Sohail Rana: Musings on music
Written by Anis Shakur   

His adorers are surrounded by a lifetime of numerous memories of his immortal compositions..

 Sohni dharti Allah rakhay qadam qadam Aabaad tujhaySohail Rana, who is the son of renowned poet Rana Akbar Abadi, was born in his native city, Agra, Uttar Pardesh, India, in 1938, to a highly literary, academic and respectable family.Rana Akbar Abadi migrated to Karachi, Pakistan. Soon after partition, young Sohail, who was in his ninth year at that time, resumed his education and subsequently passed his intermediate examination. He demonstrated an unusual aptitude for music as a teenager. He learned music from various experts and familiarized himself with numerous musical instruments, which added to his experience. During his primary education days, he was admitted to late A.M. Qureshi’s Mary Colaso School, Karachi, where Sohail Rana and Waheed Murad were class fellows.

Thus started a durable friendship between them, which lasted up until Veedu’s death in 1983. Although Waheed Murad’s first film as a producer ‘Insaan badalta hai’, (Director: Munawwar Rasheed, music: Zafar Khursheed) was a success, still the music could not come upto the expectations. Hence, for his second production, ‘Jab say dekha hai tumhain’, Waheed made two changes: He selected Zeba instead of Shamim Ara as the lead lady and handed over the delicate task of music to promising Sohail Rana, instead of Zafar Khursheed. Relatively speaking, ‘Jab say dekha hai tumhain’ was far more successful for its melodious songs than ‘Insaan badalta hai.’

Huge audience were drawn to its two highly popular numbers:

‘Ye khushi ajab khushi hai’ (singer: Ahmed Rushdi)
‘Jab say dekha hai tumhain, dil ka ajab Aalam hai (singer: Saleem Raza)

Movie zealots agree that ‘Jab say dekha hai tumhain’ proved to be a stepping stone in the fabulous career of sohail
Rana. Readers, let us draw near and listen to his gift:

Ko-ko- korina, Bay taab ho udhar tum, Jab pyar mein do dil miltay hain’

In 1964, Sohail Rana composed the super hit songs for the golden jubilee film, ‘Heera aur pathar’

That is part of what sets the quality so far above its competition. Its music is so innately appealing, so fresh-spirited, that one has to admit that the standards were set for a much grander scale. ‘Heera aur pathar’ became a musical phenomenon, and Sohail Rana became a necessity in the burgeoning music industry. Moreover, he accepted every new challenge which required a concerted effort and always came out with the appropriate stuff, what people wanted to hear. By the mid-sixties, Sohail Rana had become such a success, where he was able to fathom the depths of emotions through his musical masterpieces.

At the end of every accomplishment, he raised his levels of aspiration and expectation. One could discern that every piece of music were torn straight from his soul. Sohail Rana earned plaudits from his fans for the superb composition of ‘Mujhay tum say mohabbat hai’ (Film: ‘Heera aur pathar’ singers: Ahmed Rushdi-Najma Niazi) which figuratively added fresh elements to his stew. Pakistan’s first platinum jubilee film, ‘Armaan’ was released in 1966, which may be the finest and most gripping movie to date. It is an epic tale of broken hearts and broken dreams.
Sohail Rana’s excellent composition for the songs of ‘Armaan’ are, indeed, his greatest achievement as a music director, which will stand as a musical high point as long as the Pakistan film industry exists. Further, he won the Nigar and graduate award for the best composer for the film ‘Armaan’. Furthermore, movies like ‘Heera aur pathar’ and ‘Armaan’ also shows that the best of the human soul has not yet died.

According to the proponents of music, Sohail Rana’s contribution to the cause of music is immense and that it ranks him among the most acclaimed composers in Pakistani music history.

To listen to the musical genius, Sohail Rana, is an experience like no other. Over and above, his compositions seems to echo his sentiments. By the end of 1966, music maestro, Sohail Rana, had reached his zenith with astonishing rapidity. In the words of the film journalists of the 1960s. ‘Sohail Rana is growing by, well leaps and bounds’. Parables of love, vividly caught by Sohail Rana, while composing the songs like ‘Akele na jana’, not only brought fresh laurels to him but also rekindled the old flames which is much easier with Sohail Rana’s music than one may think.

The rhythm of sound is music and Sohail Rana can best be described as maestro of the music. His is a music which can lift people above particular circumstances and inspire them. Sohail Rana, who is widely known as an extremely decent human being, worked diligently and came out with yet more superfluous compositions for the film ‘Ehsaan’ in 1967. The idea which keeps him motivated is the glory of his remarkable achievement. His charm and musical virtuosity had won every heart. The film ‘Ehsaan’ attained silver jubilee with such favorites as ‘Ik naye maur pay’, ‘Aye mere zindigi aye meray hum safar’, ‘Do akhian, ye do sakhian’.

Sohail Rana’s musical career is a success story with few parallels. Celebrated composer, Sohail Rana, unleashed all his artistic talents, while composing songs for the film ‘Doraha’: ‘Mujhay tum nazar say gira to rahay ho’, ‘Bhooli huwee hoon dastaan’ ‘tumhain kaisay bata doon tum meri manzil ho’.

The songs he composed for ‘Doraha’ also evinces that he is an extraordinary musician and an authority of the highly specialized realm of composition, where his competency and artistic skills are unmatched. His adorers are surrounded by a lifetime of numerous memories of his immortal compositions.

