Death of a maestro

Published February 6, 2007

LAHORE, Feb 5: M. Ashraf, the maestro who profusely inspired Pakistani film music for over forty years, spell binding three generations of cine goers with his melodious compositions died of cardiac arrest on Sunday. He was 65.

A musician par excellence, Ashraf was born in Lahore inside Bhatti Gate in 1942. The versatile music director who belonged to a known family of musicians has a great contribution towards introducing popular music to Pakistani cinema. His maternal uncles Akhtar Hussain Sakhian and Master Anayat Hussain were also great music directors of their time. Akhtar Hussain was his teacher as well. Master Anayat, the top most music director of Pakistani cinema, who came up with immortal compositions such as Sada Hoon Apnay Piyar ki and Jan-i-Baharan, was considered a legend. Besides, Ashraf was a cousin of Ustad Taffu, another maestro from family of musicians.

The torch is now with Ashraf’s son M Arshad who gave hit music to Syed Noor’s flick Jeeva. His two other sons are Nadeem Ashraf and Salman Ashraf.

Remembering Ashraf, Sajjad Taffu told Dawn that his uncle was the most well dressed person in the family. Taffu said Ashraf did matriculation from the City Muslim High School, Said Mittah. He started his career as a musician from Shabab Karanvi’s film Spairan in 1966-67, along with his music partner Manzoor. Both did some seven or eight films together but later they got separated. Tees Mar Khan was the first film done independently by the late Ashraf.

Ashraf had always been a successful music director. There are few musicians in the local film industry who inspired Pakistani cinema in such a big way. His compositions, always having an eastern touch, kept three generations of music listeners enchanted. He composed more than 2,000 songs for over 400 films. He was the only music director of the country having more than 100 hit songs to his credit.

Ashraf was a versatile musician, combining in his compositions popular, situational and commercial elements. He worked with almost all big filmmakers such as Shabab Kairanvi, Nazarul Islam, Haider Chauhdry and Jamil Akhtar, but with Kairanvi he had a lasting association, as he composed music for over 100 films of one of the most successful directors of his time.

His compositions were sung by almost all leading film singers such as Nur Jahan, Mehdi Hasan, Ahmed Rushdi, Mehnaz, Ghulam Abbas, Mussarat Nazir, Nasim Begum, Mala and Runa Laila. He also introduced singers like Rajab Ali and Anwar Rafi.

A number of films got immense popularity at the box office due to his music such as Maan Kay Ansoo, Andhi Mauhabat, Ladli, Bharjaie, Aurat Ka Piyar, Koh-e-Noor, Mera Naam Hai Mauhabbat, and Phool Meray Gulshan ka.

He furnished Pakistani film music with some immortal compositions such as Hamaray Dil Say Mat Khailo, Jab Koie Piyar Say Bulaie Ga, Do Pattar Anaran Day, Bay Iman Chahoon Thujay Mein Subh Sham, Dil Ko Jalana Hum Nay Chore Diya, etc.

Ashraf won 13 Nigar Awards and 14 Graduate Awards as music director. He is survived by three sons and one daughter.

Ashraf’s qul will be held at 2pm on Tuesday (today) in Bazar-i-Hakeeman at Lal Masjid.

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