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Madan Mohan's romantic melodies — Birthday special

Madan Mohan ruled Hindi film music with his wonderfully nuanced melodies. On the composer's 93rd birth anniversary (25 June), we look at 10 songs that define his romantic oeuvre.

Shriram Iyengar

Born in modern-day Iraq in a business family from the Punjab, Madan Mohan served in the Indian army for a while before leaving to pursue his passion — music. It was at All India Radio that he composed music for the likes of Talat Mahmood, Ustad Faiyaz Khan, Begum Akhtar and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. Soon, he was assisting composers Ghulam Haider and SD Burman.

Since making his debut as a music composer in 1950, Madan Mohan emerged as one of the pillars of melodious music in Hindi cinema. The composer delivered several lasting compositions rooted in classical themes. His last nomination for Filmfare award for Best Music Director arrived in 2004, almost 30 years after his death.

On his 93rd birth anniversary today (25 June), we revisit 10 songs that define the composer's romantic range.

1. 'Kaun Aaya Mere Mann Ke Dwaare' — Dekh Kabira Roya (1957)

With an education rooted in the Hindustani classical tradition, the composer often used his natural ear for the genre to create astounding melodies. In the voice of Manna Dey, this beautiful composition in Raga Rageshwari is a humorous ode to the romance of love at first sight.

2. 'Aap Ki Nazron Ne Samjha' — Anpadh (1962)

Lata Mangeshkar remained a favourite with the composer. In a 2013 interview, the singer called Madan Mohan 'a true artist's artiste'. For this Mala Sinha-Balraj Sahni-starrer, the composer created an unforgettable romantic track in 'Aap Ki Nazron Ne Samjha'. Sung by Lata Mangeshkar, again, it is truly an evergreen melody.

3. 'Lag Jaa Gale' — Woh Kaun Thi? (1964)

In 1964, Madan Mohan scored the magical music for Raj Khosla's eerie Woh Kaun Thi? The soundtrack was filled with some ethereal melodies, including this one sung by Lata Mangeshkar. However, he lost out at the Filmfare awards to composer Roshan.

4. 'Nainon Mein Badra Chhaaye' — Mera Saaya (1966)

While the title track 'Tu Jahan Jahan Chalega' expresses the sense of romantic fidelity better, this composition stands out for its mellifluous blend of the romantic and classical traditions. Lata Mangeshkar's voice is supported by the great Ustad Raees Khan on the sitar, creating the perfect atmosphere for love.

5. 'Ek Haseen Shaam Ko Dil Mera Kho Gaya' — Dulhan Ek Raat Ki (1967)

Despite Dharmendra and Nutan in the lead, the film never made a mark at the counters. However, 'Ek Haseen Shaam Ko Dil Mera Kho Gaya', sung by Mohammed Rafi, is a lilting love song that first begins as a flirtatious tease and evolves into passion and, later, exhilaration.

6. 'Teri Aankhon Ke Siva' — Chirag (1969)

The first line of the song was borrowed by poet Majrooh Sultanpuri from the great Pakistani poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz. While the lyrics are a soaring tribute to love, the composition adds another dimension with its magical touch.

Special: 10 beautiful love ballads by Majrooh

7. 'Baiyan Na Dharo' — Dastak (1970)

Cinephiles remember Dastak as an underrated film. It won Rajinder Singh Bedi his first National award. But it was Madan Mohan's classical tunes against the backdrop of the dark, oppressive theme of the film that makes it irresistible. This particular track is memorable, as it sets the tone for the rest of the film, and its undulations.

8. 'Dil Dhoondta Hai' — Mausam (1975)

Gulzar's 1975 Mausam saw composer Madan Mohan get nominated for the Best Music Director award at the Filmfares again, posthumously. However, he lost out to Khayyam (Kabhie Kabhi). Despite the loss, the film is remembered for the melancholic, subtle melodies that remain hummable to this day.

9. 'Husn Haazir Hai' — Laila Majnu (1976)

HS Rawail's Laila Majnu has a cult classic vibe to it, and remains popular with television audiences. For the epic romance, Madan Mohan again created some magical tracks, the most popular of which was this touching declaration of love between the immortal Laila and Majnu.

10. 'Do Pal Ruka' — Veer-Zaara (2004)

In 2004, Yash Chopra decided to turn to his old friend and use his compositions for his film, Veer-Zaara. While many were sceptical about old compositions working in a modern film, the success of the film's music proved the genius of Madan Mohan yet again.