.’ Below is the most
popular song from ‘Shaheed.’
‘Watan ki raha mein watan kay naujawan shaheed ho.’
Dedicated composer, Ghulam Haider, also composed music for director Krishin Kumar’s 1949 film ‘Kaneez.’
Afterwards, Ghulam Haider returned to Lahore and 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, which was released in 1949. Below are the two
songs from ‘Shahida’ which were composed by Ghulam Haider:
‘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.’
The four songs below from the 1953 film ‘Gulnar’ struck a chord in music lovers that still resonates and reminds
us of the good old days:
‘Bachhpan ki yaad gaaro.’
‘Sakhi ray naheen Aaye sajanwa more.’
‘Wo chal diye hain hum ko tasalli diye baghair.’
‘Gila hai Aasmaan walay hamay teri khudai say.’
Ghulam Haider crossed over on November 9, 1953, in Lahore, soon after the release of the film ‘Gulnar.’ He was
forty-five years of age.
It seems to me that the aphorism below is meant for great people like Umrao Zia Begum. She was not only a great human but
an affectionate mother who possessed enormous foresightedness as well.
Nothing happens to anybody, which he is not fitted by nature to bear.
Ghulam Haider’s demise happened to be a tremendous setback for his beloved
wife, Umrao Zia Begum, who was much younger to her husband. However, she did not lose heart. Instead, she devoted herself
wholeheartedly to the upbringing of her children.
She left no stone unturned to provide her children the best possible education available at the time. Consequently, all her
children grew up and achieved name and fame in their respective fields.
Most importantly, Umrao Zia Begum thanked God to see her relentless efforts come to fruition.
Years later, Umrao Zia Begum breathed her last in the ‘Stork House,’ Bahawalpur, which was the official residence
of her younger son, who was the General Officer Commanding in Bahawalpur in those days. She was laid to rest in the Military
Graveyard, Cavalry Ground, Lahore.
Ghulam Haider will stand as a musical icon as far as the eye can see.