KHEMCHAND PRAKASH : DIL NE PHIR YAAD KIYA
By : Sushrut Vaidya
When writing about Khemchand Prakash, one question is hard to escape. Most people will name him as one of the pioneers, one of the giants of the golden era of the Hindi Film Music. Yet most lay listeners will have heard very little of what he actually composed- save Ayega aanewala from Mahal and perhaps Diya jalao from Tansen. The question therefore is – ‘Why do people hold Khemchand Prakash in such a high regard as a composer?’ To explore the answer to this question, let’s journey back in time to 1982. MORTAL MEN IMMORTAL WOMEN In 1982 Noorjehan visited India, first time in 35 years after the partition. Who’s who of the Hindi Film Industry had gathered to celebrate this great re-union and to roll out a red carpet to this great singer. The program was wonderfully conceived. It was a retrospect of the Hindi Film Music. The program had many high points – but for me, two of them stand out the most prominently. The first was of course Noorjehan’s appearance on the stage and sang ‘Awaaz de kahan hai’. It made a mockery of the artificial divisions and forced separations. Awaaz de kahan hai – ceased to be a mere romantic duet that day and became a call from one estranged people to another – from one part of this great civilization to another. It became mythic.
The other high point of the program was a performance by Rajkumari. She sang ‘ghabaraa ke jo ham sar ko’ from Mahal. When old and frail looking Rajkumari appeared on the stage, even from the video of the program one could sense the skepticism and almost sympathy that the audience felt for her. They were fully expecting her to deliver a feeble, tired, long-past-her-prime performance. What followed was nothing short of miracle. She sang the song so flawlessly, that it became difficult to decide if one was listening to the 1949 original or its 1982 rendering. This was the second time an artist had made a mockery in that program – and this time it was of a force far bigger than a political divide. That day Rajkumari made a mockery of the Time-Almighty itself. Rajkumari’s frail, diminutive frame, large deep-set eyes that appeared lost in a vacant look, all became a statement of that mockery. It was as if her frail body had nothing to do with the music. The music was coming from some other-worldly source – where time had no dominion – no impact. The program was called ‘Mortal Men Immortal Melodies’ – aptly so – for what these two ‘women’ did was nothing short of immortal. THE COMPOSER AND THE MUSIC DIRECTOR It is interesting to note that the song that Rajkumari sang in that program was from Mahal. It was composed by Khemchand Prakash. The song that Noorjehan sang was composed by Naushad – who it is said, used to consider Khemchand Prakash his Guru. I have always believed that the people who compose songs for Hindi cinema have to live a dual life – Lets label these two as a *Composer* and a *Music Director*. Composer is an artist longing for self-expression. Music Director – due to the commercial nature of cinema – must keep an eye on the popularity of the song and must ensure its commercial success.
Let’s call this the ‘craft’. This is not to be confused with the command over the grammar of music. We are referring here to the command over the ‘grammar of mass-appeal’. It is a combination of the art and the craft that results in a *film song*. In every person who composes for cinema we find a mixture of the two in varying degrees. In people like Sajjad, the artist takes over almost entirely and produces great songs that do not succeed commercially. In many others (you can populate your own list here), we see the ‘craftsman’ taking over to produce a song that sells temporarily and is forgotten quickly. But there are people in whom we find a balance of the two. Film music is the new folk music of urban India. It must be accessible to the masses. Ordinary people like me must be able to relate to it. Making something easy is lot harder than it seems. It is this ability to catch the imagination of the people, to make music accessible to people, that perhaps Naushad learnt from Khemchand Prakash. Is it possible that if Khemchand Prakash had not died so young, he would have produced a few more ‘Tansen’s and ‘Mahal’s? We shall never know. But what we do know is that in a very short career of less than 40 films, he produced two landmark films. It is not to say that the music of these films was ‘superior’ to that of other films of that era. In fact any such absolute comparison in music is absurd by definition. It is only to say that they caught the imagination of the people, and became associated in their collective memory as the representatives of the golden era of film music – more so than other films of the time; including those that had better ‘artistic’ music.
