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Did you know? Khemchand Prakash composed Devdas songs, but wasn’t credited

Why was the late composer not credited for his work? 

Keyur Seta

The late composer Khemchand Prakash has to his credit some classic gems. The most famous of all is ‘Aayega Aanewala’ from Mahal (1949), the song that made Lata Mangeshkar an overnight sensation. Unfortunately, although the song is still remembered and considered a classic, hardly anyone remembers the name of the composer. 

In order to make sure that the late music director receives his due, the Khemchand Prakash Award for Music will be given out in the Lonavala International Film Festival of India (LIFFI), which is currently taking place in the hill station, Lonavala. The award was by inaugurated by the veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal. 

Documentary filmmaker Pavan Jha explained in detail about Prakash’s contribution to Hindi film music. During the course of the interaction, he revealed something that took everyone by surprise. During the making of his documentary on the late composer, he came across the fact that Khemchand Prakash had composed a couple of songs for the 1935 classic, Devdas but wasn’t credited. 

Jha found the information from late composer Daan Singh. Said Jha, “He was another forgotten composer who composed songs only for 4-5 films. He was a student of Khemchand Prakash. As he has worked with Khemchandji, I got such information from him.”

Narrating the whole story, Jha said, “When Khemchandji was 14 or 15, he joined the royal court of Bikaner, where his father was a Kathak dancer and musician. From there he moved to Nepal and then Kolkata. This was the place from where his filmi journey commenced. He assisted composer Timir Baran for Devdas (1935). Daan Singhji informed that the two main songs of the film weren’t Baran’s compositions but Khemchandji’s ‘Balam Aan Baso Mere Mann Mein’ and ‘Dukh Ke Din Ab Bitat Nahin.’ But as he was an assistant composer, the credit went to Baran.”

Jha revealed another interesting piece of information on the late composer, “In Pardesi (1941), there is a song, ‘Pehle Jo Mohabbat Ka Ikrar Kiya Hota,’ which is Khemchandji’s composition. I have heard that this is the song that started the trend of throwing coins on the screen inside theatres. The song became such a hit that people saw the film more than once just for the song.” 

Jha expressed his happiness to LIFFI for naming the award for Best Music in Prakash’s name.