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I gave Asha Bhosle her first cabaret number: Khayyam

He's 80, feisty and uncompromising. Veteran music composer Khayyam hits the high notes in a talkathon with V Ananth.
Hindustan Times | By V Ananth, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JAN 10, 2008 07:21 PM IST

He's 80, feisty and uncompromising. Veteran music composer Khayyam hits the high notes in a talkathon:

What attracted you to compose the music for the TV serial Bikhri Aas Nikhri Preet for Doordarshan?
The serial Bikhri Aas Nikhri Preet is based on the literary classic Vyavdhan by the late Shanti Kumari Bajpai. She's the mother of the serial's producer Trinetra Bajpai, who gave me what I asked for.. she didn't argue even though serials have budget constraints.

Another reason is that Lekh Tandon is directing the serial. Earlier, I had composed for his serial Milan.

How would you rate today's film music?
It's a bubble on the verge of bursting. To promote music, producers pump in crores of rupees. No wonder the music is short-lived.. it is only remembered as long as it is promoted through television channels day and night.

There has been an overall decline in lyrics too. Aaj kal there is far too much gandagi, nangapan and ashleelta in lyrics. Today's music is nothing but semi-pornography.

Would you blame listeners for the decline?
Not at all. Even today, I'd say that the public continues to prefer melodious music. My songs from Phir Subah Hogi, Trishul, Noorie, Kabhi Kabhie and Umrao Jaan are still remembered because they have survived the test of time.

It's believed that you are very moody and arrogant and usually turn down offers.
Yes. I am moody but not arrogant. I do not accept an offer if I don't get a good subject. I don't want to fill my pockets with money like so many composers do.. I'd rather be honest to my art.

Why didn't you become a permanent fixture with Raj Kapoor after Phir Subah Hogi?
Raj Kapoor was so thrilled when he heard my compositions for Phir Subah Hogi. He invited my wife Jagjit Kaur and I to his cottage for dinner.

Before sitting at the table, Rajji excused himself to wash his hands. Jagjit pointed out to me that Jaikishen had turned pale watching Rajji get close to me.

Immediately, I walked out without informing Rajji and Krishnaji. Although, I needed work at that time I didn't want to deprive Jaikishen of his films. Shankar-Jaikishen were composing music for RK films then. Rajji was angry with me for walking out, he never asked me to compose music ever.

Weren't you upset when J P Dutta signed Anu Malik to do the music for his Umrao Jaan?
To tell you the truth, I wasn't upset at all. Anu Malik tried his best, he did do his mehnat. Though J P Dutta spent a lot of money, the film misfired.

But I was hurt when J P Dutta lied that he had not seen the original version of

Umrao Jaan

. How could he have decided to make his version of

Umrao Jaan

if he hadn't seen Muzaffar Ali's film in the first place?

How do you look back at the directors you worked for?

With total respect. When I set out to compose music for



, Kamal Amrohi gave me the entire screenplay as well as the details of the camera movement.

I'm sure you don't approve of remixes at all.

How can I? Remixes are like murder in broad daylight.

It's widely felt that you have been deprived of your just dues as a music director.

Absolutely. See, I gave Asha Bhosle her first-ever cabaret number for


.. I gave her the heroine's song too. But does anyone talk of that? Only O P Nayyar and R D Burman are given credit for making Asha sing cabaret numbers.That really hurts.

I wish it would be remembered that I was senior to both Nayyar


and RD Burman.

In 60 years of music making, why have you composed scores for only 57 films?

I am 80, I have given 60 years of my life to music. I haven't amassed wealth.. that can only rot in your safe. Jagjit and I have led a frugal life. I've never felt the need to prove my talent to any one.

Why did you vanish from the scene for nearly a decade?

If I wasn't composing for films, that doesn't mean that I had vanished. I was busy recording the great works of great lyricists. I composed over 200 songs.. and they sold very well too, proving that people still accept quality music.

After Goutam Ghose's


, besides the Doordarshan serial, are you doing any film scores?

I'm composing the score for

Main Phir Aaonga

directed by Krishnakant Pandya. I'm looking forward to the release Ajay Mehra's


1918-A Love Story

. I want to record music till my last breath. The day, I feel I'm doing a bad job, I'll retire.

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