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Recently at NCPA Sanjeev Kohli , the son of late Music maestro Madan Mohan formally introduced his documentary film  titled “Dil Dhoondhata Hai “—A journey through his timeless music , giving glimpses of his life and works as one of the top music directors of Hindi films during 1950 to 1975 interspersed  with opinions of his contemporaries and music stalwarts and adding the son’s in-sights and persona of his father by way of anecdotes.

Taking cue,I take pleasure to analyse in detail the highlights of this musical marvel, his  niche melody and compositions with classical blend which earned him  big laurels not only  from masses and music aficionados but  from his contemporaries and colleagues as well .

Learning basic natty gritty of Hindustani Classical Music in his school days, the son of Rai Bahadur Chunnilal Kohli - the founder of Filmistan Studios Mumbai , started giving musical performances in his school, broadcast by All India Radio.None could visualize that this handsome lad will one day become the Prince of Music and melody in Bollywood to be known as music director –singer Madan Mohan

Most of Madan Mohan compositions are immortal. Crooning legend Lata Mangeshkar called him “Gazal Ka Shehzadaa” as he had an unique knack of composing soulful gazals replete with melody, sad tinge, pain and ‘Sog’ which became landmark. Perhaps it was his grooming at the All India Radio Lucknow where the legendary Galzal queen Begum Akhtar was  ruling and his career’s  first recording was with Gazals. His first film “Aankhe” in 1950 was the first step of his career as a Music director. We still remember the famous Gazal “ Hum Ishq mein barbaad hain Barbaad Rahenge” crooned by Mohammad Rafi which also heralded his  life long association and Lata Mangeshkar as his mentor singer( He called her sister from the day they first recorded a duet before his debut as music director). “Aankhe” was a musical hit . Next film “Adaa” strengthened his position with Lata’s impressive  soulful semi classical number “Preetam Meri Duniya Mein Do Din toh Rahe Hote”. In 1956 film  “Bhai Bhai” brought him more laurels and catapulted him to the top rank of Bollywood Music maestros and his association with the lyricist Rajinder Krishan bonded well for next few years. “Bhai Bhai” music jelled with masses as it was light , rhythmic, romantic and breezy with the then top star cast with real brothers Ashok Kumar and Kishore Kumar as brothers. In this film Madan Mohan deployed voices of  Lata, Rafi , Kishore , Asha and Geeta Dutt.

Thereafter , there was nothing to stop his march as an enduring melody maker. He continued to compose for almost 100 films and 700 songs. Four of his most successful films were released after his sad and untimely demise in July1975 viz; “Mausam”, “Laila Majnu”, “ Chalbaaz”and “Veer Zaara”

Typical Highlights of his career

Although Madan Mohan worked with many lyricist like Naqsh Loyallpuri,  Sawan Kumar Taq,Rajinder Krishan, Sahir Ludhianvi ,Kaifi Azmi ,Raja Mehdi Ali Khan , Majrooh Sultanpuri and Gulzar : his compositions came out in full magnificence and glory  with  classic ,sad and romanticism of  Gazals with Raja M Khan and Majrooh with maximum numbers.

While Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammad Rafi were on top of his singer list, other leading playback singers  Shamshaad Begum , Talat Mahmood,  Geeta Dutt , Asha Bhosle, Mukesh, Kishore Kumar, Mannade. Mahendra Kapoor , Bhupindersingh were also in his batten.

His most popular and appreciated musical films are ‘Bhai Bhai’ ’Dekh Kabira Roya’  ‘Adalat’ ‘Anpadh’ ‘ Jehanara’ ‘Gazal’ ‘Haqeekat’ ‘Heer Ranjha’ ‘Mera Saaya’ ‘Woh Kaun Thi’ ‘Dastak’ ‘Mausam’ ’Laila Majnu’  and ‘Veer Zaara’

Selected  immortal songs from vast repertoire

Genre :  Tragedy / Romance/Gazals :

