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Down The OP Nayyar Memory Lane

Ranjani Saigal

Saturday June 16, 2007, will be a memorable evening for those who attend a O.P Nayyar Nite where Nayyar’s fan and friend Siraj Khan assisted by  singers Sudha Rao, Raghu Saranathan and Salman Dar took the audience down the Nayyar memory lane. Siraj Khan is writing the biography of O.P Nayyar.
“What you are about to experience today is no ordinary music concert. Today we are here to remember a legendary composer who has provided tons of happy moments in our lives. We will take you down memory lane, a musical journey of sorts, where you not only hear some unforgettable melodies but also get to know a bit about the background of these songs and, most importantly, the person behind their creation – the grand master OP Nayyar. We look at it historically” said Siraj Khan as he welcomed the guests. The evening was a true “Mehfil” with guests seated on the floor on Chaddar and Gadhas while snacks and Gulabi Chai was provided by the hosts.  Siraj Khan wore the Kurta that actually belonged to Nayyar Saheb. Nayyar Saheb’s presence in the room was almost palpable.
Sudha Rao and Raghu Saranathan sang nearly 30 songs ranging the entire gamut from  Babuji Dheere Chalna to the famous Chain Se Hamko Kabhi which was to become the Asha-OP Swan song. Sudha and Raghu excelled in almost every song.  Siraj Khan served as a guide for each one of the songs giving us great back ground information that gave the glimpse of Nayyar the man and Nayyar the composer.

“ Many of us remember the 50s. OP and the B/W era, with a night club cabaret scene with haunting and sensuous Geeta Dutt numbers. Now 1958 and the string of movies continue, but a change in the dynamics was in motion. Geeta Dutt and Shamshad Begum who until now lent their voices heartily to OP were being replaced by Asha Bhosle. OP also taps a new brilliant poet Qamar Jalalabadi, – unnoticed upto now - who will remain with OP right to the end of his composing life - including his last film Zidd released in 1994. Madhubala’s Howrah Bridge has 8 songs, of which Geeta gets a chance to sing just one. But just that one opportunity was enough for Geeta to turn the tables on the other 7 most of which were on the charts as well. However, by now, Geeta was an alcoholic, following her troubled marriage, and was not easily available. Her last song for OP was a duet with Rafi – Tum jo huay mere hamsafar from 12 “o” Clock released late 1958. Sudha will sing one each of Asha and Geeta Dutt from Howrah Bridge. This presentation reflects not only the versatility of the two singers, but also Sudha’s own skill in projecting these two voices in her own style. It is time for Sudha’s own imtehaan “said Khan as he introduced the relevant pieces. Sudha  passed the “Imtehaan” with flying colors.

Raghu’s presentation of the Rafi numbers Jawaniyan He Mast Mast and others were flawless. Salman Dar added drama to the evening by coming dressed in the Nayyar style black coat and hat. It was his sixtieth birthday and he had a mast rendition of many Nayyar numbers like Pukarta Chala Hoon mein.

Siraj stressed that  OPN would never be compromise on lyrics quality. “ZARA CHERR DO AISA NAGHMA KOYEE, KE SARI FIZA GUNGUNANE LAGE
And isn’t this something we have been doing this evening?” said Siraj.

Siraj Khan touched upon the Asha-OP romance in his introductions.” Several B/W films flashed around in 1959 and 1960 but many are remembered today only because of their songs. 1961 was the only year when there was not a single OP Nayyar release. He had remarked once “ Muhabbat mein sara jahan lut gaya tha” Who had the time to compose anything! “ Siraj also talked about the Asha-Nayyar break up “We now come to a song on which there are already 10 pages alone dedicated to it in my book. Chein se hamko kabhee becomes an OP classic even before it is finally recorded and released. This was to become the Asha-OP swan song. But a lot is happening around it. Asha and OP have a rift and they split in August 1972 never to stand under the same roof again. This gem of a song from Pran Jaye Par Vachan na Jaye is beautifully picturized on Rekha but Asha and Lata use their clout behind-the scene to have it dropped from the film altogether. Yet the song bags the 1973 Filmfare award for the best singer for Asha. Asha decides not to attend the awards ceremony. OP accepts the award graciously but on the way home tosses it out from his car. OPN is heart-broken and his music was never the same again”.

The evening ended with all singing the first mega Nayyar hit “Preetam Aan Milo” holding candles. A special touch was added to the evening when the famous Pakistani composer Suhail Rana who looks up to Nayyar as a mentor called in to address the audience.

This note from Shaheen Pirzada presents a concise view of the evening

“Siraj sahab, ASA. I am sending this congratulatory message for the reason that you deserve more than mere verbal thanks for the event you organized. It was a very enjoyable evening and the entire credit goes to you. The narration of history through the decades was interesting, original and brief and very well delivered. Sudha ji and Raghu ji did a commendable job for the occasion. They may not be very wellknown singers but they performed remarkably, the effort they had put was visible. There was not a single incorrect word or pronunciation throughout. It is amazing how they remembered such old songs and sang them perfectly. (If you recall even late Talat Mahmood sahab's son could not keep up with the requests of the audience as he did not know all the lyrics of his Dad's time). Salman Dar's limited participation was most appropriate and enhanced the grace and fun of the occasion. Above all the hospitality of the food and drinks that were served is a unique tradition attributed to your respected family. Thanks to you, your wife and all those including Jawed who made this a memorable evening for the life. Truly yaadgaar”

Yaadgaar indeed!

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