Compared with Lata didi, I sang far fewer songs under his direction - not more than some 40 or 45 odd. I would often complain to him playfully, "You give all the good songs to Lata didi." He would pat me on the cheeks, as a father would show his affection: "You mean the songs I get you to sing are bad?" I would be speechless.
When it came to music, I never saw him discriminate or indulge in any favouritism. He would always get the singer who he thought was appropriate for a given composition. I was aware of that, which is why I would be specially enthused whenever he asked me to sing. I would know that I'd get to sing something really good.
Of all the songs I sang under his direction, I specially like mere mehboob mein kyaa nahiiN, kyaa nahiin. Now, off the cuff, I don't recall much, but most of the songs I sang under his direction became very popular.
I think it was sometime in the 1980s when I sang his composition ghunghruu TooT gaye. Its popularity proved how he had maintained his hold on both the notes and the melody. It was a commonly held belief those days that any movie which had music by Naushad would be a big hit. The amazing thing about his music was that even if the films flopped, his music would definitely be popular. The main reason for that was that not only did he know his music well, he also knew the public taste. He was a master at moulding the music to the mood of a movie. And the wonderful thing was that he never compromised on the quality of music. I gathered from him that he had not received any formal education in music. He expanded his knowledge of music merely by listening to it. He was very particular when it came to the raagas, which is why he so often used the traditional musical instruments such as the flute, Sitar, Sarod, Jal Tarang, Dholak, Matka, Duffli.
I think his biggest contribution was that he brought the classical music so close to the common man and woman. Many stalwarts of classical music too have appreciated so many of his songs. He used different raagas, Dhrupad, Khayal and Taraana in such a wonderfully simple way in his songs that even an ordinary listener could appreciate the finer nuances. Nowadays, the music directors just make a tune and then are completely dependent on the arranger - but I never saw him do any such thing. He would handover the complete tune and musical score to his assistant and then be present during the complete recording. He did not have any hesitation in using western instruments, but he never let them dominate his music or himself. He was truly disheartened by today's music. He would say unhesitatingly that the lack of knowledge was hampering creativity and coming in the way of original compositions. He would always say that an original creation has longevity. I think his own oeuvre is a testimony to this.
I was always inspired by his one remark: He would often say that by copying, no artist can make a place for himself. Way back, he had been very fond of hunting and fishing. Another of his passions was poetry. He was always particular about using appropriate words in his songs. He was a complete artist, far above religion or caste. He had no parallel when it came to encouraging an artist. I remember, he would pat my cheeks after each recording, and say, "Shaabaash". Not once, but many a time I heard him say that a great artist is one who is also a great human being. That was so very apt for him. He was a total saint.
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