KHEMCHAND PRAKASH – A BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE
Khemchand Prakash (12 December 1907 – 10 August 1950) was born in Sujangarh, Rajasthan. He was born in a family of musicians. His father Pt. Govardhan Prasad was the court singer of Jaipur. Young Khemchand got his initial training in music and dance (Katthak) from his father. He joined his father as a court singer in Jaipur at the young age of 19. He also served as a court singer of Nepal. Later he worked as a radio artist in Kolkata. This is where he met Timir Baran and eventually joined New Theaters. He is said to have assisted Timir Baran in Devdas (1935). It was at New Theatres that he met Prithviraj Kapoor who was instrumental in bringing Khemchand Prakash to Mumbai.
MUSIC OF KHEMCHAND PRAKASH – KEY ATTRIBUTES
As the student of Khemchand Prakash’s music- and that of film music at-large, I struggle to find a single dominating pattern or style in his music – but we can indeed observe some attributes: • Ability to source the tunes from Hindustani classical music but make them simple and accessible to the masses. • Special affinity towards and mastery over ‘female solo compositions’. • Creative use of accent (आघात). Rhythm is basic. It keeps the time. It is the ‘ability to say’. Laya is more subtle. It is ‘the communication’ between the melody and the rhythm. Aaghat is even more subtle – it ‘adds the hue, texture and depth to what is being said’. We see this ability develop as his career progresses – peaking with Mahal. • Ability to spot and support new talent. We shall see this at a number of places in the course of our journey. • Lastly, and for the record – a lot has been said about his Rajashthani background and his mastery over the phenomenal folk music of that region, but I do not see that as a dominant theme in his work.
MUSIC OF KHEMCHAND PRAKASH:
Looking at an overview of Khemchand Prakash’s career, we can imagine the following phases: 1939 – 1943: THE EARLY YEARS – These were the early years for the film music itself. It was in the process of finding its own ‘cinematic’ language of expression – trying to free itself from the idioms of Rabindra Sangeet, Marathi Natya Sangeet and Kothi Sangeet. The difference between music of these styles – with their limited instruments and chamber style performances – and that of cinema with its ever-expanding technological capabilities and vast resources was not yet clearly evident. The same can be said about the music of Khemchand Prakash from this era. In addition to this, he was also trying to find his own language of musical expression – as a composer. His journey began in 1939 with Meri Ankhen and Ghazi Salauddin. ‘Kabhi neki bhi’ sung by Kalyani had a tune that was later heard in a more famous Noorjehan song ‘hame to sham-e-gham mein’ from Jugnu (composed by Firoze Nizami). This was followed by ‘Aaj Ka Hindustan’ and ‘Diwali’ which inaugurated a long and successful collaboration between Khemchand Prakash and Ranjit Movietone. The tune of ‘kahe panchii bawriya’ seems to have been used many years later in ‘kadar tune na jani’ in Noorie.
In 1940 came ‘Holi’- the first commercial success of Khemchand Prakash. The decade was turning. The film music was on the verge of finding its own language and so was Khemchand Prakash. A delightful duet ‘Phagun ki rut aayi re’ sung by Sitara and Amritlal was the first instance of the ‘magic’ beginning to appear. The simplicity of the tune and its folk nature are noteworthy. ‘Dhanwaalon ki duniya hai ye’ by Sitara and Kantilal was also noteworthy. Both duets are remarkable for the combination of the male and female voices – the second voice appears much later in the song – a clear sign of an experimenting composer. Holi must be considered as the first film for Khemchand Prakash where the cinematic language of music unmistakably appears. These were followed by ‘Pagal’ and ‘Bambai ki Sair’ and then another hit – ‘Pardesi’. It could be said that the Khemchand-Khurshid collaboration – which began with this film – and K. Dutta-Noorjehan collaboration were two great success stories of this era. ‘Mori atariya hai suni’ by Khurshid and Snehaprabha as well as ‘Do nain tihare, do nain hamare’ by Khurshid, Kantilal were remarkable. The high point of this soundtrack however was of course – ‘Pahale jo muhabbat se’ by Khurshid. This must surely rate as one her all-time great songs. It also established ‘female solos’ as a clear strong point of Khemchand Prakash’s compositions. 1941 also saw Khemchand Prakash compose for ‘Pyaas’, ‘Shaadi’ and ‘Ummeed’. ‘Nadi kinara ho’ by Snehaprabha, Ishwarlal from Pyas was noteworthy. In ‘Shaadi’ the collaboration with Khurshid continued. ‘Bhigoee more saari re’ by Khurshid, Ishwarlal, Chorus was a lovely tune and clearly showed a glimpse of modernity.
According to the Geet Kosh, In ‘Ummeed’, Noorjehan sung a duet with Ishwarlal – ‘Gend samajh ke uthalo na sajaniya’. If this is indeed true then this one must add Noorjehan’s name to a long list of illustrious singers whom Khemchand Prakash spotted and supported very early in their careers. ‘Chandni’ was released in 1942 and so was ‘Dukh Sukh’. This was one the earliest films of Mukesh when he was trying to establish himself as an actor. Sitara – Mukesh duet ‘Ab der na kar sajan’ – is interesting for historical purpose as one of the earliest songs of Mukesh and also as one of the few songs that he sung for himself – i.e. not as playback. It is a delightful tune – the tender manliness of early Mukesh is irresistible in this song too. ‘Fariyaad’ had Noorjehan as an actress but she had no song! This was followed by ‘Iqrar’ (alias ‘Tyag’) and ‘Khilona’. ‘Mile jule sab rang’ by Khan Mastana, Sumati Trilokekar and ‘Nazaron ke khel khele’ by Khan Mastana, Snehaprabha are more memorable for the wonderful voice and singing of Khan Mastana. The year ended with ‘Mehman’. It saw Khemchand Prakash work with Rajkumari. Her song ‘Kya chain se baithe hain bechain mujhe karke’ seems to anticipate SD Burman’s ‘Duniya ne hame do din’ sung by Ameerbai in Shikari (1946). The latter however has its unique points and is aesthetically far superior. This phase ended in 1943 with ‘Chirag’, ‘Gauri’ and ‘Kurbani’. ‘Majboor hai dil se’ by Shameem from Gauri again emphasized Khemchand Prakash’s mastery of female solos.
1943 – 1945: THE GLORY YEARS – By 1942 two great centers of moviemaking in India – Kolkata and Pune – were in decline. Mumbai was the place to be. It saw many stalwarts from both these places migrate to Mumbai. One of them was KL Saigal! With his arrival at Ranjit Movietone, Khemchand Prakash’s career was ready to see its biggest success. Pran Neville writes, “Tansen was the only one out of seven films that Saigal made in Bombay which kept his fame and popularity, thanks to the music director, Khemchand Prakash.”1 Sharad Dutt says, “After Raichand Boral and Punkaj Mullick he [Khemchand Prakash] was the only composer who made the appropriate use of Saigal’s genius”2 Tansen was the biggest success of their careers for Ranjit Movietone, Khurshid and Khemchand Prakash. Though Saigal’s songs in the film are phenomenal, the credit must also be given to Khurshid who had a number of solos in the film and sang them extremely well. It seems that having Saigal in the film brought the best out of her singing – not unlike the effect Lata and Rafi had on each other in times to come. ‘Ab raja bhaye more balalm’, ‘Ghata ghanaghor’, ‘Baraso re’ were stunningly beautiful. Saigal’s songs – ‘Kahe gumaan kare’, ‘Rumjhum rumjhum chal tihari’, ‘Baag laga doo sajani’; ‘sapt suran teen graam’, ‘bina pankha ka panchhi hoon main’ were all worthy of the great singer and the stature of ‘diya jalao’ has almost reached mythical proportions. The only duet of the two – ‘more balapan ke sathi’ pales in comparison in front of their individual solos. Though to be fair to the composer we must say that Saigal has sung a very small number of duets to begin with and except for ‘sar pe kadamb ki chhaiyyan’ – sung with Rajkumari – from Bhakta Surdas – all others pale in front of his solos. 1943 also saw him compose for Vish Kanya in which he collaborated with Surendra. ‘Naiya ko khivaiyya ke kiya hamne hawale’ by Surendra, Kanchan Mala was noteworthy in its similarity (again) with the tune that anticipated ‘duniya ne hame do din’ from SD Burman’s ‘Shikari’. Ranjit Movietone decided to make use of the few days left on their contract with KL Saigal to squeeze another film out. This was ‘Bhanvara’. The film disappointed. The music also failed but listening to the songs today it seems that the commercial failure of the music was unfair to the composer. Saigal’s solos – ‘diya jisane dil’, ‘ham apna unhe bana na sake’, ‘muskurate huye yun ankh churaya na karo’, ‘thukaara rahi hai duniya’ and ‘yeh who jagah hai jahan ghar lutaye jate hai’ were all good and deserved more credit than they got. The only duet that Saigal sang