Om Prakash Bhandari, better known as Qamar Jalalabadi, wrote some brilliant songs during the Golden Era of Hindi film music. Yet, he remains largely underrated as a lyricist.
Each of the 10 songs chosen below is a gem. Jalalabadi’s 106th birth anniversary is on March 9, and this chronological list celebrates his genius.
1 O Door Jaanewale – Pyar Ki Jeet (1948)
This was one of singer-actress Suraiya’s biggest hits in the late 1940s. It was composed by Husnlal-Bhagatram and had the theme of longing. Jalalabadi wrote, “O door jaane waale, vaada na bhool jaana, raatein hui andheri, tum chaand banke aana”.
2 Woh Paas Rahe Ya Door – Badi Behen (1949)
The combination of Suraiya, Husnlal-Bhagatram and Jalalabadi again worked wonders in this song filmed on Suraiya and Rehman. The words were, “Woh paas rahe ya door rahe, nazron mein samaaye rehte hain, itna toh bata do koi hamein, kya pyaar isiko kehte hain”.
3 Raahi Matwale – Waris (1954)
Filmed on and sung by Talat Mahmood and Suraiya, this evergreen composition by Anil Biswas was based on a Rabindra Sangeet tune. The lyrics were, “Raahi matwale, tu chhed ik baar, mann ka sitar, jaane kab chori chori aayi hai bahaar”. It was shot on a train journey.
4 Mohabbat Zinda Rehti Hai – Changez Khan (1957)
Hansraj Behl composed this sad song sung by Mohammed Rafi. Premnath played Changez Khan and the heroine was Bina Rai. Jalalabadi’s lyrics were, “Mohabbat zinda rehti hai, mohabbat mar nahin sakti: Aji insaan kya yeh toh khuda se dar nahin sakti”.
5 Aaiye Meherbaan – Howrah Bridge (1958)
One of the most stunning songs picturised on Madhubala, it was a big hit for Asha Bhosle. O.P. Nayyar was the music director, and the main lines were, “Aaiye meherbaan, baithiye jaane–jaan, shauq se leejiye ji, ishq ki imtihaan”. Ashok Kumar and K.N. Singh also appeared on screen.
6 Ek Pardesi Mera Dil Le Gaya – Phagun (1958)
O.P. Nayyar began with a snake charmer’s tune in this well-choreographed song featuring Bharat Bhushan and Madhubala. Rafi and Asha were in duet. The song went, “Ek pardesi mera dil le gaya, jaate jaate meetha meetha gham de gaya; Kaun pardesi tera dil le gaya, moti moti akhiyon mein aansoon de gaya”.
7 Chhalia Mera Naam – Chhalia (1960)
Jalalabadi wrote the unforgettable limes, “Chhalia mera naam, chhalia mera naam, Hindu Muslim Sikh Isaai sabko mera salaam”. Filmed on Raj Kapoor, it was composed by Kalyanji-Anandji and sung by Mukesh. Even today, it is sung regularly at shows held in memory of the singer.
8 Tu Hai Mera Prem Devta – Kalpana (1960)
Manna Dey and Rafi got together on this gem filmed on a classical dance by Padmini and Ragini. O.P. Nayyar gave the music based on raag Lalit. The lyrics were, “Tu hai mera prem devta, in charanon ki daasi hoon main, man ki pyaas bujhaane aaye, antargat tak pyaasi hoon main”.
9 Yeh Kaisi Ajab Dastaan – Rustom Sohrab (1963)
It was a classic in every sense, with Jalalabadi writing, “Yeh kaisi ajab dastaan ho gayee hai, chupaate chupaate bayaan ho gayee hai”. Sajjad Hussain provided the music. It was Suraiya’s last film as actress and singer, and Prithviraj Kapoor was the main lead.
10 Donon Ne Kiya Tha Pyaar Magar – Mahua (1969)
A sad song sung by Rafi, it was filmed on Shiv Kumar and Anjana Mumtaz. Music was by Sonik-Omi. Jalalabadi touched a chord with the words, “Donon ne kiya tha pyaar magar, mujhe yaad raha tu bhool gayee; Maine tere liye re jag chhoda, tu mujhko chhod chali”.
Despite his skills and versatility, Jalalabadi did not get much work with the mainline music directors, barring O.P. Nayyar. But these songs represent his wonderful style of writing.