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Article Hindi

Remembering Manoharlal Sonik on his 25th death anniversary

The arranger-turned-composer, along with his nephew Omi, gave hit music in films like Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya (1966) and Sawan Bhadon (1970).

Master Sonik with BR Chopra at the Binaca Geetmala Silver Jubilee (Courtesy: Seema Sonik Alimchand)

Sonal Pandya

Master Sonik, as Manoharlal Sonik was known in the industry, came to Mumbai (then Bombay) 70 years ago in 1948. Sonik lost his eyesight as a young child in an accident and had learnt Braille at a boarding school. The young man was always drawn to music, and studied Indian classical music from Pandit Amarnath, the elder brother of composer duo Husnlal-Bhagatram.

Dad’s fingers were always tapping a beat: Author Seema Sonik Alimchand

They encouraged him to try his luck in Mumbai. After many days of struggle, Master Sonik found work initially as a singer. He used the name Sonak as a singer. Thereafter, he found work as an assistant, and later arranger, to music composers like SD Burman, Hemant Kumar and Madan Mohan.

Master Sonik with Mohammed Rafi and director Manmohan Desai
at the music recording of Bhai Ho To Aisa (1972).
Courtesy: Seema Sonik Alimchand

In Nasir Husain’s Dil Deke Dekho (1959), he was credited with the background score for the film as ‘Sonik The Blind Musician’. The songs were composed by Usha Khanna; he was her assistant on the film too.

Sonik’s daughter, author Seema Sonik Alimchand shared that singer Lata Mangeshkar had said of her father’s work ethic, “Masterji music seekhe hue the. Woh music jaante the. [Masterji had learnt music, he knew music.] He and Pyaareji [Pyarelal Sharma] were the best arrangers. Aise kitne gaane hai Madanji ke jo Masterji ne banaaye. [There are so many songs of Madan Mohan that Masterji arranged.]

Singer Bhupinder Singh had also shared his experience of seeing ‘Masterji’ work with Madan Mohan, “He used to explain his thinking and imagination of the song to Master Sonik. Masterji would then design the arrangement, matching it with Madanji's visualization.”

Furthermore, Pyarelal had told Sonik Alimchand that when they were recording the song 'Main Ye Sochkar Uske Dar Se Uthaa Thaa' from Chetan Anand’s Haqeeqat (1964) with Madan Mohan, “Madanji called out, ‘Sonik violin pieces banao. Aur Masterji ne 30 minutes mai brilliant violin pieces compose kiye [Madan Mohan asked Sonik to compose the violin pieces. And he did so in 30 minutes].” Before, he became a popular music composer with Laxmikant, Pyarelal played the violin in the orchestras of other music composers at the time.

Master Sonik began composing with Omi as a pair with Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya (1966) starring Dharmendra, Nutan and Rehman. Their first outing had 10 songs which became hits, from the title track to the song ‘Kaliyon Ne Ghunghat Khole’.

They continued giving music on films like Mahua (1969), Sawan Bhadon (1970) and Woh Main Nahin (1974). However, during the 1980s, the films they composed for didn’t connect with audiences like their earlier work.

Manoharlal Sonik died on 9 July 1993 and his last film as a music composer, Hind Ki Beti (1996) released three years after his death.