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306. Naushad Ali

BornDecember 25, 1919(1919-12-25)
DiedMay 5, 2006(2006-05-05) (aged 88)
GenresHindustani classical music, Indian film music
Occupationscomposer, music director, film producer, writer
Years active1940–2005

Naushad Ali (Hindi: नौशाद अली, Urdu: نوشاد علی; December 25, 1919 – May 5, 2006) was an Indian musician. He was one of the foremost music directors for Bollywood films, and is particularly known for popularizing the use of classical music in films.
His first film as an independent music director was Prem Nagar in 1940. His first musical success film was Rattan (1944), following it up with 35 silver jubilee hits, 12 golden jubilee and 3 diamond jubilee mega successes. Naushad was conferred the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1982, and the Padma Bhushan in 1992.

Early life and education

Naushad was raised as a Muslim in Lucknow, a city with a long tradition as a center of Muslim culture. His father, Wahid Ali, was a munshi (court clerk). As a child, Naushad would visit the annual fair at the Deva Sharif in Barabanki, 25 km from Lucknow, where all the great qawwals and musicians of those days would perform before the devotees. He studied Hindustani music there under Ustad Ghurbat Ali, Ustad Yusuf Ali, Ustad Babban Saheb, and others. He also repaired harmoniums.
As a lad, he joined a junior theatrical club and was appointed the club's music maestro for their theatrical presentations. He used to watch silent films at the Royal theatre in Lucknow. Theatre owners would hire a team of musicians to play the tabla, harmonium, sitar and violin. The musicians would watch the film first, make notes, finalise the scales required. When the show began in the evening, they would sit in front of the screen and play music for the scenes. This was a great way to be entertained and learn music at the same time. It made him grasp the nuances required in composing a film's background music score.
In time Naushad formed his own Windsor Music Entertainers or just Windsor Entertainers, so named because he had seen the word "Windsor" around Lucknow and liked its ring. It led to the Indian Star Theatrical Company in a theatre at Golagunj colony in Lucknow. He was trained under Laddan Khan until he became capable of working independently as a composer. There he also developed the sense to pick rare musical jewels from the folk tradition of Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Saurashtra during the company's sojourns in those regions. The traveling players got as far as Viramgam in Gujarat, where they discovered penury, even after selling off theatrical props and musical instruments. The company limped back to Lucknow through the kindness of one of Naushad's friends.
Naushad had already become a cinema fan in the silent era, and then, in 1931, Indian cinema got voice and music that further fascinated the 13 year old boy. But his family was strict follower of Islamic diktat of prohibition of music and his father gave him ultimatum to leave music if he wanted to stay at home. He ran away to Bombay (now called Mumbai) in the late 1937 to try his luck as a musician.


