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Composer Lalit looks back at Nida Fazli’s 'Hoshwalon Ko Khabar Kya'

The music composer remembers collaborating with the legendary poet who passed away on this day (8 February) last year for the ghazal sung by Jagjit Singh in Sarfarosh (1999). Interestingly, it is also Singh's birth anniversary today.

Sonal Pandya

Eighteen years have passed since the ghazal ‘Hoshwalon Ko Khabar Kya’ from the Aamir Khan-starrer Sarfarosh (1999) struck a chord with listeners with its soulful lyrics interpreting the experience of falling in love.

Directed by first-time filmmaker John Mathew Matthan, Sarfarosh won the National award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment as well as Filmfare awards for Best Movie (Critics) and Best Screenplay.

The soundtrack composed by Jatin-Lalit featured the romantic numbers ‘Is Deewane Ladke Ko’ and ‘Jo Haal Dil Ka’ and the nationalistic ‘Zindagi Maut Na Ban Jaye’. But apart from the hard-hitting drama, along with the stellar performances by Khan, Naseeruddin Shah and Mukesh Rishi, what audiences remember most is the stirring ghazal written by Nida Fazli.

Composer Lalit Pandit spoke to Cinestaan.com about his experience of getting together with renowned ghazal singer Jagjit Singh and lyricist Fazli for ‘Hoshwalon Ko Khabar Kya’. Pandit himself was delighted to get the opportunity to compose a ghazal. “A ghazal is a different kind of challenge," he explained. "Everyone thinks, how will a film composer make a ghazal? But a film composer’s profession is creating compositions.”

Pandit recalled spending time at the Western Outdoor recording studio where Singh was also present for his recordings. He said, “[Singh] was content to listen [to my recordings]. I used to help mix his ghazals along with [song recording engineer] Daman Sood. After I finished my recording, he would ask me to wait for him.”

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It was at Singh's insistence that Lalit and brother and co-composer Jatin composed a song for him. “He kept telling me, 'Mere liye kuch bana' [compose something for me]. How could I do something? Most film heroes can’t sing in his voice. It wouldn’t suit them. Suddenly, a situation arose in the film Sarfarosh where Naseeruddin Shah played a ghazal singer. I wanted to do my best because it was a unique opportunity, the only chance where I could record something for Jagjitji. And because he loved me so much I wanted to do my best for him.”

Singh recommended Fazli’s name to the duo as he wrote ghazals well. And as Lalit clarified, the process of creating songs depends on whether the tune is composed first or the words are written first. But they knew with “a ghazal, the writing needs to be powerful”. The lyricist was the star here as the words had to convey everything.

When the composers, with director John, went to Fazli for the song, Pandit noticed that he had a poet’s air that one could sense straightaway. They explained the scenario in the film when the song would be needed and Fazli agreed to write the lyrics. Pandit said he took some time to write it, but when they heard it, they knew it was a classic.

‘Hoshwalon Ko Khabar Kya’ was also picturised well in the film with Khan's character, assistant commissioner of police Ajay Singh Rathod, attending Shah's character Gulfam Hassan’s concert. There, Rathod catches a glimpse of his former crush, Seema (Sonali Bendre), and reminisces about his college days when he had first met her.

“It became a challenge to make a tune for something so well-written. We made different versions and didn’t make the producer listen until both Jatin and I were okay with it," recalled Lalit Pandit. "Then we chanced upon a delicate tune, which would suit Jagjitji’s singing style and the character, and we felt this could become a ghazal which would last forever. We made a demo and made John Mathew and Aamir Khan listen to it. They felt it was a number which had a proper ebb and flow to it, and it was filled with romance. The ghazal’s beauty lies in its writing. The way Nida saheb has written it, he has become immortal through it. This ghazal will always be remembered amongst his best works.”

The song, Pandit felt, became a feather in Fazli's cap. Around this time, Fazli was accepting few assignments. He had to be persuaded to write lyrics, but since the Pandits were from a musical family, he probably knew they would give it their best. Pandit called working with both Singh and Fazli an honour.

Lalit Pandit got a lot of personal satisfaction with this song as many people from Shah to filmmaker Yash Chopra appreciated the music on it. “When knowledgeable people appreciate your work, your heart feels happiness and nothing can buy that sense of achievement," he said. "Nida saheb thought about what he was writing and he has written it in such a way that he gives it life.”

Watch the song video below: