Author: Ambrish Mishra (Translated from Original Marathi by Aruna Donde ji)
It first appeared in an RMIM post by Aruna ji from where it has been taken..
Aruna ji's Note from RMIM Post made in 1998:
A few weeks ago, I came across a Marathi book named 'Shubhra Kahi Jeev Ghene'. It contains a collection of seven essays written by Ambrish
Mishra (pronounced Mishruh). 1. Chandra Devateche gane (Moon Goddess's song) - Shobha Gurtu 2. Akhtaribai - Begam Akhtar 3. Chandra Grahan
(Moon Eclipse) - Sadat Hasan Munto, 4. Mai shayad tumhare liye ajanabi hoon - O P Nayyar, 5. Ekali panachi aag laagli hrudayala - Parshwanath
Altekar, 6. Outsider - Sajjad Hussain and 7. Gujar Gaya woh zamana - Pankaj Malick. Most of the articles are, on an average, fifteen to
twenty pages in length, with the exception of the article on O P Nayyar, which is a good 46 pages long. These articles have appeared elsewhere
in print over a period of time, though the exact dates of the original publications are not listed. Mr. Mishra's style is excellent and while
it would be almost impossible to convey the flow and the very soul of the writings, the information contained within may be of interest to the
readers. First installment is on Sajjad. I highly recommend the original, in the absence of which, please make do with a watered down
version. All the flaws and limitations are mine, not the authors.
Authors address is, Ambarish Mishra, 61, Baghyanagar Chandavarkar Lane,
Borivali (W) Mumbai 400 092. The book is published by Raj Hansa Prakashan, 1025 Sadashiv Peth, Nagnath Par, Pune 411 030.
Date of publication is November 1997 and the price is Rs. 140.
Outsider: Sajjad Hussain
The world of Hindi Movies is well beyond the perimeters of conventional ethics. It is a mirage. 'Deevar Kya giri mere kacche makan ki, logo ne mere sehan me raaste bana liye' happens here all the time. It was not very difficult to oust a sensitive, proud and innocent like Sajjad. Stories of his weirdness were systematically spread, and Sajjad himself contributed to this by his fiery temper and his tendency to speak his mind. If he were a commercial success, perhaps, it would be
tolerated, but, lacking that, he remained an outsider. Rustom Sohrab was released in 1963, his last picture. For the remaining 32 years he reigned like the uncrowned king. C. Ramchandra used to say 'Sajjad Kaka to composer ke composer hei !' O P and Talat used to do 'taubah' upon hearing Sajjad's name. Salil and Shankar
called him a genius.
Sajjad Hussain Kureshi was born in Seetamahu, a small town in Madhya Pradesh on June 15, 1917. His father Mohammed Amirkhan was a tayyar musician. He played expert sitar. Sajjad was his youngest. Sajjad received his taleem of the string instruments from his father. He became very adept at playing veena, sarod, sitar, and surbahar. His father used to say, 'is ke soor me noor hai'.
Those were the days of the 'New Theatre'. In 1937, Sajjad came to Mumbai with his older brother Nissar Hussain to try his luck in the film industry. He got a job at Sohrab Modi's Minerva Movietone at 30 ruppees a month and later moved to Wadia Movietone at 60 ruppees a month. For the next five years, he worked as an assistant to Meer Saheb, Rafiq Gaznavi, Master Ali Baksh (Meena Kumari's father). He became a contract player with Shaukat Hussain Rizvi. Master Ali Baksh, due to his failing health, asked Sajjad o compose the music for Rizvi's films, under the condition that the composer's name on the silver screen would be that of
Ali Baksh. However, it was well known in the business who the real composer was. Producer Shaukat Hussain Rizvi was married to Noor Jehan.
Once, Sajjad went to their home on Hughes Road to reherse a composition. Rizvi did not care for it, Sajjad said, 'look for another composer, I am leaving', Noor Jehan chimed in from the other room, 'Miyan, thahariye. Mai yahi gaaongi' 'More Sajna, More sajna' was the song, film Dost, year 44.
Sajjad Saheb gave music to fourteen movies between 1944 to 1963 1977. Naushad-Mehboob, Shankar-Jaikisan-Raj Kapoor, Dev-Navketan-Burman
equations were the standard. In the financial skirmish with K. Asif, Sajjad Saheb lost his next picture, 'Moghul-e-Azam'.