In Bombay, he initially stayed with an acquaintance from Lucknow (U.P.) at Colaba and after a while, shifted to Dadar opposite the Broadway theater where he would sleep on the footpath. He assisted music director Ustad Jhande Khan who was at the peak of his success those days, at a monthly salary of Rs 40. The producer was a Russian and the studio was at Chembur. The film could not be completed. Naushad was a piano player so he worked as a pianist in composer Ustad Mushtaq Hussain's orchestra. He then polished off an unfinished film score and got a credit as assistant to Hussain. Then the film company collapsed. Composer Khemchand Prakash took him on as his assistant for the film Kanchan at Ranjit Studio at a salary of Rs 60 per month, for which Naushad remained extremely grateful and, in interviews, had called Khemchand his guru.
His friend, lyricist D N Madhok trusted Naushad's unusual talent for composing music and introduced him to various film producers. Chandulal Shah, the owner of Ranjit Studios, offered to sign Naushad for one of his forthcoming films. Naushad composed a thumri for this film, ‘Bata de koi kaun gali gaye Shyam’, but the film never got on the floors. He was assistant music director for the Punjabi film 'Mirza Sahib' (1939).
He composed for his first independent film Prem Nagar in 1940 that had a story set in Kachchh for which he did a lot of research into the folk music of the area. With A.R. Kardar's film Nayi Duniya (1942), he got first credit as "music director" and he began to work regularly for Kardar Productions. He however had a flexibility that he could work outside Kardar Productions, and this arrangement continued ever after. He first got noticed with A.R. Kardar's film Sharda (1942) wherein 13-year-old Suraiya debuted with the song "Panchhi Ja" for the playback for heroine Mehtab. It was Rattan (1944) that took Naushad right to the top and enabled him to charge Rs 25,000 a film then.
But his Lucknow based family remained against music and Naushad had to hide from his family the fact that he composed music. When Naushad got married, the band was playing the tunes of the super hit songs of Naushad's film Rattan. While Naushad's father and father-in-law were condemning the musician who had composed these songs, Naushad dared not tell them that it was he who had composed the music.
From 1942 until the late 1960s, he was one of the top music directors in Bollywood. While he did less than a hundred films during his lifetime, 26 of those films celebrated Silver jubilees (25 weeks run) -- 8 celebrated golden jubilees (50 weeks run) and 4 celebrated diamond jubilees (60 weeks run). (inclusive count - a diamond jubilee film also celebrated Silver and Golden jubilee)
Naushad worked with several lyricists, including Shakeel Badayuni, Majrooh Sultanpuri, D. N. Madhok, Zia Sarhadi, and Khumar Barabankvi.
Mother India (1957), for which he had composed music, was the first Indian film that got nominated for Oscar.
In 1981, Naushad was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for his lifetime contribution to Indian cinema.
He composed the tunes of Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story (2005) at the age of 86, thus becoming the world's oldest composer.
Amongst his assistants, Mohammed Shafi, Jerry Amaldev, and Ghulam Mohammed stand out prominently.
Five films have been made on his life and work. Biographical books published are Dastaan-E-Naushad (Marathi) by Shashikant Kinikar; Aaj Gaawat Man Mero (Gujarati); Hindi and Urdu biographical sketches in Shama & Sushma Magazines respectively, titled "Naushad Ki Kahani, Naushad Ki Zubani"; the last one was translated into Marathi by Shashikant Kinikar. Kinikar also came up with a book titled "Notes of Naushad" which puts together some interesting anecdotes of Naushad's life.

 Last days

Naushad died on 5 May 2006 in Mumbai. He was buried at the Juhu Muslim cemetery.
He is survived by six daughters Zubeda, Fehmida, Farida, Sayeeda, Rashida, and Waheeda, and three sons Rahman Naushad, Raju Naushad & Iqbal Naushad. Rahman Naushad and Raju Naushad had assisted him in some of his films. Also, Naushad composed music for two movies directed by Rahman Naushad, 'My Friend' and 'Teri Payal Mere Geet'.
Naushad had requested the Maharashtra state government to sanction a plot for an institution for promoting Hindustani music. This was sanctioned during his lifetime and the 'Naushad Academy of Hindustani Sangeet' was formed.


Naushad was also a respected and published poet and formally launched his book of Urdu poetry entitled Aathwan Sur ("The Eighth Note") and the Navras label's album titled "Aathwan Sur – The Other Side of Naushad" having 8 ghazals as part of Hounslow's book fair and festival "Bookmela" in November 1998. The album has lyrics and composition by Naushad, arranged by Uttam Singh.
Track list:
  1. Aabadiyon Mein Dasht Ka Munzar Bhi Aayega - A. Hariharan - 7:08
  2. Aaj Ki Baat Kal Pay Kyun Taalo - A. Hariharan & Preeti Uttam Singh - 6:17
  3. Ghata Chhaayi Thi Saawan Khul Ke Barsa - Preeti Uttam Singh - 7:19
  4. Kabhi Meri Yaad Unko Aati To Hogi - A. Hariharan & Preeti Uttam Singh - 6:18
  5. Mujh Ko Muaff Kijiye - A. Hariharan - 5:35
  6. Peenay Waalay Bekhudi Say Kaam Lay - A. Hariharan & Preeti Uttam Singh - 8:13
  7. Saawan Kay Jab Baadal Chhaaye - A. Hariharan - 6:50
  8. Tanhaa Khud Say Baat Karoon - Preeti Uttam Singh - 7:49

