This story starts with the independence of India and the destruction of Punjab. Overnight hundreds of thousands of people were given marching orders, against their will, to go to new unknown places. One such person was music director Vinod, a Christian by faith. He moved from Lahore to Amritsar. As a child Vinod was fascinated by the band music played during Hindu weddings. Vinod also listened carefully to the rababi musicians performing shabad kirtan at Gurdwara Dehra Sahib, Lahore. Vinod became a student of Lahore’s famous music director Pandit Amar Nath and learnt from him the fundamentals of ragas and composing tunes on a violin.
By 1944, most of the Lahore-based music directors like Khurshid Anwar, Shyam Sunder
, Hans Raj Behl,
Rashid Atre, Feroze Nizami, Ghulam Haider, Pandit Husna Lal Bhagat Ram
had shifted to Bombay. Pandit Amar Nath
and Pandit Gobind Ram were the only ones left in Lahore. After Pandit Amar Nath
’s death in 1945, Vinod was asked to compose music for his mentor’s films Khamosh Nigahein, Paraye Bas Main and Kamini. However, none of the films did well at the box office.
By 1946, he had started composing music for a number of films, including three Hindi films and a Punjabi film Chaman. However, Chaman could not be taken up due to communal tension in Lahore. It was made in India after 1947 for which Pushpa Hans and Shamshad Begum lent their voices. Vinod gave Lata Mangeshkar
three songs to sing. All three numbers became landmark songs. Those were the days of tension on both sides of the Radcliffe line. While the film did not do well in Pakistan, the music of the film did a decent business.
Music Director Vinod’s first super-hit Punjabi film venture was “Chaman” (1948). In “Chaman” Pushpa Hans sang a soulful song “Saari raat tera takni haan raah, haye tarian ton puchh chann wey”. Even Shamshad Begum
sang some very nice songs for this film, but the climax was the two songs sung by Lata Mangeshkar
. It is an important piece of information for the historians of Punjabi film music that one of the earliest songs that Lata Mangeshkar
sang was a Punjabi song for film “Chaman”. The lyrics of the song are “Galliyan-ch firdey dhola, nikke nikke baal veh, balan kolon puchhni haan, channa tera haal veh”. This song was composed to a very slow beat in “Raaga Piloo” mixed perhaps with “Jaijaiwanti”. The tune is very sad and Lata Mangeshkar
’s highly emotional rendering is even sadder. This song, written by Aziz Kashmiri, is a beauty. The second Lata Mangeshkar
song from the same film is “Raahe raahe jandiya, akhiyan milandiya, akhiyan chura ken a jaah, dhola veh, akhiyan chura ken a ja”. This is a variation of a Punjabi folk tune “Dhola”. This film's lyrics were composed by Aziz Kashmiri, another Lahore poet, who also migrated to Bombay. Aziz wrote in earthy Punjabi better than most others.
Vinod composed the music for a super-hit film “Ek Thi Ladki”, in which a Lahori Punjabi girl Meena became very popular as the heroine. A Punjabi folk based song “Laara lappa laara lappa laayi rakhda...” based on a folk tune. Lara lappa was again sung by Lata Mangeshkar
and became a big hit. Soon afterwards Vinod composed the music for a Punjabi film “Bhaiyaji” in 1950 with five songs by Lata Mangeshkar
. Its best emotional song “Jhil mil tariya jah Akhiyan na maar veh, ajj saada mahi naal tutt gaya pyar veh” was very brilliantly sung by Lata Mangeshkar
. Shankar Jaikishan, who started music direction with Raj Kappor - Nargis starrer film “Barsaat” (1949), attempted to give Punjabi style music. Initially they composed a music which was similar to that of Pandit Husnlal Bhagat Ram
, but by the time they composed music for Dilip Kumar – Nimmi starrer film “Daag” (1952), they had a new model before them and it was Vinod’s film “Bhayiaji” song “Jhil mil taariya jah akhiyan na maar veh”. This pattern they used for the Lata superhit song “Kahe ko der lagayi re, aye na ab tak baalma”. Vinod’s other songs for the film “Bhaiyaji” including a Lata Mangeshkar
- Mohd Rafi duet “Chal aa bagan wich nachiye ni, ki badliyan chha gayiyan” also became hit.
One of Vinod’s masterpieces is the music for the Punjabi film Mutiar (1951). One of its Urdu ghazals "Aye dil mujhe jaane de, jis raah pe jaata hoon" sung by Talat Mahmood
simply stands out. Its Punjabi version was never recorded. On an average Vinod did one or two successful films a year from 1948 to 1957, A Punjabi to the core, Vinod longed to compose music for Punjabi films but after 1951 music directors Hans Raj Behl
and Sardul ended up getting all the music direction contracts.
Vinod composed music for only six Punjabi films — Chaman (1948), BhaiyaJI (1950), Mutiar (1950), Lara Lappa (1953), Ashtalli(1954) and Nikki(1958).A genuine master of the art of music direction Vinod, who was every inch a Punjabi, became a casualty of the fall of Punjabi cinema in India. He wanted to compose music for Punjabi films, but not more than two films were made in each year. Vinod felt squeezed out of his first love, the music making for Punjabi films too. This frustration told on his health and he died at the prime of his youth during the mid-fifties, un-honoured, unwept and unsung.
Vinod died at 37 on December 25, 1959. Although Vinod composed music for 32 films, but most of these films were under small banners and the music of many was let down by the film’s poor showing at the box office. His last three films were released after his death.
Contributed by: Mr. Kelly Mistry, Son-In-Law of Late Vinod