Author: Hildebrand (Gajendra N.K.)
Author's Note: The author acknowledges the extensive inputs from Geet Kosh and the research of Dr Mahesh Sagar ji on Sajjad. Special thanks to Mahesh ji for making the filmography and providing songs. I have also used some small inputs from Srinivas Ganti, Aditya Pant among others. All such inputs are greatfully Acknowledged. Finally, all opinions and judgements are entirely mine.
Sajjad Hussain was born on June 15, 1917 at a village called Sitamau in Madhya Pradesh (then the Central Provinces). He was the youngest son of Mohammad Amirkhan who himself was a musician and adept at the Sitar. Sajjad's early training began under his father and picked up the nuances of many stringed instruments including the Sitar, Veena, Sarod, Surbahaar and of course, the one for whose expertise he is known for, the Mandolin. According to some reports he could also play Violin, Jaltarang, Flute, Piano, Banjo, Clarionet, Harp, Accordian, Spanish and Hawaaian guitars.
In the late 30s (1937 according to some reports and 1940 according to others) he came to Mumbai to try his luck in the film industry accompanied by his elder brother Nisaar Hussain. The film industry had the culture of studios at that time. He initially got work in Sohrab Modi's Minerva Movietone and later shifted to Wadia Movietone. During next few years he worked as an assistant for other composers including Meer Saheb, Rafiq Ghaznavi and Master Ali Baksh. Master Ali Baksh, who was the father of Meena Kumari was a noted composer for whom Sajjad is believed to have worked extensively. Later he worked as an assistant for composer Pandit Hanuman Prasad. Hanuman Prasad was impressed with his capabilities and is reported to have called him a One-Man-Orchestra due to his knowledge of so many instruments. It was during this association that Sajjad got his first assignment for three songs for the movie Gaali in 1944 (the remaining songs were by Pandit Hanuman Prasad himself).
Just as he was an adept musician himself, Sajjad had a knack for choosing the right singers for his songs. His talent ensured that he had access to the best singers during his career. Contrary to what a particular statement attributed to him by the media about liking two singers only, His filmography clearly demonstrates that he had respect for many singers and used them appropriately. The melodious songs which he composed from his singers are cherished by music connoisseurs till this day.
Coming back to Gaali, this movie starred actress and singer Nirmala Devi who is also known for her thumris (and to the new generation as Actor Govinda's mother). Her co-star was Karan Dewan. Out of the two songs were Nirmala solos and the third was a Nirmala-Karan Dewan solo. These songs are not available and not much is known about them.
Around this time, an aquaintance of his was also planning to make a movie and his name was Syed Shaukat Hussain Rizwi. The movie starred Rizwi's future wife and actress-singer Noorjehan who was the rising star at that time. Sajjad may have assisted Rafique Ghaznavi for Rizwi's previous movie Naukar or they knew each other through some other connection. Rizwi offered Sajjad the task of composing music for the movie. This first solo outing of Sajjad called Dost proved to be a milestone in the careers of the trio. The movie was a big hit and so was the music. It is still remembered for its songs like the classic Noorjehan songs, Badnaam Mohabbat Kaun Kare and O Sajna.
His next assignment Dharma(1945) is known as the last movie of its leading lady, Actress-singer Rattan Bai. Today Rattan Bai is merely remembered as the greatgrandmother of Kajol and Tanisha and actor Mohnish Behl and grandmother of Nutan and Tanuja. Her niece is actress Nalini Jaywant and her daughter is of course Shobhna Samarth. However, She was quite a big name in the 1930s. In fact, She had made her debut opposite K.L. Sehgal in Yahudi Ki Ladki in 1933. Rattan bai sang most of the songs in the film with a couple of them sung by singer Naseem. The songs however are not available like some of his other early movies.
His next movie in 1946 had him composing for two Singing Stars Suraiyya and Surendra. The movie was 1857. Suraiyya's duet with Surendra from the film, Teri Nazar Mein Main Rahoon, Meri Nazar Mein Too became a superhit at that time. It is important to note here that this movie was also the first time he used the services of the two Singing Sensations of the time, Shamshad Begum and Zohrabai Ambalewaali. He had Shamshad ji sing the song Jhamak-Jhamak Liye Teg Tamak More Baanke. He was to use her services in the coming years as well and was to use her voice very innovatively. He used Zohrabai for a duet, Chupke Hi Chupke Na Jaane Kya Ishaare Ho Gaye. Unfortunately, this is probably her only outing for him. Perhaps, the loss of her singing quality in later years was the reason for this. The movie is still remembered for its songs and all are extremely melodious.