Music style

Naushad was known for his deft adaptation of the classical musical tradition for movies. For some movies like Baiju Bawra, he composed all scores in classical raga modes and arranged for the well-known vocalist Amir Khan to be a music consultant for the film. He could easily work with Western instruments, including the clarinet, the mandolin, and the accordion. He could incorporate Western musical idioms in his compositions, and compose for Western-style orchestras.
During early 1940s, recordings were done in quiet parks and gardens after midnight because the studios did not have sound-proof recording rooms. In the gardens there would be no echo and disturbances, unlike the studios where the sound reverberated because of the tin roofs.
For films like Uran Khatola and Amar, he recorded the voice of a particular artiste on a scale of 90, then recorded it on 70, then on 50 and so on. After the complete recording, it was played for the scene and the impact it created was terrific.
He was one of the first to introduce sound mixing and the separate recording of voice and music tracks in playback singing. He was the first to combine the flute and the clarinet, the sitar and mandolin. He also introduced the accordion to Bollywood film music and was among the first to concentrate on background music to extend characters' moods and dialogue through music. But perhaps his greatest contribution was to bring Indian classical music into the film medium. Many of his compositions were inspired by ragas and he even used distinguished classical artistes like Amir Khan and D.V. Paluskar in Baiju Bawra (1952) and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan in Mughal-e-Azam (1960). Baiju Bawra (1952) demonstrated Naushad's grasp of classical music and his ability to bring it to the masses, for which he won the first Filmfare Best Music Director Award in 1954.
For Aan (1952), he was the first to use a 100-piece orchestra, He was the first composer to have developed the system of western notation in India. The notation for the music of the film Aan was published in book form in London.
In Uran Khatola (1955), he recorded an entire song without the use of orchestra, having replaced the sound of musical instruments with choral sound of humming.
For Mughal-e-Azam (1960) song Ae Mohabbat Zindabad, he used a chorus of 100 persons. He asked Lata Mangeshkar to render a part of the song "Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya" in a bathroom that had glazed tiles and then recorded the music to get the echo effect.
For Ganga Jamuna (1961), he used lyrics in chaste Bhojpuri dialect.
He used just six instruments in the title song of Mere Mehboob (1963).
In 2004, a colorized version of the classic Mughal-e-Azam (1960) was released, for which Naushad had the orchestral music specially re-created (in Dolby Digital) by today’s industry musicians, while maintaining all the solo vocals from the original soundtrack. To elaborate, the playback vocals (though not the chorus) recorded four decades ago are mixed with orchestra tracks created in the present millennium.
As Indian film music gradually assumed a Western bend starting in the late 1960s, Naushad came to be considered old-fashioned. Composers who could compose rock-and-roll and disco-inflected music started getting increasingly popular. Naushad was still esteemed as a maestro, but his talents were sought mostly for historical movies where traditional scores were appropriate.

Non-film album
  • Aathwan Sur - The Other Side of Naushad : This was a Ghazal album released in 1998 and had all its songs composed by Naushad and sung by Hariharan.

 English film

  • Such a Long Journey (1998), Director: Sturla Gunnarsson, Music: Jonathan Goldsmith, Cast: Roshan Seth, Soni Razdan, Om Puri, Nasiruddin Shah,
In this film, the song from film "Pakeezah" (1971), "Thaade rahiyo", lyrics: Kaifi Azmi, rendered by Lata Mangeshkar, was played during the end casting.


  • Maalik (1958) Music Director for this film was Ghulam Mohammed
  • Uran Khatola (1955)
  • Babul (1950)


  • Palki (1967)
  • teri payal mere geet(1989)

 Awards and recognition

  • 1954: Filmfare Best Music Director Award - Baiju Bawra
  • 1961: Bengal Film Journalists' Association's best music director Award for Gunga Jumna
  • 1975: "Naushad Ali", a 30-minute documentary film produced by Television Centre, Bombay
  • 1981: Dada Saheb Phalke Award
  • 1984: Lata Mangeshkar Award (Madhya Pradesh state government's)
  • 1987: Amir Khusro Award
  • 1992: Sangeet Natak Akademi Award
  • 1992: Padma Bhushan
  •  : Maharashtra Gaurav Puruskar
  •  : Best Music for "The Sword of Tipu Sultan"

Positions Held

  • President of Cine Music Directors Association
  • Chairman of Indian Performing Rights Society
  • President of Maharashtra State Angling Association
  • President of Alam-E-Urdu Conference (Delhi)
  • The title of Special Executive Magistrate, Bombay
Source: Wikipedia

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