Regarded as a pioneer of Indian music, Naushad Ali was one of the first and foremost composers in the history of Bollywood. Since 1937, he was composing music for films that, along with his music, formed the very foundation and core of Bollywood. He is also known for introducing the legendary singers Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammad Rafi to the world and transfiguring them into the icons they are today. While he did less than a hundred films during his lifetime, 26 of those films went on to celebrate jubilees, some of them making golden and even diamond jubilees.
He was born on December 25, 1919, in the city of Lucknow. From early childhood, he was an avid film buff, listening to the live orchestras that accompanied silent films back then. He studied classical Indian music under renowned musicians like Ustad Ghurbat Ali, Ustad Yusuf Ali, and Ustad Babban Saheb, and began composing music for amateur theatrical groups like the Windsor Music Entertainers. He also spent much of his time repairing harmoniums.
In the late 1930s, he came to Bombay to be a success as a musician. But he had to struggle to make it to the top. Initially he faced rebuffs, and had to endure periods of utter deprivation. Naushad’s style was renowned for his ability to incorporate classical rhythms into his symphonies. He based his music upon the “ragas” that formed a basis in Indian classical music, and thus his music took on complex formations and . His taste for classical music was legendary – in the Mughal musical Baiju Bawra (1952), he used actual classical singers to sing his ghazals. In spite of his classical tendencies, he could also keep up with the times and adapt Western techniques and instruments into his music, as heard in the films Jadoo (1951) and Mere Mehboob (1963). Naushad was also among the first to use the techniques of sound mixing, of separate recording of vocal and music tracks in playback singing, and using background scores to enhance characters’ moods and dialogues through music.
Naushad’s career continued at a steady peak throughout the 1950s and 1960s, with some of his melodies being featured in now-perennial classics like the Mughal period films Baiju Bawra (1952) and Mughal-E-Azam (1960) and the epic Mother India (1957).
He composed the tunes of _Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story (2005) at the age of 86, thus becoming the world’s oldest composer.
Given below is an excerpt from an interview done by Annu Kapoor on Naushad Ali :
Given below is a song from the hindi film Baiju Bawra (1952), The film’s music director, Naushad, also received the inaugural Filmfare best director award for the song “Tu Ganga Ki Mauj”; this was Naushad’s first and only Filmfare Award win.