Khanna (born 1942 in Gwalior) is an Indian music director.
Regarded as the first established female music director
in the Indian film industry, she remained active for more
than 3 decades from 1960s to 1980s.
is still active making some music for some movies and television-serials,
more than 40 years after her debut as music director in
Dil Deke Dekho (1959). She received a Filmfare nomination
for composing the songs for the huge hit film Souten (1983).
Khanna's father, Manohar Khanna, was a lyricist and singer, but
she had no formal training in music. Even though she did often
take inspiration from Arabic music, which she liked. Usha claims
that she has never lifted of any song directly, but that she has
composed something along the lines.
popular music director O. P. Nayyar introduced Usha Khanna to
meet Sashadhar Mukherjee, a powerful man in the Indian film industry
at that time. She sang a song for Mukerji, and when he realised
that she had composed the song on her own, he told her to compose
two songs per day for one year. After a few months, Mukherjee
signed her as the composer for his movie Dil Deke Dekho (1959)
as a music composer. The film, which also introduced the actress
Asha Parekh, became a big hit, and Mukherjee hired her again for
another Asha Parekh starrer Hum Hindustani (1961).
she started composing music for Hindi movies, Usha Khanna struggled
to establish herself as a music director, despite producing many
hit songs. She often collaborated with Asha Bhosle, who referred
to Usha Khanna as her daughter, and Mohammed Rafi. This trio produced
many hit songs.
Kumar was often the lyricist for Usha Khanna, and wrote most of
his lyrics for her songs. He directed and produced the lyrics
for eleven movies she scored the music for. In 1979 K J Yesudas
received Filmfare award for her song Dil ke tukde tukde in the
effort she had put in to establish her in the industry, made her
know how difficult it was to break through, and made her often
give the chance to new singers. She gave the chance to the singers
who were little known at that time – Anupama Deshpande,
Pankaj Udhas, Hemlata, Mohammed Aziz, Roop Kumar Rathod, Shabbir
Kumar, and Sonu Nigam. Many of these went on to become notable
singers. Usha Khanna herself also sing a few song as a playback
of Usha Khanna's songs are still very popular. One of India's
most well-known music composers, A. R. Rahman, used her Har Nazar
Ke Sau Afsane from Shabnam (1964), as inspiration for the song
Latka Dikha Diya in the movie Hindustani (1996).
Khanna was quite active as a composer until the mid-ninetees.
Until now the last movie she has given music to was in 2003. The
movie was Dil Pardesi Ho Gaya, produced and directed by her ex-husband
Saawan Kumar who she was briefly married to.
Khanna had given music to non-Hindi movies too. The Malayalam
movie Moodal Manju (1969) is still remembered for some of the
finest songs in Malayalam including 'Nee Madu Pakaroo' by K. J.
Yesudas and 'Manasa Mani veenayil' by S.Janaki. Agni nilavu and
Puthooram puthri Unniyarcha are the other malayalam movies done
by her. Why she did not get many chances remains a mystery for
many music lovers even now.
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