hindi film music

Between music composer Jaidev and the big league stood that thing called fate

Success proved elusive for the brilliant but underrated composer, whose death anniversary was on January 6.

On January 26, 1952, Hanwant Singh, the 28-year-old Maharaja of the erstwhile princely state of Jodhpur, and his wife, the former actress Zubeida (now christened Vidya Rani), got into his Beechcraft Bonanza, a light six-seater plane, for a celebratory ride. The Maharaja, an avid flyer, had been campaigning assiduously for weeks ahead of independent India’s first democratic election, and he believed he was headed for a landslide win. However, the joyride turned into a tragedy as the plane crashed, killing its occupants.

At the time of his death, the Maharaja had apparently been working on plans to open a college of the arts in Jodhpur. Working closely with the Maharaja on this project was Ali Akbar Khan, the sarod maestro who had been appointed court musician a few years before independence. With the sudden death of his benefactor, Khan moved to Bombay. Accompanying him was one of his disciples, a young man named Jaidev Verma.

Music composer Jaidev.
Music composer Jaidev.

This was not the first time that Jaidev was coming to Bombay. Born in East Africa, where his father worked as an official in the railways, Jaidev moved with his family to Ludhiana in 1927. Here, he began learning vocal music. The story goes that after watching Ali Baba at a theatre in Lahore in 1932 Jaidev fell in love with the movies. A few years later, he somehow managed to make his way to Bombay where he landed up a small part in JBH Wadia’s mythological drama Vaman Avatar (1934). After working in a handful of films, including a couple of the Fearless Nadia swashbucklers, Jaidev headed back to Ludhiana, where he continued his musical training and also took up a job as a music teacher in a school.

The death of Jaidev’s father seems to have been a catalyst in his leaving Ludhiana and moving to Almora to try and learn under the great Allauddin Khan, who was then teaching at Uday Shankar’s India Cultural Centre. The centre was dedicated to teaching dance but Jaidev seems to have stayed on. In 1944, with the centre about to close down, Jaidev got a letter of introduction addressed to Allauddin Khan’s son, Ali Akbar Khan. The sarodist, then working with All India Radio, Lucknow, took the young man under his wing.

The opening credits of Aandhiyaan (1952).
The opening credits of Aandhiyaan (1952).

In Bombay, Ali Akbar Khan was approached by Chetan Anand to compose for a couple of films produced under the family banner Navketan. Aandhiyan (1952) and Humsafar (1953) starred Dev Anand, but both films failed to click at the box office. Ali Akbar Khan decided to move on, but Jaidev stayed back in Bombay and began assisting SD Burman.

Jaidev’s first break as a music director also came with Chetan Anand. Joru Ka Bhai (1955), which starred Balraj Sahni, too didn’t fare well at the box office, but gave ample opportunity to the young music director to showcase his skills. The stand out song was the delectable Subah Ka Intezaar.

Subah Ka Intezar from Joru Ka Ghulam, 1956.

After Joru Ka Bhai came Samundari Daku (1956) and Chetan Anand’s Anjali (1957). Both films had some fine songs, but it was in 1961 with Hum Dono that Jaidev really caught everyone’s attention. The stupendous success of Hum Dono was followed up with the classy Mujhe Jeene Do (1963), the tragic love story of a dacoit and a courtesan.

Raat Bhi Hai from Mujhe Jeene Do (1963).

With Hum Dono and Mujhe Jeene Do, Jaidev seemed to have entered the big league. But things didn’t quite pan out that way. Hum Dono turned out to be the last film Jaidev did with Navketan as the production house opted for SD Burman for their next film Guide.

Meanwhile, during the making of Mujhe Jeene Do, Jaidev had a falling out with Sahir Ludhianvi. The formidable poet was often heard asking, “What good is the music director without the lyricist?” When Jaidev came to know about this, he was not amused. In his biography of Sahir, Akshay Manwani quotes the lyricist Naqsh Lyallpuri:

To make his point, Jaidev even recommended doing a film with Sahir where he would compose three songs to Sahir’s words and that Sahir would write the lyrics to three of his compositions…[actor-producer of Mujhe Jeene Do] Sunil Dutt even tried to patch things between the two. A few months went by in this process. But Jaidev recorded a couple of folk songs for the film. When Sahir got to know this, all hopes of a patch-up between the two were ruined.

