When S. Mohindar got National Award for Punjabi Film 'Nanak Naam Jahaaz Hai' (1970) with songs by Asha Bhosle
, Manna Dey
and Mohammad Rafi
, he got instant fame all of a sudden. He had not done many films but very selective few Hindi films are there to his name with same excellent music. His first ever nation wide hit was 'Gujra Hua Zamaana Aata Nahi Dobaara..' sung by Lata Mangeshkar
and enacted by Madhubala in Shirin Farhad. It is a memorable work of all the three associated with it,i.e., Lata Mangeshkar
, Madhubala and Mohindar himself.
Mohinder was born in 1925 in a small village Silanwala in Montgomery District of un-divided Punjab. His father Sardar Sujan Singh Bakhshi was then serving in the Punjab police. Soon the family moved to a comparatively larger and affluent city of Lyallpur, where young Mohinder Singh, around year 1935 came in contact with an accomplished Sikh religious musician Sant Sujan Singh. Mohinder Singh honed his skills for several years in classical music in the tutelage of Sant Sujan Singh. Initially he wanted to be a singer. After the years in Lyallpur, the family under his father’s new posting orders as an inspector in police (in 1940) moved to nearby Sheikhupura District from where Nankana Sahib, the birth place of Guru Nanak, was also not too far. While living in close proximity of Nankana Sahib, the birth place of Guru Nanak, S. Mohinder received his serious training in classical music from legendry Sikh religious musician Bhai Samund Singh ji (1900 – 1972). Frequent transfers of his father kept the family on the move. Since S. Mohinder’s education was suffering badly, durIng early forties, he was enrolled in Khalsa High School in village Kairon in Amritsar District. Even in village Kairon, his love of music never diminished.
Mohindar became a singer at Lahore radio station, but after partition of India he settled down in Bombay. He got his first chance to work as a music director in Arun Kumar's Sehra in 1948, which has songs by Arun Kumar, Nirmala Devi and Mohindar himself. He sang 'Aei Dil Udaa Ke Le Chal..' in Sehra. He sang a duet in Jeewan Sathi 'O Dear My Dear..' with Premlata in 1949.
After a successful relationship as a music director with Filmistan Studios, S. Mohinder started composing music for a prolific producer Chandu Lal Shah
’s, Ranjit Movietone
, films. The one which became popular was “Zamin ke Taare”. It became a musical hit. After that he composed the music for Wadia Brothers film “Reporter Raju”. S. Mohinder composed the music for producer Roop K. Shori’s films too. He also gave music for film “Do Dost”.
Commercially, his films Chambe Di Kali (Punajbi) and Shaadi Ki Raat (both 1950) are important. Lata sang her first song for Mohindar in Shaadi Ki Raat 'Ham Dil Ki Kahani Kya Kehte..' which became very popular. Same year (1950) his film Neeli also got released which had seven out of nine songs sung by Suraiyya
. His other noticeable films include Naata (1952) in which a chorus with Lata
, Balbir and Shamshad
(Dhadka Reh Reh Ke Dil Baawra..') was very popular in those days. Caarwan (1956) had also few good songs like 'Aa Ja Tujhe Mohabbat Aawaz De Rahi Hai..' by Talat Mehmood
and 'Kis Raah Ka Raahi Hai Too..' by Lata and G. M. Durrani. In the year 1957 Shirin Farhad was released which had the hit song by Lata 'Gujra Hua Zamaana Aata Nahin Dobara..'. It had few more popular songs sung by Talat Mehmood
, Hemant Kumar
and Asha Bhosle
S. Mohinder’s last Hindi film was probably, Mehlon Ke Khwaab, produced by Madhubala in 1967. Probably it was the last venture of India’s first lady of silver screen. The film did quite well at the box office and its music also became a hit.
The untimely death of Madhubala, during the prime of her youth, profoundly saddened S. Mohinder. He came to the conclusion that the field of composing music for Hindi films was getting a lot of new players and the melody was slowly yielding place to noisy heavy metal music. So he decided to go back to his roots and switched to composing music for Punjabi movies. This move paid good dividends. During the seventies he got more contracts than even the old doyen Master Hans Raj Behl
S. Mohinder left for USA in 1982, when he was at the peak of his career as a music composer. The last film featuring his music was named “Maula Jatt”, with Dara Singh in the male lead role. This film was also released in 1982. While in America, S. Mohinder composed music for some private devotional and other music albums, including one featuring Ghazals of Roshan Pukhraj on behalf of producer Iqbal Mahal of Canada, another in the voice of Mrs Kavelle Bajaj of Northern Virginia. One album of Shabads, issued during the nineties, in the voice of redoubtable Asha Bhosle is a musical masterpiece.