Khurshid Anwar - A Trend-Setting Composer
Written by English NewsPaper/Dawn/Others   

STYLE is the composer. It is what distinguishes one creative artiste from others.

Leading composers since the advent of talkies in the sub-continent, had styles of their own and their compositions, more often than not, were recognizable from the very first note.

A Khurshid Anwar compositions, since he first scored music for JK Nanda's Punjabi movie Kurmai (produced in Bombay in 1941) rang a bell with the listeners, who could instantly recognize them as the work of the educated composer from Lahore's historic Mochi Gate, Similarly, all songs composed by Naushad, Sajjad, SD Burman, Shyam Sunder and Master Ghulam Haider were easily recognizable as they reflected the individualistic styles of their composers.
Those composers were the trendsetters in the sub-continental film music, whose composi¬tions are still enjoyed by millions of cine-goers despite the fact that many among the listeners were not even born when the songs were composed and recorded in Lahore and Bombay studios. Since the release of the first sound motion picture, Alam Aras in March, 1932, the imitators as well as the competitors of these composers could not ape them,

Khurshid Anwar opened new vistas of musical sound.He discovered the talent of vocalist Rajkumari for rendering Punjabi songs and Gohar Sultan, who immortalized his song, Shabnum kiyoon neer bahai.

He also introduced playback singer Vastla  Kunintekar,  a Marathi vocalist, and Iqbal Begum (Baali Lyallpurwali) in whose voices songs in Punjabi film Kurmai and Ishara were recorded. Hameeda Bano and Kaushalia (who later acted in a number of successful films) were also intro¬duced as playback singers by Khurshid Anwar in Sohrab Modi's film, Parakh, says Khwaja Sultan Ahmed, a leading specialist in criminal law and Khurhid Anwar's youngest brother.

In the beginning, musical interludes in film songs were played by a group of instrumentalists in brass band-like fashion, repeating the refrains of the songs. Khurshid Anwar, was one of the innovative composers, who discarded the old system and com¬posed short musical phrases to be played by different instruments like the sitar, the trumpet and the flute to suit the mood of the lyrics, interpreting at the same time the sentiments of the singers and conveying the thrust of the message contained in the lyrics. For example, if the lyrics contained words like dil kay taar, he composed small musical phrases and used the sitar for portraying the feelings of the singers. For the koo koo of the koel, he used flute pieces, which aptly suited the situation in the film. His songs Kaisee murli bajaee Shaam nain and Paapi pappiha re bear this out. Other trend¬setters of the era were composers Sajjad, Naushad, SD Burman, Anil Biswas, Master Ghulam Haider and Shyam Sunder.

For example, the stark, almost unbearably tender song, Shabnum kiyoon neer bahai from the film, Ishara, the buoyant sophistication of Paapee papiha re in the film Farwana and the spare, open sadness of jiss din say piya dil lay gaye in the film Intezar starkly point to the superb quality of his compositions. Songs recorded in the Punjabi film, Mirza Sahibaan, his last, served a befitting finale to his distinguished career that began in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1941 and ended in Lahore in 1982, two years before his death.

Khurshid Anwar overawed film-makers with his creative ability and music lovers with his highly imaginative and stimulating songs, which he composed for a number of successful films produced from Bombay and Lahore studios both before and after independence.

The enchanting songs composed by him went straight to the heart of the listener and are still enjoyed by millions in South Asia.

Making his debut as a composer of songs from All India Radio, Delhi, Khurshid Anwar shifted to Bombay, where he scored music for the Punjabi film, Kurmai, which proved an instant box office hit, primarily because of its songs, which were composed by Khurshid Anwar. During his stay in Bombay (from 1941 to 1950) he composed songs for several award-winning movies like Farwana and Singhar, whose songs capture the imagination of the listeners throughout the sub-continent.

The maestro, affectionately known as Khwaja Sahib in film circles, was an extraordinary alert, eagerly curious and an acutely keen observer as well as a participant in contemporary musical experiences. It was this searching, restless involvement in life around him, which explains a fact that has not been fully evaluated — the remarkable range of his compositions and the vast canvas he used for his creative expressions.

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Almost all composers of Indian films represented the music of the regions from which they came but Khurshid Anwar's compositions, like Sajjad, had touches of originality which, when blended with regional folk melodies, created a new ambience, innovative in content and distinct in style.

He, who composed a large number of tumultuously popular songs, died in Lahore, the city of his birth, on Oct 30, 1984,