 “ Preetam Meri Duniya Mein Do Din to Rahe Hote”  ( Film Ada), “ Badli Se Nikla Hai Chand Pardesi Piya”(Film Sanjog),”Kabhi Na Kabhi ,Kahin na Kahin”(Film Sharabi),”Phir Wohi Shyam Wohi Gham Wohi Tanhai” ,”Wo Chup Rahen toh Mere Dil Ke Daag Jalte Hain”(Film  Jehanara), “Unko Ye Shikayat hai” “ Yun Hasraton Ke daag Mohabbat mein” ( Film Adalat), “Hum hain Mataye Kuch-a-ye Bazaar” ( Film Dastak )”Aap Ki Nazron Ne Samjha Payr Ke Kaabil”, ”Wo Dekho Jala Ghar Kisi ka” ( Film Anpadh)”Koi Paththar Se Na Mare Mere Deewane Ko” (Film Laila Majnu), “Teri Aankho ke Siwa Duniya Mein”(film Chirag). “Agar Mujh Se Mohabbat hai” (film Aap Ki Parchaaiyaan), “Rang Aur Noor Ki Saugat Kise Pesh karoon”(Film Gazal)”Kar Chale Hum Fida Jaan-o-tan Saathiyon”(film Haqkeekat),”Tu Jahan Jahan Chalega Mera Saaya Saath Hoga”( film Mera Saaya).”Hum Pyar Mein Jalne Walon ko” (film Jailor),”Milo Na Tum To Hum Ghabrayen”(film Heer Ranjha)”Dil Dhoondhta Hai Phir Wohi “ (film Mausam) “Tum Paas aa Rahe Ho” (film Veer Zaara)and the evergreen “Lag Ja Gale Ki Phir Ye Hasin Raat” ( film Woh Kaun Thi )

Genre :Classical

“Kaun Aaya Mere Man Ke Dware”(film Dekh Kabira Roya), “ Bahiyan Na Dharo Balma” ( Film Dastak) “Naino Mein Badra Chaaye” ( Film Mera Saaya),”Aaj Socha Toh Ansoo Bhar Aaye” (Film Hanste Zakhm)and the Gazal”Rasm-e- Ulfat Ko Nibhaein toh Nibhaein Kaise” (Film Dil Ki Raahen)Lataji herself  consider this as one of her best songs.

Genre : Breezy, Foot tapping

“Aye Dil Mujhe Bata De” , “Mera Naam Abdul Rehman” ,“Sharabi Jaa Jaa” (Film Bhai Bhai).”Zarurat Hai ,Zarurat Hai “ (Film Manmauji),”Simti Si Sharmaaii Si” ( Film Parwana),”Aye Haseeno, Nazneeno” ( Film Chacha Zindabad). “Hum Se aaya Na Gaya, Unse Bulaya Na Gaaya” (Film Dekh Kabira Roya)and that Unfogettable  crazy number of Asha Bhosle “Jhumka Gira Re” ( Film Mera Saaya)

His most successful year and a milestone of his career was 1964 which saw the release of his Seven musical gems “Aap ki Parchaiyaan”, “Gazal”, ”Haqeekat”, “Jehanara”, “Pooja Ke Phool’, “Sharabi” and “Woh Kaun Thi”

Recognition and Awards

Every artiste,more so the talented one craves for recognition and appreciation for his creativity. Madan Mohan did not wish to demand but command. Of course public ,music aficionados, critics and the singer-lyricists all appreciated and praised his melody and hard work. First public recognition came in 1962 for the music of his film ”Anpadh” when the film got nominated for best music in Filmfare Award. His son Sanjeev Kohli narrated  the reaction of the maestro “Next morning of the nomination, Filmfare dumped a tempo load of magazines at his home with a suggestion that Madan’s family can get all the  public nomination votes filled in his name as the best music director. When the maestro learnt this from his son, he instructed the servant to throw all the mags since he was dead against any manipulation. Result was obvious. Some other music director received the award. Again he got nominated for his film ”Woh Kaun Thi” and “Mausam” but thereto he lost in the final race. However, his film “Dastak” had won the National award for the best music and Sanjeev Kumar as  best actor for the same film. But by then Madan Mohan had lost his will and faith in all awards hence he decided not to go to Delhi to accept. When Sanjeev Kumar came to know about his decision he met him and said ”If you are not going ,then I am also not going for my award”. This made Madan Mohan to go and accept the award .  Kohli said that for Madan Mohan best award was the profuse appreciation of his music in “Heer Ranjha” by none else than his Guru and doyen of music Sachin Dev Burman, who had personally come to Madan Mohan’s house to congratulate him for the magnificent music score”

Another double recognition and award conferred on him posthumously for the best music was for “Veer Zaara” in 2005 by IIFA and nomination in Filmfare. In 2013 the Government of India honoured him by issuing a special Postal Stamp commemorating  his memory.

Madan Mohan Stamp.jpg

However, the biggest irony of his recognition was a front page photograph  in the Times of India showing Madan Mohan’s  “Arthi” being carried away on shoulders by the then super stars of bollywood - Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan and Rajendra Kumar .


------------------ Mohan Siroya





Written by: 

Mohan Siroya

Published on: 

July 2019


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