search of a genius: Shyam Sunder
Thirty five years after the
partition and two wars between India and Pakistan;
in the year 1982 the melody queen, Malika-e-Tarannum Noorjehan
visited India. It was certainly a grand occasion for millions of music
lovers of Indian sub-continent.
In her honour and to
facilitate nostalgic music lovers, an impressive show was organized in
Sanmukhanad Hall, Bombay which was attended by a large number of
luminaries of Indian cinema. Notable amongst were- Anil Biswas, Naushad,
the maestro music composers and matinee idols- Devika Rani, Ashok Kumar,
Dilip Kumar & nightingale of India Lata Mangeshkar to name a few.
Noorjehan came to the dais
with a thunderous applause from the jam-packed auditorium and after a
brief speech; as expected, she sang her most popular melody- ‘Awaaz
de kahan hei, dunian meri jawan hei’ she recorded in India for film
‘Anmol Ghadi’ -Music was composed by Naushad.
Thereafter, it was Lata to
sing, who found herself in a very difficult situation owing to a
completely charged atmosphere all around the auditorium. She kept every
one guessing about the selection of her song.
Lata came out with one of
her endearing melodies- ‘Saajan ki
galian chhod chaley, dil roya aansoo beh na sakey’ from
film ‘Bazaar’ music for which was composed by Shyam Sunder. The
applause was beyond imagination. The memory of the completely forgotten genius
music director Shyam Sunder came alive, when in her next round Noorjehan
sang– ‘Baithee hun teri yaad ka
ley karkey sahara’ another immortal melody from film- ‘Village
Girl’, music for which was composed by none other than Shyam Sunder.
The audience was indeed
spell bound. Every one thought as to why she chose a completely forgotten
Indian melody instead of a large number of songs she recorded in
The momentous event
continued with lots of nostalgic and tearful exchanges and it became a
history in the annals of pre and post partition Indian art, culture, music
and all such related aspects of humane!
A period of another more
than twenty six years has since passed, but memories of these two immortal
melodies composed by Shyam Sunder besides many others; at times, create a
typical restlessness in the head and heart of a large number of candid
Why such a legendary music-
composer has completely been forgotten? Who composed
music for some of the classics of his time, such as ‘Village
Girl’- 1945, ‘Devkanya’ 1946, ‘Actress’ and ‘Ek Pal’-1947,
‘Bazaar’ and ‘Lahore’- 1949, ‘Dholak’, ‘Kale Badal
and Alif Laila’ -1951 just to name a few.
Down memory lane, it was the
year 1938 K.LSaigal visited
As such, before the
commencement of the show, Mohammad Rafi, the young lad who came from a
nearby village, sang a few songs in Punjabi without a mike. He was
appreciated by one and all, including Shyam Sunder and Saigal.
Subsequently, when a Punjabi
film named ‘Gul Baloch’ was produced and its music was composed by
Shyam Sunder, young Mohammad Rafi
recorded his first song (in Punjabi)- ‘Soniyo
nee, heeriyo nee’.
In the years to follow, the
collection of melodies composed by Shyam Sunder is embedded with some rare
gems. To commence with, let me introduce the readers with some of his
fabulous numbers. In the year 1943, he composed music for film ‘Nai
Kahani’. An alluring song of G.M. Durani and others–‘Neend
hamari khwab tumhary, kitney meethy kitney pyary’ which
became an instant hit. Even
today after a gap of more than sixty years, the melody richly deserves an
eloquent place in the list of popular melodies of yesteryears.
In his next film ‘Village
Girl’ -1945, Shyam Sunder
came with flying colours, wherein Noorjehan sang some of her
fabulous melodies viz–‘Baithi hoon teri yaad mein ley karkey sahara’, ‘Kis tarah bhulega
dil’ & ‘Sajan pardesi,
balam pardesi’. In these vital numbers, the feelings immersed in the
lyrics -written by Wali Saheb- she was in her complete command. The singer
did not merely sang the words inscribed in the lyrics, but the depth of
feelings. The class of accompanying instrumentation and the matching
orchestration was superb and genius of the composer was distinctively
It is needless to reiterate
that as and when a list of immortal melodies of previous century of Indian
sub-continent in general and Noorjehan in particular will be drawn; these
numbers will invariably find a prime place, music for which was composed
by a totally forgotten genius called- Shyam Sunder.
