There are few lyricists and musicians who created compositions both for the masses and classes. In this regard, I am often reminded of the formidable duo of Raja Mehdi Ali Khan and Madan Mohan for their memorable romantic numbers. It was as if they were made-for-each other. One cannot forget लग जा गले के फिर ये हसीं रात हो ना (Woh Kaun Thi) or अगर मुझ से मुहब्बत है मुझे सब अपने ग़म दे दो (Aap Ki Parchhayiyan) or even आपके पहलू में आकर रो दिये दास्तान-ए-ग़म सुनाकर रो दिये (Mera Saya).
The words were simple but their musical impact was ever lasting. When asked why the later year lyricists didn’t create such an impact, Khan would argue that modern day writers lacked the requisite literary background to weave words to convey subtle but rich feelings. आपकी नज़रों ने समझा, प्यार के काबिल मुझे (Anpadh) remains sublime in its expression. The king of lyrics and the king of ghazals were indeed irresistible.
Although Raja Mehdi Ali Khan worked with other composers like Sardar Malik, OP Nayyar and Laxmikant Pyarelal, he had seemingly reserved his best verses for Madan Mohan, who did his best to give his lyrics a glittering shine. Do I need to replay these lyrics – जो हमने दास्तां अपनी सुनाई, आप क्यों रोए (Woh Kaun Thi) – which is heard with immense interest even today.
In romanctic poetry, शाम – transition of ‘day’ into ‘night’ through a rather subdued phase evokes melancholic feelings which Raja Mehdi Ali Khan captured aptly in इक हसीं शाम को दिल मेरा खो गया (Dulhan Ek Raat Ki), for which Madan Mohan created a landscape of slowness, a musical composition that captures the receding sun and the subtlety of transiting time. One begins to feel the emotion-filled air in this amazing rendition by Rafi Saab.