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Naushad Ali (December 25, 1919 – May 5, 2006) was an Indian musician. He was one of the foremost music directors (composers) for Bollywood films.

He was known for his deft adaptation of the classical musical tradition for filmi uses. In some films, such as Baiju Bawra, all his songs were composed in traditional raga modes.

He was also able to work with Western instruments (including the clarinet, mandolin, and accordion), Western-style orchestras, and adapt Western musical idioms.

Early life and education

Naushad was raised in Lucknow, a city with a long tradition as a center of refined North Indian culture. His father, Wahid Ali, was a munshi (court clerk). As a kid, Naushad would visit the annual fair at the Deva Sharif in Barabanki, 25 km from Lucknow, where all the great qawwals and musicians of those days would perform before the devotees, and Naushad would sit there, listening to those wondrous melodies. He studied classic Hindustani music there under Ustad Ghurbat Ali, Ustad Yusuf Ali, Ustad Babban Saheb, and others. He repaired harmoniums.

As a lad, he joined a junior theatrical club and was appointed as the club's music maestro for their theatrical presentations. He used to watch silent films at the Royal theatre in Lucknow. Theatre owners would hire a team of musicians to play the tabla, harmonium, sitar and violin. The musicians would watch the film first, make notes, finalise the scales required. When the show began in the evening, they would sit in front of the screen and play music for the scenes. This was a great way to be entertained and learn music at the same time. It made him grasp the nuances required in composing a film's background music score.

In time Naushad formed his own Windsor Music Entertainers or just Windsor Entertainers, so named because he had seen the word "Windsor" around Lucknow and liked its ring. It led to the Indian Star Theatrical Company in a theatre at Golagunj colony in Lucknow. He was trained under Laddan Khanhad where he became capable of working independently as a composer. There he also developed the sense to pick rare musical jewels from the folk tradition of Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Saurashtra during the company's sojourns in those regions. The traveling players got as far as Viramgam in Gujarat, where they discovered penury, even after selling off theatrical props and musical instruments. The company limped back to Lucknow through the kindness of one of Naushad's friends.

Naushad had already become a cinema fan in the silent era, and then, in 1931, Indian cinema got voice and music that further fascinated the 13 year old boy. But his family was strict follower of Islamic diktat of prohibition of music and his father gave him ultimatum to leave music if he has to stay at home. He ran away to Mumbai (then called Bombay) in the late 1937 to try his luck as a musician.


In Mumbai, he initially stayed with an acquaintance from Lucknow (U.P.) at Colaba and after a while, shifted to Dadar opposite the Broadway theater where he would sleep on the footpath. He assisted music director Ustad Jhande Khan who was at the peak of his success those days, at a monthly salary of Rs 40. The producer was a Russian and the studio was at Chembur. The film could not be completed. Naushad was a piano player so he worked as a pianist in composer Ustad Mushtaq Hussain's orchestra. He then polished off an unfinished film score and got a credit as assistant to Hussain. Then the film company collapsed. Composer Khemchand Prakash took him on as his assistant for the film Kanchan at Ranjit Studio at a salary of Rs 60 per month, for which Naushad remained extremely grateful and, in interviews, had called Khemchand his guru.

His friend, lyricist D N Madhok trusted Naushad's unusual talent for composing music and introduced him to various film producers. Chandulal Shah, the owner of Ranjit Studios, offered to sign Naushad for one of his forthcoming films. Naushad composed a lilting bhajan for this film, ‘Bata de koi kaun gali gaye Shyam’, but the film never got on the floors. He was assistant music director for the Punjabi film 'Mirza Sahib' (1939).

He composed for his first Independent film Prem Nagar in 1940 that had story set in Kachchh for which he did a lot of research into the folk music of the area. With A.R. Kardar's film Nai Duniya (1942), he got first credit as "music director" and he began to work regularly for Kardar Productions. He however had a flexibility that he could work outside Kardar Productions, and this arrangement continued ever after. He first got noticed with A.R. Kardar's film Sharda (1942) wherein 13-year-old Suraiya debut with Panchhi Ja song for the playback for heroine Mehtab. It was Rattan (1944) that took Naushad right to the top and enabled him to charge Rs 25,000 a film then.

But his Lucknow based family remained against music and Naushad had to hide the fact that he composes music from his family. When Naushad got married, the band was playing the tunes of the super hit songs of Naushad's film Rattan while Naushad's father and father-in-law were condemning the musician who had composed these songs, and Naushad dared not tell them that it was he who had composed the music.

1946 brought Anmol Ghadi in which he worked with Noorjehan and Shahjehan and paired with K L Saigal, both films and the music became super hit.

on 14 August 1947, Pakistan was created and on 15 August 1947, India got independence. Communal riots broke up in entire country and everything got divided among the religious lines of Hindu and Muslims. Several Mumbai-based Muslim film-makers and artistes migrated to Pakistan, but some of those who had established themselves remained in Mumbai and were left alone as such. But newcomers were victimised and isolated. Meetings held by some anti-Muslim prominent artists, film-makers and journalists.

