NostalgiThe stubborn note of O P

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Ironically, O P Nayyar is remembered by history as much for what he did not do(recorda song with Lata Mangeshkar),as for what he did(compose music for hit films over two decades). O P Nayyar

The stubbornly individualistic Omkar Prasad Nayyar was the only major composer from the golden age of Hindi film music to eschew the siren call of Lata's honeyed vocals. Yet Nayyar's robust songs redolent of his native Punjab (Reshmi salwar kurta jaalidar), his characteristic rhythmic beats (in tanga songs like Yun toh hamne, Maang ke saath tumhara) as well as his feather-light melodies (Jaaiye aap kahan jayenge), were immensely popular.

Nayyar had an obstinate streak right from childhood. Born in Lahore in 1926, he was fascinated by music. He was not trained in music, butleft home to pursue a career as a composer. The lankyNayyar got his first break when he composed the background score for Kaneez
Famous songs of O P Nayyar
BabujidheerechalnaAar PaarGeeta Dutt
Thandi hawa kaali ghataMr and Mrs 55Geeta Dutt
Yeh hai Bambai meri jaanCIDRafi-Geeta
Maang ke saath tumharaNaya DaurRafi-Asha
Yun toh humneTumse Nahi DekhaRafi
Mera naam chin chin chooHowrah BridgeGeeta
Ek pardesi mera dilPhagunRafi-Asha
Bahut shukriyaEk Musafir Ek HasinaRafi-Asha
Humdum merePhir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon Rafi-Asha
Isharon isharon meinKashmir Ki KaliRafi-Asha
Jaaiye aap kahan jaayengeMere SanamAsha
Chayen se hamko kabhie Pran Jaaye Par Vachan Na JaayeAsha

Three years later, D Pancholi gave Nayyar his debut film, Aasmaan (1952), for which he composed the Geeta Dutt beauty Dekho jaadoo bhare more nain. But Aasmaan, like Nayyar's next two films Chum Chama Cham and Baaz, left the box-office cold.

Baaz made Nayyar's acquaintance with director Guru Dutt, nowhusband of his favourite singer Geeta. This led to Nayyar being chosen, with a little nudging by Geeta, asmusic director for Guru Dutt's debut production, Aar Paar (1954). Nayyar conjured a memorable score for this hit film. With Geeta's voice for support, he deftly unfurled a range of silken melodies from the ebullient Ello main haari to the sombre Hoon abhi main jawan.

Nayyar and Guru Dutt productions completed a hat-trick of successes with their next two films, Mr And Mrs 55 (1955) and CID (1956).

He was nowin demand. Lata was the reigning playback singer. But Nayyar determinedly avoided recording with her as he felt her voice did not suit his compositions. He zeroed in on fledgling chanteuse Asha Bhosle.

Nayyar had used Asha's voice only sparingly in the early years (Man mora from Mangu) preferring to concentrate on Geeta and Shamshad Begum. But from 1957, he sidelined his erstwhile favourites and lavished his best on Asha.

The famous Nayyar-Asha teaming up proved beneficial to both as Nayyar was lifted to an unprecedented high in 1957- 1958 with aroundnine releases in both years and a string of successful scores like Naya Daur (for which he won the Best Music Director Award), Tumsa Nahin Dekha, Sone Ki Chidiya, Phagun, Howrah Bridge and Ragini.

Nayyar became one of the earliest music directors to command a lakh for a film.

But hisdecline was as sudden and as steep as his rise. His arrogance andinsistence on a high remuneration were famous. Besides his films in the 1959-1960 phase (Raj Kapoor's Do Ustaad, Dev Anand's Jaali Note) did not set the box-office on fire. In 1961, Nayyar had no releases at all.

An emotional Nayyar always credits S Mukherji with the ability to always inspire him. And it was Mukherji's Joy-Sadhana musical hit, Ek Musafir Ek Haseena (1962) that brought Nayyar back into the reckoning.

It was a different, more relaxed Nayyar in the 1960s who did one film a year and crafted exquisite scores for Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon (1963), Kashmir Ki Kali (1964) and Mere Sanam (1965). His limited musical education did not come in the way of embellishing his melodies with well-chosen instruments like the sarangi which he popularised or the piano which ripples through Aapke haseen rukh pe from Baharein Phir Bhi Aayegi.

Guru Dutt and Nayyar reunited for Baharein Phir Bhi Aayegi (1966), but Asha was singing instead of Geeta in a Guru Dutt film. Nayyar's luck had begun to run out when it came to the box-office. Despite composing some truly timeless melodies like Dil ki awaz bhi sun for Joy Mukherji's Humsaaya (1968), the film didn't do well.

In the late 1960s, Nayyar fell out with his favourite Mohammad Rafi but managed to conjure memorable songs even with Mukesh (Chal akela), Mahendra Kapoor (Lakhon hai yahan dilwale) and Kishore Kumar (Tu auron ki kyon ho gayee).
O P Nayyar's famous solos for Asha Bhosle
Aaiye meherbanHowrah Bridge
Piya piya na lage mora jiyaPhagun
Ankhon se jo utri hai
ke aana
Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon
Beqasi had se jab Kalpana
Balma khuli hawa mein Kashmir Ki Kali
Yeh hai reshmi zulphon Mere Sanam
Yehi woh jagah hai Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi
Zara haule haule chaloSawan Ki Ghata
Woh haseen dard de doHumsaaya
Aao huzoor tumkoKismet

A major blow was Nayyar's split with Asha Bhosle after the pair had reached a crescendo with the Filmfare Award winning Chayen se humko kabhie in Pran Jaaye Par Vachan Na Jaaye (1974). Nayyar tried recreating the magic with new singers butmusical trends had bypassed him by then.

In the early 1990s, Nayyar made a surprise comeback with Zid and the Salman Khan-Karisma Kapoor starrer Nischay, unleashing a wave of nostalgia with his unmistakable tunes. Around the same time, new composer Tusshar Bhatia doffed his hat at the veteran by composing in the Nayyar idiom in Andaaz Apna Apna's Elloji sanam hum aa gaye.

Today, the maestro, still dapper in his hat, is seen as a guest on television shows. But OP's beaming visage hides that characteristic stubbornness that has stood him in good stead and helped him tackle the vicissitudes of fate that has seen him move from his posh Churchgate flat to the distant suburbs of Mumbai and necessitated a profession switch from composerto homeopath.

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