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Remembering music composer Ghulam Haider 


On his 63rd death anniversary, a look back at Ghulam Haider who gave rise to singers Lata Mangeshkar, Noorjehan and Shamshad Begum.

Sonal Pandya

A former dentist, Ghulam Haider turned music composer in Hindi films with Thief of Iraque (1934). Before that, he worked with the Jenophone Recording Company as chief composer in Lahore. Ghulam Haider, nicknamed Masterji, is noted for bringing across Punjabi folk beats to the world of films. But more importantly, he had a huge role in introducing three big names to the world of playback singing, Shamshad Begum, Noorjehan and Lata Mangeshkar.

Haider gave Shamshad Begum a hit song in 'Ek kali naazon se pali' in her singing debut for the film Khazanchi (1941), which featured Punjabi dholak beats on its soundtrack. Shamshad Begum went on to become the leading playback singers of the 1940s. He was also a mentor to fellow Pakistani, Noorjehan and composed the music in her first Hindi hit, Khandan (1942) in which she also acted with Pran.

Haider was also instrumental in believing in and encouraging the potential of young singer named Lata Mangeshkar who was turned down as playback singer by Filmistan boss, S Mukherjee. He gave Lata several songs including a duet with Mukesh in Bombay Talkies' Majboor (1948).

His musical career lasted only 15 years; after many of his musicians left for Pakistan, he too returned to Lahore in 1948. He passed away on 9 November 1953 after a bout with cancer.