in this film- ‘kya hamne bigada hai’ was noteworthy for its tune, but also for being the first duet Saigal had sung with a professional playback singer – Ameerbai. Ameerbai’s solo – ‘teri pee pee ki pukaron ne’ was also delightful. This was followed by ‘Bhartruhari’ which was a big commercial success. Khemchand Prakash worked with Surendra and Ameerbai in this film. ‘Mora dheere se ghunghat hayaye piya’ as well as ‘chanda des piya ke jaye’ are exceedingly beautiful songs and would surely rank among the all-time best songs of Ameerbai. After Khurshid this was the second singer with whom Khemchand Prakash had once again proved his mastery over female solos. ‘Bhiksha de de maiyya pingala’, a duet sung by Surendra and Ameerbai, was an alright song which perhaps was appreciated in its day more for its connection with the story line and for the good sense of visual element it demonstrated, than for its tune. The film also had two solos by Kajjan Bai – ‘ghunghat pat nahi kholu’ and ‘Kookat koyaliya’. This was followed by another commercial success of Khemchand – Khurshid collaboration – ‘Mumtaz Mahal’. The orchestration of this film clearly showed signs of modernization – especially in its use of strings. The collaboration continued with ‘Shahenshah Babar’. 1945 began with ‘Dhanna Bhagat’ and ‘Prabhu Ka Ghar’. In Prabhu ka Ghar he worked with Manna Dey (‘Paritranay sadhunam… awatar liya jug jug’ and ‘Tum nath ho fir mai anath khyun hoon’) and Mukesh (‘paradesi dhola re – with Mohantara Talapade). With ‘Prabhu ka ghar’ the long and successful collaboration between Khemchand Prakash and Ranjit Movietone ended. It is not clear if this was the reason for the impending ‘Silent Years’ but that is what followed. 1946 – 1947: THE SILENT YEARS – No Khemchand Prakash film was released in 1946 and none of the three films from 1947 made an impact. 1948-1950: THE SECOND COMING – Great artists have an ability to reinvent themselves – without compromising the integrity of their expression. It is not clear what prompted this change in the present case, but the maestro re-emerged from the Silent Years as a modern composer- very much in tune with the changing times. The renaissance was stunning. This was the time of independence. Naïve optimism was in the air. Things were upbeat. This certainly reflected upon the film music as well. But that was not all. There were more changes. The film music had had watershed moments of its own. KL Saigal had made an untimely exit from this world. Noorjehan and Khurshid had decided to move to the newly formed Pakistan – and there was one new singer knocking on the doors of success. Her name was Lata Mangeshkar. But what was truly remarkable was a clear change in Khemchand Prakash’s approach towards the orchestration. The tempo increased. Fast rhythm in the background – playing throughout in many songs – made them appear even faster and more modern. The use of accent in the rhythm became far more pronounced and deliberate. Rhythm was no longer merely a mechanism to keep time – it had a big role to play in the dialogue with the listener. In fact this was one of the key factors in the success of ‘Mahal’. The overall approach gives an impression of ‘liberation’. More or less this was the sentiment felt by all great composers who were liberated from being forced to use actors as singers. With people like Lata, Asha, Geeta, Shamshad, Rafi, Mukesh, Talat, Kishore, Manna Dey, Hemant et al they had singers with the ability to render virtually anything they could imagine. But this change was very pronounced in case of Khemchand Prakash. It was not incremental – it was generational. He really was a brand new composer. It was indeed the Second Coming. But this phase of Khemchand Prakash’s career began while still in a pre-Lata mode – with Sindoor. After a series of failures, here was a commercial success. ‘Kisi ke madhur pyar me man mera kho gaya’ sung by Sushil Sahu, Naseem Akhtar made it big. Re-deployment of the famous Tansen tune ‘more balapan ke sathi’ as an Ameerbai solo – ‘koi roke use aur ye kah de’ was also noteworthy. ‘Asha’ was released in 1948. With ‘Asha’ began the collaboration that would take Khemchand Prakash to the highest heights of his career and make him immortal in people’s imagination. This was the first time he worked with Lata Mangeshkar. The soundtrack has five solos by Lata and two by Manna Dey. Lata solos are all very pleasing but what is even more striking is the way in which Khemchand Prakash handles the timbre of Lata’s voice. Yes, this was 1948 and Lata in those days could have sung a newspaper editorial and we would have still listened with rapt attention. But this was more than simply that. Khemchand Prakash demonstrated – yet again – his mastery of composing female solos. He had an ability to sense the subtle strengths of his singer’s voice and compose a tune that would bring out those strengths. ‘chet chet kar chale re chatur’, ‘ik moorat manohar re’, ‘kit jaye base ho murari’ and ‘sajana re tori kaun dagariya’ are great examples of this. But what stands out is the haunting number ‘door jaye re’. The orchestration, which perhaps for the first time saw a western rhythm like Waltz employed in his work, along with slow beginning and a deliberate focus on the accent in the rhythm, clearly anticipates Mahal – but this is a wonderful song in its own right. The two Manna Dey solos, ‘bhool ja woh jamana’ and ‘phir wohi moorat manohar saamane aakar hasegi’ were noteworthy as clear steps towards the music of the fifties. Ziddi began a short but most successful collaboration between Khemchand Prakash and the Bombay Talkies. This was the second innings of the famed studio, this time under the stewardship of Ashok Kumar. The studio had a clear influence on the style of the music that appeared in its films. The film is more famous as the debut of Kishore Kumar and it is indeed an important historical milestone for Hindi Film Music, but Lata solos from the film that are undoubtedly far more memorable. ‘jadoo kar gaye kisi ke naina’ and ‘rooth gaye more shyam’ again show Khemchand’s mastery of composing to the timbre of his singers voice. The high pitch ending of ‘rooth gaye’ also shows the feeling of liberation that we have talked about earlier. It is hard to imagine any female singer prior to Lata who could have pulled this off. ‘ab kaun sahara hai’ again anticipates the Mahal style. ‘tujhe o bewafa hum zindagi ka aasara samajhe’ is simply stunning. A dominant theme that we see in Khemchand Prakash’s career is his ability to spot and support new talent. It must also be said that he had a remarkable ear to spot the future successes. In ‘marane ki duayen kyun mangu’ he launched one such singer called Kishore Kumar. The song is remarkable for documenting for the ages what a phenomenal influence KL Saigal had on the country. Even Kishore – whose natural tendency, as we later came to know, is almost an antithesis of Saigal – was clearly trying to copy Saigal in his early days. The film also has the first Lata – Kishore duet, ‘ye kaun aaya’ and a delightful Shamshad solo, ‘chalee pee ke milan’. ‘chanda re ja re ja re’ though clearly sourced from the Hindustani classical treasure-trove is a fabulous song on all counts – the most remarkable is how he composed a long line ‘chanda re ja re ja re piya se sandesa more kahiyo jaay’ while still making the rhythmic element of the song its dominant feature. Again the accent on ‘chanda’ is noteworthy. The slow beginning of the song is again a clear anticipation of Mahal and does not give any hint of the much faster tempo of the main song. After Tansen here Khemchand Prakash was again successful in capturing people’s imagination for ages. His re-invention of himself was complete. The maestro was ready! When something really works in any school or style of art, it is difficult to explain why it works. But one can try. The best corollary I can come up with is that of Mughal Architecture. For a student of architecture, there are clear examples of various experiments being done beginning with the Charbaug garden designs brought in by Babur, architectural breakthroughs of Humayun’s tomb, Itimad-ud-Daulah’s tomb and of Jama Musjid. Each one had its successes and