From 1942 until the late 1960s, he was one of the top music directors in Bollywood. While he did less than a hundred films during his lifetime, 26 of those films celebrated Silver jubilees (25 weeks run) -- 8 celebrated golden jubilees (50 weeks run) and 4 celebrated diamond jubilees (60 weeks run). (inclusive count - a diamond jubilee film also celebrated Silver and Golden jubilee)

Naushad worked with several lyricists, including Shakeel Badayuni, Majrooh Sultanpuri, D. N. Madhok, Zia Sarhadi, and Khumar Barabankvi.

Mother India (1957), for which he had composed music, was the first Indian film that got nominated for Oscar.

Naushad completed Pakeezah (1972) after its Music Director, Ghulam Mohammed's death, who had worked earlier as his assistant for several films.

In 1981, Naushad was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for his lifetime contribution to Indian cinema. In 1988 he worked in a Malayalam Film Dhwani starring Ever Green Hero Prem Nazir. In 1995 he gave music for Shahrukh Khan starrer, Guddu of which a few songs became popular. In 2004, when a colorized version of the classic Mughal-e-Azam was released, Naushad was a guest of honor at the premiere.

He composed the tunes of Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story (2005) at the age of 86, thus becoming the world's oldest composer.

5 films have been made on his life and work Naushad Ka Sangeet, Sangeet Ka Badshah, Naushad (T. V.) 1972, Biography-by Doordarshan; B. C. LONDON T. V. 's Movie Mahal Naushad, and T. V. Serial 'Zinda Ka Safer Biographical books published are Dastaan-E-Naushad (Marathi) by Shashikant Kinikar; Aaj Awat Man Mero (Gujarati); Hindi and Urdu biographical sketches in Shama & Sushma Magazines respectively, titled "Naushad Ki Kahani, Naushad Ki Zubani"; the last one was translated into Marathi by Shashikant Kinikar. Kinikar also came up with a book titled "Notes of Naushad" which puts together some interesting anecdotes of Naushad's life.

He set Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's verse, Unki yaad kare, to song in 2006, rendered by A. Hariharan in lead voice with 40 chorus singers, produced by Keshav Communications. The poem is dedicated to those who have lost their lives defending the country's border.

He also loved Angling and the beauty of Nature. In 1962, he caught his largest fish, a 52 lb. CATLA.

Last days

Naushad died on 5 May 2006 in Mumbai. He was buried at the Juhu Muslim cemetery. His tomb was demolished in 2010 to make space for new bodies.

He is survived by six daughters Zubeda, Fehmida, Farida, Sayeeda, Rashida, Waheeda & three sons Rahman Naushad, Raju Naushad & Iqbal Naushad. Rahman Naushad and Raju Naushad had assisted him in some of his films. Also, Naushad composed music in two movies 'My Friend' & 'Teri Payal Mere Geet' which was directed by Rahman Naushad.

Naushad had requested Maharashtra state government to sanction a plot for the Academy for promoting Hindustani sangeet which was sanctioned during his life time & 'Naushad Academy of Hindustani sangeet' was formed.

There also was an announcement that Carter Road, where Naushad's residence was, would be renamed to 'Sangeet Samrat Naushad Ali Marg' and it was done by Maharashtra government (M.C.G.M.) on 5 May 2008.


Naushad was also a respected and published poet and formally launched his book of Urdu poetry entitled Aathwan Sur ("The Eighth Note") and the Navras label's album titled "Aathwan Sur - The Other Side of Naushad" having 8 ghazals as part of Hounslow's book fair and festival "Bookmela" in November 1998. The album has lyrics and composition by Naushad, are arranged by Uttam Singh.

Music style

Naushad was known for his deft adaptation of the classical musical tradition for movies. For some movies like Baiju Bawra, he composed all scores in classical raga modes. He could easily work with Western instruments, including the clarinet, the mandolin, and the accordion. He could incorporate Western musical idioms in his compositions, and compose for Western-style orchestras.

During early 1940s, recordings were done in quiet parks and gardens after midnight because the studios did not have sound-proof recording rooms. In the gardens, there would be no echo and disturbances, unlike the studios where the sound reverberated because of the tin roofs. The echo effect he used in Rattan was achieved through a very crude but effective technique when he kept a microphone in a toilet which had ceramic tiles and then played the music so that the sound reverberated against those tiles, producing an echo effect.

For films like Uran Khatola and Amar, he recorded the voice of a particular artiste on a scale of 90, then recorded it on 70, then on 50 and so on. After the complete recording, it was played for the scene and the impact it created was terrific.

He was one of the first to introduce sound mixing and the separate recording of voice and music tracks in playback singing. He was the first to combine the flute and the clarinet, the sitar and mandolin. He also introduced the accordion to Bollywood film music and was among the first to concentrate on background music to extend characters’ moods and dialogue through music. But perhaps his greatest contribution was to bring Indian classical music into the film medium. Many of his compositions were inspired by ragas and he even used distinguished classical artistes like Amir Khan and D.V. Paluskar in Baiju Bawra (1952) and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan in Mughal-e-Azam (1960). Baiju Bawra (1952) demonstrated Naushad's grasp of classical music and his ability to bring it to the masses, for which he won the first Filmfare Best Music Director Award in 1954.

