Article Hindi

5 most memorable Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan compositions in Hindi films

On his 20th death anniversary today (16 August), here’s a look at the singer-music director’s best work on the big screen.

Suparna Thombare

Pakistani qawwali and devotional singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s distinct voice commanded the attention of the listener, and he sung several songs in Hindi films that have his trademark style. But he was also a good composer. 

Khan composed for a few Hindi films in the 1990s — some were major hits, others extremely moving. But, what could have been a flourishing filmography as music director in films, was cut short by his untimely death due to a heart attack on 16 August 1997.

Here are our 5 best picks.

1) 'Choti Si Umar' – Bandit Queen (1994)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Roger White collaborated to compose some lovely songs for Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen. This was the first time that Khan stepped in as music director for an Indian film. One of the most haunting melodies of the soundtrack is ‘Choti Si Umar’, which talks about bidding goodbye to your daughter at a very young age and depicts child marriage of Phoolan Devi in a small village in Uttar Pradesh. It is a heart-breaking song as the little girl feels the pain of being separated from her mother.

2) 'Meri Saason Mein' – Aur Pyar Ho Gaya (1997)

This composition was very different from what we had heard from the composer earlier – a breezy romantic song. Khan though gave it a Hindustani classical touch by using the sitar and tabla. Sung by Udit Narayan, this song introduces Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (who was making her Hindi film debut with the film) to her love interest in the film, Bobby Deol as he mysteriously sings for her.

3) 'Tere Bin Nahin Jeena Mar Jana' – Kachche Dhaage (1999)

This memorable song from the Manisha Koirala-Ajay Devgn starrer is a rejigged Hindi version of Khan’s independent qawwali, ‘Tere Bin Nahi Lagda Dil Mera Dholna’ (with Punjabi-Urdu lyrics). The lilting melody of love and longing is sung by Lata Mangeshkar, who brought out the pain of separation in the composition to life with her beautiful rendition. 

4) 'Ishq Ka Rutba' – Kartoos (1999)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan also lent his powerful voice to this song, which he adapted from his independent song from his Pakistani album. He peppered the contemporary romantic number by mouthing classical notes. While the film didn't work at the box offfice, this song was a hit at the time.

5) 'Pyar Nahin Karna' – Kacche Dhaage (1999)

Kachche Dhaage was full of beautiful compositions, but this upbeat love song definitely stands out for its beats and high energy. It was also full of Rajasthani flavour and was also shot in the state's deserts. It was sung by Alka Yagnik and Kumar Sanu.