failures. Then there were external influences from Persia, Samarkand as well as a strong platform of earlier temple and Rajput secular architectural traditions. But they all finally come together in the Taj. In it everything works. This is not to say that Taj is better than a similar example of some ‘other’ school – but only that ‘in its school’, it represents culmination and fulfillment of what was strived for and attempted many times earlier. Mahal likewise was the culmination of various themes that Khemchand Prakash was trying to do master all his life. The mastery of female solos, understanding of the timbre of singer’s voice, dramatic use of rhythm with accents, making it an integral part of the communication, masterful adaptation and simplification of classical sources into accessible melodies, liberated, modernized orchestration, especially use of strings and lastly an acute awareness of the situational context of the song in a film. He had tried and achieved success in one or more of these elements before. In Mahal they all came together. ‘Mahal’ was the ‘Taj Mahal’ of Khemchand Prakash’s style of composition. Plenty has been written about ‘Aayega aanewala’ and it is all well-deserved. It is indeed a song for the ages. The orchestration is way ahead of its time – forget Naushad, or even SD Burman – it actually anticipates Salil Chowdhary and R D Burman. It takes a full 3:30 minutes before the song-proper begins. This was truly courageous. The use of counter-melody in the interlude after the first stanza is mind boggling. It is a great symphony. Like Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ in his last (Ninth) symphony, this is an ‘Ode to Joy’ of self-re-invention by the maestro. But other songs of this ‘female-only’ soundtrack are also exquisite. Like other such songs in the past, ‘ghabaraa ke jo gham sar ko’ must rank among the best solos Rajkumari has sung and even ‘ek teer chala’ would rank very high on that list. The other two Lata solos – ‘mushkil hai bahut mushkil’ and ‘dil ne phir yaad kiya’ are also nothing short of divine. Mahal also served as the prototype for the genre of ghost/ reincarnation movies which in turn lead to the genre of haunting, ghost songs (Madhumati, Bees saal baad, Woh kaun thi, Mera Saya and counting). It is noteworthy that Bimal Roy – who produced and directed Madhumati was the editor of Mahal. Another interesting observation about Mahal is a thread of similarity that connects the major songs of that film. This is not repetition – neither is it a weakness. In fact some of the greatest and exceptionally successful soundtracks like Hemant Kumar’s Nagin, S D Burman’s Pyasa and Ghulam Mohammad’s Pakeeza share this attribute. The argument here is not that they share same tune – but there is something that connects the ‘feel’ or ‘tone’ of the songs in the soundtrack and they seem to build upon each other in creating their impact. As can be seen from the examples above, this seems to happen only when the soundtrack is perfectly in synch with the rest of the movie – when the Composer is in perfect synch with the Music Director. In Rimjhim Khemchand Prakash worked with Kishore again. We see Kishore still in the shadow of Saigal in ‘jagmag jagmag karta nikala’ but in the same film we also see him emerging from it in ‘mere ghar aage hai do do galiyan’. Here is the Kishore that we know from his later years. In ‘bhini bhini chand ki raat’ sung by Mohna we see the first purely Western tune in Khemchand Prakash’s work. Mohammad Rafi – who has been curiously missing so far appears for the first time in ‘hawa tu unse jaakar jkah de’ – a duet with Ramola. Shamshad has two nice songs – ‘na tum aaye na nind aayi’ and ‘rah na sakoge ham bin’ in which we again encounter the ‘kahe panchii bawriya’ tune from Diwali (similar to ‘kadar mori na jani’ from Noorie). ‘Sawan aaya re’ saw a wonderful use of Ameerbai’s voice in ‘pahane peeli rang sari’ and that of Shamshad’s in ‘bagon mein hole hole bole maina’ and ‘thandi thandi raat me’. The latter seems to be inspired by the hit Noorjehan number from Gaon ki Gori – ‘sajan paradesi baalam