Madan Mohan

Lata Mangeshkar christened him 'The Emperor Of Ghazals'. She should know because it is in her voice that Madan Mohan created all those masterpieces that set an impossibly high standard for ghazals in films. The irony of the fact is that Madan Mohan couldn't combine class and mass appeal the way an S.D.Burman or Shanker-Jaikishan could. He composed the only way he knew to - with great respect for each of his tunes.

Madan Mohan was the son of Rai Bahadur Chunnilal, one of the big names of the 30's and 40's, and a partner in Bombay Talkies and then Filmistan. Madan Mohan was sent to Dehradun to join the army on the insistence of his father. Once he was posted at Delhi, he quit the Army and went to Lucknow to do what he wanted to do, i.e to join A.I.R.

His musical roots strengthened in Lucknow because he came across famous people like Ustad Faiyyaz Khan, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Roshan Ara Begum, Begum Akhtar, Siddheshwari Devi, and Talat Mehmood, all renowned names in the field of classical music and ghazal singing.He carried their influence with him always, which was clearly evident by his music compositions in his career, and one of the main reasons why he excelled in aesthetic composition inspite of having no formal training in music.

Madan Mohan came to Bombay in the late 40's, and assisted S. D. Burman and Shyam Sunder for a brief spell, for films being made by filmistan studios.Madan's first big commercial break was Bhai Bhai in 1956.

But after his film 'Ankhen' Madan and Lata became a great team together and Lata sang for almost all his films. Lata Mangeshkar was the last word for him.The sweetness Madan achieved here in Lata Mangeshkar’s voice is something rare in his repertory. It was never enough that there was enough of only Lata in a Madan tune. Lata used to call Madan ‘Ghazal Ka Shehzadaa’. ‘Woh chup rahen to mere dil ke daag jalte hain’ from the film Jahan Ara and ‘Maine raang li aaj chunariya’ from Dulhan Ek Raat Ki are some others of his compositions.He scored for a theme in mime like Chetan Anand's Heer Ranjha.

Madan Mohan made excellent use of voices of Talat Mahmood and Mohd. Rafi as well. His favourite lyricists were Raja Mehndi Ali Khan, Rajendra Krishan, and Kaifi Azmi. Majrooh Sultanpuri and Sahir Ludhianvi also wrote for him for a few films.

He was known as the Ghazal Samrat of Indian Music. He died on July 14th, in the year 1975. He did not live to see the success of two of his very big hits 'Mausam' and 'Laila Majnu'. Most Popular films of Madan Mohan are 'Ashiyana, Madhosh, Baghi, Bhai Bhai, Mastane, Gateway Of India, Dekh Kabeera Roya, Adalat, Chacha Zindabad, Manmauji, Sanjog, Woh Kaun Thi, Jahan Ara, Ghazal, Sharabi, Mera Saaya, Neela Akash, Ek Kali Muskayi, Chirag, Dastak, Heer Ranjha, Haste Zakhma, Mausam, etc.

His peerless classicism while tuning a variety of songs like ‘Nainon mien badra chaye’ in Mera Saaya. ‘Naino mein badra chaye’ is another classic, from the film Mera Saaya. Reportedly there is no composer more difficult to please at a recording than Madan Mohan. He took the life out of the artists because he staked his reputation on his compositions .

Madan Mohan was totally different from other composers in the late l94O and early 195O's.Madan Mohan compositions never displayed traces of his Punjabi roots.Later in the l970's, Madan composed to live up to his reputation as the ‘Ghazal King’, which cramped his style in the matter of being a freewheeler composer.

He was particularly fond of the song Yeh duniya yeh mehfil in Heer Ranjha because of the variety in arrangement. His own favourite composition was 'Sawan ke mahine main' from Sharabi. He would sing the song for his friends at private gatherings.

Awards And Honors

Award - Song - Movie

National Award - 1970 (Dastak)

Sur Singar Sansad Award - 1966 song 'Naino Me Badra Chhaye'

Best Of Madan Mohan

Song & Movie

Meri Duniya Mein Tum Aye (Heer Ranjha)

Tumse Door Rehke (Adalat)

Tujhe kya sunoon ai dilruba (Aakhri Daao)

Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan (Haqueeqat)

Chirag Dil Ka Jalavo (Chirag)

Aapki Nazron Ne Samjha (Anpadh)

Hai Isi Mein Pyar Ki (Anpadh)

Agar Mujhse Mohabbat Hai (Aapki Parchhaiyan)

Lag Ja Gale Ke Phir Ye Hasin (Woh Kaun thi)

Naina Barse Rimjhim Rimjhim (Woh kaun thi)

The music of Madan Mohan evokes a deep sense of amazement. Long after his death, the music continues to haunt you. Once you have listened to his compositions, you possibly cannot have any taste for the music created by the other doyens.

The official soundtrack recording (HMV SPHO 4426) contains nine gems of unprecedented originality. The lyrics of Rajinder Kishen and the music of Madan Mohan are so well meshed that words fail to convey how vividly has Madan Mohan succeeded in portraying the subtle nuances and shades expressed in the lyrics.

