Remembering Khemchand Prakash the legendary music composer on his 68th death anniversary.
The Hindi film industry is known to be ruthlessly forgetful about some of its legends, and music director Khemchand Prakash is one of them. His timeless creations have been a part of our lives for over 60 years now. Few know that greats like Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar and Naushad were mentored by him. But the creator of these musical gems, and the mentor of this league of stalwarts is now largely forgotten.
Khemchand Prakash was born in Jaipur in 1907 where his father Goverdhan Das was a Dhrupad singer and Kathak dancer in the royal court of Madho Singh II, and the boy, Khemchand got his first training in music and dance from his father.
Khemchand Prakash began his career in the early 30s. He was assistant to famed composer Timir Baran on KL Saigal’s classic Devdas (1935) before branching out on his own. His initial years had a few significant films like Pardesi, Holi and Fariyaad. Khursheed was his leading singer and both of them gave a lot of hits of the early 40s. 1941’s Pardesi turned out to be a big hit and made Khursheed a big star.
But it was in 1943 that came a film which pushed Khemchand Prakash much ahead of the other music directors of the era and the film was KL Saigal starrer Tansen, considered one of the finest musicals. Diya jalaao jagmag jagmag, Rumjhum rumjhum chal tihari, More balpan ke saathi,Sapt suran teen gram… are musical gems that have not their lost shine even after seventy years.
Although he composed for several films on the trot, including the KL Saigal starrer Tansen (1943), his first film as a composer Ghazi Salahuddin (1939) deserves special mention. The special thing about Ghazi Salahuddin (1939) is that Khemchand Praksh gave another struggler a chance as his assistant. This struggling composer was Naushad. Naushad started his career by assisting Ustad Jhande Khan and Khemchand Prakash.
1948 marked yet another significant film in Khemchand’s career — Bombay Talkies’s Ziddi, in which he gave Kishore Kumar his first major break as a singer with the song “Marne ki duaaen kyun maangu…” Khemchand began his career with the musical legend of KL Saigal on the horizon, and ended it when a new star, Lata Mangeshkar started to rise. Mahal, Tansen, Pardesi and Ziddi are just a few samples of Khemchand Prakash’s talent in the short span of his career. Khemchand Prakash has to his credit some classic gems. The most famous of all is ‘Aayega Aanewala’ from Mahal (1949), the song that made Lata Mangeshkar an overnight sensation. The haunting melodies and brilliant orchestration of Mahal, set the foundation for the golden period of Hindi film music of the 50s.
Unfortunately, Khemchand Prakash did not survive long enough to see the success of Mahal or the shaping of the golden era of the Hindi film music of the 50s. He passed away on August 10, 1950 at the relatively young age of 42.
His immediate family, consisting of his wife Sridevi and daughter Chandrakala, didn’t get the required support from the industry and went through tough times financially. Chandrakala, who was a very good dancer like her father, had to do some small dancing roles in films to earn an income.
Khemchand Prakash will be remembered for erecting ‘mahals’ of melody.