In the 1950s and 1960s, music director Omkar Prasad Nayyar created some of the most memorable melodies. Often backed by quintessential rhythms, he had many huge radio hits.
While Nayyar’s birthday was on January 16, his 15th death anniversary is on January 28. Since he had so many hits, we just chose a random 10. Each song is special in its own way, though one can name so many others that can be described as equally magical. The list is chronological.
1 Babuji Dheere Chalna – Aar Paar (195400)
This featured a brilliant dance sequence by Shakila, with Geeta Dutt singing. Guru Dutt also appeared in the restaurant scene. Majrooh Sultanpuri’s words were, “Babuji dheere chalna, pyaar mein zara sambhalna, ho bade dhoke hain, bade dhoke hain is raah mein”. The film also had Shamshad Begum’s hit ‘Kabhi Aar Kabhi Paar’.
2 Jaane Kahan Mera – Mr & Mrs 55 (1955)
This song featured the beautiful Vinita Bhatt aka Yasmin, who appeared with Johnny Walker. It was a duet by Geeta Dutt and Mohammed Rafi, with a beautiful melody by Nayyar. Majrooh wrote, “Jaane kahaan mera jigar gaya ji, abhi abhi yahaan tha kidhar gaya ji, kisiki adaaon pe mar gaya ji, badi badi akhiyon se dar gaya ji”. The film also had Geeta Dutt’s ‘Thandi Hawa Kaali Ghata’, filmed on Madhubala.
3 Ae Dil Hai Mushkil – CID (1956)
Once again, the combination of Nayyar and Majrooh did wonders. The song, sung by Rafi and Geeta, came to symbolise the city of ‘Bambai’ with the lines, “Ae dil hai mushkil jeena yahaan, zara hatke, zara bachke, yeh hai Bambai meri jaan”. It was filmed on Johnny Walker and Kumkum, and was one of the many hits in the film.
4 Maang Ke Saath Tumhara – Naya Daur (1957)
Dilip Kumar and Vyjayantimala were filmed on a tonga ride, with Rafi and Asha Bhosle singing. The song had Nayyar’s trademark clip-clop rhythm. Sahir Ludhianvi wrote, “Maang ke saath tumhara, maine maang liya sansaar”. The film had many hit songs, including the marvellously choreographed ‘Ude Jab Jab Zulfein Teri’.
5 Tumsa Nahin Dekha – Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957)
Another ‘tonga’ song, this was filmed on Shammi Kapoor and Ameeta on the sets. The famous Nayyar rhythm style was at play, and Rafi’s superb singing was followed by a harmonica stretch at the end. Sahir wrote, “Yoon toh humne laakh haseen dekhe hain, tumsa nahin dekha”. This was one of the most romantic songs of its time.
6 Aaiye Meherban – Howrah Bridge (1958)
Madhubala looked gorgeous in this song picturised in a restaurant, with Ashok Kumar watching. One also saw Saroj Khan as one of the young dancers at the beginning of her career. Asha sang the song, and Nayyar’s music had a strong string section, with Qamar Jalalabadi writing the lyrics. The film also had the Geeta Dutt hit ‘Mera Naam Chin Chin Choo’.
7 Ek Pardesi Mera – Phagun (1958)
The song began with a snake dance and appropriate music. It was filmed on Madhubala and Bharat Bhushan in a group, with Rafi and Asha singing. Qamar Jalalabadi wrote the lines, “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”.
8 Main Pyar Ka Rahi Hoon – Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962)
Another romantic gem, this was sung by Rafi and Asha again. It was filmed on Joy Mukherjee and Sadhana. The amazing Raja Mehdi Ali Khan wrote the lyrics, beginning with, “Main pyaar ka raahi hoon, tere zulfon ke saaye mein, kuchh der thahar jaaoon; Tum ek musafir ho, kab chhod ke chal doge, yeh soch ke ghabraoon”. Rafi and Asha sang five duets in this film, including the wonderful ‘Aap Yoon Hi Agar’.
9 Deewana Hua Badal – Kashmir Ki Kali (1964)
Nayyar made remarkable use of sitar, sarangi and bansuri in this composition based on raag Malgunji. Rafi and Asha sang for Shammi and Sharmila Tagore. S.H. Bihari wrote the words, “Deewana hua badal, saawan ki ghata chaayee, yeh dekh ke dil jhooma, lee pyaar ne angdayi”. This was one of the music director’s biggest hits.
10 Jaaiye Aap Kahan Jaayenge – Mere Sanam (1965)
Asha sang this solo number in the composition based on raag Pilu. The song was filmed on Asha Parekh and Biswajit in a forest setting. Majrooh’s opening lines were, “Jaaiye aap kahan jaayenge, yeh nazar laut ke phir aayegi; Door tak aapke peeche peeche, meri awaaz chali jaayegi”.
It was a known fact that Nayyar never worked with Lata. However, he gave Asha some of her biggest hits, many of which were duets with Rafi. This was besides some great songs he composed for Geeta Dutt and Shamshad Begum.