Ghulam Haider

Ghulam Haider was born in 1908 in Hyderabad (Sind, Pakistan).

He studied dentistry and learnt music from Babu Ganeshlal. Giving up dentistry, he worked in the theatre in Calcutta as a harmonium player - first at the Alfred Theatrical Company and then the Alexandra Theatrical Company. He briefly worked with the Jenaphone recording company as composer and broke into films in Lahore with the father-son duo of Roshan Lal Shorey and Roop Kishore Shorey.

He got his big breakthrough film with D.M. Pancholi's Punjabi film Gul-e-Bakavali (1939) followed by Yamla Jat (1940), both starring Noor Jehan.

His biggest hit came the following year with Khazanchi (1941). The music of Khazanchi caused a revolution. By then Music Directors of the 1930s, who had embellished films with their exquisite compositions set in classical ragas, were beginning to sound commonplace. Khazanchi's refreshingly free wheeling music not only took the audiences by storm but also made other music directors sit up and take notice. Combining popular ragas with the rich verve and rhythm of Punjabi music, Haidar ensured that the Indian film song would never be the same again.

Khandaan the following year with Noor Jehan was again a mega hit establishing Haider at the very top.

He moved to Bombay where he worked in films like Chal Chal re Naujawaan (1944), Phool (1944) and Humayun (1945). His best-known compositions were sung by Shamshad Begum and invoke Punjabi folk and extensively featured percussion instruments like the dholak.

Memorable Films

Gul-e-Bakavali (Punjabi) (1939)

Yamla Jat (Punjabi) (1940)

Khazanchi (1941)

Khandaan (1942)

Zamindar (1942)

Poonji (1943)

Phool (1944)

Humayaun (1945)

Majboor (1948)

Shaheed (1948)

Kaneez (1949)

Gulnar (1953)

Like many others Ghulam Haider too returned to Pakistan after the country’s partition and continued his work. During this tenure he scored music for Beqarar, Akeli, Bheegi Palkein and a couple of Noor Jahan films Gulemar and Laila. He died at the young age of forty-five.Ghulam Haider's success encouraged other Punjabi music directors to enter films. These included Shyam Sunder, Husnlal-Bhagatram, Feroz Nizami and Hansraj Behl. Today Ghulam Haider's name is almost forgotten. What remain are remnants of his work.

Best Of Ghulam Haider:

Song & Movie

vatan ki raah mein vatan ke naujavan - Shaheed

lo chal diye vo hamko tasali diye bagair - Gulnar



According to Haider, much of the popularity of a song would depend on its lyrics as well as the skill and style of the singer. As soon as he heard the voice of a singer, he composed a tune suited to that voice. It was essential to him that the singer conveys emotion enough to create the situation the scene demanded.

Shaheed and Kaneez (1949) were among his last big hits in India. In the former, as patriotic songs go who can forget Watan ki Raah Mein Watan ke Naujawan Shaheed ho? The song was used twice in the film, the first at a brisk tempo to raise the moral of the revolutionaries and the second slowly and solemnly as the revolutionary's dead body is carried to the cremation ground.

Music aside, Ghulam Haider was also responsible for raising the status of Music Directors. In those days he demanded and got Rs 25,000 a film! It was a result of his efforts that musicians were given their due and paid better wages.

After partition, Haider returned to Lahore where he started Filmsaz with director S. Nazir Ajmeri and actor S.Gul. Gulnar (1953) reunited him with Noor Jehan but he could never taste the kind of success that he had in India. He passed away in 1953 soon after the release of Gulnar.

Ghulam Haider's success encouraged other Punjabi music directors to enter films. These included Shyam Sunder, Husnlal-Bhagatram, Feroz Nizami and Hansraj Behl. Today Ghulam Haider's name is almost forgotten. What remain are remnants of his work and the works of others influenced by him.

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.

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.

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 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 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.

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 music.

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 film, ‘Phool.’

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.’

Ghulam Haider acted like a mentor to some of the singing legends.Ghulam used Shamshad Begum's voice skillfully.He was the music director/composer for Noorjehan's four punjabi films Gul Bakavli (1939), Sassi Punnu (1939), Yamla Jat (1940) and Choudhury(1940) and her songs created a sensation in the Punjab: particularly Bas bas ve dholna. It was Master Ghulam Haider who spotted her talent and went on to play a vital role in grooming Noor Jehan for her film career. He played an equally important role with the legendary Lata Mangeshkar It was Haider who gave Lata Mangeshkar her first major break in Hindi films with Majboor (1948) and took her to S. Mukherjee to sing in Shaheed (1948) but Mukherjee rejected her saying her voice was too thin! Haider warned him that this 'poor little thing' would soon put every other singer in the shade including Noor Jehan! Other singers he introduced were Sudha Malhotra and Surinder Kaur.

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.

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