Remembering the legendary film music composer Khawaja Khurshid Anwar, on his 106th birth anniversary today. (21/03/1912)
Khwaja Khurshid Anwar was an illustrious music composer who gained tremendous popularity both in India and Pakistan. He is widely credited as being one of the most original music directors of his generation. He was the Programme Producer (Music) at All India Radio, Delhi in 1939.
An extremely successful and widely respected music director, Khurshid Anwar was born into a well-off family on 21 March 1912, in Mianwali (now in Pakistan). His father, Khawaja Ferozuddin, was a prominent barrister. A brilliant student, Khurshid Anwar scored excellent marks in his exams. He obtained a first-class first for his M.A. in Philosophy, sat for the Indian Civil Service test and aced it but took it no further because he was opposed to the British Raj and would not be interviewed by Englishmen for a government job. Instead he joined All India Radio as a program producer in 1938. Around this time he also became a disciple of Ustad Tawakkal Hussein Khan. On learning that Khawaja was at Delhi, Mian Rashid Kardar, a Lahore-based film producer who was settled at Bombay in those days asked him to compose the music for his film ‘Kudmai’. This was when Khawaja resigned from radio service and went to Bombay and joined films. The ‘Kudmai’ songs were hits and did especially well in Punjab. Within a few years he had composed hit songs for more films, including ‘Ishara’, ‘Parekh’ and ‘Singhar’. Then the songs of film ‘Parwana’ (in which Surraiyya and Saigall had the lead roles) enthralled the music-loving audiences of the subcontinent: the big hits were ‘Toot gaye sab sapne mere’, ‘Mere mundray na bol ja kaga’ and ‘Papi papiha re, pipi na bol beri’.
After Partition,Khurshid Anwar returned to his native Lahore to restart his film career. In Pakistan he composed many unforgettable songs for films that included ‘Intezar’, ‘Hamraz’, ‘Chingari’, ‘Ghunghat’, ‘Jhoomer’, ‘Zehre Ishq’, ‘Koel’ and the Punjabi superhit ‘Heer Ranjha’.
And yet, despite his spectacular success, Khawaja Sahib composed music for a total of 28 films only, and in a career that spanned over 40 years.
His greatest achievement was the recording of 100 raags in the voices of different classical singers from Pakistan. These were marketed by EMI and sold under the title of ‘Ahang-e-Khusrawi’.
Khawaja Khurshid Anwar lived a lonely and quiet life and, after a short illness, passed away on 30th October 1984. Madame Noor Jehan wept bitterly at his passing and said that her heart could not accept it. He will always be remembered for his singularly glorious contributions to our music.