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Jaidev, the first music director to bag a National award hat-trick

The reserved music composer, who died 30 years ago today (6 January), was the first to win the National award three times.

Sonal Pandya

Music composer Jaidev, who assisted Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and SD Burman early in his career, was one of Lata Mangeshkar’s favourite composers. He remains an unsung talent even now, 30 years after his death. Jaidev’s compositions for Dev Anand’s Hum Dono (1961) contained six distinct tunes, each a timeless classic, from ‘Abhi Na Jao Chhodkar’ to ‘Allah Tero Naam’ to ‘Main Zindagi Ka Saath’.

His elaborate compositions for smaller films found a smaller audience and yet Jaidev continued to give of his best in every film he worked on. Not many may recall that he is a three-time National award-winner for his compositions for Reshma Aur Shera (1971), Gaman (1978) and Ankahee (1984).

Jaidev was only the third Hindi film music director to get the honour after Kalyanji-Anandji and Madan Mohan, after the awards were introduced in 1967. But he became the first to win the award three times; only Southern maestros Ilayaraja and AR Rahman have surpassed him with five and four awards, respectively.

Sunil Dutt’s Reshma Aur Shera (1971) was internationally acclaimed but a box-office disaster at home. It was India’s selection for the best foreign-language film at the 44th Academy Awards. The title characters (Shera and Reshma) are from warring tribes and fall in love with each other. The film was a passion project for Dutt and he left no stone unturned to make sure it clicked.

However, the production was a troubled one. Documentary filmmaker S Sukhdev was supposed to helm the project, but when the previews were not up to the mark, Sunil Dutt took over. His cast of Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna, Rakhee and Amrish Puri were all newcomers to the industry. But over the years, Jaidev’s music has endured with songs like Lata Mangeshkar’s ‘Tu Chanda Main Chandani’ and Asha Bhosle’s ‘Jabse Lagan Lagaayi Re’. It led to Jaidev's first National award.

Seven years later, on Gaman (1978), Jaidev used new and different singers like Hariharan, Suresh Wadkar and Chhaya Ganguli for Muzaffar Ali’s first film. The young singer Ganguli’s rendition of ‘Aapki Yaad Aati Rahi’ also won her a National award. However, despite his second award-winning score, director Ali didn’t repeat the composer on his next feature film, Umrao Jaan (1981), choosing Khayyam instead.

Jaidev won his final National award for Amol Palekar’s Ankahee (1984). The film revolved around Palekar’s character Nandu who has to make some difficult decisions in his life based on his astrologer-father’s predictions. The soundtrack was made up of semi-classical and devotional songs sung by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Asha Bhosle. The classical vocalist Joshi won the National award for Best Male Playback Singer for the song ‘Thumak Thumak Pag Dumak Kunj Madhu’.

Jaidev’s last film score was Trikon Ka Chautha Kon (1986) and many of his best compositions are lost in unfinished films and albums. He passed away aged 68 at Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai on 6 January 1987. As a music composer, he never properly received his due and was passed over many times for others, but his film scores linger on in the memories of film buffs around the world.