— Sahir Ludhianvi: The People’s Poet, Akshay Manwani (HarperCollins India).

Jaidev would have been hurt by Sahir’s comments. Not least because his style was to use minimal instrumentation, thereby allowing the poetry to be foregrounded. He was a poet’s composer. The falling out with Sahir was indeed unfortunate, but Jaidev went on to work with many other accomplished lyricists and poets, even outside of films. Most loved among his many non-film albums would be the musical rendering of Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s legendary poem Madhushala by the singer Manna Dey.


In 1971, Jaidev was reunited with Sunil Dutt for the latter’s film Reshma Aur Shera. The haunting songs of the film, not least Lata Mangeshkar’s Tu Chanda Main Chandni, fetched Jaidev a National Award. In the same year, he composed for another film that was set in Rajasthan. KA Abbbas’s Do Boond Paani, starring Simi Garewal was a drama on the theme of water scarcity. It is unfortunate that a song like Jaa Ri Pawaniya remains largely unknown.

Jaa Ri Pawaniya from Do Boond Paani (1971).

KA Abbas, according to Jaidev, was the “worst paymaster, who had no knowledge of music but who needlessly interfered in the composing work”. But the composer did do another film with him. One of the high points of Faslah (1974) is the quirky Zindagi Cigarette Ka Dhuaan.

Zindagi Cigarette Ka Dhuaan from Faslah (1974).

Faslah was another in a series of low-budget films that came Jaidev’s way after Reshma aur Shera. Again, none of the films fared well at the box office and have been forgotten. So much so that no prints of Prem Parbat (1973) – which has two great Lata Mangeshkar songs – are thought to have survived.

The period between 1977 and ’79 saw Jaidev doing some of his best work, with films such as Alaap (1977), Gharaonda (1977) and Tumhare Liye (1978). Bhimsain, who directed Gharaonda, later made Dooriyaan (1979). The film, starring Uttam Kumar and Sharmila Tagore, had two languid and memorable Anuradha Paudwal-Bhupinder Singh duets.

Zindagi Mein Jab Tumhare Gham Nahin The from Dooriyan (1979).

Also in this period came Muzaffar Ali’s Gaman (1978), which fetched the music director his second National Award. The story of a migrant taxi driver in Bombay, the songs Seene Mein Jalan and Ajeeb Saneha perfectly capture the theme of alienation in the big city. But the pièce de résistance is undoubtedly Aapki Yaad Aati Rahi, brilliantly rendered by another newcomer, Chhaya Ganguly.

Aapki Yaad Aati Rahi from Gaman (1978).

After Gaman, Jaidev was signed up by Muzaffar Ali for the director’s next project, an ambitious film on the courtesan Umrao Jaan Ada which would star Rekha. But yet again, fate intervened. Something happened – many theories abound – but the end result was that Jaidev was out of the film and Khayyam was signed on.

What followed was again a series of smaller films, none making a dent at the box office. Among them was the hugely underrated Ankahee directed by Amol Palekar. This absorbing film, which included two bhajans by Bhimsen Joshi, won Jaidev his third National Award.

Thumak Thumak from Ankahee (1985).

Sometime in the mid-1980s, the noted music critic Mohan Nadkarni paid Jaidev a visit. The composer, who had never married, lived in a one-room apartment near the Churchgate railway station. “It was let out to him by a kindly admirer, without any obligation, years ago,” wrote Nadkarni. “It had the typical look of a bachelor’s room, with newspapers, magazines, books and cassettes kept untidily below his bed and the mini-fridge… Laughing, he informed me that he was under threat of imminent eviction from his landlady and her relations. That was because his old landlord friend had since passed away, and his successors chose to take a different view of his sub-tenancy.”

