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IN the death of Nisar Bazmi, students of music in Pakistan have lost an opportunity to benefit from the experience of a virtuoso who scored 140 films in all.

Mr Bazmi was born in 1925 at Jalgaon, near Mumbai. His entry into the world of music was not accidental. His family’s penury threw him into the rough and tumble of working life at an early age. When he was 11, he joined Yasin Khan, a noted Qawwal in Mumbai, as `humnawa’ (companion).

During Yasin’s tutelage, Nisar Bazmi developed a passion for music and an ambition to become a vocalist. In the late 1930s, he became a student of Ustad Amanullah Khan, staying with him for four years.

The guidance of professionals, accompanied with a commitment to excellence, served the precocious Bazmi in good stead.

The All India Radio offered him an opening as a staff artist. This was an ideal springboard for honing his skills.

This was the golden age of Indian theatre and musicians were in great demand. Dinkar Rao, a composer, asked Mr Bazmi to score a play about Nadir Shah Durrani. This he did with aplomb. The songs were sung by Rafiq Ghaznavi and Amir Bai Karnatki.

Nisar Bazmi had arrived. Recognition brought with it money. He started earning 50 rupees a month – a respectable salary in those days.

Another lucky break came when A. R. Zamindar, a film director, asked him to do the music for his film, Jamna Par. He took it with both hands. There was no dearth of opportunities now.

He composed music for 40 films in Mumbai till 1947. The notable ones among them were Khaufnak, Aankhein, Extra Girl, Jebkatra, Daghabaz and Khoj. The songs were rendered by Mohammad Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and Mannade.

As a child he had seen giants like Anil Biswas, Khemchand Parkash, Ghulam Haider, Master Sajjad and Naushad rise to the top in the film world. He dedicated himself to scaling similar heights.

The most memorable song for which he composed music in Mumbai was: Chand ka dil toot gaya hai, rone lage hain sitare (Khoj). This was also his first song put on air by the All India Radio.

Destiny still had twists and turns waiting for him.

PAKISTAN FACTOR: In 1962, he visited Pakistan to meet his relatives. Here he came across some old friends, who introduced him to Fazal Karim Fazli. Mr Fazli invited him to compose music for Pakistani films. Mr Bazmi accepted the offer and decided to settle in Pakistan.

Here he began his work with the film, Aisa bhi hota hai. The film gave a new star to the country’s nascent film industry. The song, Ho tamanna aur kia, rendered by Madam Noorjehan, was an instant hit. More successes followed.

The film that proved to be the turning point for his career in Pakistan was Lakhon mein Aik. Numbers like Chalo achha hua tum bhool gaye and Halat badal naheen sakte endeared him to the connoisseur and the layman alike.

Noorjehan’s Kuch log roothkar bhi and Sun sajna owe their undying popularity to Mr Bazmi’s melody as much as to the voice behind it. Likewise, the film, Nagmani (1972), is still remembered for its haunting music, especially the number, Sajnare, by Noorjehan.

Among other prominent films which carried the Bazmi signature are Jaise jante naheen, Shararat, Anmol, Shama aur parwana, Beevi ho to aisi, Umrao jan ada, Saiqa, Khak aur khoon, Ek gunah aur sahi and Meri zindagi hai naghma.

After hi last film, Mere Apne, Nisar Bazmi left Lahore to settle in Karachi. Bazmi’s passion for music overshadowed his skills in photography and poetry. He brought out a collection of poems, Phir saaz-i-sada khamosh hua.

Nisar Bazmi was a thorough professional and a man of rare imagination. He used to study the storyline and the setting of a film before composing the music for a song.

He never shrank from experimentation. A good example of this was the music for Naheed Akhtar’s Allah hi Allah kiya karo in the film, Pahchaan. The music was inspired by a Kashmiri folk song.

The government conferred on him the Pride of Performance award. He also won the Nigar award seven times.