Jaidev Verma was a child prodigy who could play the harmonica when he was only five years old.
Jaidev was one of the most talented composers of the Hindi film industry. Despite his talent and the critical as well as popular acclaim many of his albums received, he wasn’t rewarded with the commercial success or name recognition that some of his peers enjoyed. After more than three decades in the film industry, he had only about 40 films to his credit.
Jaidev Verma was a child prodigy who could play the harmonica when he was only five years old. His career in Hindi films started in the 1930s as a singer-actor in a few films. In the mid-1930s he took a break from films and dedicated himself to learn music. Jaidev received formal training from several gurus including the legendary sarod player Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. The Ustad was responsible for Jaidev’s return to Hindi films. When the Ustad went to Bombay to work for films, Jaidev accompanied him. He assisted Ustad Ali Akbar Khan in the two films he composed music for – Andhiyan (1952) and Humsafar (1953). Later Jaidev worked as assistant to SD Burman before breaking out on his on with Joru Ka Bhai (1955).
In this post, I pick 10 songs from Jaidev’s 10 best film scores.
Hum Dono (1961)
In the 1950s, every Navketan film had SD Burman’s music and Jaidev assisted SD Burman in most of them. These films were Taxi Driver (1954), House No. 44 (1955), Funtoosh (1956), Nau Do Gyarah (1957), Kala Pani (1958) and Kala Bazar (1960). Jaidev’s persistence and loyalty was rewarded in 1961 at the age of 42! When Navketan was looking to make the music for Hum Dono, SD Burman was unavailable due to some illness and Jaidev was chosen. Jaidev, powered by Sahir Ludhianvi’s lyrics, rose to the occasion and how! The fantastic score of Hum Dono sounds as fresh today as it did in 1961. Unfortunately, Jaidev had a falling out with Navketan and never worked for them again. My pick from Hum Dono is the short, sweet, santoor-kissed 'Jahan Mein Aisa Kaun Hai' sung by Asha Bhosle.
Kinare Kinare (1963)
Kinare Kinare, starring Dev Anand and Meena Kumari, was one of the bigger films Jaidev got a chance to work in. The film didn’t do well and so its music, which had some endearing melodies, went unnoticed. Mukesh’s 'Jab Gham-E-Ishq Sataata Hai' is one song I particularly love but my pick is the title song which Manna Dey renders so elegantly.
Reshma Aur Shera (1971)
After Hum Dono, Jaidev was relegated largely to B-grade films during the 1960s, with the exception of Kinare Kinare (1963) and Mujhe Jeene Do (1963). Although, his music rose above the films they featured in, film offers were few and far between. Just when things were looking very bleak, Reshma Aur Shera came along and with it, Jaidev’s first of three National Film Awards for Best Music Direction. Synonymous with the film is the beautifully shot desert song 'Tu Chanda Main Chandni', a richly textured, complex composition with a dash of classical and a smatter of Rajasthani Maand. 'Tu Chanda..' is the one of the earliest film songs I can think of that broke away from the standard mukhda-antara song structure. Interestingly, this feature came to become the signature of another genius composer who was also the winner of multiple National Film Awards like Jaidev, AR Rahman.
While Jagjit Singh is credited with re-energising the ghazal genre in the 1970s, I believe Jaidev played an important role as well. Some of the earliest instances of the modern ghazal with light, modern arrangements, simple melodies and fresh, young voices can be found in Jaidev’s compositions in the 1970s. Bhupinder, Hariharan, Chhaya Ganguly, Runa Laila and Penaz Masani were among some of the ghazal singers Jaidev mentored and worked with. 'Dil Ne Tadap Tadap Ke' from Faslah was one such ghazal. My pick from Faslah though is another Bhupinder song, 'Zindagi Cigarette Ka Dhuan' with some inspiring, if quirky, lyrics by Kaifi Azmi.
Ek Huns Ka Jora (1975)
For a film that sank without a trace, Ek Huns Ka Jora had some excellent music. This is the only film in this list that had songs sung by Kishore Kumar and one of only three films in which Jaidev employed his voice. I wonder why given the high quality of their output, which includes the popular, 'Yeh Wohi Geet Hai Jisko Maine' (Maan Jaiye, 1972). My pick from Ek Huns Ka Jora is the Kishore – Asha duet 'Pyar Se Tum Mile Mil Gayi Har Khushi'.
Alaap is a seriously under-rated album. Jaidev’s robust score for this Hrishikesh Mukherjee film is built on a solid base of bhajans, classical music, Yesudas’ soothing baritone and some fine poetry. Although the film had some compelling acting and story-telling, and is considered one of the finer performances of Amitabh Bachchan, it didn’t do very well at the box-office. Perhaps, the audience was not willing to see the Angry Young Man portray a serious role that did not require him to beat up bad guys. My pick from Alaap is Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s 'Koi Gaata Main So Jaata'. It is worthwhile noting that Jaidev also set to tune the senior Bachchan’s masterpiece, Madhushala, in Manna Dey’s voice.
1977 was a great year for Jaidev (he was 58 at the time!). He produced some great music that year - three of my picks in this list are from 1977 - and to top it off he won his second National Film Award for his score for Gaman. Gaman was short and extremely sweet score. It is said that Jaidev composed all songs of Gaman in one day flat – such was his genius! It is really hard to pick only one song from Gaman but Chhaya Ganguly’s National Award winning rendition of Makhdoom Mohiuddin’s words, 'Aapki Raat Aati Rahi Raat Bhar', is as good a pick as any.
Gharaonda is another short and sweet score by Jaidev. While it is better known for Gulzar’s award winning 'Do Deewane Shahar Mein' and it’s reprise 'Ek Akela Is Shahar Mein', my pick is the 'Tumhen Ho Na Ho' which sounds like another Gulzar song but is in fact, written by Naqsh Lyallpuri. The song has some ground-breaking lyrics and the incredibly fresh voice of the Bangladeshi singer, Runa Laila.
After Gharaonda, director Bhimsain, further explored human relationships in an urban setting in Dooriyan. Given the success of Gharaonda, he called in Jaidev again but the lyrics for the film were written by Sudarshan Faakir, an inspired choice as it turned out. One of the highlights of the film’s music was Anuradha Paudwal’s singing. In my opinion, this is the best she has ever sounded. The two Bhupinder – Anuradha duets in the film are absolute gems. My pick – 'Zindagi Mere Ghar Aaana'.
Ankahee” was Jaidev’s third National Film Award winning score. He passed away two years later, a sad, disillusioned man who did not get his due. Ankahee was a rare film whose score was dominated by bhajans. Thanks to some great renditions by Asha Bhosle and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Kabir and Tulsidas have never sounded so good on the big screen. My pick – Bhimsen Joshi’s 'Thumak Thumak Pag Damak Kunj' which won him the National Film Award for Best Male Singer.
Honourable mentions: Joru Ka Bhai (1955), Mujhe Jeene Do (1963), Wohi Baat (1977), Aayi Teri Yaad (1980) and Jumbish (1986).