Not long after Nadkarni’s visit, Jaidev did get evicted from this house. As well-wishers scrambled to get a place for him to stay in, news came in that the Madhya Pradesh government had conferred upon the composer the prestigious Lata Mangeshkar Puraskar.

By this time, Jaidev’s health had started deteriorating. On the morning of January 3, 1987, he was rushed to Breach Candy hospital after he reportedly started vomitting blood. Three days later, he breathed his last.

The words “tragic”, “unsung”, “unlucky” and “jinxed” immediately come to mind when one considers the life and career of Jaidev Verma. In their stead, one might want to recall a few lines from a song he had composed for an obscure 1967 film called Hamare Gham Se Mat Khelo.

Gar yeh zameen nahin, who mera aasmaan toh hai
Yeh kya hai kum ke koi mera meherbaan toh hai
Manzil mile milena mile, mujhe is kag ham nahin
Manzil ki justuju mein mera karvaan toh hai.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Ten awesome TV shows to get over your post-GoT blues

With those withdrawal symptoms kicking in, all you need is a good rebound show.

Hangovers tend to have a debilitating effect on various human faculties, but a timely cure can ease that hollow feeling generally felt in the pit of the stomach. The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale has left us with that similar empty feeling, worsened by an official statement on the 16-month-long wait to witness The Great War. That indeed is a long time away from our friends Dany, Jon, Queen C and even sweet, sweet Podrick. While nothing can quite replace the frosty thrill of Game of Thrones, here’s a list of awesome shows, several having won multiple Emmy awards, that are sure to vanquish those nasty withdrawal symptoms:

1. Billions

There is no better setting for high stakes white collar crime than the Big Apple. And featuring a suited-up Paul Giamatti going head-to-head with the rich and ruthless Damien Lewis in New York, what’s not to like? Only two seasons young, this ShowTime original series promises a wolf-of-wall-street style showcase of power, corruption and untold riches. Billions is a great high-octane drama option if you want to keep the momentum going post GoT.

Watch Billions Now

2. Westworld

What do you get when the makers of the Dark Knight Trilogy and the studio behind Game of Thrones collaborate to remake a Michael Crichton classic? Westworld brings together two worlds: an imagined future and the old American West, with cowboys, gun slingers - the works. This sci-fi series manages to hold on to a dark secret by wrapping it with the excitement and adventure of the wild west. Once the plot is unwrapped, the secret reveals itself as a genius interpretation of human nature and what it means to be human. Regardless of what headspace you’re in, this Emmy-nominated series will absorb you in its expansive and futuristic world. If you don’t find all of the above compelling enough, you may want to watch Westworld simply because George RR Martin himself recommends it! Westworld will return for season 2 in the spring of 2018.

Watch Westworld Now

3. Big Little Lies

It’s a distinct possibility that your first impressions of this show, whether you form those from the trailer or opening sequence, will make you think this is just another sun-kissed and glossy Californian drama. Until, the dark theme of BLL descends like an eerie mist, that is. With the serious acting chops of Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman as leads, this murder mystery is one of a kind. Adapted from author Liane Moriarty’s book, this female-led show has received accolades for shattering the one-dimensional portrayal of women on TV. Despite the stellar star cast, this Emmy-nominated show wasn’t easy to make. You should watch Big Little Lies if only for Reese Witherspoon’s long struggle to get it off the ground.

Watch Big Little Lies Now

4. The Night of

The Night Of is one of the few crime dramas featuring South Asians without resorting to tired stereotypes. It’s the kind of show that will keep you in its grip with its mysterious plotline, have you rooting for its characters and leave you devastated and furious. While the narrative revolves around a murder and the mystery that surrounds it, its undertones raises questions on racial, class and courtroom politics. If you’re a fan of True Detective or Law & Order and are looking for something serious and thoughtful, look no further than this series of critical acclaim.

