Tributes to G.M.Durrani, the great Hindi film playback singer of yesteryears, on his 31st death anniversary.

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Tributes to G.M.Durrani, the great Hindi film playback singer of yesteryears, on his 31st death anniversary.

Ghulam Mustafa Durrani, commonly known as G.M. Durrani, was a popular playback singer in Hindi films in the 1930s, 1940s and 50s. The multifaceted singer sang duets with all of the top artistes of his time. He had become so popular by early 1940s that the then aspiring singer Mohammed Rafi regarded Durrani as his idol.

Durrani was born in Peshawar in 1919. He was a Pathan and belonged to the Mohammad Zahid Durrani Kabila. Durrani was discovered by filmmaker Sohrab Modi. He gave him his first chance in 1935 in the movie Saaed-e-Hawas, a historical film. The music director was the classical musician Bundu Khan popularly known as “Taan-Talwar”Bundu Khan. Durrani’s debut song was a ghazal “Maston ko shem farz hai peena Sharab ka.”

Later when the concept of playback singing started he was the first to lend his voice for a film titled Bahurani. The film was made by Sagar Movietone and its music director was Rafeeq Gazanavi. Durrani was then working as a full-time artist in AIR. Those were British days and they were not allowed to do any private recordings. But Rafeeq Gazanavi insisted. Durrani laid down some conditions, like; the recording should be fixed on a Sunday night so that no outsiders would be allowed to enter the studio. Secondly, he said that his name shouldn’t appear in credit titles or on discs. The song was a duet with Miss Rose, an Anglo-Indian, who didn’t have much experience as a singer. He was paid Rs.75 for the song as against his salary of Rs.70 per month at AIR. He then chucked his AIR job in December 1940.

Thereafter he sang for, among others, noted music directors like Khurshid Anwar, Naushad, Shankar Rao Vyas and A. R. Qureshi (Alla Rakha) for films like Mirza Ghalib, Humlog, Magroor, Shama, Namaste, Sabak and scores of others. He became very popular. Many singers started their careers with him and he inspired many others too. He was the idol of Mohammed Rafi in the initial days. Now what could be a better tribute to singer than that, the symbol of divinity in the Indian Music Industry, Mohammad Rafi, followed him. In fact, in 1944 Rafi recorded what he considered his first Hindi language song for the film Gaon ki Gori (1944) for Shyam Sunder, Aji dil ho kaaboo mein with G. M. Durrani and chorus. Similarly, Hai Chorre Ki Jaat Badi Bewafa, a duet with G. M. Durrani, was Lata’s first song for composer Naushad. Geeta Dutt also started her career in her break through movie Do Bhai with the song Aaj Preet Ka Naata toot gaya for S.D. Burman.

Music lovers may be surprised to note that he had composed music for 4 Hindi films under the name Ghulam Mustafa Durrani . These films are Angoori (1943), Vijaylaxmi (1943), Bhagyalaxmi (1944) and Dhadkan (1946). In early forties, he had assisted music director Naushad Ali too, particularly in Nai Duniya (1942) which was incidentally produced by Naushad Ali himself. In addition, G.M.Durrani had composed music for 2 more films of 1960s in the name of ‘Gunjan’. These two films are Kismat Palat Ke Dekh (1961) and State Express (1961).

Durrani’s career was short lived. It is said that many years later someone heard an old man singing in a recording studio for jingles in a corner. When the person went to tell him what a lovely voice he has, he was surprised to see it was Durrani who had fallen to bad days. He spend his last days in penury and breathed his last on September 9, 1988.

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Celebrating Cinema

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