paradesi’. Rafi made his second appearance in ‘ai dil na mujhe’ – a duet with Shamshad. Bijli was released in 1950. It is noteworthy as the first collaboration between Khemchand Prakash and Gita Roy – ‘mera jiya ghabaraye’ sung by Gita and Paro. It also saw him work with Asha Bhosale for the first time. Her solo – ‘taqdeer bata kya meri khata’ is an exquisite song. Her duet with Mukesh – ‘hum to ho gaye badnam saanwariya’ is also delightful. ‘Jaan Pahchan’ (with Manna Dey) which released in 1950 was an anomaly for Khemchand Prakash in that this was the first and the only time in his films that a duet – ‘armaan bhare dil ki lagan’ outshined the solos. This exquisite song sung by Talat and Gita was doubtless the best song of the soundtrack. All Gita solos – including ‘Pardesi se lag gayi preet re’ and ‘aaoge na saajan aaoge na’ pale in front of this duet. Even the two solos by Shankardas Gupta – ‘hum kya bataye tumse’ and ‘dukh se bhara huaa hai dil’ are more impactful. The latter certainly amongst the best solos of that singer. Muqaddar was the last time Khemchand Prakash worked for Bombay Talkies. He was one of the three composers for that film along with Bhola Shreshtha, James Singh – perhaps due to his failing health. Three solos by Nalini Jaywant – ‘jab nain me koi aan base’, ‘dekh gagan mein kali ghata’ and ‘aanhe bhar bhar ke tujhe yaad kiya karati hun’ were among the best songs of Nalini Jaiwant but not amongst the best of the composer. The film perhaps will be more remembered for its duet – ‘aati hai yaad mujhko janwari farwari’ – the first duet of Asha Bhosale and Kishore Kumar. 1950 – 1952:
THE SUNSET YEARS – Khemchand Prakash was at the top of his abilities in 1950 and it is indeed a tragedy of mammoth proportions that he vanished so abruptly. The last phase of his career saw only four films – and the fourth was only notionally his. In ‘Sati Narmada’ he was assisted by Manna Dey, in ‘Jai Shankar’ by his brother Basant Prakash and in ‘Shri Ganesh Janma’ again by Manna Dey. His last film ‘Tamasha’ was only nominally his. All but two songs in the film were composed by Manna Dey and the remaining two by SK Pal. His untimely demise at the age of 42 ended a potential mega career before it could materialize. Khemchand Prakash had worked hard on honing a number of attributes (which were discussed in the section about Mahal) into his compositions, had paid his dues both as a student of music and through the hardships of his early years, and just when he was primed to reap the benefits of that hard work, his life was cut down by cruel fate. Khemchand Prakash died on 10th August 1950. ‘Mahal’ premiered at ‘Roxy Cinema’ in Mumbai on 13th October 1950. _____________________________________
References: 1. 1 Neville, Pran: K.L.Saigal – The Definitive Biography: Penguin Books: New Delhi: 2011 2. 2 Dutt, Sharad: Kundan – Saigal ka jeevan aur sangeet: Penguin Books: New Delhi: 2007 (Translation mine) 3. Har Mandir Sing ‘Hamraz’: Hindi Film Geet Kosh – Vol II 1941 to 1950: Sumer Singh Sachdev: Kanpur: 1984 4. Har Mandir Sing ‘Hamraz’: Hindi Film Geet Kosh – Vol III 1951 to 1960: Satinder Kaur: Kanpur: 1984 5. Pankaj Rag: Dhunon ki yatra 6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khemchand_Prakash 7. Potdar, Vasant : Anil Biswas te Rahul Dev Burman Acknowledgements: I would like to thank Mr. Har Mandir Singh ‘Hamraz’ for this monumental work in compiling the Hindi Film Geet Kosh; Prof. Surjit Singh for making a number of rare songs available and Mr. Aditya Pant for inviting me to write for the GHZ series
Filmography 1939 Meri Aankhen
1939 Ghazi Salauddin
1940 Aaj Ka Hindustan
1941 Holiday in Bombay/ Bambai Ki Sair
1942 Dukh Sukh
1942 Iqrar (alias Tyag)
1943 Vish Kanya
1944 Mumtaz Mahal
1944 Shahenshah Babar
1945 Dhanna Bhagat
1945 Prabhu Ka Ghar
1947 Chalte Chalte
1947 Mera Suhaag
1947 Samaj Ko Badal Dalo
1949 Sawan Aya Re
1950 Jan Pahchan (with Manna Dey)
1950 Muqaddar (with Bhola Shreshth & James Singh)
1950 Sati Narmada (with Manna Dey)
1951 Jai Shankar (with Basant Prakash)
1951 Shri Ganesh Janma (with Manna Dey)
1952 Tamasha (completed by Manna Dey & SK Pal)