Again, it will not be out of
place to record that Noorjehan continued to sing after leaving Bomaby and
Coming back to the music of
maestro- Shyam Sunder after the exit of Noorjehan from Indian film music,
there came film ‘Actress’
in the year 1948, wherein Mohammad Rafi
gave his initial introduction to music world by singing – ‘Hum
apne dil ka fasana unhein suna na sakey’ . This proved to be
Rafi’s initial introduction. .
The film ‘Bazaar’
released in the year 1949 was certainly a class, in view of its musical
hits. Listen to some of the fascinating melodies of this film-‘Sajan
ki galian chhod chaley, dil roya aansu beh na sakey’ & ‘Basaa lo
apnee nigahon mein pyar thorha sa’ (Lata
Mangeshkar), ‘Aye mohabbat unse
milnen ka bahana mil gayaa’ (Lata & Rafi), ‘Shahidon
tumko mera salaam’ (Rafi) and ‘Chhalla
de jaa nishani teri mehrbani’ (Rafi
and Satish Batra).
Another musical masterpiece
evaluating his music in his subsequent films viz- ‘Kamal Ke Phool’,
‘Bhai Behan’ & ‘Nirdosh” -1950, ‘Kale Badal’, ‘Mukhra’
and ‘Dholak’ -1951,
and ‘Alif Laila’ -1951; a particular reference needs to be made
of film- ‘Dholak’, wherein
Shyam Sunder created three poignant compositions- ‘Mere
dil mein aaiyey sung by Shamshad, ‘Chori
chori aag si dil mein laga key chal diye, hum taraptey reg gaye, wo
muskara ke chal diye’ & ‘Mausam
ayaa hei rangeen, bajee hei kahein surili been, aisey mein hauley hauley’
sung by Sulochana Kadam and Satish Batra.
In the last number, the orchestration is simply great and
captivating and the way hauley
hauley has been sung, it is simply a class in itself. Such a film
musical experiment can be categorized as rarest of the rare category.
The list of
his other memorable melodies include: ‘Ik bewafa ki yaad mein tadfa ke maar dala’-Suraiya (‘Char
Din’-1949), ‘Thandi hawa ke
jhoke’ –Shmashad (‘Nirdosh-1950), ‘Ye
meri chalti phirti laash’ –Lata, ‘Sazaa
mili hei ye kisi ko ye dil lagane ki’ and Koi
dil mein samaya chupke chupke’ -Suraiya
and ’Jalti hei dunia jalti
rahegi’ –Talat (‘Kamal Ke Phool- 1950), ‘Akhiyan
mila ke akhiyon kineend chura ke’ –Sulochana Kadam (‘Mukhra’
-1951), ‘Khamosh kyon ho tare,
ummid ke sahare’ and ‘Kya
raat suhni hei’ –Lata & Rafi (‘Alif Laila’ -1951).
The music-creating journey
and cardiograph of Shyam Sunder can be matched with another maestro called
Sajjad Husain, who also composed music for just 14 films, but composed
some of the finest melodies of his era.
Both the masters were highly
perfectionists; but ill-tempered and uncompromising.
Shyam Sunder, additionally in
view of his addiction to liquor and excessive drinking, occasionally
uttered abusive language and
consequently used to lose control over his head and heart. During the
making of the film ‘
In the year 1952, when the
film- ‘Alif Laila’ was in making, Shyam Sunder died in the recording
studio, owing to excessive drinking and consequent heart attack; the music
thereby was completed by his assistant- Madan Mohan.
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