A mascot of many a Salman Khan-blockbuster, Wajid Ali Khan of the popular composer duo of Sajid-Wajid was one of the first music directors of the new generation who blended the heady charm of the good, old melody with the techno-heavy beats of the digital era to cast a spell on the young millennials.
After starting his career with his brother Sajid in Salman Khan’s Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya way back in 1998, Wajid -- who died of a coronavirus-induced kidney infection at the age of 42 in Mumbai on May 31 -- went on to do many movies and standalone songs for the Maine Pyar Kiya (1989) star, the latest being the Pyar Karona and Bhai-bhai song, sung by the superstar himself, which were released recently during the lockdown on YouTube.
Sajid-Wajid hit it off big time with Salman after they composed songs of his home banner, Hello Brother in 1999. Though the movie failed to create any ripples at the box office, its songs, especially its title number and 'Hata sawan ki ghata' turned out to be chart-busters, paving the way for the long-lasting collaboration between them.
In the years to come, Sajid-Wajid did scores for several big-budget extravaganzas of Salman Khan such as Tere Naam (2003), Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (2004), Partner (2007), God Tussi Great Ho (2008) Wanted (2009), Ek Tha Tiger (2012), Jai Ho (2014). They also composed music for all the three editions of Dabangg (2010,2012, 2019), which had the foot-tapping title number 'Hud hud dabangg dabanngg'. All these movies had popular numbers composed by the duo, which contributed a great deal towards their mega success.
Wajid was a versatile artist, who also did playback for Salman and Akshay Kumar in songs like 'Tera hi jalwa' (Wanted), and 'Chinta ta ta chita chita' (Rowdy Rathore/2012) and, of course, the foot-tapping title number, 'Pandeyji' and 'Fevicol se' of Dabangg 2. Though he did movies with other big stars such as Akshay Kumar (Rowdy Rathore, Singh Is Bliing/2015), Tiger Shorff (Heropanti/2014), Ajay Devgn (Son of Sardar/2012, Himmatwala/2013), Saif Ali Khan (Bullet Raja/2013), Varun Dhawan (Main Tera Hero/2014) and Judwaa 2 (2017) et al, his best compositions were certainly reserved for Salman’s movies.
But there is no denying the fact that was more to the duo than the mere oeuvre of Salman’s films. It was their versatility and understanding of the basics of film music that propelled Sajid-Wajid to greater heights of popularity in the first decade, when popular composers of the previous generation such as Anu Malik, Nadeem Shravan, Jatin Lalit and Anand Milind had fallen by the wayside.
Their versatility could be gauged from the fact that apart from composing songs and background score for many feature films, they also wrote lyrics of many of their hit songs. Besides, they scored the title track of the reality show Bigg Boss 4 and Bigg Boss 6 and the theme song, Dhoom Dhadaka of IPL 4, which Wajid had also sung. Earlier in Wajid's career, the compositions for singer Sonu Nigam’s Deewana (1999), which had soulful numbers like Ab mujhe rat din had brought him into the limelight.
In Wajid’s premature demise, the music industry has lost one of the talented composers of the modern generation who did not altogether sacrifice the importance of melody at the altar of crass commercialisation of film music regardless of peer pressure or producers not falling in line.