The immortal hits of music composer Khayyam

The stately music maestro, who turns 90 today (18 February), has written music for select films in his career. chooses his superlative hits from the golden period of the 1970s and 1980s.

Sonal Pandya

The music of Khayyam, born Mohammed Zayur Hashmi, is always remembered as effortless. It is a crying shame that he wasn’t given enough opportunities to showcase his compositions. But in the films that he composed music for, he created albums that can be listened to again and again. Here are some of his everlasting masterpieces.

1. 'Kabhi Kabhie Mere Dil Mein' – Kabhi Kabhie (1976)

Director Yash Chopra chose Khayyam, with whom he was working for the first time, to bring to life Sahir Ludhianvi’s exquisite lyrics in Kabhi Kabhie (1976). One of his lead characters, Amit Malhotra, played by Amitabh Bachchan, was a poet and Khayyam outdid himself in their first collaboration. Mukesh became Amitabh’s voice in the film, singing two hits, ‘Kabhi Kabhie Mere Dil Mein’ and ‘Main Pal Do Pal Ka Shayar Hoon’. All three of them, Khayyam, Ludhianvi and Mukesh, won kudos for their work, and Filmfare awards. Khayyam was lauded for his compositions on the whole album and won Best Music Director. Over the years, ‘Kabhi Kabhie Mere Dil Mein’ has remained a classic for those who grew up in the 1970s.

2. 'Mohabbat Bade Kam Ki Cheez Hai' – Trishul (1978)

The team from Kabhi Kabhie reunited for Trimurti Films’ Trishul with a star cast of Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar, Waheeda Rehman, Shashi Kapoor, Hema Malini and Rakhee. The soundtrack featured memorable songs like duets ‘Janeman Tum Kamal Karte Ho’ and the youthful ‘Gapoochi Gam Gam’. However, one song stands out from the album. ‘Mohabbat Bade Kam Ki Cheez Hai’ brought together Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar and KJ Yesudas. The number, written by Sahir Ludhianvi, subtly showed the differences between the half-brothers, Vijay and Shekhar, played by Bachchan and Kapoor respectively.

3. 'Hazaar Rahen Mud Ke Dekhin' – Thodisi Bewafaii (1980)

Esmayeel Shroff’s Thodisi Bewafaii starred Rajesh Khanna and Shabana Azmi as a married couple who face many misunderstandings in their relationship and decide to separate. Today, many may not be able to recall the film’s plot but the film’s music, beautifully composed by Khayyam, is easily recalled with just a few bars of music. With Gulzar as lyricist, songs like ‘Ankhon Mein Humne Aapke Sapne’ and ‘Aaj Bichhde Hain’ became more emotional. ‘Hazaar Rahen Mud Ke Dekhin’ sung by Kishore Kumar in a sombre pitch brought him and Gulzar the Filmfare trophies for Best Male Playback Singer and Best Lyricist.

4. 'Dil Cheez Kya Hai' – Umrao Jaan (1981)

One can’t separate Khayyam’s music from Muzaffar Ali’s debut feature Umrao Jaan, the story of a Lucknow courtesan, famously essayed on screen by Rekha. Just as Rekha brought the character alive with her performance, Khayyam’s compositions brought Umrao Jaan her vitality. Rekha, Khayyam and singer Asha Bhosle all won National awards for their work on the film. Khayyam’s wife too sang a solo on the album but ‘Dil Cheez Kya Hai’ by Bhosle, with lyrics by Shahryar, falls firmly in the legendary category.

5. 'Dikhayee Diye Yun' – Bazaar (1982)

Penned by the 18th century Urdu poet Mir Taqi Mir, ‘Dikhayee Diye Yun’ was set in the film by director Sagar Sarhadi (who, incidentally, wrote Kabhi Kabhie) at an informal social gathering where most of the main cast was assembled. The Mir ghazal was turned into a simple song by Khayyam. Sung unforgettably by Lata Mangeshkar and picturised on Supriya Pathak, the number highlighted the different undercurrents travelling between the characters of Farooq Shaikh, Pathak, Naseeruddin Shah and Smita Patil.