Not much information is known about his other outing in 1946, Tilismi Duniya. It was a Sarla Devi starrer and She has sung for atleast one song, Durga maata O Sukhdaata for the movie. It is important to note that three of the songs were reused in the film Parshuram in 1947. However, it is not known if only the lyrics were used for the moviee. Parshuram had Master Rattanlal as the composer. Two of the three songs were sung in that movie by a Shaamabai and one a chorus song.
During 1947, Sajjad got attracted by the new voice which was taking the whole nation by storm with songs like Mera Sundar Sapna Beet Gaya in Do Bhai. An astute recogniser of talent, He used the voice of Geeta Roy (later Dutt) for atleast nearly half of the songs he composed that year.
Sajjad had composed for two movies that year. The first was called Kasam. Not much was known about the songs and details of the songs of the movie for years to most music lovers perhaps due to the flopping of the movie or some other reason. Infact, the singer details were not available anywhere including the Geet Kosh perhaps since the details were not in the booklet. This changed when Five of the songs sung by Geeta ji (all solos) were shared in 2001 on indianscreen.com, the site run by Classic Movie Club founder late Mr Amarjit Singh Anand. These included Woh Jisko Mita Baithe Woh Unki Hi Duniya Thi, Ae Dil Bata Kisko Karoon Pyaar and Yaa Rab Hamaari Aah Mein Itna Asar Nahin. Although they were low resolution songs with relatively poor quality audio, they are certainly a window of the talent of the singer and composer themselves and their collaboration. The duo's fans are still looking for good quality versions of this movie's songs released under the Young India Records. According to some sources, Sajjad also used the services of the 'first playback singer in Hindi Films', Parul Ghosh (composer Anil Biswas's singer sister) for the movie but exact details are not known due to lack of information and the songs themselves.
The second movie of the year was Mere Bhagwan, a Surendra-Madhubala-Wasti starrer Again, like Kasam the songs of the movie are quite rare. Geeta ji sang atleast three songs for the movie out of which the only song available is Mujhe Baawri-Baawri log Kahen which is quite melodious. Details of singers of remaining songs are not known due to non-availability of the songs and booklets. Interestingly, the Geet Kosh mentions him as a lyricist for the movie. If its indeed true, then its another side of his multiple talents. Readers possessing details/songs of the missing Sajjad songs are requested to contact the website admin.
After these two movies we see a small gap in the composer's career. It may or may not have been due to his eccentric nature and a habit of not making any compromises. There are no movies of his in 1948 and 1949 sees him composing just two songs for a movie. The movie is Rooplekha (rest of the songs were composed by khan mastana,nisar bazmi and parvez). Always going for talented singers, Here we see him using for the first time the talents of two extremely talented singers from the Land Of Punjab: Mohd Rafi and Surinder Kaur. Both had a nice duet Tum Ho Jaao Hamaare. The other Sajjad song was a nice Rafi solo, Teer Pe Teer Khaaye Ja. It is also significant to note that both for the first time had lyrics by Khumar Barabankvi with whom Sajjad was to develop a good rapport in later years.
The following year Sajjad composes for two films. The first is Khel(1950) is his first full-fledged album in few years and is probably one of his best according to the author. Here we have greats like G.M. Durrani, Shamshad, Geeta, Meena Kapoor and Lata Mangeshkar singing for him. This is the first time he uses the voices of G.M. Durrani, Meena Kapoor ji and of Lata Mangeshkar, with whom he worked a lot in later years. Unfortunately, only the Lata songs are more easily available from this lovely album due to HMV releasing them on various Lata CDs/tapes and other songs have become relatively rare making them seldom remembered which is quite sad. Of these two Lata songs, Bhool Ja Ae Dil Mohabbat Ka Fasaana is very good, routinely featuring in Best of Lata compilations and the other song Jaate Ho Jaao Hum Bhi Yahaan Waadon Ke Sahaare Jee Lenge is also quite now. The Geeta song Saajna Din Bahure Hamaare is also quite delightful. However, the highlight of the album is definitely Shamshad Begum as both her solos are a genius's creation all the way. Her first solo, Woh Aayenge-2 Gagan Ki Neeli-2 Odhni Ko Sar Pe Odh Ke is absolutely divine and a must hear for any Shamshad fan. Sajjad has made her sing like no other MD has with Shamshad ji showing a never-before-heard dimension of her singing. The other Shamshad song Kahe Mujhse Jawaani is also fabulous.
