The melodious music maker:  Khemchand Prakash



The film ‘Mahal’ released in the year- 1949 will be remembered for all times to come. It is not because that it was directed by legendary Kamal Amrohi; neither owing to the fact that Ashok Kumar and Madhubala acted in the film, nor because of the reason that Bimal Roy was its editor. But, the fact remains that the film is still recalled in view of its grand background music and immortal melodious songs. 

How can one forget – ‘Aayega aney wala’, ‘Mushkil hei bahut mushkil’, ’Dil ney phir yaad kiyaa’ sung by upcoming Lata Mangeshkar; ‘Ghabra key jo humsar ko’, ‘Ek teer chalaa’, ‘Mein wo haseen hoon’ sung by acclaimed  Rajkumari; and ‘Chhun chhun ghungharwa’ sung by famed Johrabai and Rajkumari.

Ergo, the film ‘Mahal’ became a landmark in the history of Indian cinema primarily because of its music; and the then lesser known Lata Mangeshkar came to limelight and established herself as the most popular singer of the century after one and only – Kundan Lal Saigal.

A collection of choicest Indian cine music will be certainly incomplete without one of the songs of film ‘Mahal’ and any music performance of Lata Mangeshkar is just not possible without ‘Aayega aney wala’ and or ‘Mushkil hei bahut mushkil’.   

The melodious music maker of these fascinating melodies was   Khemchand Prakash, who was born at Sujangarh, a small town in Rajasthan on 12 December, 1907.  His father Pt Govardhan Prakash was a court musician of the then Jaipur State . Before joining films, Khemchand Prakash was associated with Nepal Durbar as a singer. Thereafter, he moved to Calcutta as a radio artiste.

Impressed with his singing talent, Timir Baran, the famous music director of New Theatres took Khemchand Prakash in his fold.

In view of his deep understanding of classical music (including the most intricate dhrupad style); Khemchand Prakash directed music for most of the singers of his time. As such, when celebrated Prithviraj Kapoor moved from Calcutta to Bombay , he took young Khemchand Prakash along with him. In Bombay, he introduced music maestro to Ranjit Movietone, where he gave music for the all time great, the classic film –‘Tansen’ (1943) starring Kundan Lal Saigal and Khurshid.

In the annals of singing (classical and non-classical) the music of film ‘Tansen’; has no substitute. What better captivating singing in classical ‘dhrupad’ style, one can expect, when Saigal effortlessly sang- ‘Sapt suran teen gram’ and ‘Diya jalao’. It was in a way the beginning of pure classical singing in Indian cine music.

The depth of feelings in singing expressed by Saigal in his another number- ’Binaa pankh ke panchhi hoon mein’ cannot be phrased in words. Then listen to the duet sung by Saigal & Khurshid– ‘Morey balapan key saathi’. The beauty  of delivery of sentiments expressed is simply superb. The other numbers viz ‘Ghataa ghunghor ghor’, ‘O dukhia jiyara’, ‘Ab raja bhaye morey balam wo din bhool gaye’ and ‘Barso rey’ sung by Khurshid, though have been forgotten with the passage of time and also conveniently non-availability of the recordings. But,  the fact remains that the musical super-hit film-‘Tansen’ will be remembered all time to come for its fabulous melodies.

In film ‘Bhanwara’ (1944), as well the maestro composed some unforgettable songs sung by Saigal  viz ‘Muskaratey huye youn aankh chuaraya na karo’ and ’Thukra rahee hei ye dunian’. 

Some other immortal melodies he yet again created for other films viz - ‘Gazi Salaudin’ & ‘Meri Aankhein’ (1939), ‘Aaj Ka Hindustan’ & ‘Pagal’ (1940), ‘Holiday In Bombay’, ‘Pardesi’, ‘Pyaas’ & ‘Shadi’ (1941), ‘Khilona’, ‘Dukh- Sukh’, ‘Fariyaad’, ‘Mehmaan’ & ‘Chandni’ (1942), ‘Chirag’, ‘Vishkanya’, ‘Gauri’ & ‘Qurbani’ (1943), ‘Mumtaz Mahal’, ‘Shahanshah Babar’, ‘Bhanwara’ & ‘Bharthari’ (1944), ‘Dhanna Bhagat’ (1945), ‘Mera Suhag’, ‘Chalte Chalte’, ‘Mulakaat’, ‘Samaj Ko Badal Dalo’ & ‘Sikandar’ (1947), ‘Asha’ & ‘Ziddi’ (1948), ‘Sawan Aya Re’, ‘Rimjhim’ & ‘Mahal’ (1949), ‘Muqaddar’ & ‘Bijli’ (1950) and ‘Shree Ganesh Janam’ (1951).

In 1948 for film ‘Ziddi’ (based on the story of celebrated urdu writer- Sahadat Hasan Manto) produced by Bombay Talkies;  Kishore Kumar sang his first and foremost film solo song- ‘Marney ki duayein kya mangoo’ followed by- ‘Ye kaun aaya re’ (duet with Lata Mangeshkar). The music for these two bewitching numbers was   composed by Khemchand Prakash. These notable melodies have certainly enriched two vocalists  and subsequently shaped their destiny.

As well, Talat Mehmood and Geeta Roy sang ‘Armaan bharey dil ki lagan kis key liyey hei’ for the film- ‘Jaan Pehchaan’ (1950 which is yet  another master-piece composition of Khemchand Prakash.

A  peculiar feature of the music of the maestro was that he  deployed minimum musical instruments and thereby created finest ambiance through the vocal cord of the singer. This was one of the most captivating features of his brilliantly created immortal melodies.

 In this context,  listen to Shamshad’s fascinating & melodious song-‘Naa tum aayey naa neend aayee’  for the film ‘Rimjhim (1949); ‘Dil ney phir yaad kiya’ and ‘Mushkil hei bahut mushkil’- Lata’s numbers  for film ‘Mahal’, which are some of the classic examples of his minimal usage of instruments while composing some of these bewitching songs.

The musical tradition of the maestro was carried by his noble assistant- Bulo C. Rani in his films. One such all time classic film was ‘Jogan’. produced and directed by luminary Kidar Sharma and  starring Dilip Kumar and Nargis. What an exceptional quality music was produced through the songs of emotionally chocked voice of Geeta Roy for Nargis, starring in this unforgettable film.  

What a misfortune!

Ten days before the release of all time classic ‘Mahal’, on 10 August, 1950 Khemchand  Prakash expired  at the age of just 45 years, leaving behind a wonderful legacy of music for all times to come.

It is a sheer coincidence that other two greats of his time in the field of music- Kundan Lal Saigal and Gulam Haider as well died in their forties in the years- 1947 and 1953 respectively..    .

Satish Chopra, BA/26B Ashok Vihar-I, Delhi-110052 #011-27134229/27450869