For Aan (1952), he was the first to use a 100-piece orchestra, He was the first composer to have developed the system of western notation in India. The notation for the music of the film Aan was published in book form in London.

In Uran Khatola (1955), he recorded an entire song without the use of orchestra, having replaced the sound of musical instruments with choral sound of humming.

For Mughal-e-Azam (1960) song Ae Mohabbat Zindabad, he used a chorus of 100 persons. He asked Lata Mangeshkar to render a part of the song "Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya" in a bathroom that had glazed tiles and then recorded the music to get the echo effect.

For Ganga Jamuna (1961), he used lyrics in chaste Bhojpuri dialect.

He used just 6-instruments in the title song of Mere Mehboob (1963).

In 2004, a colorized version of the classic Mughal-e-Azam (1960) was released, for which Naushad had the orchestral music specially re-created (in Dolby Digital) by today’s industry musicians, while maintaining all the solo vocals from the original soundtrack. To elaborate, the playback vocals (though not the chorus) recorded four decades ago are mixed with orchestra tracks created in the present millennium.

As Indian film music gradually assumed a Western bend starting in the late 1960s, Naushad came to be considered old-fashioned. Composers who could compose rock-and-roll and disco-inflected music started getting increasingly popular. Naushad was still esteemed as a maestro, but his talents were sought mostly for historical movies where traditional scores were appropriate.


Music Director
Prem Nagar 1940
Darshan 1941
Mala 1941
Nai Duniya 1942
Sharda 1942
Station Master 1942
Kanoon 1943
Namaste 1943
Sanjog 1943
Geet 1944
Jeevan 1944
Pehle Aap 1944 Rafi's first song for Naushad "Hindustan ke hum hain" in a chorus.
Rattan 1944
Sanyasi 1945
Anmol Ghadi 1946
Keemat 1946
Shahjehan 1946
Dard 1947 Debut of Singer Uma Devi (Comedy Actress Tuntun) in the song "Afsana Likh Rahi Hoon".
Elan 1947
Natak 1947
Anokhi Ada 1948
Mela 1948
Andaz 1949
Chandni Raat 1949
Dillagi 1949
Dulari 1949
Babul 1950
Dastan 1950
Deedar 1951
Jadoo 1951
Aan 1952
Baiju Bawra 1952 Debut of singers Amir Khan & D. V. Paluskar in the song "Aaj gaavat man mero jhoomke".
Deewana 1952
Amar 1954
Shabab 1954
Uran Khatola 1955
Mother India 1957
Sohni Mahiwal 1958 Debut of singer Mahendra Kapoor in the song "Chaand Chhupa Aur Taarey Doobey"
Kohinoor 1960
Mughal-e-Azam 1960 Debut of singer Bade Ghulam Ali Khan in "Shubh din aayo" and "Prem jogan ban ke".
Gunga Jumna 1961 Lyrics of several songs were in Bhojpuri dialect.
Son of India 1962
Mere Mehboob 1963
Leader 1964
Main Hoon Jadugar 1965
Dil Diya Dard Liya 1966
Saaz Aur Awaaz 1966
Palki 1967
Ram Aur Shyam 1967
Aadmi 1968
Saathi 1968
Sunghursh 1968
Gunwaar 1970
Pakeezah 1971 Background Music and a few songs (Najaria Ki Maari, Mari Mori Guiyaan) were by Naushad.
Tangewala 1972
My Friend 1974
Sunehra Sansar 1975
Aaina 1977
Paan Khaae Sainyyan Humaar (Bhojpuri) 1978
Chambal Ki Rani 1979
Dharam Kanta 1982
Love and God 1986
Dhwani (Malayalam) 1988
Teri Payal Mere Geet 1989
Aawaz De Kahan Hai 1990
Guddu 1995
Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story 2005
Hubba Khatoon Unreleased. It's one song by Rafi, "Jis Raat Ke Khwaab Aaye" is available.

English film

Such a Long Journey (1998), Director: Sturla Gunnarsson, Music: Jonathan Goldsmith, Cast: Roshan Seth, Soni Razdan, Om Puri, Nasiruddin Shah. In this film, the song from film "Pakeezah" (1971), "Thaade rahiyo", lyrics: Kaifi Azmi, rendered by Lata Mangeshkar, was played during the end casting.

Maalik (1958) Music Director for this film was Ghulam Mohammed
Uran Khatola (1955)
Babul (1950)

Palki (1967)
teri payal mere geet(1989)

Awards and recognition

1954: Filmfare Best Music Director Award - Baiju Bawra
1961: Bengal Film Journalists' Association's best music director Award for Gunga Jumna
1975: "Naushad Ali", a 30-minute documentary film produced by Television Centre, Bombay
1981: Dada Saheb Phalke Award
1984: Lata Mangeshkar Award (Madhya Pradesh state government's)
1987: Amir Khusro Award
1992: Sangeet Natak Akademi Award
1992: Padma Bhushan
: Maharashtra Gaurav Puruskar


Sourced from wikipedia and meant for information only.
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