Tribute to Prem Dhawan, the multi-talented genius of Hindi cinema on his 17th death anniversary today.

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Prem Dhawan was a genius in all means. He was a lyricist, music director and choreographer of Hindi cinema during 50s and early 60s. Prem Dhawan was one among those leading names in the black and white era of Hindi films who can be tagged under ‘unsung hero’. He didn’t receive the recognition that he actually reserved, yet he was a genius in true means. Prem Dhawan’s patriotic songs “Aye watan Aye watan”, “Mera rang de basanti chola” (from ‘Shaheed’), “Chodo kal ki baatein” (Hum Hindustani) and “Aye mere pyare watan” (Kabuliwala) will always find place in the top 10 patriotic songs of Hindi film music.

Prem Dhawan joined the film industry as an assistant to music director Khurshid Anwar in Pagdandi (1946). He made his debut as a lyricist in Ziddi (1948). This movie also made history of sorts, with Kishore Kumar singing for Dev Anand for the first time — the song, “Marne ki duayen kyoon maangoon”, in typical Saigal style. The movie also had Lata’s “Chanda re jaa re jaa re”, a brilliant composition in Raga Chhayanat.

With the insistence of Manoj Kumar, Prem Dhawan turned music director with the movie ‘Shaheed’, where he came out with great music for songs written by himself — “Aye watan aye watan”, “Mera rang de basanti chola”, “Sarfaroshi ki tamanna” (original lyrics by Ram Prasad Bismil). He came out with another top performance in the movie ‘Pavitra Paapi’, which had many lovely numbers, including Kishore Kumar’s “Teri Duniya se hoke majboor chala”, and Mohammed Rafi’s “Allah re Allah kar pyaar bhai”.

Prem Dhawan also gave music to a few more movies like Naxalites, Veer Abhimanyu, Bharat ke Shaheed, Kisan Aur Bhagwan, Mera Desh Mera Dharam and Raat ke Andhere Mein.

Prem Dhawan himself danced for a song with Cuckoo in the film Singaar (1949). He also did choreography in Naya Daur (Udein Jab Jab Zulfein Teri), Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zameen, Arzoo (1950), Dhool ka phool, Goonj Uthi Shehnai and Waqt.

The versataility of Prem Dhawan, as can be seen in his contributions to Hindi films as a lyricist, music director and choreographer, places him in the top bracket. It is matter of great regret that he has not received his dues. He has not worked with top music directors of his time, nor was he associated with any big banner.

Prem Dhawan, the lyricist par excellence was passed away on May 7, 2001.

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