Sajjad composes two songs for Magroor the same year (Bulo C Rani and Ram Panjwani compose the other songs). Here also he uses Shamshad ji for both songs.
The first is a Rajkumari-Rafi-Shamshad trio, Toot Gaya Haaye Toot Gaya Woh Saaz-e-Mohabbat Toot Gaya. The beginning is mostly a Rajkumari show with her singing in that lovely raspy voice which had so much thrilled listeners in Mahal and Bawre Nain in those days. Sajjad definitely must have been impressed by her voice quality in those days as he uses her voice for the first time. It is a must listen for her and Sajjad's fans. Rafi and Shamshad join in the remaining part of the song, doing a good job themselves. The second song is a Shamshad solo, Tumhen Baaghon Mein Saawan ke Nazaare Yaad Karte hain, is also another magical song he has created with Shamshad ji. Although he gives only two songs in the movie, they are an indicator of the quality work he has done.
The years 1950-1952 were his best years. He composes for two movies in 1951. For the movie Hulchul he composed three songs (the rest were composed by composer Mohd Shafi). The first is his second Rajkumari song, Koi Kis Tarha Raaz-e-Ulfat Chhipaaye which is another absolute delight. His composition gels wonderfully well with her velvetty voice to create a magical song. One wonders how many more such beautiful songs She could have sung for him had he continued later.
The second movie of the year is probably his most hyped one. He once again creates a wonderful song with Shamshad ji, Meri Jaan Mohabbat Karo Chupke Chupke which begins with a lovely music and then has Shamshad delivering her usual best reserved for him. Just the way in which she sings "jeeyo chupke chupke, maro chupke chupke" is so delightful. He also had Rafi singing a solo for him but the rest of the album is Lata Mangeshkar all the way. It has as many as six divine solos sung by Lata Mangeshkar which many count as among her best for him. Kaali Kaali Raat Bada Sataaye is particularly divine but the other songs aren't much behind. Sajjad has demonstrated his skills in playing with the tunes very well in the album. It has been said that while for other composers it could be predicted how a tune would proceed, this could not be said for Sajjad. To quote a comment on him, "Uska Pata Nahin Dhun Kahaan Se Kahaan Le Jaayega". This quality made his seemingly simple sounding tunes actually quite difficult for one to sing. It is said that the temperamental Sajjad had a fight with the lyricist D.N. Madhok during the recordings due to which both never worked together again.
The same year he started work on what could have been his big ticket to many more films, a Dilip Kumar starrer, Sangdil. This movie has some of his very best songs. This album has him using Asha and Talat for the first time. Talat creates pure magic with Yeh Hawa Yeh Raat Yeh Chaandni. The composition is brilliant as is Talat's singing making it being counted as Sajjad's best by many. It is said that some 17 re-takes of the song were done since Sajjad wasn't happy with the results. The Geeta solo, Darshan Pyaasi Aayi Daasi is another pure delight which some count as her best solo. And of course, there is
the wonderful Lata solo, Woh to Chale Gaye Ae Dil Unki Yaad Se Pyaar Kar. The Geeta-Asha duet, Dharti Se Door Gore Baadalon Ke Paar is also one of their quite lovely duets together. There is of course, the by now mandatory Shamshad solo,Le Chal Wahaan Piya, Jahaan Tera Mera Jiya (which sadly was their last song together for some reason). Then there is the Talat-Lata duet, Aaj Preet Ne Tod Di ... Dil Mein Sama Gaye Saajan which is nice too. The music was a big hit. Sajjad's hard work on the background music was also quite appreciated. However, He is said to have a fight with the lead actor, Dilip over some creative issues and both never worked together. It is not known if this might have affected his career, inspite of the big hit since we see very less of Sajjad after this.
