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5 best songs of music composer Ghulam Haider — Death anniversary

On his 65th death anniversary, we revisit some of his well-known compositions from Khazanchi (1941) to Kaneez (1949).

Sonal Pandya

Born in Hyderabad, Sindh (now Pakistan), Ghulam Haider studied to become a dentist, but thankfully his love for music won over and he became one of the main music composers to emerge from Lahore. Today, he is known for giving breaks to Hindi film music’s biggest female names – Shamshad Begum, Noorjehan and Lata Mangeshkar.

Author Ashok Damodar Ranade wrote in Hindi Film Song: Music Beyond Boundaries that Haider is "rightly credited for having been the originator of the Lahore School of Hindi Film Music as distinct from the Calcutta and Pune schools." Fondly called Masterji by his peers and singers, the music composer introduced new and innovative tunes to Indian cinema and left a lasting impact with his contributions.

On his 65th death anniversary, we revisit some of his well-known compositions from Khazanchi (1941) to Kaneez (1949).

1. 'Sawan Ke Nazare Hain' — Khazanchi (1941)

Ghulam Haider's music was the real draw of Pancholi Production's Khazanchi (1941). By introducing Punjabi folk music into the album, the music composer caught the fancy of the audiences from Lahore to Bombay (now Mumbai).

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The songs were written by Walli Sahab and the main singer of Khazanchi was Shamshad Begum. Even now, songs like 'Sawan Ke Nazare Hain' have a real lightness and freshness to them, filled with natural sounds from the surrounding environment. The musical was Haider's biggest hit.

2. 'Tu Kaunsi Badli Mein Mere Chand Hai Aaja' — Khandaan (1942)

Haider followed up the success of Khazanchi with Shaukat Hussain Rizvi's Khandaan (1942) becoming one of the industry’s highly paid composers. Another musical hit from Lahore, the film was Noorjehan's first lead role with Pran and Ghulam Mohammed. This Noorjehan solo is most remembered today for the finesse the actress-singer displayed early on.

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3. 'Naina Bhar Aaye Neer' — Humayun (1945)

This historical on Emperor Humayun, directed by Mehboob Khan, was a large-scale production. Starring Ashok Kumar, Veena, Nargis and Chandramohan, the period film was bolstered by Haider’s polished music including this beautiful number, 'Naina Bhar Aaye Neer', rendered by Shamshad Begum.

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The musical orchestration and Shamshad Begum’s vocals are in perfect harmony, echoing the desperation of Veena’s Rajkumari at her situation.  

4. ‘Watan Ki Raah Mein Watan Ke Naujawan Shaheed Ho’ — Shaheed (1948)

This patriotic drama on India’s fight for Independence starred Dilip Kumar and Kamini Kaushal and was directed by Ramesh Saigal. Sung by Mohammed Rafi and Khan Mastana, the timeless classic ‘Watan Ki Raah Mein Watan Ke Naujawan Shaheed Ho’ written by Qamar Jalalabadi and composed by Haider is remembered even today, 70 years after its release.

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5. 'O Bhulne Wale Is Dil Se Teri Yaad' — Kaneez (1949)

This Muslim social, starring Munawar Sultana, Shyam, and Kuldip Kaur, was one of his last hit soundtracks, shared with composer Hansraj Behl. It featured his trademark compositions with Shamshad Begum and Surinder Kaur’s voices. Haider moved back to Lahore, now Pakistan, and died in 1953 of cancer.