My personal favourites amongst these happen to be the Lata -Asha number, all the Talat Mahmood numbers, the Talat-Lata duet, two Lata solos, the Rafi solo and the Rafi- Suman duet in that order.

This being my personal preference, the other fans of Madan Mohan(and whose number is legion) may find fault with it. I can only submit that I respect their sentiments and in no way is this brief excursion meant to disturb the status-quo of personal likings.

The film as per my knowledge did not fare well commercially. However, the songs continue to captivate you nearly after three decades. To begin with let us consider the bewitching "Mujra," "Jab Jab Tumhe Bhulaya." The song begins with a soft rendition by Lata of the Talat solo " Main Teri Nazar Ka Suroor Hoon" (partially). Then the wailings of a lonely heart are so exquisitely etched in three stanzas that except for a stone hearted person, any person who has stayed away and / or strayed from his or her dearest one - is bound to find his eyes misty. The last stanza particularly might be a ghastly precursor to the last tragic days of Madan Mohan.

"Marne ki aarzoo mein hum jee rahe hain aise Jaise ki laash aapni khud koi le chala hain" (In the fond wish of death embracing my body,I am trudging the lonely furrow of this aimless life as if carrying my own mortal remains with me).

The perennial favourite Talat solos "Phir wahi sham","Teri aankh ke aasoon pee jaaon" and of course"Main teri nazar ka suroor hoon" have been perfectly tuned to convey the pathos of the lovers who cannot fulfill their cherished desire, particularly the "Phir wohi sham " number. Unless one has experienced the empty evenings and the gut wrenching pain of separation, one cannot empathize with the feelings expressed in the silken voice of Talat Mahmood.

The Talat-Lata duet perfectly captures the ebullience of young love with all the unrealistic notions of what love can do. The opening music impeccably connotes the "Joie de vivre" of the young lovers. The much abused dancing around the trees and in the fields is immediately elevated to dreamy level not achieved by many.

Instead of choosing Rafi, Madan Mohan had opted for Talat for all the important songs in the film. It is said that this led to a serious misunderstanding with the director of the film. However, Madan Mohan, as was his wont, did not yield ground and at the cost of opting out of the assignment, insisted for Talat's voice. The rest, to use a cliche, is history. However, Madan Mohan gave one unforgettable gem to Rafi in " Kisike yaad mein . . . "

The Lata solos " Woh chup rahe to mere dil ke daag" and "Hal-e- dil unko yun sunaya gaya " perfectly bring to the fore the suppressed emotions and the fervent pleas of separated lovers. Although the words, tune and the singer provide a smooth blend of melancholy, my favourite Lata numbers happen to be from the other films.

The young film goer who might not be familiar with the bygone era in the Hindi film music might very well ask a pertinent question: If the plethora of superlatives that has been used to describe the genius of Madan Mohan is to be taken at face value then Madan Mohan must have been a very successful music-director. To this- We would like to submit that Madan Mohan was indeed a successful music-director of commercially unsuccessful films. To cite some examples,"Aashiana,""Dekh Kabira Roya","Hanste Zakhm","Parawana (starring Yogita Bali, Navin Nischal and Amitabh ),"Mausam,""Heer Ranza" etc.In the eighty odd movies that had the distinction of having their music composed by Madan Mohan, only four movies were commercially successful "Bhai Bhai","Mastana","Woh kaun thi"and "Mera saya."

What could have gone wrong? Probabaly, the uncompromising attitude of Madan towards the quality of his music and his culture that made him totally unfit to survive in the ghoulish world of "modern music."

Madan Mohan was a disillusioned man in his last days and the void of emptiness on the professional front must have led him to his sad and untimely death.

We consider him as one of the last titans who has given immense pleasure to his listeners over the years through his songs like

1) Lag ja gale (Woh kaun thi)

2) Jo hamne dastaan aapni sunayee (Woh kaun thi)

3) Chanda jaa (Manamauji)

4) Main to tumsang (Manamauji)

5) Baiyaan na dharo (Dastak)

6) Hum hain mata-e-kucha (Dastak)

7) Mai re main kase (Dastak)

8) Main to peeke nagariya gati chali (Ek kali muskayee)

9) Maine rang li aaj chunariya (Dulhan ek raatki)

10) Piya le gayo ji mera sawariya (Anpadh)

11) Aap ki nazaron ne samza (Anpadh)

12) Hain isi me pyar ki aabroo (Anpadh)

13) Ja re badra bairi jaa (Bahana)

14) Sapne me sajan se do bate (Gateway of India)

15) Wo bhuli dastan (Sanjog)

16) Bhuli hui yadon (Sanjog)

17) Hoke majbur muze (Haqueekat)

Madan Mohan left this world for his heavenly abode on July14 , 1975 after realizing that "Yeh duniya,Yeh mehfil mere kamki nahin".

The Gods must have been woefully short of musical talent of the calibre of Madan Mohan to have him recalled in the prime of his life and without allowing him to complete his concert.