Tribute to Khemchand Prakash, the legendary Hindi film music director on his 111th birth anniversary today.
Khemchand Prakash was one of the giants of the Hindi film industry. He shaped and defined Hindi film music when it was still in its nascent stages. In a short career spanning just about a decade, he left behind a legacy that exceeded his output as a music director.
Khemchand Prakash was born on 12 December1907 in Jaipur. Khemchand had an early start in music. His father, Pandit Govardhan Prasad, was a musician in the royal court of Jaipur and also taught him music. He worked as a court singer and then tried his hand at acting in films before found his true calling in film music. After assisting composer Timir Baran in a few films, Khemchand Prakash debuted as a music director for the film Meri Aankhen (1939).
He joined Bombay’s Ranjit Studio in 1940 and found early success with films such as Diwali, Holi, and Pagal. But it was Jayant Desai’s ‘Tansen’ that established Khemchand as a master tunesmith. Sung by the unmatchable K.L. Saigal and Khursheed Begum, the film’s music remains a classic in Hindi cinema.
While he composed many beautiful songs in his short career, he is perhaps remembered more for the legacy he left than those songs themselves. It was Khemchand Prakash who took Naushad under his wings as an assistant and helped launch what would become a very successful career as a music director. He is also credited as the composer who tried and tested singers like Khursheed Begum, Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar and made them the successful playback singers they went on to become.
Of special mention is the blockbuster hit “Aaayega Aanewaala” (from the 1949 film Mahal) that marked the beginning of Lata Mangeshkar’s domination in Hindi film music.
Sadly, Khemachand Prakash did not live much longer to taste and build upon the success of the music of ‘Mahal’. He passed away on August 10, 1950 leaving us to imagine what else he could have accomplished had he lived longer.