Prasad Nayyar (16 January 1926 – 28 January 2007)
was a famous Indian film music director and composer born
in Lahore, India, now in modern day Pakistan. He was particularly
acclaimed for his peppy numbers.
is reported to have commanded the highest fees in the Hindi
movie music world at the height of his reign as a composer.
He was the first Hindi music director to receive 100,000
rupees for his compositions for a movie. It was a very substantial
sum of money in the 1950s.
P. Nayyar ( "O.P." ) started his career as a movie music
composer by composing the background score for the movie Kaneez
(1949). Aasmaan (1952), produced by Dalsukh M.Pancholi was O.P.Nayyar's
first film as independent music director, after which he composed
music for Chham Chhama Chham (1952) and Baaz (1953) but all these
movies couldn't make any impact on viewers. He started receiving
increasing public recognition from his compositions for Guru Dutt's
Aar Paar (1954), Mr. & Mrs. '55 (1955), C.I.D. (1956), and
Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1958). O.P. went on to notch up even higher
distinction through his compositions for Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon
and Mere Sanam. The former movie included his enormously popular
song, Bandaa Parwar, Thaamlo Jigar, while the latter included
Jaayiye Aap Kahaan Jaayenge and Pukaarataa Chalaa Hoon Main. Some
months later, his scores for the movie, Kashmir Ki Kali, once
again gained high popularity.
was known to have a stubborn individuality, and traits of aloofness
and imperiousness. However, he was always generous with struggling
newcomers and artists who had been marginalized in the movie industry.
The press was always deferential to him, and frequently referred
to him as a "rebel" composer. Many columnists too labeled
him as a maverick. Judging from his combative performance in various
TV talk shows later on, O.P. seemed to enjoy those epithets.
the 1950s, the state-controlled All India Radio found O.P. too
"trendy", and put for quite some time a ban on broadcasting
most of his famous tunes. He seemed to have remained
undaunted by this highhanded government order, and went on to
create more, similar tunes, and most of them continued to receive
national popularity. The far-away Radio Ceylon, (which later transformed
into Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation), was at that time the
only source from which O.P.'s new hits could be heard. Soon the
English language press began referring to him with the honorific,
"maestro", though Opee was still very young then.
worked extensively with Geeta Dutt, Asha Bhosle, and Mohammed
Rafi, and was instrumental in building their careers. Some Bollywood
observers maintained that Asha Bhosle was his find and that he
groomed her specially for his tunes. Many of his compositions
which Asha sang are memorable and have a contemporary flair.
never worked with Lata Mangeshkar, the melody queen. After a breakup
with Mohammed Rafi, Opee started to work with Mahendra Kapoor,
an upcoming male singer. He also worked in the movie, Sambandh,
with Mukesh, who was the favorite playback singer of Raj Kapoor.
Based on one of Rabindranath Tagore's Bengali compositions, O.P.
composed the song, Chal Akelaa, Chal Akelaa, sung by Mukesh. The
same movie also included a memorable baritone rendering by Hemant
Kumar, who was both a top-notch singer and a renowned Bollywood
composer in his own right. Like many other movies for which Opee
provided scores, Sambandh is remembered mostly because of its
Kapoor sang O.P.'s compositions, displaying much depth of feelings,
and provided cadence and rhythm to O.P.'s style. His rendering
of the song for Dharmendra, Badal Jaaye Agar Maali, Chaman Hotaa
Nahi Khaali in Bahaaren Phir Bhi Aayengi was an instant hit.
recognized very early in the career of Kishore Kumar his talent
as a singer. Both movies, Baap Re Baap and Raagini contain many
Kishore Kumar hits in the inimitable O.P. style. Regrettably,
a cordial relationship between Opee and Kishore Kumar did not
did produce great hits with Shamshad Begum, notably "Kajra
Mohabbatwala" even when she was not in demand. In the black-and-white
movie era, Madhubala, who could provide a distinct, stylized performance
for O.P.'s songs became O.P.'s favorite heroine. After her untimely
death, heroines like Vyjayanthimala, Mala Sinha, Padmini, Asha
Parekh, and Sharmila Tagore lip-synced several of the O.P.-Asha
Bhosle numbers, and a large number of those songs gained high
and Asha Bhosle parted ways in 1974, and that parting impacted
O.P. for the rest of his life. After the breakup, he tried to
work with several good singers, including Dilraj Kaur, Alka Yagnik,
Krishna Kale, Vani Jayaram, and Kavita Krishanmurthy, but the
magic in his work somehow seemed to have long gone. Almost until
his last days, he would often refer to Asha as a singing sensation.
Embittered Asha, on the other hand, practically ignored him after
the breakup, and held the thought that she was beholden to no
the part of Asha, she went on to become a widely popular singer
while working with many other composers, including, most notably,
R D Burman, who gave her voice a special dimension.
