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20 August 2019

The Day Music Died

18.02.1927 - 19.08.2019
Har mulaaqat ka anjaam judaii kyun hai
Ab to har vaqt yahi baat sataati hai hamein

I woke up today to hear the news that music director, Khayyam, was no more. For many of us, of a certain generation, the 'golden age' of Hindi film music was bookended by the 50s and 60s. A pantheon of great music directors, singers, musicians and arrangers collaborated to give us enduring melodies – songs that filled our childhoods and adolescence, and became part of our collective consciousness. 

As we grew older, nostalgia tinted our memories of the films for which these songs were recorded, though many of them have not aged well. Nevertheless, music lovers found new ways to discover 'new' old songs – YouTube did yeoman service in this regard. Hitherto unheard interviews, recording sessions, rehearsals – all that we had once heard of, or read, now came alive through the efforts of some dedicated music lovers who uploaded these rare videos for our viewing pleasure. 

Khayyam's death isn't a shock, given that he was in his nineties and had led a long and productive life. However, there's a lingering sense of sadness – an era has finally ended. Khayyam was the last of the greats, those music directors who lived and breathed music, but only on his terms. He would rather let a film go than compromise on his principles.

Some years ago, I’d done a post on Khayyam, populating it with some of my favourite Khayyam compositions. What struck me at the time is how poetry-dependent his compositions were. It was no coincidence – Khayyam was intensely interested in poetry; to him, the ‘right’ words enhanced his music, and the singer breathed life into his melody. A composition was never merely ‘his’; it was always a collaborative effort. Ego had no place in creativity. 

So, to a man who embodied self-respect and gentleness, my last respects.

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