To think that Omkar Prasad Nayyar, if living, would have been 82 today, his zest for life undiminished - Hoon abhee main jawaan ae dil.
What a vibrantly vocal role the blithe-spirited Geeta Roy played in O P's 1954 Aar Paar breakthrough, being the one to recommend this fresher composer to fiancé Guru Dutt.
Geeta's songs for O P number a sprightly 62 - 35 of them going solo. Peerless was Geeta Dutt Thandee hawaa kaalee ghataa - in articulating O P's studiedly torrid 1950s style. <b1>
So peerless Geeta remained until O P fell for the roly-poly Asha Bhosle. Fell so heavily that, from the 528 female-featuring numbers O P composed for films, Asha sang in a whopping 324.
Going solo in 167 of them Chain se hum ko kabhee. That explains Asha's figuring in 123 of O P's female-male duets one-up on Mohammed Rafi's 122. Rafi's total O P-movie songs number 202.
One evening, upon taking the Sharda Marine Drive buildinglift, I found O P's entrance-door ajar, even as I heard soothing sounds emerging from Nayyar's music-room adjoining. I just walked in to surprise O P on the harmonium.
"Play it again, O P!" I urged. "So you've caught me at last!" noted O P, running his wizard fingers across the harmonium.
"The on- raag today, Raju, is Kedar - after Shanker Jaikishan's super Junglee success with Ehsaan teraa hogaa. Only S-J I recognise as competition, so hear my Kedar-counter to that duo."
Thus, first-hand, I savoured what ultimately became Aanchal mein sajaa lenaa kaliyaan in Majrooh Sultanpuri's poetic custody "Such a mood-tune in Raag Kedar going on Joy Mukherji in Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon?"
I signalled my dismay "What do you mean - Joy Mukherji?" responded O P. "Joy's lucky for any composer, wait and watch my Kedar score on him."
Of course, with Rafi there to evoke those Aanchal mein O P notes, it had to sound something special even on Joy. How many memories, how many melodies, crowd the mind as I recall a cluster of O P tunes! I last rang O P to ask if it was Sunny Castelino on his drawing-room piano in Asha's Puchchon na humein on Mala Sinha in Mitti Mein Sona."
Even as O P confirmed it was Sunny Castelino on the piano, it rang a bell and there was Asha herself, as my wife Girija (Rajendran) and I beheld Saroj Mohini Nayyar opening the door to the Bhosle girl!
"Girija-Raju say it's an instant hit - Puchhon na humein!" O P remarked. Asha felt pleased as Punch to hear her O P had a hit on the anvil when the whole industry, barring her, had suddenly deserted Nayyar.
Asha-O P, will we hear such a combo again- Yeh duniyaa rahe na rahe. That's in Mitti Men Sona again - like a golden thread does Asha B run through O P's music, Pancham or no Pancham.