Sultanpuri and Sahir Ludhianvi wrote some memorable lyrics for
some of O.P.'s earlier compositions such as in Naya Daur. However,
generally keeping clear of established song writers of his time,
O.P. experimented with different upcoming lyricists like Jan Nisar
Akhtar, Qamar Jalalabadi, Shamshul Huda Bihari, and Ahmed Wasi,
who tried to write the lyrics that would match the sensuous tunes
which O.P. would have in his mind. In the tradition of the great
composers in India, O.P. was fond of the poetic flourish of the
Urdu language for his more serious songs. The Rafi rendering,
Dil ki Awaz Bhi Sun, Mere Fasane pe Na Jaa in Humsaya is one of
Opee's haunting scores.
wife, Saroj Mohini Nayyar, is an accomplished lyricist. She wrote
the C H Atma song, Preetam Aan Milo, which launched O.P. into
the big league of Bollywood composers.
started the tradition of assigning to comedians full three-minute
long songs, some of which proved even more popular than the songs
sung by the heroes themselves. These supporting actors also received
excellent reviews. Thus, comedian Om Prakash sang O.P.'s composition,
Churi Bane Kanta Bane Oo My Son in Jaali Note. Comedian Johnny
Walker sang O.P.'s popular song, Aye Dil Hai Mushkil Jeena Yahaan
in C.I.D., and Main Bambaika Baaboo, Naam Meraa Anjaanaa in Naya
Daur. There was later a movie titled Johnny Walker where Johnny
Walker himself was the hero. Along with some other numbers in
the last movie, Asha Bhosle/Gita Dutt's, Thandi Thandi Hawaa in
it is memorable.
was O.P.'s specialty. His spirited composition, Yeh Desh Hai Veer
Jawaanonkaa featuring Dilip Kumar and Ajit in Naya Daur (1957)
is an all-time favorite in India even after fifty years. Lata
Mangeshkar once said that her most favorite O.P.-Asha Bhosle tune
was Aao Huzoor Tumko Sitaaromein Le Chale in Kismet. The last
Opee composition which Asha sang was Chain Se Humko Kabhi. It
was meant to be included in the movie, Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na
Jaye (1974), but it was dropped in the final version of the movie.
However, it became an O.P. classic, and it won Asha a Filmfare
Best Playback Singer Award.
to some critics, O.P. did not choose his movies well and wasted
some of his superb tunes on B-grade actors like Joy Mukherjee,
Biswajeet, and Babita. Though O.P. was still active in his musical
career in the 1960s and '70s, to the regrets of his fans, O.P.
did not compose music for the then superstar Rajesh Khanna or
budding Amitabh Bachchan. O.P. also did not provide music for
movies starring heroes of the day like Sanjeev Kumar, Shashi Kapoor,
and Jitendra. Again, with the exception of Rekha, O.P. did not
compose music for heroines like Hema Malini, Rakhee, or Zeenat
Aman, who were all well known around the time he could have made
a re-entry as a top composer.
Bollywood maestro, S D Burman, was far more successful as a composer.
Twenty years Opee's senior, the mild mannered Sachin Dev Burman
composed exquisite tunes for a succession of Bollywood stars despite
a long-lasting breakup with Lata Mangeshkar. With Asha Bhosle
singing for Nargis his mellifluent composition, Koi Aayaa Dhadkan
Kehti Hai in Lajwanti, S D Burman had all but declared that he
was Asha's new mentor. O.P. held Burman in high esteem and was
reported to have said that the Burman-Lata solo for Waheeda Rehman
in Guide, Aaj Phir Jeeneki Tamannaa Hai, was the best ever song
in Hindi for its sheer evocative beauty and matching lyrical lines.
from Hindi films, O.P. also composed music for a few South Indian
movies, including Neerajanam in Telugu. Even though Neerajanam
was a flop at box office, the music was such a rage that it created
a record for the most sold album in south until over taken by
faded from the Bollywood scene in early 1970s, though he made
a comeback attempt in the 1990s.
his retirement, O.P. stayed in touch with only a few select friends.
Gajendra Singh and Ahmed Wasi were two among them. Gajendra Singh
included Opee as a judge for his successful TV show, Sa Re Ga
Ma Pa. Ahmed Wasi interviewed O.P. twice for Vividh Bharati and
presented his life-sketch through six hour-long episodes collectively
titled as Mujhe Yaad Sab Hai Zaraa Zaraa.
some years before his death, O.P. had been estranged from his
family members to the extent that he had requested that they be
not allowed to attend his funeral. Following the estrangement,
he had moved out of his house at Marine Drive in Mumbai (Bombay),
leaving his family behind, and begun to stay at a friend's place
in the suburb of Virar. A month before his death, he had moved
to yet another friend's place in Thane.
died on 28 January 2007 through cardiac arrest. He is survived
by his wife, three daughters, and a son.
his death, tributes came from many prominent Bollywood figures,
including Lata Mangeshkar, B R Chopra, Shammi Kapoor, Sharmila
Tagore, Mumtaz, Mahesh Bhatt, Khayyam, Shakti Samanta, Sonu Nigam,
Ravindra Jain, and Anu Malik.
and meant for information only.
Tumsa Nahin Dekha
Kashmir Ki Kali
Ek Musafir Ek Hasina.
Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon
Sawan Ki Ghata
Baap Re Baap
Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jayae
Baharen Phir Bhi Aayaegi
Ek Bar Muskurado
Sone ki Chidiya
Kahin Din Kahin Rat
Yeh Raat Phir na Aayegi
Mr. & Mrs. '55