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Madan Mohan over the years

On the music composer’s 41st death anniversary, we bring you some of his well-known and not-so-well-known hits.

Sonal Pandya

Music composer Madan Mohan passed away at 51 on 14 July 1975, leaving behind a rich musical legacy that began with Ankhen (1950). Madan Mohan started out with the dream of becoming an actor and played bit roles in Shaheed (1948) and Munimji (1955). But he swiftly shifted focus to music when he realised his acting career was going nowhere. The above playlist has the best of the musical legend’s compositions, from his early song with Talat Mahmood in Dekh Kabira Roya (1957) to the haunting melody by Lata Mangeshkar in Mera Saaya (1966).

We have also chosen a number from Haqeeqat (1964), ‘Hoke Majboor Mujhe Usne Bhulaya Hoga’, sung by Mohammed Rafi, Manna Dey, Talat Mahmood and Bhupinder Singh, all top playback singers. And despite being known to select Lata Mangeshkar on most of his soundtracks, he prefered Asha Bhosle to be the sole female singer on several soundtracks, including Neend Hamari Khwab Tumhare (1966).

Till the end, Madan Mohan was composing gems for films like Mausam (1975) and Laila Majnu (1976). On his official website maintained by his family, the poet and filmmaker Gulzar recalled an incident that has remained with him all these years. “The original refrain of this song 'Jee dhundhtaa hai phir wahee fursat ke raat din' was written by Ghalib. Yet Madanji used to sing 'Dil dhundhtaa hai phir wahee...' As the day of recording approached, I told Madanji. “You sing it as 'Dil dhundhtaa hai...', but the original song of Ghalib is 'Jee dhundhtaa hai'. I feel one should not tamper with the original work. He accepted what I said. On the day of the recording he brought along with him Ghalib’s Deewan (the authentic literary book of Ghalib’s work). He opened it and pointed out the refrain in question. It was 'Dil dhundhtaa hai phir wahee'. He stated: “I feel comfortable singing 'Dil dhundhtaa hai phir wahee'. So knowledgeable were the music directors of that era. How many music directors today go into such depths or have such good study of poetry?” How many indeed!