Music historian Raju Bharatan's book on legendary music composer Naushad, the man behind timeless melodies like Duniya main aaye hain to jeena hi padega, is an encyclopedic journey into Bollywood's musicland for both novices and connoisseurs.
Naushadnama: The Life and Music of Naushad, published by Hay House India, is rich in information, mostly anecdotal, and leaves the reader awestruck about the ruthless politics of Bollywood and its agility at discarding performers and making way for new talent.
The book salutes Naushad -- The King Emperor of Song -- who survived and thrived, that too on top, for several decades in Bollywood, where change is perhaps the only constant.
Bharatan's long association with Naushad takes the reader into the hitherto unknown world of music and its highs and lows.
Naushad honed his skills on the sly in a musical instrument shop in Lucknow, away from the eyes of his conservative father who was dead against music. He subsequently moved to Mumbai and, after living on the pavement for months, gladly accepted his first assignment for Rs 50 a month in the 1940s!
He delivered hit after hit, sticking with his favourite lyricist Shakeel Badayuni and singers Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar from the 1940s to the 1970s "in an era when melody was queen because composer was king". His last offering came in 2005, a year before he passed away.
The details in the book do get a tad tedious at times, but the insights are worth a read. For instance, Naushad's "face fell" when Bharatan presented him with his book which had Lata Mangeshkar on the cover. "But why Lata Mangeshkar on the cover? Why, instead of the composer as the creator, his mere interpreter on the cover," he asked.