His next release is seen only in 1955 with Rukhsana. It has one Lata solo, Tera Dard Dil Mein Basa Liya. According to Raju Bharatan, Lata fell ill (sinus?) after this recording and couldn't record other songs for the movie due to which Asha was made to step in. The truth of this statement however is not verified. According to some stories, the hot-tempered composer had had a tiff with lata also or the film maker just couldn't afford her. At any rate most of the other songs feature Asha, two of which are duets with Kishore and one a duet with Mubarak Begum. Atleast one of the remaining two is a Mubarak solo. The music of this movie was nowhere as popular as his other 50s work and we see Sajjad almost jobless in the remaining part of 50s.
He is supposed to have worked for atleast two other movies in the 1950s which could not get released.
The first one was probably in early 50s and was called Lajwanti which had two Meena Kapoor solos and as many as eight Lata solos. According to Meena ji's conversation with Dr Mahesh Sagar ji, the first song had the lyrics kaliyaan na khili armaanon ki...ro ro kati. This song had been re-recorded by her some years back with an orchestra conducted by Khemchand Prakash ji's Grandson. According to her,Sajjad Hussain was so impressed with Meenaji's singing and voice,that he would chide Lataji to learn something from this little girl! No other details about the movie are available unfortunately. It would have been great if these songs could get released.
The other unreleased 1950s movie is named Farz Aur Ishq. Absolutely no details of the movie including whether any songs were recorded for it is known.
There was a big gap in Sajjad's career after Rukhsana. He got a chance to compose many years later in the form of Rustom Sohrab in 1963. This movie is
remembered for being the last significant Sajjad movie (erroneously considered his last by most) and also the last movie starring Suraiyya ji. The movie had an absolutely divine Suraiyya solo (her last ever too) Yeh Kaisi Ajab Dastaan Ho Gayi Hai. The class of the duo is stamped all over the song. The same can be said for the last Lata solo for him, Aye Dilruba Nazren Mila which is also brilliant. Talat also sings his last solo for him, Mazandaran-2, Mere Watan,Mere Jahaan.
Even though the movie had good songs, It could not get more work for Sajjad sadly. There are many reasons for this perhaps including Sajjad's own behaviour with producers and artists. It is quite sad though. His career was more or less finished after this for all practical purposes. He did try to make come backs but they were for obscure films which could not bring notice to him.
After Rustom Sohrab, Sajjad was seen supervising the music of Ziarat Gahe Hind alias Zeenat in 1970, whose composer's name is mentioned as Mustapha Yusuf Sajjad is supposed to have had five sons and one daughter. The names of his sons are Mustapha, Yusuf, Noor Mohammad, Nasir Ahmmad and Abdul Karim. It is not known whether the music was composed by two of his sons together or it is by someone else. The singer details are not clearly known for each of the songs but Rafi, Asha, Mubarak Begum and Sulakshana Pandit are supposed to have sung them. The songs of the movie are not available.
Sajjad composed three songs again for 1973 movie, Mera Shikaar giving one solo each to Rafi, Asha and Usha. These songs are also not available.
Sajjad was getting no movies by this time. His mandolin composition was however used in the Telugu movie Mutyala Muggu in 1975 though, for almost 16-minutes in the film, while showing the intimate scenes between the newly weds, Sridhar and Lakshmi. This was requested by Director Bapu and M.V. Ramana (who wrote the Story, Screenplay and dialogues of the classic movie).
He composed songs for one last time for the movie Aakhri Sajda in 1977. It had two Rafi solos and one solo each by Asha, Maya and Usha. With this movie Sajjad's career formally came to an end. His remaining life was sadly spent in Oblivion. One only wishes he had had more scores in Hindi films. He may have composed for regional and non-film songs but details are not known about those.
He passed away on July 21, 1995 forgotten by many in the industry. It is said that only Khaiyyam and Pankaj Udhas from the film industry were present to pay their respects, A sad way for the wonderful composer for the go. The only consolation is that he probably went with the satisfaction that his compositions would never be forgotten and the fact that he had always lived life on his own terms. May God bless his soul!