During 1944 and 1949, I met many famous producers and directors in Bombay. I was very happy with the commercial success of Shabnam. However, there was an emptiness that was hurting me. The Hindi speaking public was not accepting my style of singing. With fame, maybe I will never have to face financial difficulty, but the upset will remain with me for as long as the Hindi speaking public does not accept my style of singing from their heart. Again, the doggedness of a Bangal got the better of me. I was waiting for an opportune moment. I will and shall achieve my desire.
I first met Dev Anand in 1948. He had just become a film hero. He was crazy about my singing. Dev lived in Pali Hill in Bombay with his elder brother Chetan; younger brother Bijoy (Goldie) and his sisters. In the evenings, there would be Addas at their house. Another one of our friends, Guru Dutt, used to come to those Addas. Guru Dutt was also crazy for my singing. In the whole of Bombay, there was not another admirer of my songs like Dev and Guru. The two of them would come to my flat at Shayan to listen to my songs. Soon, the three of us decided we shall establish a film company. We decided that our company would move in a new path and not follow a traditional formula. Dev and Guru had no reservations when it came to encouraging me to follow my own style. That gave me confidence. Today or tomorrow my tunes will become popular throughout the Indian Subcontinent. The opportunity I was waiting for, for so long, finally arrived.
Dev started a new company. It would be named Navaketan (New Flag). The first film would be Officer. The Director would be Chetan. Dev would be the Hero and Suraiya the Heroine. I would be the Music Director. The year was 1949. Unfortunately, the movie was not a hit. However, one of my songs sung by Suraiya, Mon Mera Hua Matowala became a very popular hit.
My second film with Navaketan was in 1950. The name of the film was Baazi. This time the Director was Guru Dutt. Dev Anand and Geeta Bali were the Hero and the Heroine. During the shooting of the film, Guru and I were constantly immersed in discussing music. He would tell me his ideas regarding direction. I would do the same, discuss various aspects of composing a tune to a song. In the end, this collaboration helped in making the film a success.
I proposed today’s famous Sahir Ludhianvi as the lyricist for the songs of the movie (Baazi). He wrote the lyrics to the songs. Although Ludhianvi was not well known at the time, the management of Navaketan did not object my decision. From the beginning I have been against traditionalism. I try to ensure the lyricists write the lyrics according to the beats of my tunes. I tried to do the same with Sahir. The two of us worked very hard. In the end, the hard work paid off. I have experimented like this many times in my career as a music director for films. Sometimes I have succeeded. Other times I have failed. In another Navaketan film, Kala Pani, the Mukhra was composed in the beat of a Ghazal, and the Antara was composed as a normal song. The first line was Hum Be Khushi Mein Tumko Pukare Chaale Gaye. I chose Rafi to sing this song. Rafi sang the song the way I planned, in a nice mood.
At Navaketan all of us were tied to the same string. In Baazi I started experimenting. I requested Sahir to write a Ghazal. I added a Western tune to the Ghazal. Guru, the Director, and Dev, the Producer, did not object. On the contrary, they praised this innovation. The first line of the song was Tadbirse Bigri, Hui Takdir Banale. Geeta Roy sang the song. The moment the film was launched, the song was an instant hit. This tune enhanced my confidence and strength in composition. Almost each and every song of Baazi went on to become a hit. This film was a turning point for Geeta Roy. However, the beginning of Geeta Roy’s popularity came when she sang the song Mere Sundar Swapna Beet Gaya in the film Do Bhai of Filmistan. Before this, Geeta would sing in choruses. It was I who arranged for her to sing solo for the first time. In Baazi, Geeta sang all the songs of the Heroine.
After this, I worked as the Music Director in another organization, Film Arts. The year was 1951. The name of the movie was Jaal. The Director was Guru Dutt. Here too, Guru was the Hero. I composed a song for the Hero exactly the way I wanted to. I was pondering on who would sing the song. At the time, the leading vocalists were Rafi, Talat and Mukesh. Fate had it that Hemanta Kumar had come to Bombay to work at Filmistan. He was still to get his break for play back in cinemas. I decided Hemanta will be the play back singer of this song. Hemanta had to get the Hindi accent right. For this he practiced a lot before recording. This song firmly established Hemanta in Hindi Cinemas. The listeners were happy with a new voice in the film industry. The first line of the song was Ye Raat, Ye Chadni, Phir Kanha, Shun Ja Dilki Dasta. The tune was composed after lot of effort with Sahir writing the lyrics in my presence. I wanted to make Geeta and Hemanta popular in Hindi Cinemas. By that time, I had gradually started to gain confidence in myself. After that, I would first think who would be the more appropriate singer for the song.
In 1953, I directed the music of the Navaketan film, Taxi Driver. The Director was Chetan Anand. The Hero was Dev. I made Talat Mahmud sing one of my all time favourite songs. Rafi, Mukesh, Hemanta were all in line to sing my compositions. I stuck to my guns that only Talat could do proper justice to the song. The composition was based on small and light Murkis. Talat’s voice had the Lucknow finesse. I decided Talat would sing the song. The song went on to become the hit song of the movie. The first line of the song was Jaye To Jaye Kanha. That year I was awarded the Best Music Director of the Year by the Filmflare Magazine for Taxi Driver, reports internet.