Equipped with classical flair and an innate fondness for Indian music, Khayyam saheb, the genius composer was a master at infusing intensely impassioned melodies and tunes to the beautiful verses.

On the 93rd birth anniversary of the legendary music composer, Saregama pays rich tribute and remembers how he contributed enormously for the evolution of Hindi music in Bollywood.

Those who know the heart of Indian music would say in unison that Khayyam delved into the depth of cinematic sound and dwelled there till he found perfection. Only few can match his subtle art of creating music that continues to resonate even today. He composed some of the most heartfelt Hindi songs of all times in the golden era of Bollywood. The illustrious career spanning five decades is filled with many such super hit Hindi songs. This includes Dil Cheez Kya Hai, In Aankhon Ki Masti, Zindagi Jab Bhi and many more. You can listen to them in the digital music player, Saregama Carvaan.

Born in the state of Punjab, his original name was Mohammed Zahir Hashmi. He received his musical training under a classical vocalist Pandit Amarnath. Always passionate about music, he began his musical career in Ludhiana at the tender age of 17. Initially, he worked with many musical composers learning the nuances and composed background score for many films. Once he started finding grip, he joined hands with Rahman Varma, another music composer. The duo of Sharmaji-Varmaji as they were popularly called, composed songs in the early years till 1948.

Amid his growing confidence and creativity, World War 2 happened. He joined the army and after a gap of 3 years, he came back and pursued his dream of becoming a composer. He moved to Mumbai to further pursue his dream and do big in the musical world.

In the year 1953, he composed music for the movie Footpath starring stars like Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari. It was the beginning of a long illustrious career and paved the way for a series of successful films which included Phir Subah Hogi – 1958, Shola Aur Shabnam – 1961, Aakhri Khat – 1966. Khayyam has arrived!

Later, he composed some of the most popular classic old Hindi songs for movies like  Kabhie Kabhie – 1977, Trishul – 1978, Noorie – 1979, Razia Sultan – 1983. But it was Umrao Jaan – 1982 that made Khayyam and his compositions immortal.

The movie remembered for the powerful performance from yesteryear actors like Naseeruddin Shah and Rekha, contained some magical music tracks.  They were classical bliss. It was Khayyam saheb’s most profound work which left an unforgettable mark in the hearts of music lovers. It is believed that he along with the director of the movie gave two years to create music. The memorable combination of Khayyam and Asha Bhosle for the songs became history much to be remembered and talked about in the following years and even now.

Such was the dedication and hard work of this amiable soul. His music was enriched with classical splendour. Ghazals, Thumri, Dadras and other Hindustani classical genres were his forte.

Even in the 1960s up until 1980s, while the western influence could easily be found in the popular music of that time, Khayyam kept on composing some classical jewels which were closely Indian in tunes. This was exceptional and he became an adored exception. His oeuvre was obviously limited to the Indian notes and yet it pleased the music lovers dramatically.

Some of the superhit songs include – Kabhi Kabhie Mere Dil Mein, Tere Chehre Se Nazar Nahi, Jeet hi lenge baazi hum tum, Jane Kya Dhoondti Rahti and more.

Winner of National Award, Filmfare Award, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and Padma Bhushan, Khayyam saheb’s legacy lives on through his evergreen songs. You can listen to the legendary composer’s best work in Saregama Carvaan.


The Man of Golden Words: Javed Akhtar Sahab