Over the years, he worked his magic throughout Pakistan and across the borders. His magnificent compositions for the Nazm ‘Qasm us waqt ki, jab zindigi karwat badalti hai’(film: ‘Qasam us waqt ki’(Director: A.G. Kardar, Lyricist: Josh Malih Abadi, singer: Mujeeb Alam) is a corner stone of Pakistani entertainment, that reflect reality. He produced lilting music for director Pervez Malik’s movie, ‘Meray hum safar’, three of its popular numbers are listed here below:

‘Wada karo milo gey’ (Mujeeb Alam)
‘Hai bay qarar tamanna’ (Mujeeb Alam)
‘Tujh jaisa dagha baaz’ (Runa Laila)

In 1970, he composed songs for the film ‘Baazi’, two of those songs were recorded in the voice of Habib Wali Mohammad, namely, ‘Raatain theen chandni’ and ‘Aashiyaan jal gaya’, which happened to be inspirational entertainment.
I am pretty sure that if some one were to ask Sohail Rana what he thanks God for most, then presumably his answer would be that he would thank God, for giving him the gift of composing songs and the ability to listen to them. During the early 1970s, he took a job with the Pakistan television corporation and redoubled his efforts to compose national songs. His musical masterpieces, ‘Sohni dharti’ (singer: Shehnaz Begum, lyricist: Masroor Anwar) has become part and parcel of Pakistani culture.

Additionally, he devoted his time and energy to compose songs for children and immortalized each and every song:
‘Sung sung chaltay rehna’.
‘Dosti aisa nata’.
‘Shawa bhy shawa’.

Given here below are the names of some of Sohail Rana’s bright students who attained name and fame for themselves and for their mentor, as well. "Riffat, Late Nazia Hassan, Zohaib Hassan, Afshan Ahmed, Nazneen, Fatima Jafry, Tehseen Javed, Yusuf memon (Who achieved fame in mahafil-e-na’at and milad)".

The film ‘Badal aur bijli’ was a huge success, essentially due to Sohail Rana’s effective music. ‘Badal aur bijli’s all time favorites:

‘Bansiri bajanay walay’ (Noor Jehan)
‘Aaj janay ki zid na karo’ (Habib Wali Mohammad)
‘Dheeray, dheeray paoon rakh gori’ (Runa Laila) are still fresh in the minds of theater cine-goers.

Apart from that, he also rendered music for the films ‘Phir chand niklay ga,’ Esay dekha esay chaha’, ‘Sau diwanay’ and ‘Shehnai’.

He did work at the art academy of Pakistan international airlines for a while

. Sohail Rana is still boyish of expression at 63, and smile lines radiate from his eyes which are bright with inquisitiveness and beaming with pride. Moosa Reza, a loyal fan of Sohail Saheb and an authority on him,as well, asserts: ’A nation is,indeed, very poor, which do not value its artists and in case of Sohail Rana, the music lovers should be all the more indebted to this extraordinary composer, because Sohail Rana not only impressed his contemporaries but he has proved resourceful, ingenious and pioneering.

{jb_quoteleft}Moving beyond songs, Sohail Rana had the common touch and he used it well, perhaps, peerlessly so{/jb_quote} He paved the way for the launches of numerous jingles for the commercial companies and most conspicuous among them was an advertisement for Binaca. During his twenty five monumentally influential years as a composer, he also composed a national song ’Allah-o-Akbar' for the Pakistan television corporation. Pakistan’s most powerful purveyor of popular music, all his compositions carry a sweet,open tone and a freshness that never sounds forced.

He lent background music for the documentary film ’Moenjodaro’. Beloved by audiences as well as a new generation of listeners, Sohail Rana had a knack for finding the best in music. Consequently he received the prestigious Presidential award of excellence, EMI gold disc award for the vinyl album,’Khyber Mail’ and also the United Nations peace messenger award.  Along the way, he achieved legendary status by influencing and shaping the Pakistani culture- He participated and represented Pakistan in various international music festivals.Prominent among them were jashn-e-Kabul (1977) Carnival, Australia, (1978), Cultural Troupe, Fiji islands (1981), Cultural Troupe to Romania and Russia (1983) Children festival,Jordan (1987), Pacific traditional music,China (1987).

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Sohail Rana is a flame.It is a flame that burned its best and brightest for over two decades.During which he served in the ministry of culture as director general (1976-78) and headed the project of national orchestra and choral ensemble of Pakistan. He has done what I do not think anybody else has done: be victorious in both Urdu and English films: His superfluous composition for Javed Jabbar’s bilingual movie, ’Musafir’ , whose English version ’Beyond the last mountain’is the first Pakistani film produced in English language. Moreover, ’Beyond the last mountain’ won the critical acclaim by the renowned Indian actor, Raj Kapoor, at the Bombay film festival. The film ’Hesaab’ which was released in 1986, happened to be the last movie for which Sohail Rana composed songs.

The choices he made, helped ignite a renaissance of quality that lives on today. During his memorable music career, he composed songs for merely twenty five movies.

Two of those movies, ’Guriya’ and ’Pagal’ could not be released. However, popular numbers from the film ’Guriya’ are available on cassettes and vinyl EPs. Though Sohail Rana has settled in Canada and does not take active participation in music today, the human spark, spirit, compassion, love and understanding which are the basic ingredients of his music and which have been imbibed in the hearts of a myriad of music lovers the world over, will never go away.