Mohammed Shafi -the Sitar Player, Arranger and Music Composer

02 Jan
Mohammed Shafi – – the Sitar Player, Arranger and Music Composer 
This article is written by  Qaseem Abbasi

O Bichhde Hue Saathi, Jiyoon Kaise…Bata De…


Who can forget the beautiful composition when Nargis with her astonishing looks, and Lata Mangeshkar and lyricist Khumar Barabankvi giving the needed pain to her feelings, appeared on the screen in K. Asif’s Hulchul (1951)? The master, who created this gem, was an unsung, Mohammed Shafi! Mohammed Shafi was a Sitar player, (here is the sitar version of ‘ Rum jhum barase badarawa….’ played on Sitar by Mohammed Shafi)  who used to arrange and assist. He was an arranger and assistant to Naushad for almost 14 years! As everyone is aware of Abdul Karim Khan Sahab, Mohammed Shafi is related to him! How? Mohammed Shafi’s father was Majid Khan, the grandson of Bande Ali. Bande Ali was a master of swar-pradhan gayaki and was the brother of Abdul Karim Khan sahab’s father. Bande Ali was also the Guru of Murad Khan. Abdul Karim Khan sahab, though never met with Bande Ali, was highly influenced by the style of Bande Ali due to a common heritage. Mohammed Shafi was born in the 1920s. Majid Khan, his father, died when Mohammed Shafi was still very young, and this forced him to start work in very young age. As he had a command over Sitar, he got employed by New Theatres. He was married to Vilayat Khan’s sister, Zeenat. He assisted in New Theatres’ music and gave considerable contribution to films like Kapaal Kundala and Aandhi in the 1930s.

In 1942, he assisted Basheer Dehlvi for Tajmahal Pictures’ Ujala where the hero of the film, Prithvi Raj Kapoor played the role of a Sitar player! Mohammed Shafi got his independent break with Haqdaar in 1946.

picture courtesy :Rajesh kumar singh

picture courtesy :Rajesh kumar singh

He composed for about one and a half dozen Hindi films as a music director and has done nearly about five dozen films as assistant and arranger and also background scores. He also scored for two Marathi films. As a music composer he worked with all major singers including Mohd. Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle,
Geeta dutt,Talat Mehmood, Manna Dey, Shamshad Begum, Suman Kalyanpur, Kishore Kumar, Hemant Kumar, etc. His was also associated with many lyricists like Khumar Barabankvi, Hasrat Jaipuri, Anjum Jaipuri, Kaifi Azmi, Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, Prem Dhawan, Saba Afghani, Ali Sardar Jafri, etc.

Mohammed Shafi had a long association with Naushad. It’s said that when he was assisting Naushad for Mughal-e-Azam, K. Asif used to send a car to pick him for playing Sitar for the background music along with another Sitar player, Abdul Haleem Jaffer Khan! It says all about Mohammed Shafi’s contribution to Indian Film Music World. Unconfirmed sources also credit Mohammed Shafi as having played a significant role in the composition of Do Hanson Ka Joda and Dhoondo Dhoondo Re from Ganga Jamuna and Kaari Badariya from Aadmi, and also the entire Sohni Mahiwal soundtrack, However, such claims are difficult to corroborate. Mohammed Shafi was going through a very difficult phase in his last days. He suffered a stroke and was almost jobless. No one from the industry came forward to help him accept Janab Mohammad Rafi Sahab! It’s said that Rafi sahab visited him during this phase and when he left, Mohammed Shafi found a bundle of 10,000 rupees under his pillow! He called back Rafi sahab and thanked for his gesture and returned the bundle. He was touched by the love and caring of Rafi sahab!

In his last days, Mohammed Shafi was suffering from amnesia! What else can one say other than remembering his beautiful composition from Annadata! Taqdeer ke haathon mein hai insaan khilauna…. Here’s a filmography of Mohammed Shafi as composer: 1. Haqdaar (1946) 2. Kaango (1946) 3. Do Naina (1947) 4. Rishta (1947) 5. Shikaarpuri (1947) 6. Gharaana (1949) 7. Hulchul (1951) – along with Sajjad Hussain 8. Annadaata (1952) 9. Aabshaar (1953) – along with Ghulam Haider & Bhola Shreshtha 10. Daara (1953) 11. Baazooband (1954) 12. Deewaar (1955) 13. Zindagi (1956) 14. Mohabbat Ki Jeet (1960) 15. Tanhaai (1961) – released as Badi Maa in 1974 16. Kite Fight (Woh Kata) (1965) 17. Iraada (1971) – along with Vitthal-Mumtaz 18. Bari Maa (1974) – same as Tanhai (1961) 19. Dayar-e-Madina (1975) 20. Shrimant Mehuna Pahije (1967) (Marathi) 21. Shriman Balasaheb (1960) (Marathi)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: I have tried to compose the article with the help of net, friends, knowledgeable giants at RMIM like, Naniwadekar, Jayaraman, etc. and articles from different books and papers. Thanks to all.

EXTRA SHOTS:  Mohd Shafi,will also remain special,as he gave a chance to Suman Hemadi (kalyanpur),to sing Koi Pukare Dhire Se Tujhe,for Mangu in 1954.It is said that he recorded more songs for this movie,but due to some problems ,he had to leave the movie & O P Nayyar was brought in.By the grace of Almighty,this immortal lullaby was retained,in the movie.
Music Films like Anokhi sewa(with Dhoomi khan)-1949,Bedard-49(with B N Bali and Ramprasad) Mangu-54(with OPNayyar).Anokhi sewa-49 songs were issued in the name of Rishta.Mohd.Shafi gave first break to not only Suman Kalyanpur but also to Hemlata.He was a silent helper to the families of Shakeel Badayuni and Ghulam Mohd. in their last difficult days.In his last days,when he lost his memories,his wife said ruefully,” good that has no memory otherwise he had more sorrow than joy to remember.he only toiled for others but no one gave him the credit.”
according to Yogesh Yadav’s and Pankaj Raag’s book  MOhammad Shafi also gave music by the name Shafi M Nagari in films like Shamsheerbaaj, sherdil, Coanival Queen , Bagadaad ka jaadu, Diler Daaku, Circus Queen, and Cheen Ka Jaadugar ,
Mohammed Shafi Saheb was an immensely talented composer, but never got what he deserved.Gharana(1949) had some extremely beautiful songs which are rarely heard…
Here is a very rare gem from Gharana rendered by Shaukat and Premlata….Fantastic composition by Mohammed Shafi and lyrics by Baba Alam Siahposh…
audio link2.
Audio courtesy : Nikhil,sandeep rai ji,Arun mudgal ji

Posted by on January 2, 2013 in Articles


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7 responses to “Mohammed Shafi -the Sitar Player, Arranger and Music Composer

  1. Ravi

    September 24, 2013 at 6:28 am

    Hi Can Any one provide me Mohd Shafi Sb’s date of demise (His last date)

    • somecreativevoices

      September 25, 2013 at 12:42 pm

      According to ‘Dhuno ki yaatra’ (by Pankaj Raag) it is 30th April ,1980

  2. rashid khan brother of mohammed shafi

    September 29, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    he was my first cousin belong to mewati gharana one of the greatest gharana of all time.

    • Rashid Khan

      June 18, 2021 at 5:01 pm

      Shafi sahab was my elder brother, unfortunately I was very young not have many memories of him.

  3. Dilip

    August 20, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    Can someone provide me with information about Asst. Music Director, Mohammad Ebrahim, of Mother India, (Naushad).


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