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Madan Mohan 100th birth anniversary: When the legendary composer’s unused tunes were used in Veer-Zaara

en Bollywood News Madan Mohan 100th birth anniversary: When the legendary composer’s unused tunes were used in Veer-Zaara

One of the most illustrious composers of Hindi cinema—Madan Mohan Kohli—was born a 100 years ago on June 25. Despite an unsuccessful phase in the first seven years of his career that began in 1950 with Ankhen, he took off in the real sense with Dekh Kabira Roya (1957) and never looked back, easily becoming one of our most reputed composers.

Madan Mohan 100th birth anniversary: When the legendary composer’s unused tunes were used in Veer-Zaara

Having cottoned on early in his career that his weighty melodies scored high, the composer focused on quality work, is now considered a master of the ghazal in the movies and his compositions remain timeless and do not sound dated at all. What’s more, a bevy of his films—Jahan Ara, Neend Hamari Khwab Tumhare, Dulhan Ek Raat Ki and Dastak among them—are recalled even now for their music even if they flopped. What’s more, in 1971, Madan Mohan clinched the National Best Music award for the last-mentioned film.

But by no means were these the only accomplishments of the genius. Like Ravi, O.P. Nayyar and Usha Khanna from his time, Madan Mohan was never formally trained in music. His “education” mainly stemmed from exposure to music giants like Begum Akhtar, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan at All-India Radio. Lucknow, where he had joined after leaving the Indian Army—that too after serving as (second) lieutenant, to follow his passion for music.

As Lata Mangeshkar had once told me, “Tunes would come to Madan-ji in a jiffy, even while doing something as mundane as going up in an elevator. All his softness and emotions as a human being completely went into his songs.” Today, Madan Mohan’s soul would have several reasons to be satisfied with his own work.

For example, his ‘Lag jaa gale ke phir yeh haseen raat ho na ho’ (Woh Kaun Thi? / 1964) has been used 54 years after it was created in Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3 (2018). Even before that, in 1966, two films used the song: the Tamil Yaar Nee? as ‘Ponmeni thazhuvamal’ and the Telugu film Aame Evaru? as ‘Andala ee reyi’. In 1968, a Bengali version of the same tune was heard—‘Shongi je ke e monke amar aaj dolalo’.

The Pakistani band Sanam’s cover version became so popular that many considered it their original creation, and later, about 40 young Pakistani musicians recorded another version. Another iconic song from the same film, ‘Naina barse rimjhim rimjhim’ has also been remixed and remains among the topmost songs among Lata’s haunting genre numbers, which include her ‘Aayega aanewala’ and ‘Kahin deep jale jahin dil’ from other composers.

Mera Saaya, another Raj Khosla-Sadhana mystery thriller like Woh Kaun Thi?, also had a song in this genre—the title-number. But it was the folksy ‘Jhumka gira re’ that found use and expression in 2023’s evergreen hit, Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani. Composer Pritam cleverly worked around this evergreen melody to create its musical spin-off, ‘What jhumka’, using the mukhda’s tune as a musical riff. And so we have a Madan Mohan creation filmed on ‘today’ stars Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt!

But that’s by no means all: some of Madan Mohan’s unused tunes, preserved by the composer in his own voice, became the complete soundtrack of Yash Chopra’s 2004 hit, Veer-Zaara and were filmed on Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta, Hema Malini and Amitabh Bachchan. The late filmmaker was introduced to these melodies by Madan Mohan’s son, Sanjeev Kohli, after he reportedly was not getting the soulful melodies he wanted for his cross-border romance (from at least two composers who shall go unnamed after sittings with them!).

Chopra got Javed Akhtar to write situational lyrics for Madan Mohan’s tunes and R.S. Mani as arranger, and the soundtrack became the biggest score of that year. Besides Madan Mohan’s muse and raakhi sister, Lata Mangeshkar, singers Udit Narayan, Sonu Nigam, Jagjit Singh, Roopkumar Rathod and other voices were also a part of the soundtrack.

Interestingly, in this film, songs were filmed on Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini. Amitabh had earlier enacted his composition in Parwana and Hema in her uncle’s film, Sharafat Chhod Di Maine!

But the timelessness quotient does not end here: not only is the Talat Mahmood ghazal, ‘Phir wohi shaam’ (Jahan Ara / 1964) still popular but even a few concerts on this genre of music have been named with this title! And there is barely any current coin composer, lyricist or singer (or listener!) who does not adore songs like Mohammed Rafi’s beautifully layered and orchestrated ‘Tum jo mil gaye ho’ (Hanste Zakhm) or get gooseflesh after listening to the pathos and patriotic passion of the same singer’s ‘Ab tumhare hawale watan saathiyon’(Haqeeqat).

Also Read: Trivia Tunes: When Sonu Nigam was called to recreate Mohammed Rafi’s iconic song due to copyright issues

More Pages: Veer Zaara Box Office Collection


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