Watch The Night Of Now

5. American Horror Story

As the name suggests, AHS is a horror anthology for those who can stomach some gore and more. In its 6 seasons, the show has covered a wide range of horror settings like a murder house, freak shows, asylums etc. and the latest season is set to explore cults. Fans of Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange are in for a treat, as are Lady Gaga’s fans. If you pride yourself on not being weak of the heart, give American Horror Story a try.

Watch American Horror Story Now

6. Empire

At its heart, Empire is a simple show about a family business. It just so happens that this family business is a bit different from the sort you are probably accustomed to, because this business entails running a record label, managing artistes and when push comes to shove, dealing with rivals in a permanent sort of manner. Empire treads some unique ground as a fairly violent show that also happens to be a musical. Lead actors Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard certainly make it worth your while to visit this universe, but it’s the constantly evolving interpersonal relations and bevy of cameo appearances that’ll make you stay. If you’re a fan of hip hop, you’ll enjoy a peek into the world that makes it happen. Hey, even if you aren’t one, you might just grow fond of rap and hip hop.

Watch Empire Now

7. Modern Family

When everything else fails, it’s comforting to know that the family will always be there to lift your spirits and keep you chuckling. And by the family we mean the Dunphys, Pritchetts and Tuckers, obviously. Modern Family portrays the hues of familial bonds with an honesty that most family shows would gloss over. Eight seasons in, the show’s characters like Gloria and Phil Dunphy have taken on legendary proportions in their fans’ minds as they navigate their relationships with relentless bumbling humour. If you’re tired of irritating one-liners or shows that try too hard, a Modern Family marathon is in order. This multiple-Emmy-winning sitcom is worth revisiting, especially since the brand new season 9 premiers on 28th September 2017.

Watch Modern Family Now

8. The Deuce

Headlined by James Franco and Maggi Gyllenhaal, The Deuce is not just about the dazzle of the 1970s, with the hippest New York crowd dancing to disco in gloriously flamboyant outfits. What it IS about is the city’s nooks and crannies that contain its underbelly thriving on a drug epidemic. The series portrays the harsh reality of New York city in the 70s following the legalisation of the porn industry intertwined with the turbulence caused by mob violence. You’ll be hooked if you are a fan of The Wire and American Hustle, but keep in mind it’s grimmer and grittier. The Deuce offers a turbulent ride which will leave you wanting more.

Watch The Deuce Now

9. Dexter

In case you’re feeling vengeful, you can always get the spite out of your system vicariously by watching Dexter, our favourite serial killer. This vigilante killer doesn’t hide behind a mask or a costume, but sneaks around like a criminal, targeting the bad guys that have slipped through the justice system. From its premier in 2006 to its series finale in 2013, the Emmy-nominated Michael C Hall, as Dexter, has kept fans in awe of the scientific precision in which he conducts his kills. For those who haven’t seen the show, the opening credits give an accurate glimpse of how captivating the next 45 minutes will be. If it’s been a while since you watched in awe as the opening credits rolled, maybe you should revisit the world’s most loved psychopath for nostalgia’s sake.

Available starting October

10. Rome

If you’re still craving an epic drama with extensive settings and a grandiose plot and sub-plots, Rome, co-produced by HBO and BBC, is where your search stops. Rome is a historical drama that takes you through an overwhelming journey of Ancient Rome’s transition from a republic to an empire. And when it comes to tastes, this series provides the similar full-bodied flavour that you’ve grown to love about Game of Thrones. There’s a lot to take away for those who grew up quoting Julius Caesar, and for those looking for a realistic depiction of the legendary gladiators. If you’re a history buff, give this Emmy-winning show a try.

Watch Rome Now

For your next obsession, Hotstar Premium has you covered with its wide collection of the most watched shows in the world. Apart from the ones we’ve recommended, Indian viewers can now easily watch other universally loved shows such as Silicon Valley and Prison Break, and movies including all titles from the Marvel and Disney universe. So take control of your life again post the Game of Thrones gloom and sign up for the Hotstar Premium membership here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.