Sajjad Saheb's love affair with the instrument mandolin was very old. A western instrument, it never blended with Indian classical music like the violin. A meend on mandolin is almost impossible, Sajjad Saheb used to take such a meend , from sa to Sa by turning the instrument around. In December of 56, at Calcutta Music conference, Sajjad Saheb performed a mandolin solo. Ustad Allauddin Khan, Ustad Amir Khan, Ustad Bade Gulam Khan, Pannalal Ghosh, Bissmilla Khan were in attendance. His mandolin sounded like a jugal bandi between sarod and sitar, people were entranced. After the program, Sajjad Saheb went behind the stage where
Bade Gulam was warming up. Bade Gulam said, 'vah bhai, tumne to khoob kamal ki' lekin, how is is possible to play raagdari on the mandolin,
please show me.' On the stage, was Hirabai, presenting Bihag, bai sang a one and a half saptak taan, and Sajjad Saheb followed it verbatim on
the mandolin. KhanSaheb was amazed.
My acquaintance with Sajjad Saheb began in 1988. His big heart, unassuming friendship, purity of the senses, love of Islam, Sufi tradition, abhijat sangeet (classical music) and urdu literature has been a source of enlightenment to me on many occasions. He lived on the second floor of the Natalwala building on Cadel Road in Mahim. He spent 32 years of his exile here. Because of the Parda, the children served guests and Sajjad Saheb. He had six of them, five sons, and one daughter. Mustapha, Yusuf, Noor Mohammad, Nasir Ahmmad and Abdul Karim. Sajjad Saheb nurtured the kids, gave them tremendous knowledge of music, the kids in turn, revered their father. All five were his shagirds. All of them are well renowned musicians today.
Because of my reporter's job, it was becoming more and more difficult to be with him as often as I would have liked. He used to call and extend a dinner invitation, 'perhaps next week' , I would say, ' Kaun jeeta hai tere julf ke sar hone tak' he would retort. Like Mansoor Anna (Mallikarjun Mansoor), who was always ready to sing, Sajjad Saheb was always ready to tell stories. He was an expert 'kissebaj', had a repertoire of hundreds of 'jumla's. There was a mischievous kid hidden
inside of him. Sajjad Saheb was a bit strange, hot-tempered but totally without malice. Khuda has woven the fabric of his life was his firm belief.
He, who does 'sajda' to Alla, is Sajjad. He lived accordingly. O P Nayyar used to call him 'vali'. 'ye hava, ye raat, ye chandani, teri ek ada pe nisar hai' , this song from SangDil, sung by Talat pictured on Dilip addressing Madhubala, Sajjad felt, was, in fact, addressing God. He composed it in the sufiyana suravat (roopak).
Sajjad's songs total around one hundred, each unique, like a Rembrandt painting. Some came easy, in half an hour, like the one from Dost, Noor
Jehan's 'Badnam Muhobbat kaun kare'. Others like 'voh to chale gaye e- dil', 'yeh hava, ye raat' from SangDil, 'e-dilruba' from Rustom-Sohrab
are timeless. There is a kavvali in Rustom-Sohrab, 'phir tumhari yaad aayee e-sanam'. Normally kavvalli's are in keherava or dadra, Sajjad
Saheb composed this in 14 beats. Sajjad Saheb's likes and dislikes were firm, compelling. In Hindustani gayaki, he respected Abdul Karim, Amir Khan, Roshan Aara
Begum and Barkat Ali. He was very fond of the gayaki and najakat of Begum Akhtar and Salamat Ali. He disagreed with my assertion that our musical ocean is enriched by the streams of folk music, Ravindra Sangeet, thumri, dadra, gazal, kavvali, baool sangeet, symphony etc. I never heard him vehemently and passionately criticize any singer, artist or composer, with the notable exception of Naushad. He had a deep-set anger at Naushad Saheb. 'Every song composed by a composer, contains an
original soor, of the composer himself, show me where that soor is in Naushad's compositions' he used to say. He had composed a sher , addressing Alla, 'Aap ke hote hue, yeh haal hai Sajjad ka, Dillagi hi Dillagi me naam hai Naushad ka'.
He had great affection for Noor Jehan and Lata Mangeshkar. Once he raved to me about two songs of the Burman duo. Sachinda's 'megha chaaye aadhi raat' from 'Sharmilee' and RD's 'Raina beeti jaaye' from Amar Prem. 'Raina Beeti me Latajee ne, jaise ek ek soor ko keela laga diya hai' he said.
Lata Mangeshkar cared for Sajjad a lot as well. During his last illness, she spoke with Dr. Ashwin Mehta herself and made sure that his appointments were kept, expenses were controlled. Meena Mangeshkar then took over the care when LataJi went abroad.
I had visited him a week before he died. While drinking the afternoon tea, he suddenly asked, 'how do you think they will report my death in
the newspapers ?' I was startled. 'Please tell me', he said. 'a great, talented composer of the Indian film music's golden era is no more' I
stammered. 'yeh baat galat, he said, music vagaira to alag baat hai, sab apne apne jagah pe theek hai, lekin,' ' one with an alert sense of
humor, one who could make others laugh and one who was jinda dil is no more' is what I would like to see printed'.