Remembering Master Ghulam Haider, the legendary music director of Hindi film industry, on his 66th death anniversary today.

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Remembering Master Ghulam Haider, the legendary music director of Hindi film industry, on his 66th death anniversary today.

Ghulam Haider was a well-known music composer who worked both in India and in Pakistan after independence. He changed the face of film songs by combining the popular Raags with the verve and rhythm of Punjabi music and also raised the status of music directors. He is also known for giving a break to the well-known playback singer, Lata Mangeshkar.
Ghulam Haider was born in 1908 in n Narowal, Punjab. He studied dentistry and learnt music from Babu Ganeshlal. Giving up dentistry, he worked in the theatre in Calcutta as a harmonium player — first at the Alfred Theatrical Company and then the Alexandra Theatrical Company. He briefly worked with the Jenaphone recording company as composer and broke into films in Lahore with the father-son duo of Roshan Lal Shorey and Roop Kishore Shorey.

He got his big breakthrough film with D.M. Pancholi’s Punjabi film Gul-e-Bakavali (1939) followed by Yamla Jat (1940), both starring Noor Jehan.
His biggest hit came the following year with Khazanchi (1941). The music of Khazanchi caused a revolution. By then Music Directors of the 1930s, who had embellished films with their exquisite compositions set in classical ragas, were beginning to sound commonplace. Khazanchi’s refreshingly free wheeling music not only took the audiences by storm but also made other music directors sit up and take notice. Combining popular ragas with the rich verve and rhythm of Punjabi music, Haidar ensured that the Indian film song would never be the same again.

‘Khandaan’ the following year with Noor Jehan was again a mega hit establishing Haider at the very top.

He moved to Bombay where he worked in films like Chal Chal re Naujawaan (1944), Phool (1944) and Humayun (1945). His best-known compositions were sung by Shamshad Begum and invoke Punjabi folk and extensively featured percussion instruments like the dholak.

Memorable Films
Gul-e-Bakavali (Punjabi) (1939)Yamla Jat (Punjabi) (1940)Khazanchi (1941)Khandaan (1942)Zamindar (1942)Poonji (1943)Phool (1944)Humayaun (1945)Majboor (1948)Shaheed (1948)Kaneez (1949)Gulnar (1953)

Like many others Ghulam Haider too returned to Pakistan after the country’s partition and continued his work. During this tenure he scored music for Beqarar, Akeli, Bheegi Palkein and a couple of Noor Jahan films Gulemar and Laila. He died at the young age of forty-five in 1953..Ghulam Haider’s success encouraged other Punjabi music directors to enter films. These included Shyam Sunder, Husnlal-Bhagatram, Feroz Nizami and Hansraj Behl.

He is also known for discovering or giving a break to a number of playback singing sensations including Umra-O-Zia Begum, Noorjehan, Shamshad Begum, Ali Bakhash Zahoor, Mohammed Rafi, Surinder Kaur and Lata Mangeshkar.

Today Ghulam Haider’s name is almost forgotten. What remain are remnants of his work.

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