24 April, 2007

Greatest hindi film music composer of all times - an analysis

From the past 2 sundays, HINDUSTAN TIMES is running a series on hindi film music directors, written by Ravi Patwardhan. This started me thinking - who's the greatest of them all? The question is formidable and answer is not easy to seek at all! Consider the array of music directors for this award. You got to choose between, Naushad, Madan Mohan, Shanker - Jaikishen, S D Burman and his son, O P Nayyar, Ravi, Khayyam, Laxmikant - Pyarelaal, Kalyanji - Anandji, Roshan, Hemant Kumar, Ghulam Mohammad, Sajjad Hussain, A R Rehman, Jatin - Lalit, Anu Mallik and last but not the least Himmesh Reshammiya!

How do we begin? First of all we must decide the criteria on which to award. I think the criteria must include - versatility, sound knowledge of music, commercial appeal, appeal across all ages (controversial!) and quality of music (again a subjective matter).

1. Versatility - For this criteria, we can exclude most composers and retain SD, RD, AR, S-J and L-P. I would not like to include O P Nayyar, as his music had started to become repititive in the early 70s after hitting an all time high in the late 50s and throughout the 60s. Naushad saab was more in the mould of a classicist and rarely if ever gave compositions apart from folk tunes or pure classical. At this let juncture let me clarify that versatility according to me means compositions of all types viz, Indian classical, western, devotionals, folk etc. Roshan and Madan Mohan were more into classical music although in "Manmauji", Madan Mohan did give a good western tune in the form of Nakhrewaali!

2. Knowledge - Here, I must include Naushad, SD, S-J and almost all the old timers, since all of them came from the old school of classical musical training. I will include AR also here.

3. Commercial appeal - surely Reshammiya can fit in here if not anywhere else!!! Jokes apart, SD, RD, S-J, Naushad, O P, L-P, K-A, A R, Anu Mallik and Jatin- Lalit can easily make the grade in this category.

4. Appeal across all ages - Songs composed by SD, RD, S-J, O P, L-P, Roshan and Madan Mohan have stood the test of time. Same may not be true of a Rehman or Reshammiya or even Anu Malik.

5. Quality of music - has no relation to its saleability. So, I think all old timers can easily be fitted in this category. As far as newer composers are concerned I'm not very sure of their quality, with the possible exception of Rehman.

Now, to shortlist the nominees. I find SD, RD, S-J and L-P in all the categories. We must therefore find out the greatest amongst these. I must reluctantly add that fans of Naushad, Madan Mohan, Nayyarsaab and Roshan may very well kill me for this act! Now L-P's quality of music I find very slightly inferior to those of SD, RD and S-J, although that's purely subjective. That leaves us with 3 composers. Out of them I will remove RD, as his duration as the top composer was much shorter than that of his father or Shanker - Jaikishen. Both SD and S-J reigned supreme for over four decades and thats no mean acheivement! Now comes the biggest challenge. How do you decide amongst SD and SJ as the greatest? Both reigned at the very top for decades and their careers culminated almost simultaneously. Personally, I favour SD a bit more as most of my favourite songs are SD's. I think I will not go any further and declare both as joint winners!

Readers, please let me know if I have committed any serious acts of omissions and notify me. I apologize to all genuine fans if I have inadvertantly hurt anybody's feeling or offended any sensibilities.

1 comment:

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